Mkhwebane defends meeting with Presidency
Party to institute removal steps in parliament
There was nothing sinister about the meeting between public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and the Presidency.
This was the defence given by Mkhwebane’s spokeswoman Cleo Mosana over an explosive Reserve Bank affidavit, claiming the meeting undermined the independence of her office.
Mosana dismissed the affidavit filed at the North Gauteng High Court as “a gross exaggeration of the whole thing”.
In the affidavit the central bank said Mkhwebane wanted to undermine the bank when she discussed her investigation into Absa’s lifeboat with the State Security Agency (SSA).
Yesterday, DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach said the party would urgently institute removal proceedings in parliament against Mkhwebane for first consulting President Jacob Zuma’s legal advisers and discussing recommendations not included in her initial report.
Mosana said the Presidency was among the interested parties in the matter.
She said Mkhwebane would file her response in due course.
The Reserve Bank filed a supplementary affidavit to have Mkhwebane’s final report into the R1.125-billion lifeboat given to Absa and its predecessor Bankorp declared procedurally unfair and irrational.
The bank has also taken issue with the meeting between the Presidency and Mkhwebane, who heads a constitutionally protected institution required to be independent and to conduct its investigations impartially and without fear, favour and prejudice.
It said there was no legitimate basis on which to discuss with the Presidency the proposed remedial action to amend the constitution to deprive the Reserve Bank of its role in protecting the value of the currency.
According to the bank, discussing the report with the Presidency destroys the public protector’s independence.
“The fact that this topic was discussed with the SSA indicates that the public protector’s investigation was aimed at undermining the Reserve Bank,” reads the affidavit filed by the Reserve Bank’s counsel Johannes de Jager.
The Reserve Bank said the attack was evidence of bias, or a reasonable apprehension of bias on Mkhwebane’s part.
“It also shows that her remedial action had an ulterior purpose,” the bank said.
Advocate Paul Hoffman, who submitted the initial complaint on the Absa lifeboat to the public protector’s office, said Mkhwebane must have the opportunity of replying to the serious allegations made against her of ulterior motive, bias and acting in a manner which is procedurally unfair. UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said Mkhwebane was out of order and needed strong legal advice.
Public protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane is under fire for consulting the Presidency.