Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane appeared in parliament on Wednesday afternoon to address the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, where she brought to light the revelation that members of the executive in government had accused her office of having “ventured into the realm of politics”.
Later, Economic Freedom Fighters spokesperson Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi took to the mic to allege that ANC national chairperson and Minister of Minerals and Energy Gwede Mantashe was behind these “abusive” allegations.
He accused members of government’s executive committee of abusing their power, adding that he believed they were motivated by “constitutional delinquency”. He brought up Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan as well as Mantashe as those who he claimed were inspiring others to allegedly obstruct Mkhwebane from performing her duties.
This led to a passionate argument between Ndlozi and ANC MP Richard Dyanti, with a question about Mkhwebane from Dyanti leading Ndlozi to slam what he called his “dishonourable” attempt to subject the public protector to a review before parliament.
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Ndlozi said Mkhwebane must be left alone to establish whether the president was guilty of wrongdoing – a reference to her investigation into alleged money laundering on the part of Cyril Ramaphosa’s CR17 campaign for the ANC presidency.
He also alleged that forces within Treasury were denying Mkhwebane funds and called for these to be outed.
This followed Mkhwebane saying that a debate had surrounded her investigation into possible money laundering, with some questioning whether her office had the power to investigate.
In her address to parliament, Mkhwebane claimed allegations of factionalism and incompetence against her were the result of her office making unpopular decisions.
She added that she believed her office was attacked in a way that the judicial system was not.
She noted that while she has been in office 100 reports had been issued, and only 30 had been taken on review. She later added that 16 of the cases under review predated her tenure as public protector.
The parliamentary hearing also saw the office of the public protector’s chief financial officer, Yalekile Lusibane, explaining the budget that had been allocated over the next two years, which he said was over R322 million in total, R185 million of which had been allocated for investigation, with the remaining allocated to remuneration of employees.
He added that a request had been made for an additional R5 million from the committee as a “gratuity” for Mkhwebane, whose tenure would soon be ending. However, she’s still meant to be the public protector until 2023.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)