Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: AFP
Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: AFP

Why did public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane prioritise and rush investigations into President Cyril Ramaphosa and minister Pravin Gordhan over investigations into Jacob Zuma‚ David Mabuza‚ Bathabile Dlamini and Ace Magashule?

This is the question posed by the dismissed COO in the office of the public protector‚ Basani Baloyi‚ who has told the North Gauteng High Court that Mkhwebane targeted specific people for political gain.

In a replying affidavit‚ Baloyi dismissed Mkhwebane’s assertion that she prioritised the contentious Bosasa and “rogue unit” reports because the law stipulated that she had to finalise them within 30 days.

“There were other Executive Ethics Act cases, which were not finalised within 30 days. Some of these cases came well before the Bosasa and Pravin Gordhan investigations‚” Baloyi said in her papers.

She listed eight examples of cases that dated back to 2013 and 2014‚ involving Zuma and his allies‚ that were not prioritised.

The list included former ministers Faith Muthambi‚ Tina Joemat-Pettersson‚ Mildred Oliphant and former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo.

Baloyi noted that Mkhwebane had since not found against any of these people‚ besides Magashule‚ because the investigations‚ which began in March 2013‚ were still ongoing.

“There were at least eight such cases ... they date back to 2013 and 2014. No steps were taken to expedite them or to prioritise them. No explanation is given whatsoever by the public protector how the cases of Bosasa and Mr Pravin Gordhan‚ which came after these cases‚ received priority‚” Baloyi argued.

Baloyi believed Mkhwebane manipulated the timing and contents of her reports “for reasons other than lawfully accepted reasons”.

“I repeat the statement made that there was manipulation of timing and contents of the report of the public protector‚” she said.

Baloyi approached the North Gauteng High Court not only to get her job back but to have the court declare that Mkhwebane abused her office and violated the constitution.

She referenced four controversial reports‚ all of which are under review‚ to blow the lid on Mkhwebane’s allegedly unlawful actions‚ unethical conduct and breaches of process.

She said the way Mkhwebane handled the complaint about a R500‚000 payment by Bosasa to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s CR17 campaign and the rogue unit investigation against Gordhan were “extremely unusual”.

In response‚ Mkhwebane denied all accusations made against her‚ saying she was simply following the law. She further denied a claim by Baloyi that she abused her office for personal gain.

In her response to Mkhwebane‚ Baloyi stood firm on her assertion that the public protector failed to extend the Bosasa investigation into the NDZ campaign‚ despite evidence from Bosasa boss Gavin Watson that he also donated to minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s 2017 ANC campaign.

“She could not exclude the NDZ campaign and focus selectively on the Ramaphosa campaign in light of the evidence she had. This was made clear to her‚ but she refused to entertain the suggestion‚” Baloyi said.

Baloyi told the court that “the entire termination of my employment was a sham”.

The matter will be heard on Tuesday in the North Gauteng High Court with advocate Dali Mpofu representing Mkhwebane‚ while advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi will act on behalf of Baloyi.

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