'Hell no, I won't go'
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane comes out swinging in parliamentary hearings
Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane has made it clear to MPs she’s not about to bow out any time soon as she plans to serve her full non-renewable seven-year term.
Mkhwebane came under fire in parliament on Tuesday as both ANC and opposition MPs criticised her handling of the Estina Dairy Farm report. They also questioned why she saw the need to meet the State Security Agency and former president Jacob Zuma at a time when she was finalising the CIEX report which examined the South African Reserve Bank’s bail-out of Bankorp during apartheid.ANC MPs in the justice portfolio committee were clearly divided as backbenchers Loyiso Mpumlwana and former State Security minister Bongani Bongo leapt to Mkhwebane’s defence. But committee chairperson Mathole Motshekga took matters into his own hands.
Motshekga and opposition MPs such as the DA’s Glynnis Breytenbach and the ACDP’s Steve Swart gave Mkhwebane a hard time as to why her Estina Dairy Farm report did not probe the alleged role of former Free State agriculture MEC Mosebenzi Zwane and premier Ace Magashule in the scandal.
The Estina dairy farm was set up as a local economic development project under Zwane’s watch and the Gupta e-mail leak revealed last year that about R30-million from the project was used to fund a lavish Gupta family wedding in Sun City.
Zwane and Magashule are said to be close to the Guptas and the son of the Free State premier, who is now also the secretary-general of the ANC, is a business associate of the Gutpas.
Mkhwebane told MPs on Tuesday that she had not examined the alleged role of Magashule and Zwane as they were not mentioned in the original complaint that triggered the Estina investigation and also due to constrained resources.
But MPs dismissed her explanations as “baseless and vague” and also accused her of “protecting politicians”.EFF MP Sam Matiase challenged Mkhwebane to follow Zuma’s example and resign because of her recent fumbles, but she would have none of that.
“Honourable Matiase indicated that I should must do a good thing and resign like the former President Zuma … I must indicate, Honourable Matiase, I committed to serve South Africans in this particular aspect and the process to appoint the public protector was transparent and the national assembly recommended (me) to the then president for appointment. I don’t think he had anything to do with my appointment,” said Mkwhebane.
The public protector said it was unfair for her fitness to hold office to be questioned on the basis of a single adverse court ruling.
The High Court last year found Mkhwebane had over-stepped her constitutional mandate when she instructed parliament to change the mandate of the Reserve Bank as one of her recommendations in the CIEX report.
Mkhwebane also denied personally meeting Zuma over the CIEX report, saying she had met with his legal advisor at the time.
Mkhwebane also received support from members of the Black First Land First movement, who arrived at the committee meeting holding placards saying, among other things, that “MPs protecting WMC must be fired” and “Mkhwebane persecuted for recommending reforming SARB”.
But the BLF members quickly left the meeting after Motshekga called the parliamentary bouncers to come and eject them.