'Serious rot at core' of Mkhwebane's office - former Public Protector COO

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Jan Gerber, News24)
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Jan Gerber, News24)

Former Public Protector Chief Operating Officer (COO) Basani Baloyi has said there is a "crisis" at the office of the Public Protector.

Baloyi has approached the Constitutional Court, after her unsuccessful application to the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, in a bid to declare that Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane failed in her constitutional obligations both as Public Protector (PP) and in her dismissal of Baloyi.

In court papers lodged last month, Baloyi has alleged the reason she was "purged" was because she was an obstacle to Mkhwebane and CEO Vussy Mahlangu.

READ | Mkhwebane vs Baloyi: Axed COO's work was not up to scratch, court hears

Baloyi has slammed Mkhwebane, saying she is biased and has abused her office by manipulating investigations and the release of reports.

"In short, my application shows serious rot at the core of one of the Constitution's most important institutions. This is a crisis," Baloyi says.

She warns of a vicious cycle if the PP is not held accountable.

"For as long as the Public Protector is not completely beyond reproach, her office cannot fulfil its function of holding the powerful to account. The remedial action she proposes lacks legitimacy, and her reports are liable to be set aside on review (as has already happened to Ms Mkhwebane).

'Corruption is given a chance to gain a new foothold'

"Complaints are not properly considered, and competent and principled employees will leave to work elsewhere. Corruption is given a chance to gain a new foothold."

Baloyi further alleges that Mkhwebane is "actively biased" against those she has investigated.

"The facts also show that she is actively biased against the President, the Minister of Public Enterprises and other executive officials.

"They have extremely important work to do, and they cannot do it if the Public Protector, a powerful Chapter 9 institution, treats them as enemies of her office," Baloyi says.

Baloyi adds the application is urgent because time lost is time "as COO that I cannot get back".

She adds it would mean "Mkhwebane is given [time] to continue her current wrongdoing, but with a COO that could be less willing to challenge her".

Mkhwebane has yet to file replying papers to court. News24 has reached out to her spokesperson Oupa Segalwe and his comment will be added once received.

Baloyi is seeking to overturn a High Court decision which found there was no jurisdiction to make a decision on her application regarding her axing, as it is essentially a labour issue.

Baloyi had approached the High Court in 2019 regarding what she said was her illegal dismissal as COO by Mkhwebane and Mahlangu, saying the two had ulterior motives in axing her.

She also wanted the court to declare that Mkhwebane violated her constitutional obligations of independence and impartiality.

However, Mkhwebane maintained that Baloyi's work performance was not up to scratch and denied Baloyi's allegations of wrongdoing, saying they were "scandalous, vexatious and/or irrelevant".

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