Deputy public protector claims Mkhwebane is sidelining him on reports released by office

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane
Image: SANDILE NDLOVU

When it rains it pours in the office of the embattled public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane who has now been accused by her deputy of failing to consult on critical decisions.

Deputy public protector Sifiso Malunga has accused his senior Mkhwebane of sidelining him on decisions regarding reports released by the office.

Speaking on eNCA’s PolitBureau on Monday night, Malunga said he was not consulted on Mkhwebane’s Absa/Bankorp report which has ultimately backfired after the Constitutional Court ordered her to be personally liable for legal costs estimated to be around R900,000.

Malunga said the office had got some things wrong, including Mkhwebane not consulting him adequately.

“I don’t know anything about the Absa report sitting here as deputy public protector. I’m telling you that and I think that should have been done better but I think these are lessons that probably should be learned in future for the institution to grow,” said Malunga.

He denied that this was caused by hostility between himself and Mkhwebane.

However, this is not the first time Malunga has accused Mkhwebane of sidelining him. The spat between the two played itself out in parliament last year.

He said he was being sidelined because he did not have top secret security clearance.

It was also reported that Mkhwebane had stopped Malunga’s involvement in the office’s investigative work for the same reasons.

Mkhwebane at the time confirmed that she had written to then National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete and to the former chair of the justice committee‚ Mathole Motshekga‚ about Malunga's role in light of his vetting. She revealed that‚ as far as she was concerned‚ it was against the law for Malunga “to do the work”.

“I indicated that in my term these are the concerns I have as far as the laws of the country are concerned ... as a committee and myself‚ must we violate those laws‚ especially on the fact that‚ is there work which needs to be done by Malunga when he doesn't have the security clearance?” said Mkhwebane.

She cited the constitution‚ which establishes the State Security Agency and the National Intelligence Strategic Act, as the laws that prohibited Malunga from doing sensitive work.

“I wanted to make sure that I am not violating the laws of this country‚” she said.

Additional reporting by Andisiwe Makinana

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