Public Protector defends Gordhan probe, uses YouTube to 'communicate directly' with public

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane on Thursday posted a new YouTube video in which she defended announcing that she had sent a Section 7(9) notice to Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan, saying it was "not a secret" and similar actions had been done in the past.

She said she uploaded the video on YouTube to "communicate directly with South Africans". 

The 2 minute video seems to have been recorded earlier in the week, as she starts by saying "good evening South Africans". In the video she says she had identified "certain statements" made by Gordhan's spokesperson and lawyers claiming it is unprecedented for the Public Protector to announce she will be issuing a section 7(9) notice. 

Mkhwebane appeared to be responding to statements made by the minister's spokesperson Adrian Lackay, who said it was "astounding" that she had made the announcement on YouTube. 

This after Mkhwebane on Monday took to YouTube to announce that she was issuing Gordhan with the notice, and gave him 10 days to respond. The Public Protector issues Section 7(9) notices to give people negatively implicated in provisional reports a chance to respond before the report is made final. This video has been viewed 34 000 times. 

In the video on Thursday - which has been viewed 220 times - she said the issuance of such notice had been announced during the Nkandla probe, and the investigation into former and late Cooperative Governance Minister Sicelo Shiceka. 

Mkhwebane and Gordhan have been involved in a war of words for months over investigations that she has launched into him.

The latest notice appears to be connected to an investigation into the so-called SARS rogue unit, and other matters. Mkhwebane issued Gordhan with a subpoena on April 8 to reply to a complaint lodged with her by the EFF and an anonymous complainant. 

Lackay told Fin24 at the time that the subpoena amounted to an "abuse of office" and the same set of allegations around the rogue unit had been probed by other institutions who found no evidence of illegality. 

The Public Protector's SARS rogue unit investigation appears to be separate from findings she released last month that found Gordhan guilty of 'improper conduct'  in the approval of former-deputy SA Revenue Services Commissioner Ivan Pillay's early retirement and payout.

Lawyers for Gordhan have filed a review application asking the North Gauteng High Court to set aside this report, with the minister, in an affidavit, accusing Mkhwebane of exhibiting "stunning incompetence, irrationality and negligence" in the performance of her duties.

Announcements on YouTube

Mkhwebane, meanwhile, said in the 2 minute YouTube video uploaded on Thursday that she was using YouTube to "directly communicate with South Africans" because she often had to respond "to information which is leaked or sent to the media".

She has not published a media statement on her website since May 21. 

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