Public Protector to challenge new SARB application

Johannesburg - Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has decided to challenge the latest court application by the SA Reserve Bank for a review of her CIEX report.

The Reserve Bank has kept to its word that it would do everything it could to fight the Public Protector’s report, which allegedly threatens its independence.

Following the reservation of judgment at the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday by Judge John Murphy on the Reserve Bank’s application to have the Public Protector’s remedial action to change its constitutional mandate set aside, the bank put forward another application in the same court for the review of the Public Protector’s report.

According to Public Protector spokesperson Cleopatra Mosana, the organisation would be challenging the subsequent application, which the bank announced on Thursday.

“Yes, we are opposing it,” she said when asked about the challenge.

READ: SARB slams CIEX report on Bankorp in fresh court bid

In his presentation of the Reserve Bank’s case on Tuesday, David Unterhalter SC tore into the Public Protector’s recommendation that the Reserve Bank’s mandate be amended, and said it bordered on contravention of separation of powers.

He added that amending the Constitution was an exclusive power of Parliament, not a chapter 9 institution such as the office of the Public Protector.

“The National Assembly must decide on constitutional amendments, not the Public Protector.

"The Public Protector cannot suggest, request or even presuppose the outcome of the National Assembly’s legislative process,” Unterhalter said.

He added that the actions of the Public Protector had already negatively affected the country’s economy, and the report could potentially cause further financial damage.

READ: Public Protector in 'serious error' about SARB's role - counsel

The hearing of the application was slightly delayed while waiting for Parliament’s counsel, Advocate Ishmael Semenya, who reiterated some of Unterhalter’s arguments that the Public Protector could not dictate to Parliament.

Murphy reserved judgment on the urgent matter, but said he would deliver the judgment before August 18 – the last day of the 60-day period the Public Protector had set for submission of the action plan relating to the remedial actions recommended.

The CIEX report found that an amount of R1.25 billion was illegally gifted to Bankorp-Absa and the matter was referred to the Special Investigating Unit to recommend to President Jacob Zuma to ­reopen the case and recover the money.

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