PRETORIA, Sept 9 — A diplomatic row is brewing between South Africa and the United States after Deputy Minister of Defence Kebby Maphatsoe accused Public Protector Thuli Madonsela of being a CIA plant.
US Ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard has confirmed he will launch an official diplomatic complaint.
Embassy spokesperson Jack Hillmeyer says further details will be released later.
Maphatsoe, who is also chairperson of the Umkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans Association accused Madonsela over the weekend of spying for the Central Intelligence Agency.
The Umkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) has denied that Maphatsoe made the statement, but conceded that a reference to the CIA had been made.
Madonsela has given Maphatsoe 72 hours to issue a public retraction and an apology. Gaspard has taken to Twitter to reject Maphatsoe’s allegations calling them “baseless and offensive”.
The South African National Defence Union has called on President Jacob Zuma to address Maphatsoe.
The union says Maphatsoe’s claims have resulted in a diplomatic row between the United States and South Africa.
Secretary of the union, Pikkie Greef says the deputy minister has conducted himself in a way which has resulted in a diplomatic row with the United States Government, who is about to formally protest to the South African government about these remarks.
Greef says if the reports are to be believed regarding the Public Protector’s office, those remarks would constitute a criminal offence, in terms of the Public Protector’s act.
He says a person that conducts himself in such a way, should not be in any ministerial position.
Meanwhile the African National Congress says it has noted requests for comment on the remarks made by the MKMVA Chairperson about the Public Protector. In a statement the party says it believes that the exchange is extremely unfortunate; however the ANC has no information at its disposal to comment further on the matter.
“As the ANC we reaffirm our support and confidence in the institutions established to promote and safeguard our democracy, notably the Office of the Public Protector. It is our unwavering belief that those who lead these important institutions should be able to conduct their work unhindered and without any fear or favour,” said the statement. —