Former public protector Thuli Madonsela has called on President Jacob Zuma to withdraw opposition to her State of Capture report, and asked the ANC and South Africans to stand up for whistle-blowers.
In a statement, Madonsela noted the removal of former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, as part of the cabinet reshuffle and wished the new ministers well "in their work to the betterment of South Africa and its people".
The ANC had said the sackings were due partly to a breakdown in relations between Pravin Gordhan and Jacob Zuma, as well as an intelligence report that Zuma claimed showed Gordhan and Jonas were plotting against him.
Madonsela said she believed "this end was inevitable in light of the purported whistle-blowing role that was played by former Deputy Minister Mcebisi Jonas in the Public Protector's "The State of Capture" report released in October 2016."
She was, "of the view that relations would always be somewhat poisoned if those under scrutiny are indeed superior -- meaning that there will always be a risk of an abuse of entrusted power to unleash reprisals".
She had warned the ANC, Parliament and the president himself of toxic relations that had already ensued, she continued, and said the only solution was to speedily investigate the allegations to establish who was lying and who was telling the truth.
The statement continued: "Adv Madonsela agrees that the President's discretionary power to hire and fire Ministers and Deputy Ministers is not an issue but a glaring fact is that the key whistle-blower, Mr Mcebisi Jonas simply lost his job without the administrative justice of having had his allegations tested by an independent body. This cannot be ignored."
During her state capture investigations, others within the ANC who spoke up also suffered the same fate, she said.
"Adv Madonsela respectfully believes that this does not augur well for would be whistle-blowers and our country's fight against corruption and efforts aimed at promoting good governance, the rule of law and sustainable democracy.
She believes that when organizations resolve their fallout or toxicity that arises after whistle blowing by kicking the very same whistle blowers out – the rot goes on," the statement added.
She called on the president to immediately appoint a commission of inquiry prescribed in the report. "She also urges the ANC, Parliament and South Africa to join efforts in urging President Zuma to do the right thing."