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Corruption Watch calls for Mkhwebane to resign

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Corruption Watch has called on Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to resign following a series of “appalling” reports coming from her office and her performance before the parliamentary portfolio committee on justice on Tuesday.

Mkhwebane came under criticism on Tuesday for her handling of the investigation into the Estina dairy farm project in Vrede. MPs asked why she did not interview the failed project’s beneficiaries and whether she could be trusted as the custodian of the Executive Members Ethics Act.

Corruption Watch said despite increasing questions from the public about Mkhwebane’s ability to fulfil her role as an independent public protector‚ it had been prepared to give her the opportunity to settle into the difficult position‚ and show her willingness to stand up to political pressure under the Zuma administration.

Corruption Watch said after a series of appalling reports emanating from her office and after her performance before the portfolio committee on Tuesday‚ the organisation was increasingly persuaded that she should resign‚ or be removed from office through the required parliamentary processes.

“Recent reports emanating from the public protector demonstrate an extraordinary level of professional incompetence and‚ of greater concern‚ a lack of integrity‚” executive director of Corruption Watch David Lewis said.

He said Mkhwebane had‚ in the course of her work‚ not only incurred the displeasure of the public but had suffered the extraordinary rebuke of having a personal costs order imposed on her by the Pretoria High Court.

This related to her conduct in her report on the Absa-Bankorp report‚ which found that Absa should repay R1.1-billion to the Reserve Bank. The high court set aside the remedial action by Mkhwebane.

“She is clearly not fit to occupy this high office and must go or be removed‚” Lewis said.

Lewis said The Estina Dairy farm project represented a clear example of Mkhwebane’s willingness to protect high profile individuals such as Free State Premier Ace Magashule and former Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.

Lewis said Magashule and Zwane were centrally implicated in the Estina project and their roles should have been investigated by the public protector.

“Instead neither Magashule nor Zwane’s names are mentioned in her report‚” Lewis said.

Lewis said through her actions‚ Mkhwebane had demonstrated the extent to which she had been captured by political interests and was driven by the desire to protect the “big person” at the expense of the “little person.

This was despite her commitment when assuming office to focus on the most disadvantaged individuals and communities.

Last month‚ the Democratic Alliance called for Mkhwebane to resign following the setting aside of her remedial action on the Absa-Bankorp matter.

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