Q&A

Sunday Times - - Opinion - Had she de­nied it? Wasn’t she en­ti­tled to? Have you seen it? What does it re­veal?

Pub­lic pro­tec­tor Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane says sug­ges­tions by the Coun­cil for the Ad­vance­ment of the SA Con­sti­tu­tion that she pro­tected politi­cians in the Vrede dairy scan­dal are false. Chris Bar­ron asked CASAC’s LAWSON NAIDOO . . .

Did she pro­tect Ace Ma­gashule and Mosebenzi Zwane?

Now that we have the back­ground doc­u­ments it is very clear she did.

Do you be­lieve she was act­ing on in­struc­tions?

That is some­thing she will have to ex­plain. She’s con­ceded now that there was a pro­vi­sional re­port that was pre­pared by her pre­de­ces­sor, Thuli Madon­sela.

She didn’t deny it but she did not in­clude any ref­er­ence to it in her own fi­nal re­port pub­lished in Jan­uary. So we were un­aware of the ex­is­tence of this re­port un­til the record of de­ci­sion was made avail­able to us at the end of March.

Why should she have made ref­er­ence to it in her re­port?

She ought to have said on what ba­sis she changed its rec­om­men­da­tions.

She was, but needed to pro­vide a ra­tio­nale for do­ing so. She has changed crit­i­cal as­pects of the re­me­dial ac­tion that ex­on­er­ates, or cer­tainly takes out of the pic­ture, cer­tain key po­lit­i­cal play­ers with­out pro­vid­ing any ex­pla­na­tion.

She says it had no le­gal sta­tus . . .

No­body’s dis­put­ing the fact that the pro­vi­sional re­port has no le­gal bind­ing sta­tus. But at the very least, as a mat­ter of logic, she ought to ex­plain why she de­cided to dif­fer from the con­tents of that pro­vi­sional re­port.

She says it wasn’t even signed.

Whether or not it was signed is a mere tech­ni­cal­ity she’s seek­ing to hide be­hind.

She says the pro­vi­sional re­port shows that the in­volve­ment of politi­cians was never part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The fact that it wasn’t in­ves­ti­gated was down to her.

We have now. It has been made avail­able to us as a re­sult of the court process. We’re also in re­ceipt of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by Na­tional Trea­sury in 2013. Again, a crit­i­cal doc­u­ment not re­vealed in her ini­tial re­port.

It picked up that there were pos­si­ble fraud­u­lent as­pects of the pro­ject.

Did it point fin­gers at Ma­gashule and Zwane?

It made ref­er­ence to the roles they played in pro­vid­ing po­lit­i­cal ap­proval, and it sig­nalled the in­volve­ment of the Gupta fam­ily.

So it raised sig­nif­i­cant red flags?

Very sig­nif­i­cant red flags.

Should it have been made pub­lic sooner?

It should in­deed have been made pub­lic, and should have been at­tached to the pub­lic pro­tec­tor’s fi­nal re­port.

Shouldn’t the Trea­sury it­self have made it pub­lic when it was clear she had ig­nored its red flags?

There’s cer­tainly a good ar­gu­ment for that to have hap­pened. I agree they should have. There should have been an obli­ga­tion on Trea­sury to make it pub­lic.

Does this make for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba com­plicit in the cover-up?

That may be a stretch too far, but cer­tainly Trea­sury would need to ex­plain why they took a de­ci­sion not to make the re­port pub­lic when they re­alised that it had been with­held from her re­port.

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