I’m being sabotaged by staff, says public protector

Date: 31 May 2021

PUBLIC Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has accused some of her colleagues in her office of working with certain people, leaking confidential information, sabotaging her office and interfering with her work as the country’s protector.

“Some of the court cases my office has lost are as a result of a few people within my office who are deliberately hiding information from me and secretly meeting with some parliamentarians in an effort to remove me from office,” Mkhwebane told The Star’s sister paper, the Daily News, yesterday.

“In one instance two of these individuals misrepresented me, they hid evidence and I signed a report without that record because I was unaware something was missing. When taken on review and accused of hiding some rule 53 record, wanting personal costs against me, they told counsel that the matter is reviewable,” said Mkhwebane.

She claimed that she was being punished for the work conducted by people who were deliberately misrepresenting her, and that they did so because they were working with those who wanted her out.

"There appears to be a concerted effort to tarnish my name and it is unfair that my successful cases are not being reported by the media,“she said.

Last year, the North Gauteng High Court sitting in Pretoria ruled that Mkhwebane's findings that Minister Pravin Gordhan established an illegal unit had no sound legal basis.

Last Friday, the high court also rejected Mkhwebane’s appeal bid to challenge the 15% personal cost order granted against her.

Democracy in Action leader Thabo Mtsweni said the movement would continue supporting Mkhwebane based on principle because they understood the importance of having a fearless public protector who continued doing her work “even when others make it difficult for her to hold the executive accountable”.

“She is surrounded by the enemy because she has touched the untouchable. We appreciate the work being done by her, thus we intend to raise funds for her to pay legal costs as ordered by the court,” said Mtsweni.

Earlier in May during an address at the general meeting of the Black Lawyers Association in Limpopo, Mkhwebane complained that she was unfairly criticised “for being in cahoots” with so-called factions of the governing party.

She said it was not within her personal knowledge which ANC politicians belonged to which faction or whether those factions existed.

Mkhwebane said that staff in her office only learnt from the media which politician belonged to which faction.

Since she took office in October 2016, she has made adverse findings across the purported factional divide where evidence of wrongdoing existed.

“The findings included President Cyril Ramaphosa, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, former minister Lynne Brown, former minister Des van Rooyen and ANC National Executive Committee member Malusi Gigaba. These are some of the high-profile politicians I made adverse findings against,” Mkhwebane said.

Mkhwebane mentioned she had also made unfavourable findings against suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and former Mineral Resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane.

“If there are factions that exist, then I clearly belong to no one because I have never favoured politicians and protected them from taking responsibility for any wrongdoing,” she said.

Mkhwebane explained that others, including Brown and Van Rooyen, were relieved of their positions as ministers by Ramaphosa as a result of her findings.

THABO MAKWAKWA thabo.makwakwa@inl.co.za

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