ISS on Deputy Defence Minister’s accusations


The Kebby Maphatsoe/Thuli Madonsela/CIA spat is “a new low in public discourse” in South Africa, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) maintains.

Judith February, a senior ISS researcher, said “recent attacks on South Africa’s Office of the Public Protector and the aspersions cast on Advocate Thuli Madonsela’s person and integrity are concerning”.

Comments attributed to the Deputy Defence and Military Veterans Minister, she added, “reflect poorly on government as a whole and the ANC’s Umkhonto we Sizwe Veterans’ Association of which he is the chairman”.

February maintains the deputy minister’s comments are part of “a worrying and growing trend which has seen politicians attack the Public Protector when they are dissatisfied with recommendations she has made after certain investigations”.

The comments reflect a lack of understanding of the role of Chapter Nine institutions designed specifically to promote, protect and defend South Africa’s Constitution. Further, as pointed out by the Public Protector, the comments are in breach of sections nine and 11 of the Public Protector Act 23 of 1994, which makes it a criminal offence to insult the Public Protector.
“Maphatsoe swore an oath to uphold the Constitution when he was appointed deputy minister. His comments suggest that he either fails to understand the oath or does not feel beholden to it,” said Gareth Newham, head of the Governance, Crime and Justice Division at the ISS.

President Jacob Zuma should take appropriate action given that Maphatsoe is a deputy minister in the Cabinet. The same goes for the ANC since Maphatsoe is a senior member of the party.
“Failure to do so suggests they fully support his statements, which in itself reflects a real threat to the South Africa’s constitutional democracy,” February said.

Speaking in Soweto last weekend Maphatsoe allegedly said Madonsela was a CIA spy. He later withdrew the accusation and apologised to her.