Mkhwe­bane has to ex­plain her­self, again

Rul­ings against the pub­lic pro­tec­tor — who has been in of­fice for just 18 months — add up

Financial Mail - - BETWEEN THE CHAINS -

Did the pub­lic pro­tec­tor shield ANC sec­re­tary-general Ace Ma­gashule and former min­eral re­sources min­is­ter Mosebenzi Zwane from a probe into a dodgy dairy project in the Free State?

The Coun­cil for the Ad­vance­ment of the SA Con­sti­tu­tion (Casac) in­sists that ad­vo­cate Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane pro­tected the politi­cians and de­lib­er­ately wa­tered down a re­port on the Vrede farm project pro­vi­sion­ally pre­pared by her pre­de­ces­sor, Thuli Madon­sela.

It will seek a court or­der to set aside the re­port.

Is there an end in sight to the chal­lenges to re­ports is­sued by the pub­lic pro­tec­tor, who has been in of­fice for only 18 months?

Mkhwe­bane has al­ready been called to ex­plain her­self in par­lia­ment.

In March she lost an ap­pli­ca­tion for leave to ap­peal against a judg­ment and a sub­se­quent or­der that she per­son­ally pay 15% of the costs of an ap­pli­ca­tion by the SA Re­serve Bank.

In this case Casac and the DA ap­plied to the high court in Fe­bru­ary for the re­port to be set aside.

Since then, Casac says, it has ob­tained the record of de­ci­sion. This re­vealed that a na­tional trea­sury re­port‚ which had not pre­vi­ously been made pub­lic‚ pointed to the role of then Free State premier Ma­gashule and then MEC for agri­cul­ture Zwane in fa­cil­i­tat­ing the project.

Casac adds that the pub­lic pro­tec­tor’s fi­nal re­port makes no ref­er­ence to a pro­vi­sional re­port hav­ing been pre­pared, as is the cus­tom in such in­ves­ti­ga­tions. And the record shows that it was Madon­sela who pre­pared a pro­vi­sional re­port.

The thrust of Mkhwe­bane’s pub­lic re­sponse is that pro­vi­sional re­ports have no le­gal sta­tus. She was un­der “no le­gal obli­ga­tion to im­ple­ment any pur­ported un­signed pro­vi­sional re­port that she would have found in of­fice on as­sump­tion of duty”, her of­fice said this week.

Mkhwe­bane said a read­ing of the pro­vi­sional re­port would show that the in­volve­ment of the politi­cians was never part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and nei­ther did it form part of the re­port.

Her re­sponse may not bring the pub­lic clar­ity, but Casac’s high court pe­ti­tion cer­tainly will.

Sun­day Times

Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane: A wa­tered-down re­port?

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