Take your hands off Madonsela for the sake of democracy
Since her appointment as public protector four years ago, Thuli Madonsela has won the admiration of millions of citizens, opposition parties and the media for her courage in holding those in power to account.
No case seems too daunting for this independent-minded advocate who has stared down government ministers, a police chief and even the president when they crossed the line.
But there are signs that the ruling party is increasingly intent on clipping Madonsela's wings. She seems to have incurred the ANC's ire by sticking steadfastly to her mandate to strengthen our democracy ''by investigating and redressing improper and prejudicial conduct, maladministration and abuse of power in all state affairs''.
Last week, the Sunday Times reported that members of President Jacob Zuma's cabinet allegedly tried to pressure her into dropping her investigation of the R208-million upgrade of his Nkandla homestead.
She refused to budge.
Yesterday, the same newspaper highlighted concerns that MPs were preparing to rein in Madonsela because of her damning report on the conduct of Independent Electoral Commission chairman Pansy Tlakula in securing a R320-million lease for the commission's new offices.
Madonsela found that Tlakula had flouted procurement regulations and had not declared her previous business relationship with the chairman of the company that won the contract to lease the building to the commission.
Earlier this year, members of parliament's justice portfolio committee took Madonsela to task over her findings and pronouncements, arguing that, as head of a Chapter 9 institution, her office was subordinate to parliament.
Madonsela retorted that, though she reported to parliament, she was ''insulated on decisional independence''.
MPs would do well to look beyond the narrow interests of their political masters and consider the credibility that an independent watchdog brings to our democracy.