Maduna and Ngcuka Cry Foul
Bulelani Ngcuka, the Scorpions boss, and Penuell Maduna, the former justice minister, have come out with guns blazing over a report in which they stand accused of violating the constitutional rights of Deputy President Jacob Zuma.
In a strongly worded joint statement issued yesterday they accused Laurence Mushwana, the public protector, of taking part in an "orchestrated campaign" to discredit the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) through the investigation requested by Zuma.
They said they were "dismayed" by the public protector's "travesty".
"We are astounded that a person in his position could make such preposterous findings and recommendations. We reject the findings as thoroughly unconsidered and without substance."
Their rejection of the report means that two of the most prominent organs of democracy are poised to clash head-on in parliament over the complaint laid by Zuma to Mushwana last year after a statement by Ngcuka and his then-minister, Maduna, in August.
They said there was prima facie evidence against the deputy president relating to the government's multibillion-rand arms deal, but that they would not prosecute because the prospect of a conviction was slim.
In his findings on Zuma's complaint, released on Friday, Mushwana found that Zuma's constitutional right to human dignity had been violated and that he had been "improperly prejudiced" by Ngcuka.
Both Mushwana's report on the complaint and yesterday's joint statement in response called on parliament to investigate the issues further. The ANC urged parliament to "give the report and its recommendations due and proper consideration".
In an exclusive interview yesterday, Ngcuka, who was cleared last year of apartheid spying allegations, said Mushwana's report was "absolutely unfair".
"I've said a hundred times that we have been acting within the confines of the law and will continue to do that," Ngcuka told The Sunday Independent.
In his joint statement with Maduna, he also lashed out: "Mushwana has sadly shown his hand in participating in an orchestrated campaign bent on discrediting the NPA. Like his bedfellows have experienced in the past, he will not succeed."
Ngcuka and Maduna said the report was a "sad moment" for the public service, where one organ of state could "cast unwarranted aspersions on a pillar of the rule of law, because of sinister bias".
Asked whether he was still considering stepping down as he did after last year's allegations against him, Ngcuka said he was not.
"No, I can't leave under these circumstances, clearly," he said, adding that these kinds of attacks were "part of the job description".
On the unanswered question in Mushwana's report, ie whether the NPA was still investigating Zuma, he said: "We've made our decision on the matter. As far as I am concerned, we are not investigating the matter."
Mushwana alleged that neither Ngcuka nor Maduna would co-operate with his investigation of Zuma's complaint, which made it impossible for him to determine whether the investigation was continuing or not.
Zuma said on Friday that he felt vindicated by the report, which confirmed his view that Ngcuka had violated his constitutional rights.
The deputy president said, however, that he was disappointed that some aspects of his complaint were not dealt with because of Maduna and Ngcuka's "failure to co-operate and provide answers".
Ngcuka and Maduna denied that they had failed to co-operate with the investigation and said they would release their correspondence with Mushwana to prove this "if necessary". By last night they had not done so.
They said that what remained unanswered was how Mushwana could pronounce on such "weighty issues" without looking at all the evidence and relevant facts.
"Mushwana confuses an intellectual challenge with a refusal to co-operate," Maduna and Ngcuka said.
They urged Baleka Mbete, the speaker of parliament, to urgently establish an ad hoc committee to deal with the report.
In his recommendations, Mushwana also urged parliament to take urgent steps to ensure Ngcuka was held accountable for "failing to cooperate", for infringing on Zuma's "constitutional right to human dignity and thereby causing him to be improperly prejudiced", and for "acting in an unfair and improper manner in regard to the deputy president".
He recommended that no action be taken against Maduna, as he is no longer in the cabinet.
Ngcuka and Maduna stated: "We stand ready to answer publicly any question parliament may wish to put to us, including those which the public protector claims we failed to respond to."
They said Mushwana did not examine a "single statement or document" in their possession to support his position and "curiously elected to make selective reference to exchanges between us, well knowing that he is withholding the truth from public scrutiny".
The statement said the public protector seemed "to have rushed ahead to disclose his findings to the media, without complying with his own undertaking to receive our comments on the report before its release".
Asked for comment on the statement, Mushwana's chief investigator, advocate Stoffel Fourie, said it was "not in the public protector's interest to debate the matter any further in the media".
With acknowledgements to Christelle Terreblanche and the Sunday Independent.