‘Public Protector is playing politics, not defending the poor’ – Nzimande

Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane
Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is under fire yet again.

This time she’s incurred the wrath of the SA Communist Party, whose general secretary Blade Nzimande tore into Mkhwebane today, calling for an inquiry into her fitness to hold office.

The party held a plenary session over the weekend, where it resolved to call for Parliament to institute inquiry proceedings.

Nzimande, who was appointed as the minister of higher education and training last month, said Mkhwebane’s focus was not in the best interests of the poor, but instead accused her of politicising the office.

“The office of the Public Protector, instead of being preoccupied with defending the poor and vulnerable, has become an instrument of the better-off in society to fight political and other battles. It is for these reasons that the SACP is seriously concerned about the constant scathing court judgments against the current Public Protector. The SACP believes it is imperative for Parliament to carry out an inquiry into her suitability,” Nzimande said.

Referring to court judgments that were passed on the office’s findings into the reports on the SA Reserve Bank and the Estina dairy farm saga, which were found to be unconstitutional, the party insisted that the findings should be enough reason to question her fitness to hold office.

This is not the first time the SACP has criticised the Office of the Public Protector however.

In October 2014 the party accused former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, of not understanding the law in relation to the powers and functions of the office.

“Madonsela has been misleading the public and misrepresenting the powers of this office by claiming that her decisions are binding unless reviewed by a court of law,” the party said at the time.

The criticism against Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office is mounting however.

The Financial Sector Conduct Authority filed papers at the North Gauteng High Court, requesting the court to set aside and review Mkhwebane’s report which found its former board executive Dube Tshidi guilty of impropriety and maladministration.

The findings in the report, issued in March, found that Tshidi acted improperly when he nominated Advocate Anthony Louis Mostert as a curator to administer certain pension funds.

The complaint against Tshidi and Mostert was brought against the Financial Sector Conduct Authority by EFF leader Julius Malema, and alleged that Mostert had received R188 million in curator fees and an additional R48 million in legal fees by the authority.

The matter has been set down for November this year and Mkhwebane is expected to file a replying affidavit.

The Democratic Alliance is also on her case, following reports regarding the leaking of her report on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Bosasagate scandal.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane has asked Mkhwebane to release the full unredacted report within the next 48 hours.

“Over 6 months ago, President Ramaphosa misled Parliament about the R500 000 'donation' received from Bosasa CEO, Gavin Watson, and the clear conflict of interest that exists between him, his son, Andile Ramaphosa and Bosasa,” he said.

“I submitted a complaint to the Public Protector on 23 November 2018 about the President misleading parliament and the conflict of interest in the relationship between the President, his son and Bosasa.

“On the 9th of April I met with Adv Mkhwebane to obtain an update on my complaint who confirmed that while she had initially hoped the investigation would be finalised by February 2019, it became apparent during the process of investigating the matter that the nature and extent of the relationship between the Ramaphosa’s and Bosasa runs much deeper than initially thought.

However, noting that the Executive Members' Ethics Act states that ‘The Public Protector must investigate a complaint on an alleged breach of the code of ethics by a member of the National Assembly and submit a report within 30 days of receipt of the complaint’, Adv Mkhwebane’s report is almost 6 months overdue leaving her with no choice but to act immediately and release the report in the interest of the public.”

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