Dishonest conduct which falls short of the standard required; a flawed model of investigation; a willingness to put forward a number of "falsehoods"; acting in "bad faith". These are just a few of the choice phrases used by the Constitutional Court last month to describe public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s probe into the apartheid-era loan made by the SA Reserve Bank to Bankorp (now part of Absa).

That was Mkhwebane’s first major decision as public protector and it stunned the country, precisely because she made an order she never had the power to make: directing parliament to change the constitution to alter the Reserve Bank’s mandate. The Constitutional Court gave it short shrift.

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