Who is the protector batting for?

After two damning judgments by the court it is not justifiable for Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to remain in office, the writer says.
After two damning judgments by the court it is not justifiable for Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to remain in office, the writer says.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

How are South Africans supposed to trust public protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane to carry out her duties of investigating the wrong doing in state affairs, now that two of her reports have been set aside?

The high court in Pretoria yesterday threw out Mkhwebane's report on the Guptas' Free State dairy farm project, declaring it "unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid".

This was the second report by the esteemed advocate to be declared invalid by a court of law.

There was the now infamous Mkhwebane 2017 finding in the matter about the apartheid-era bail-out of Bankorp, which later became Absa, where she ordered parliament to change the Reserve Bank's constitutional mandate to control inflation rate. In a scathing judgment, the court said she did not understand her job or the law.

Once again, yesterday the same court which had heard the two cases, brought by the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution and the DA, ruled that Mkhwebane had failed in her duties under the Public Protector Act, as well as under the constitution in probing the Estina dairy farm project.

The leaked Gupta emails showed that the family had remarkable control over the farm contract between Estina, a company linked to them, and the Free State agriculture department.

The emails revealed that at least R30m paid to the Guptas via the farm ended up funding the family's luxurious Sun City wedding in 2013. But that did not form part of the public protector probe of the project.

In her report, Mkhwebane found that payments to Estina were not done according to Treasury regulations and that the agreement between the provincial department and Estina was invalid.

She also gave no indication of what role was played by then Free State premier Ace Magashule and MEC of agriculture Mosebenzi Zwane. The court ruled this was "irrational".

Whose interests is Mkhwebane protecting? According to the constitution she should serve the public. Turning a blind eye to evidence in the public domain while she investigated Estina makes many question her loyalties.

We call on her to step down, after two damning judgments by the court it is not justifiable why she should remain in office.

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