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Madonsela won’t back down on Nkandla probe

‘I’ll back off when the president submits his comments on my report’.
South Africa’s graft ombudsman, Thuli Madonsela, said she won’t back down on her probe of alleged misuse of public funds on President Jacob Zuma’s personal residence despite being attacked by the ruling party.

Madonsela, 51, said she will continue to push for Zuma, 72, to respond in full to her March report, which found he unduly benefited from a state-funded R215 million upgrade of security at his home in Nkandla, in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province. While she recommended he repay some of the money, Zuma attempted to deflect the scandal by appointing his police minister on Aug. 14 to investigate his liability.

“Once the president has submitted his comments on my report, and an indication of what he intends to do in remediate action, I’ll back off,” Madonsela said in a interview with SAfm radio on Friday.

The ruling African National Congress this week criticised Madonsela for writing a letter to Zuma demanding he respond to her report, saying that she was undermining parliament. The party accused her of seeking to discredit Zuma, suggesting she was working with opposition political parties.

Madonsela said today her office isn’t under threat and denied the ANC’s allegations that she’s biased against Zuma.

The Public Protector’s office has “the full support” from the government and public, she said. “But there are elements who are hell-bent on distorting things.”

Zuma has denied wrongdoing related to the Nkandla upgrades and a ministerial team that investigated the project said in December the president had no role in authorizing the expenditure.

“I am accountable to parliament for my activities,” Madonsela said. “It has no authority to override my decision. It can converse with me, it can discuss the matter, but it can’t undo my findings.”

©2014 Bloomberg News

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