Madonsela calls for clarity on Protector powers

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Pretoria, March 19 - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela speaks at a media briefing on the Nkandla report.

JOHANNESBURG - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has filed her application to contest a judgment that deemed her findings and remedial actions not binding.

"The court will let us know when they have considered our notice," said the Protector&39;s spokesman Oupa Segalwe on Sunday.

Earlier this month, Madonsela filed the application to appeal the Western Cape High Court judgment -- related to a case between the Democratic Alliance and the SABC and its chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Judge Ashton Schippers&39; interpretation of the role of the Protector was contained in a judgment on October 24 when he ordered that the SABC suspend Motsoeneng and start disciplinary proceedings against him within 14 days.

This followed the DA&39;s application for an urgent interim interdict to have Motsoeneng suspended, pending a review of the decision to appoint him.

In February, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela released a report on Motsoeneng, while he was acting COO. She found his salary increased from R1.5 million to R2.4m in one year, that he had purged senior staff, and misrepresented his matric qualifications to the SABC.

Madonsela recommended that a new COO be appointed at the SABC within 90 days.

In July, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi announced Motsoeneng&39;s permanent appointment.

Motsoeneng is appealing against the court ruling that he be suspended.

As part of a ruling on the matter, Schippers said: "Unlike an order or decision of a court, a finding by the public protector is not binding on persons and organs of state.

"However, the fact that the findings of and remedial action taken by the Public Protector are not binding decisions, does not mean that these findings and remedial action are mere recommendations, which an organ of state may accept or reject."

The protector&39;s office has expressed concern over the "wide spread confusion" caused by this judgment -- as well as the way it could "severely compromise" the office&39;s mandate.

City Press reported that according to the papers filed, Madonsela said that having to turn to the courts each time a government department declined to enforce her findings would financially cripple the protector&39;s office and negatively affect its functioning.

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