Busisiwe Mkhwebane: DA is using the Vrede report ‘as a ploy to oust me’
The party wants an inquiry into the Public Protector’s fitness to hold office
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has accused the DA of using an application to review the controversial Vrede Dairy Farm report as a ploy to get rid of her.
DA chief whip John Steenhuisen last week made a presentation to Parliament’s portfolio committee on justice motivating why there should be an inquiry into Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office.
The committee has reserved its decision in order to give her a chance to respond.
Mkhwebane denied her report on the Gupta-linked Estina dairy farm was a whitewash. In an answering affidavit filed in response to the DA’s review application in which it asks the court to declare that she acted unlawfully as well as to award costs against her in her personal capacity, she claimed she had not acted in bad faith or incompetently in dealing with the report.
The DA application was "steeped in politics", she said.
The DA had never supported her appointment and had been critical about her and her work from the beginning, "with a view to chipping away at the confidence the public and the National Assembly has bestowed in me", she said.
"By this application the DA believes it has finally found an opportunity to get rid of me and simultaneously (not for the first time) tabled a motion in the National Assembly for a probe into my fitness for this office."
It is, however, not just the DA which has taken the report on review but also the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac).
Casac has also asked for punitive costs to be awarded against Mkhwebane after the record filed in court indicated that she altered the provisional report that was done by her predecessor, Thuli Madonsela.
Madonsela’s provisional report recommended that a proper accounting and forensic investigation and audit be conducted by the auditor-general, and that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) should conduct a forensic investigation into maladministration, improper conduct by departmental officials, and unlawful expenditure.
Mkhwebane said the only material difference between her and Madonsela’s remedial action was that she did not consider it within her powers to instruct the SIU, which investigates by presidential proclamation, and the auditor-general to perform forensic and due diligence investigations.
A personal-cost order against her would be an interference with the functioning of the public protector, Mkhwebane said. The Constitution prohibited this, as did the Public Protector Act, she said.
The matter is set down for a hearing on October 23 and 24.