EFF leader Julius Malema. Picture: GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP
EFF leader Julius Malema. Picture: GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP

The EFF intends to  defend embattled public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s adverse report on the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA), the country’s financial sector watchdog.

Mkhwebane originally probed allegations of the irregular appointment of curators for certain pension funds by Financial Services Board (predecessor of the FSCA) executive officer Dube Tshidi. This followed from an original complaint lodged with the public protector by the EFF president in April 2017.

Aside from being complainants in the investigation, the EFF has often defended Mkhwebane, especially in the face of attempts to have her removed from office.

Tshidi is now a member of the transitional management committee of the FSCA.

In a letter circulated to all the affected parties, the EFF informed the FSCA that it intended to apply to become a respondent in the matter after the watchdog decided to take the matter on review. FSCA spokesperson Tembisa Marele said they would not oppose the EFF’s application.

“They [the EFF] have until 31 October 2019 to file their papers. The public protector has requested an extension to file her answering affidavit. We have given her until 31 October 2019 to do this,” said Marele.

The matter is only likely to be heard in 2020.

The public protector made a number of adverse findings in the report published in March, beginning with a finding that Tshidi irregularly nominated and recommended curators to manage pension funds in which the Financial Services Board was mandated to intervene.

The main allegation, which Mkhwebane agreed with, is that the same curator, Anthony Mostert, was recommended as the curator to the courts by Tshidi, without Tshidi considering the suitability of other candidates, especially in respect of BEE.

Other findings include that Tshidi failed to manage the conflict of interest in allowing Mostert’s own law firm to assist in the administration of the pension funds while Mostert was the curator, as well as misleading parliament in his representations regarding the relationship.

The FSCA has approached the courts to have the entire report placed under review.

In its reaction to the report the FSCA said Tshidi, during the course of the investigation, “made comprehensive submissions to which she is yet to respond. The FSCA finds the report to be riddled with inaccuracies which indicate that the public protector did not take into account any of the submissions made.”

The EFF did not respond to requests for comment.

thompsonw@businesslive.co.za