Mkhwebane clears David Mabuza

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane says she will not allow political events to influence her work.
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane says she will not allow political events to influence her work.

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane on Friday cleared ANC deputy president David Mabuza of two complaints against him in his capacity as Mpumalanga former premier.

One of them related to an allegation that the office of the premier in Mpumalanga, under Mabuza, had allegedly appointed a service provider known as Carol Bouwer Productions improperly to organise a memorial service for Nelson Mandela in 2013. 

The allegation was that a total of R70m was spent on the memorial service in question, R40m of which was paid to Carol Bouwer Productions.

The second matter investigated was whether Mabuza was involved in the procurement of three luxury vehicles by his office worth R5m - a BMW X5, Range Rover Vogue and Audi A8. In the first case, Mkhwebane found that Carol Bouwer Productions was irregularly appointed and that the whole R70m spent was irregular expenditure.

"The part of the allegation that the Mpumalanga office of the premier shifted funds from the compensation of employees [in which Mabuza was alleged to have been involved] to pay for the event is not substantiated. No evidence was found to substantiate the allegation," said Mkhwebane.

On the allegation about the luxury vehicles, Mkhwebane said Mabuza was not involved in what she found to be an irregular purchase of the cars.

Said Mkhwebane: "The allegation that former premier David Mabuza was involved in the procurement of his official vehicles is not substantiated.

"There was therefore no violation of the code by the former premier [Mabuza] in the procurement of the vehicles in this matter."

Meanwhile, on public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan, Mkhwebane said she was not trying to play to the political gallery by releasing a report with adverse findings against him on Friday.

The public protector found that Gordhan had irregularly approved the early retirement of former SA Revenue of Service (SARS) official Ivan Pillay.

Mkhwebane, releasing six reports at her offices in Pretoria on Friday, said President Cyril Ramaphosa must "take appropriate disciplinary action" against Gordhan, who committed the act when he was finance minister.

Moreover, the public protector's remedial action was that SARS should recover the money paid to Pillay.

Mkhwebane said releasing her report now was not an attempt to play to the political gallery given the cabinet appointments due to be announced by Ramaphosa.

"When you say why the rush, it means the public protector must not issue reports whereas I must do my work without fear or prejudice," she said. "Why must political events dictate how I must do my work?."

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