Speaker of Parliament, Baleka Mbete, said she was returning the final report given to her on Friday, by outgoing Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on investigations into allegations of state capture by the wealthy Gupta family.
In a statement, Parliament said that Mbete received a letter from Madonsela on Friday requesting that she preserve and keep the report on state capture safe until her successor assumes office.
“The Speaker has an obligation in terms of the Rules of the Assembly to table all documents received for the information of Members, in order to ensure that the business of the Assembly is conducted in an open and transparent manner. This report however cannot be handled in the same manner,” Parliament said.
“The report will accordingly be returned to the Office of the Public Protector.”
According to the statement, Madonsela described the report at an “investigation into complaints of alleged improper and unethical conduct by the president and other state functionaries relating to alleged improper relationships and involvement of the Gupta family in the removal and appointment of ministers and directors of State Owned Entities (SOES) resulting in improper and possibly corrupt award of state contracts and benefits to the Gupta family’s businesses”.
On Friday afternoon, Madonsela told a press conference in Pretoria that she gave Mbete the report for safekeeping.
“Clause B [of Friday’s High Court ruling by Judge Dawie Fourie] says the report shall be preserved and kept in safekeeping. That is not an interim report, that is my final report,” Madonsela said at a briefing at Public Protector House in Pretoria.
“We have given it to the Speaker of Parliament for safekeeping.”
Earlier on Friday, the High Court in Pretoria heard that Madonsela would not be releasing her much anticipated report on allegations of state capture.
Advocate Azhar Bham, for the Public Protector, told Judge Fourie that even though the report has been finalised and signed off, Madonsela had taken the decision not to release it on Friday “only as a courtesy to the court”.
Fourie issued a “preservation order”, which means the findings of the report cannot be public and the report has to be kept in “safekeeping”. He postponed the matte to November 1.
Opposition parties including the Congress of the People, Democratic Alliance, Economic Freedom Fighters and the United Democratic Movement had joined the court case, opposing Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen’s applications to interdict Madonsela from releasing the report on state capture.
Madonsela left the office on Friday, as her seven-year term came to an end. She had earlier in the week announced that she would release her preliminary report into allegations of “state capture” by the controversial Gupta family.
The Guptas have been accused of influencing the appointment of cabinet ministers — a prerogative of the president — and other senior government officials in order to benefit their business concerns.
President Jacob Zuma, who has strong ties to the wealthy Gupta family, on Thursday applied for an interdict to halt the release of the report. This came three days after he demanded an undertaking from Madonsela that she would not wrap up her investigation until he had been allowed to question other witnesses in the investigation.
The president asked for more time and complained that he was given two days’ notice before Madonsela interviewed him last Thursday, and was expected to give evidence on matters of which he was not forewarned when she requested the meeting.
Madonsela had indicated that she would release the report on Friday, but has since said on advice from her legal team she would not be doing so.
She, however, insists Zuma has had enough time, since March 22 this year, to answer her questions on the Gupta’s alleged influence on the State.
Zuma and Van Rooyen have come under fire for interdicting Madonsela, with political parties and analysts accusing them of panicking and applying delaying tactics in the midst of possible damning findings.
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