Advocate Dali Mpofu, the legal representative of suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, has told the Parliament impeachment inquiry into her fitness to hold the office that her “sin” is that she cares for the well-being of citizens, and for doing that she has been portrayed as an “incompetent mad woman”.
Mpofu said this on Tuesday during his cross-examination of the former senior investigator at the office of the Public Protector, Tebogo Kekana.
It was Kekana’s second day testifying before the inquiry that is in its second week.
Kekana testified on Monday that Mkhwebane had insisted that a recommendation calling for a constitutional amendment for the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank be included in her CIEX report.
This is one of Mkhwebane’s many reports that have been taken on judicial review and were set aside. He further alleged that the final recommendation relating to the constitutional amendment was provided by the State Security Agency.
READ: Mkhwebane allegedly told investigators to not implicate politicians in Vrede Dairy Farm report
In his cross-examination, Mpofu said there was nothing wrong with asking for a constitutional amendment, and that many South Africans did it all the time.
He had earlier mentioned that in his final state capture report, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, had also made a recommendation for a constitutional amendment for the president to be directly elected.
Mpofu, reading the part that related to the constitutional amendment in the report, asked Kekana how a recommendation that called for the Reserve Bank to “promote balanced and sustainable economic growth in the Republic while ensuring that the socioeconomic well-being of the citizens is protected” could be “harmful to anybody”.
But Mpofu further probed if there was anything wrong with a recommendation asking for the Reserve Bank, in consultation with Parliament, to ensure that there is “meaningful social-economic transformation”, as per Mkhwebane’s report.
Kekana responded that there was nothing wrong.
Asked Mpofu: “And is it fair that someone whose only sin is, therefore, to promote the socioeconomic well-being of citizens be projected by the real owners of South Africa as an incompetent and a mad woman?”
But Kekana said he did not know what Mpofu was talking about.
“You live in South Arica, do you regard it as fair that someone whose only sin is to suggest that there must be all these things you and I spoke about, the social economic well-being of citizens is protected, should be portrayed by apartheid apologists and clever blacks as a mad woman and an incompetent mad woman?” probed Mpofu.
Kekana said his general view was that it would not be a bad thing to promote or protect the socioeconomic well-being of citizens.
Mpofu suggested that there was nothing Mkhwebane could do in the eyes of the “owners of South Africa” that was deemed correct.
In his testimony on Monday, Kekana alleged, among other things, that Mkhwebane had also asked in the Vrede Dairy Project report that no adverse findings be made against politicians, including former Free State premier and suspended ANC secretary general Ace Magashule and that they should not use the Gupta leaks information.
These startling claims were also made in a protected disclosure he made to the Speaker of Parliament and the presidency against Mkhwebane.
Mpofu said Mkhwebane would “deny” that she told investigators not to rely on the Gupta leaks.
“The only thing she did was to caution about the authenticity of some of that information because at that stage, remember, you have to think back to 2017, at that stage there were some questions that were being raised [about the leaks]. But she never gave you a blanket ban not to use that information.”
Mpofu also said that Mkhwebane would “deny the insinuation” that she instructed that no adverse findings be made against politicians in the Vrede report.
READ: Mpofu's strategy: Discredit! Discredit! Discredit!
He said there was nothing wrong with the Public Protector or any institution asking that people who were not implicated in an investigation be removed. Kekana agreed that there was nothing wrong with removing someone who is not implicated in the report.
“Thank you. So, the point I’m making Mr Kekana is a simpler one that the hullabaloo about the mere act of removal, or even the insertion for that matter, is meaningless. Unless if we know whether there was a good reason for that name to be included or excluded. I’m sure you’d agree just as an investigator to that general proposition,” said Mpofu.
However, later while being asked questions by the members of the committee, Kekana said in one of the draft reports some politicians were implicated.
“Those findings chair related to, I cannot remember the specific findings in those drafts, but I remember chair that the pollical office bearers knew about the irregularities that were happening in the project,” said Kekana.
Mkhwebane allegedly said then MEC of agriculture, land reform, and rural development Mosebenzi Zwane should also be removed from the report. Kekana was asked if Mkhwebane was protecting the politicians by saying their names should be removed from the report. He said he did not have a view on that as he did not know why she had asked for the names to be removed.
On Tuesday, Mpofu said Kekana’s testimony should not be “accepted” and he should be viewed as a disgruntled former employee. He said Kekana had made the protected disclosure because he did not want to face further charges.
Kekana was dismissed in 2020 after he was found guilty of sharing unauthorised information. He lost the case at the CCMA and is currently appealing in the Labour Court.
“Actually, it should not be accepted at all, because you’re an unreliable and dishonest witness. What would you say to that?”
“Chair, I have given evidence to this committee and it’s up to this committee to use that evidence anyway,” responded Kekana.
African Transformation Movement leader, Vuyo Zungula, also insinuated that Kekana’s testimony should not be accepted as the “gospel truth” because he had been found to be dishonest.
“The disciplinary hearing found that you were dishonest, on your affidavit you make claims that are not backed up by any form of evidence and you are saying your memory is impaired to a certain extent, and that is why you cannot recall some of the things that transpired long ago.
“When Advocate Mpofu was asking about the dishonest issue you were very evasive in answering that particular issue.
Why should the committee take your evidence as the gospel truth whereas, firstly, you were found to be dishonest, and the CCMA report states that your dismissal for gross misconduct was fair, meaning you are not a person of integrity?” Zungula asked:
Kekana said he answered all the questions to the best of his knowledge and truthfully. He said there was a pending matter before the Labour Court about the findings of the hearing and the CCMA award.
“So, I do not consider the issues emanating around the findings in that hearing and the CCMA not being final and that is why I am at the Labour Court,” said Kekana.