JOHANNESBURG, Feb 26– South Africa’s Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, has accused her detractors of playing the race card each time she makes an honest finding that they disagree with.
Speaking on the sidelines of an Africa Ombudsman meeting in Kempton Park, near here, Tuesday, she said she had been accused of being a pro-white Democratic Alliance (opposition party) supporter while some female members of the ruling African national Congress (ANC) have branded her a “racist”.
“The complainants are black females, members of the ANC and insiders. Why can’t people focus on the facts, and tackle me on the facts, instead of misleading the people of South Africa and bringing in the Democratic Alliance where it does not belong and bringing in white people where they have no role. People are pulling the race card where it has absolutely no place,” said Madonsela.
The Public Protector — similar to the Ombudsman in other countries — said she and her office had been under constant attack since she completed the reports on the Nkandla private homestead of President Jacob Zuma in KwaZulu-Natal Province where millions of Rand in government funds were used for upgrades, and on the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), which criticised acting chief operations officer Motsoeneng and the public broadcaster’s board over his irregular appointment and salary progression.
“There are people who have decided they are on a mission in protecting their friends of delegetimising this office, which is sad really. Because I am not this office; this office belongs to the people of South Africa and it is a buffer between the people and the State,” she said.
“It’s the thing that will prevent people from running to the street when they are not happy with government.”
The Public Protector is an office established by the Constitution of South Africa. It is one of the Chapter 9 institutions, named for the chapter of the Constitution which establishes a number of bodies with the mandate to guard democracy. It is similar to the office of ombudsman in other countries.