So many Questions: Thuli Madonsela
Cabinet minister Blade Nzimande has accused the public protector, Thuli Madonsela, of selectively targeting government ministers and officials. Chris Barron asked her .
Are you selective in your investigations?
No, I am not.
Shouldn't you be?
I don't know what you mean by "selective".
Shouldn't you prioritise?
We do prioritise, for different reasons. But not just because a matter involves a minister or a high-profile person.
Nzimande says you make too many findings against government ministers. The fact that the majority of cases are against ANC-led institutions is because the majority of institutions in government or organs of state are in the hands of the ANC. So it's logical.
Do you see the minister's accusations as an attempt to influence the kind of cases you investigate?
I don't know, I haven't analysed them. I wouldn't normally worry about such remarks, but since he's a minister of state, I'm just worried that what he said may breed wrong perceptions in the public mind. If he did say what the media says he said, I would like him to provide us with evidence.
Might his remarks influence you?
No. We do what we believe is the right thing, and the right thing is the right thing. We are not going to work differently.
Hasn't his attack already influenced you, because now you say you will provide figures showing how many complaints you've followed up from the DA, the ANC and so on? Surely the source of complaints is irrelevant?
It is irrelevant, but to us it matters that we should be trusted by all persons and communities. When a really important source of authority gives the impression we only prioritise cases involving government ministers, it can give the impression to communities: "Don't go there, you will only be treated properly if you're from the DA." So we've taken it that it is our responsibility to deal with it.
Are you going to try to even things out a bit so that you investigate the same number of DA and ANC complaints?
No, I would never do that.
Isn't it going to be hard for you not to be more sensitive about whose complaints you follow up and how quickly?
I'm always sensitive about that, because all complainants feel that their complaint is being neglected.
But when it comes from a powerful figure like a cabinet minister, isn't there more pressure to prove him wrong?
No. My approach is that we have to operate on a first come, first served [basis]. Mr Nzimande should ask Mr Walters from the DA - he writes to me all the time, worried that his complaints to us haven't moved ... it's not because we don't like him, but just because our hands are full.
Are you very short-staffed?
Might that suit the government?
In the short term it might, but from a long-term point of view, no, that's killing yourself slowly.
Have your requests for more staff been heard?
The response has been extremely positive. Last year we got 24 investigators.
So you think the government is serious about tackling corruption in high places?
At the moment the government hasn't given me reason to doubt that. At a municipal level, where forensic reports are done but no action is taken, I am worried about impunity.
Are you going to wait for the inspector-general's report before deciding whether to investigate crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli?
Have you sought an undertaking that he will not be made police commissioner until the matter is investigated?
That would be wrong, if somebody who is under investigation is promoted. I would expect them to wait.
Have you received any assurance that they will wait?
I didn't ask for it.
If he is made commissioner, further investigation would be more difficult, wouldn't it?
Now that you've mentioned it, it is something that I am going to canvass, maybe with the inspector-general, that one of us should make that request. Because I had not really thought about it.