SACP digs in on Mkhwebane

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

The SA Communist Party (SACP) is taking the fight to public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane as she threatens legal action against its deputy secretary, if he does not apologise in five days.

Mkhwebane has given SACP deputy secretary Solly Mapaila until Friday to support his claims that she was a "hired gun of the fight-back agenda" or retract and issue a public apology.

Mapaila is alleged to have made the remarks during his address at the Nehawu policy conference held in Boksburg last week.

Mkhwebane's spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said: "The letter gives Mr Mapaila five days within which to substantiate his claim or retract and tender an unconditional apology. Failure to do so will see the public protector invoking contempt proceedings against him."

SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo confirmed yesterday that a letter addressed to Mapaila, which had already been referred to their legal team, was received but in the same breath warned that they wouldn't allow anything to shift them from their call that parliament should hold an inquiry into Mkhwebane's fitness to hold office.

"We unwaveringly reiterate the decision taken by our last central committee plenary session for parliament to hold an inquiry into the fitness of Mkhwebane to hold office will not be reversed by anything whatsoever," Mashilo said.

Mashilo said their stance was based on their concerns about "damning court judgments against Mkhwebane".

Mkhwebane has seen two of her reports being reviewed and set aside by the high court, including one related to an apartheid-era bailout to a bank later bought by Absa.

"The latest court judgment, which is on the Vrede dairy farm scandal, shows that she left out implicated senior public representatives and members of the Gupta family when investigating the case," Mashilo said.

Another report by Mkhwebane, which found that public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan had violating the constitution when approving the early pension payout to former South African Revenue Service deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay, has been taken on review.

A newly founded organisation called "Hands off our public protector" said all South Africans needed to protect Mkhwebane.

Thabo Mtsweni, the organisation's spokesperson, said: "Calls for Mkhwebane's removal from office aren't valid, because in law, rulings and judgments will get overturned, that's very normal... that's not a valid reason to call for the public protector's removal.

"The same judges that overturned the public protector's reports also get their judgments overturned by a higher court."

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