Public Protector’s Report: deliberations

Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

14 June 2004

Mr I Vadi (ANC)

The Committee spent much time deliberating whether there was a need for more documents. There was also some disagreement on what the Committee had to discuss. Most Members felt that the crux of the matter was whether the announcement by the National Director had had the effect the Deputy President claimed. Whether there was a prima facie case, was not relevant. DA Members felt that the point was whether the National Director was justified in making the announcement.

The Chair referred to the Public Protector’s report and invited discussion on paragraphs 13 to 21. All these paragraphs had been flagged for discussion in the last meeting.

Ms S Camerer (DA) said that there was a problem around documents and evidence from various parties referred to in the report. The Committee had not yet heard the former Minister of Justice’s version of events. The Public Protector was very critical of the Minister’s response. It was unfortunate that Mr P Maduna was no longer in office. He was the National Director of Public Prosecution’ political boss and was presumably kept informed of the developments within the NPA. He might have given advice on the matter and could have influenced events. The Committee should know the role he played until it heard from him. This might also assist the Committee in apportioning blame, should it discover misconduct on the part of the National Director. The Committee might have to decide the extent to which it finds the National Director or those who influenced his decision blameworthy. Hence the need to call the former Minister to appear before the Committee.

Mr J Van der Merwe (IFP) said that 13(2) indicated that a full report on why the Deputy President was not prosecuted was given to the then Minister. With the support of Ms Camerer, he requested that the report should be made available to the Committee.

Mr M Masutha felt that this issue was dealt with elsewhere in the report and therefore there was no point in raising it at this stage.

Mr T Godi (PAC) said that the pertinent document was dealt with under 12(11. It was not new information and there was no need to revisit it.

Ms R Taaljaard (DA) felt that it was important to have the documents. This would help the Committee to fully understand if the then Minister gave any specific instructions to the NPA. It was equally important to get the letter to the Minister of 10 February 2004 from the Public Protector. The Committee needed to know if the Public Protector had tried to probe the interaction between the Executive Authority and the National Director..

Ms M Mentor asked if the Committee was trying cover ground that the Public Protector could not cover. It was important for the Committee to stick to its mandate and not try and open an investigation. Mr Van der Merwe agreed. The Committee felt it was pointless to insist that certain documents should be forwarded to the Committee.

Ms Camerer understood the need to move forward. However, she felt that it would be inappropriate to do so without a full picture of events.

Mr Van der Merwe said that the whole issue was started by the use of the expression “prima facie” case. One of the most important issues to consider was whether there was a prima facie case against the Deputy President. This would not be easy. Even the Public Protector had some degree of uncertainty on whether there was such a prima facie case. This was evident in the letter the Public Protector addressed to the then Minister on 10 February 2004. In the absence of the relevant documents, it would be difficult for the Committee to decide if there was such a case.

Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) said that there was no need for the Committee to decide whether there was a prima facie case against the Deputy President. Mr Zuma had complained about the way the case against him was announced and not that there was a prima facie case against him. He even said that that the National Director should charge him if there was a case.

Ms M Mentor (ANC) felt that the Committee was not competent to decide whether there was a prima facie case. This should be left to the court. The statement by the National Director infringed on the Deputy President’s rights as enshrined in the Bill of Rights. He was therefore justified in lodging the complaint with the Public Protector.

Mr B Holomisa (UDM) said that the Public Protector’s task was to consider whether the public statement by the National Director that there was a prima facie case of corruption against the Deputy President, but that he would not be prosecuted, resulted in the Deputy President being improperly prejudiced. The impression was that the NPA and the then Minister justified their non-cooperation because the matter was sub judice. The question was whether the two were justified in refusing to co-operate.

Mr Van der Merwe said that the National Director should appear before the Committee and explain why he made the public announcement but decided not to prosecute.

Most Members agreed that they were not competent to determine if there was a prima facie case against Mr Zuma. This was also not within the mandate of the Committee.

Mr Holomisa asked if this was the first time that the National Director had made such an announcement. There were instances where the NPA had said that it would not press charges until particular information had been obtained. Parliament should avoid being seen to be playing one government institution against the another. Parliament should appoint a judge to review the decision not to prosecute and whether such a decision had the effect complained about.

Dr Palmer (Parliamentary Legal Adviser) said that the NPA was a new body. It was the first time that the NPA had made a statement of that nature.

Ms Taaljaard felt that it would be most unfortunate not to have the Human Rights Commission’s comment on whether Mr Zuma’s rights were violated.

The meeting was adjourned.


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