Dithering Zuma acts at last but we must keep up the pressure
The Times Editorial: The sacking yesterday of two ministers and the suspension of the national police commissioner have been welcomed by all, but the credit should go to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.
She has been under pressure since the day she announced that her office was investigating the conduct of Cooperative Governance Minister Sicelo Shiceka and of Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde. She came under more fire when she investigated national police commissioner Bheki Cele after the Sunday Times exposé of the R1.7-billion p olice h eadquarters' leasing deal.
Though attempts were made to discredit her, Madonsela remained resolute and acted according to the mandate given her office.
Her situation was exacerbated when President Jacob Zuma took his time in acting on her recommendations.
Zuma's dithering raised questions and the public began to suspect that Madonsela's office was being undermined.
The president's action yesterday sent a positive message to South Africans: the public protector has the power to safeguard our interests and will not be bulldozed by the executive.
Zuma was required to follow procedure and act in accordance with the constitution when dealing with Madonsela's recommendations - it was the dilatory pace with which he did so that raised eyebrows and prompted the public to question his leadership.
With the two ministers out of the way, Zuma should go further and demand from Shiceka the hundreds of thousands of rands that he wasted while pretending to be executing his ministerial duties. That would send a strong message to ministers and other state officials that they will pay if found to have abused their office.
Though Zuma should be commended for acting, if tardily, we should not lower our guard. Public pressure and vigilance must be brought to bear on those appointed to represent us in the government.