Mkhwe­bane turns back on ‘free ad­vice’

Sunday Times - - News | Tragedy - By ANDISIWE MAKINANA

● The pub­lic pro­tec­tor has hired a spe­cial ad­viser to give her coun­sel on cur­rent af­fairs, so­ciopo­lit­i­cal and le­gal is­sues at a cost of R1.2-mil­lion a year in­stead of us­ing a panel that ad­vised her of­fice for free.

This was af­ter she drafted and im­ple­mented a new pol­icy on the ap­point­ment of ad­vis­ers, which gives her pow­ers to do so with­out fol­low­ing re­cruit­ment pro­cesses.

Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane has dis­banded a gov­er­nance ad­vi­sory board ap­pointed by her pre­de­ces­sor, Thuli Madon­sela, which ad­vised pro bono. It was headed by busi­ness­woman Wendy Luhabe. The other mem­bers were gov­er­nance ex­pert Koogan Pillay and char­tered ac­coun­tant Vusi Mok­wena.

Mkhwe­bane dis­banded the panel in April last year and ap­pointed spe­cial ad­viser Sibu­siso Nyembe in April this year on a three­month con­tract. She was to ex­plain her new pol­icy in par­lia­ment this week but failed to show up, cit­ing “a fam­ily emer­gency”. She has been called to an­other meet­ing, at which a re­quest for an in­quiry into her fit­ness to hold of­fice is also ex­pected to be dis­cussed.

Her pol­icy cites the con­sti­tu­tion, the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Act and in­stru­ments al­low­ing such ap­point­ments in or­der to deal with mat­ters ef­fi­ciently and ef­fec­tively: “This re­quires the pub­lic pro­tec­tor to have ac­cess to high-level spe­cial­ist ad­vice on each mat­ter.”

Pub­lic pro­tec­tor spokesman Oupa Se­galwe said there was noth­ing un­to­ward about the ap­point­ment of Nyembe, who was an at­tor­ney of the high court with a BProc de­gree and more than 20 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence.

Mkhwe­bane had opted for an ad­viser to as­sist her achieve her Vi­sion 2023 strat­egy, Se­galwe said. Madon­sela had also had a paid ad­viser, for ad­vice on writ­ing re­ports.

On Twit­ter, Nyembe is a strong de­fender of Mkhwe­bane.

In April, when she was slammed by MPs for in­volv­ing the State Se­cu­rity Agency in her op­er­a­tions, he tweeted: “Only ma­li­cious minds will ques­tion hon­est as­sis­tance be­tween state or­gans!”

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