ANC parliamentary caucus' position on Mkhwebane was not on NEC meeting's agenda - Jessie Duarte

Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)
Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte says the party's national executive committee (NEC) did not discuss what position its caucus in Parliament should take on Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

On Tuesday afternoon, Duarte and secretary general Ace Magashule briefed the media on the outcome of the NEC's recent weekend meeting.

Mkhwebane is currently locked in legal tussles with two ANC leaders - president Cyril Ramaphosa and NEC member Pravin Gordhan - and has made adverse findings against both.

In recent months, ANC or ANC-linked officials have accused the Public Protector of being a "hired gun" and occupying a "political space".

Last month, ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe questioned why Mkhwebane had only investigated donations to Ramaphosa's party presidential campaign, while there were seven candidates in the running for the leadership position.

Speaking at the same event as Mantashe, SACP second deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila described Mkhwebane as a "hired gun of the fightback agenda". He said the Public Protector's office was being used by rogue elements within the intelligence community.

Mkhwebane has denied she is involved in any factional battles.

ANALYSIS: Brutal battering for Mkhwebane as court gives her short shrift

In its official post-NEC statement, the ANC took note of the Public Protector's investigations into its members.

"The NEC noted the various recent reports of the Public Protector affecting some of its leaders and the fact that these have been taken on judicial review. The meeting affirmed its principled support for the Office of the Public Protector, other Chapter 9 institutions and the judiciary," read the statement, which was delivered by Magashule.

Duarte said the ANC considered the matter of reviews through the prism that "a person has a right to review" the Public Protector's findings against them.

"Our take is that when the Public Protector makes a finding against a person, that person has a right to review those findings. And there's a particular process in this country and has been for the last 20 years. The president ... a finding has been made ... he responded by taking it on review. Similarly, with the issues of minister Pravin Gordhan - it's taken on review. The questions of the court finding is that the Public Protector's findings cannot be implemented while there is a review process in place. When we discussed it that's how we looked at it."

When asked about the ANC's position on Mkhwebane, Duarte said it had not discussed whether the party would push for her to be removed.

"We have not discussed that matter at all. We have not taken a view as to whether we'll ask the Public Protector to step down. That's been the narrative in the media at the moment. Our primary focus is can we allow the law to take its course, can we allow the issues that are playing themselves in the courts to take root? When people make submissions they make submissions in defence of themselves. I think that's natural and normal. We shouldn't make it sounds like it's an abnormal thing."

MUST READ: 'Angry and aggrieved' - Top quotes from Mkhwebane's visit to Parliament

Earlier this month, Mkhwebane wrote to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise warning her she would go to court if Parliament continued with a process to assess her fitness to hold office, the Sunday Times reported.

Modise referred the DA's request for Parliament to consider Mkhwebane's suitability for the position to the committee on justice and correctional services last month.

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