The release of the Public Protector’s report implicating ANC leaders in the Eastern Cape is a useful tool for voters when they are deciding who to vote for, said political analyst Nkosikhulule Nyembezi.
He said this was, however, no reason for the governing party to cast aspersions on the office of the Public Protector when it has nothing to hide.
Last week, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane released a report in which she found that ANC provincial chairperson and Premier Oscar Mabuyane, MEC of public works Babalo Madikizela and the provincial ANC itself benefited to the tune of R450 000, R350 000 and R280 000 respectively from a total of R1.1 million siphoned from the former Mbizana Local Municipality (now known as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Municipality).
The monies were meant for the memorial service of the late struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who was born in Mbizana.
“The report is an outcome of a thorough investigation. The report itself is binding unless set aside by a court of law. The tone of the ANC as an organisation that allows access to public resources does not signal in the eyes of the public that indeed nothing is wrong.”
Both Mabuyane and Madikizela have decided to take the report for judicial review, questioning the process and substantive facts of the report.
ANC questions integrity and timing of report
The report on allegations of corruption, maladministration or misuse of public funds by senior and executive government officials from the Mbizana municipality and Eastern Cape provincial government has caused debate in the country, with calls for Mabuyane and Madikizela to step aside or be removed until they are cleared.
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The ANC, which is also implicated to have benefited from the siphoned monies, has since closed ranks around Mabuyane and Madikizela, questioning the timing of the release of the report and accusing the Public Protector of playing into the factional politics.
After a special provincial executive committee meeting to consider the report, provincial secretary of the ANC in the Eastern Cape Lulama Ngcukayithobi said:
Public Protector rejects allegations of factionalism
Nyembezi said that nobody should question the timing of the release of the report if they have nothing to hide.
Mkhwebane’s office rejected the claims of the ANC.
Oupa Segalwe, spokesperson for the Public Protector, said:
In terms of the Public Protector Act, during the course of an investigation, any person who is implicated must be afforded an opportunity to respond to the allegations.
Segalwe said the last two responses to notices served on implicated parties under the act were received on July 13 and 22.
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They were from Madikizela and the municipal manager of Mbizana municipality, Luvuyo Mahlaka, both of whom requested extensions to file their submissions.
“Once all the responses were in, the investigation team had to study and analyse the submissions, conduct legal research, draft the report, have it quality-assured at investigation branch level, and again at other internal fora such as the ‘full bench’ – where the Public Protector, deputy Public Protector, chief operations officer, heads of investigations and legal services officials sit to peer-review reports before they are signed for release. The report was released along with seven others at the office’s most recent end-of-quarter media briefing,” Segalwe said.
Opposition parties demand consequences
EFF leader Julius Malema has called for the premier and other ANC politicians involved to be fired and the chairperson of the EFF in the Eastern Cape, Yazini Tetyana, has opened a criminal case against the those implicated in the scandal.
The SA Communist Party (SACP) in the Eastern Cape has called for the two leaders to appear before the party’s Integrity Commission.
Siyabonga Mdodi, spokesperson of the SACP in the province, said: “The SACP views the report in a serious light as it raises serious issues of alleged manipulation of government procurement processes for the benefit of the connected elites.”
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Segalwe said the office would not stop exercising its powers or performing its functions merely because an election was approaching.
He said the office of the Public Protector stood by its report.
“The question that the ANC in the Eastern Cape ought to concern itself with is whether Mabuyane, Madikizela and the party itself benefited from funds siphoned from the public purse under the pretext that the money was going to be used to ferry mourners to the memorial service of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela,” said Segalwe.