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Business Unity SA calls on parliament to remove 'disruptive' public protector

Business Unity of SA has called for the head of protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Business Unity of SA has called for the head of protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Business Unity South Africa (Busa) has called on parliament to remove public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane for threatening SA’s "project of economic justice, certainty [and] security".

“Busa has been driven to make this extraordinary request by the accumulation of missteps and unconstitutional behaviour by the current public protector since she took office three years ago, which has the effect of creating significant policy and institutional uncertainty at a crucial time in South Africa’s history,” wrote Busa president Sipho Pityana in a petition to National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise on Tuesday.

“The public protector has been shown to consistently exhibit a poor understanding of both the law as well as the powers of the public protector. In addition to this, the public protector has also brought the independence of the office into question,” he added.

His call comes after Pravin Gordhan filed papers at the Pretoria high court on Tuesday to review and set aside Mkhwebane’s adverse findings against him in a report released on Friday.

Her report found that Gordhan had improperly approved the early pension payout for former SA Revenue Service (Sars) official Ivan Pillay. As part of her remedial action Mkhwebane recommended that President Cyril Ramaphosa takes disciplinary action against Gordhan.

Ramaphosa is set to announce his cabinet on Wednesday evening at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Pityana questioned the timing of the release of the report into Gordhan during his tenure as finance minister. “This deliberately disruptive conduct cannot be overlooked and must be urgently investigated,” he said.

Gordhan has claimed that the timing of Mkhwebane's report was “suspicious”, “politically motivated” and enabled “a renewal of the ongoing political campaign against me by proponents of ‘state capture’ and defenders of corruption”.

Several of Mkhwebane’s previous reports - covering the apartheid-era state bail-out of Absa, the role of the SA Reserve Bank, the Vrede dairy farm project and former rural development and land reform minister Gugile Nkwinti - have been overturned by the courts.

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