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

accreditation
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane exchanges contact details with complainants after presenting her office’s annual performance plan and budget to the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services. (Supplied)
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane exchanges contact details with complainants after presenting her office’s annual performance plan and budget to the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services. (Supplied)

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, addressed members of Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services on Wednesday, in what one member of the committee called a "presentation by a Public Protector who is very angry and aggrieved."

Mkhwebane's been under increasing fire since she released a report into Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan relating to his time as SA Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner last week.

She put up a defiant stance before the justice portfolio committee, maintaining the independence of her office.

These are the top quotes from Mkhwebane's visit to Parliament:

1. "Of late, there has been a debate on whether we have the power to investigate alleged money laundering in relation to one of the matters before us. Our view is, depending on the nature of the complaint, we can invoke this law (the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act) to deal with that kind of case."

This statement was made in apparent reference to reportage that indicated that Mkhwebane was investigating President Cyril Ramaphosa for alleged money laundering related to donations from controversial facilities management company Bosasa (now African Global Operations), to his ANC presidential campaign.

2. "While it may come across as a waste of time to mention this 'obvious' information, recent history has taught us never to assume that our powers are understood by all and sundry, most especially those who are expected to be conversant with the constitutional and legislative framework relating to the Public Protector."

3. "...we recently had a senior member of the executive accusing the office of venturing into political territory when investigating a complaint lodged in terms of the Executive Members' Ethics Act. So the members of the executive in question appeared to be under the impression that the institution just decided to pursue these matters for investigation whereas we've received complaints and we are obligated to investigate."

EFF MP and spokesperson and member of the portfolio committee, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi clarified that the above statements referred to comments ANC national chairperson and Minerals and Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe, who, according to a report in News24, said of the Public Protector that "there are times when you think that she has occupied a political space that does not belong to her."

  

4. "Every single person in the republic has their own ideas as to how it [Public Protector's office] should be done. If we've taken a decision they do not like, we are 'incompetent, we are biased, involved in political factionalism or not fit for office etc.'"

Fin24 previously reported that Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan filed a scathing affidavit in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, saying the Public Protector revealed "stunning incompetence, irrationality and negligence" in the performance of her duties.

This, after Mkhwebane found Gordhan guilty of violating the Executive Members' Ethics Act by "lying to Parliament" about a meeting he had had with a Gupta brother, as well as in setting up the co-called SARS "rogue unit" when he was SARS commissioner in 2009.

5. "Since the commencement of my tenure, a total of seven reports have been set aside on grounds of irrationality, unreasonableness and so forth. Only two of these were issued by me while the rest predate my incumbency."

6. "This institution hardly had a problem of review applications against reports until the Constitutional Court ruled in March 2016 that the Public Protector's remedial action is binding. Since then, the number of review applications has been on an upward trend."

7. "On the complaints which are lodged in terms of the Executive Members' Ethics Act, definitely it involves the executive and unfortunately, it's lodged by members of Parliament who belong to other political parties. We operate in a political space but as an office, we are never influenced by what is happening."

Mkhwebane also referred to a February 2018 High Court order in terms of which she was found personally liable for part of the legal costs incurred by the SA Reserve Bank in the Bankorp matter.

8. "On the issue of the Constitutional Court matter, the Public Protector is paying for or funding the litigation in this particular matter...if I perform my work in good faith there's that issue of immunity from that personal litigation."

Mkhwebane was responding to a question by a portfolio committee member as to whether she made full use of her legally inscribed powers in relation to her recent report into the so-called "rogue unit".

In that report, Mkhwebane found that spying equipment was irregularly procured.

9. "I must indicate that during the investigation [into alleged irregular procurement of intelligence gathering equipment, we've subpoenaed the information, there was lack of cooperation, some of them we've opened criminal cases for failure to cooperate with the Public Protector, others we've approached the court for a declaratory order especially if it involves members of the executive who were not cooperating with the Public Protector."

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