Busiswe Mkhwebane

The controversy between the office of the Public Protector and the alleged Bankorp illegal profit from a billion-rand loan seem to be taking a new look at the Public Protector Busiswe Mkhwebane admits that her decision over the matter was influenced by President Jacob Zuma.

In an affidavit submitted to the Pretoria High Court over the weekend, the public Mkhwebane admitted that she asked the President for a  judicial inquiry into how Bankorp illegally profited from a billion-rand loan.

Embattled Busiswe Mkhwebane has been in for her report which claims that the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) failed to recover the sum of R1.125 billion made between 1985 and 1995 to Bankorp Limited, which was subsequently bought by Absa Bank.

Her report also included a remedial action that the Special Investigating Unit should recover more than R1 billion from Absa. Her recommendations received huge criticism even from the Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba who said that she failed to conduct a diligent investigation as required by law and the Constitution.

However, in her new affidavit revealed by SARB, the public Protector mentioned that she met with President Jacob Zuma who influenced her decision regarding the CIEX report- a 52-page document, formed in the 1990s, that advises South Africa where it could legally recover funds from.

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The document focused on recouping money from the apartheid regime, and their illicit looting of state funds. It also outlined the focus areas to concentrate on. Before ABSA bought them out, Bankorp was targeted as a major resource

“From the discussion during our meeting (with Zuma) I became concerned that my draft remedial action to direct the president to establish a judicial commission may face similar difficulties as currently faced in the State of Capture report,” Busiswe Mkhwebane  said, citing the state capture report as an example of why she was pulling out of a review.

This report, in another way, proves a point on the alleged close ties between the office of the Public Protector and the Presidency. This may as well be a  strong proof for the EFF who have earlier alerted that the Public Protector has been captured.

“One of the things that we have asked our security department to look into because these emails [GuptaLeaks] are too many, we just asked them please you must never miss an email where Busiswe Mkhwebane is exchanging some ideas with these people just to demonstrate that she is captured.

“Once we establish that, the next morning we will be the first one at the door of the court to have her removed,” Malema sometime in June.

Meanwhile, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has slated Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in court papers filed on Monday, saying she was “required to be a check on the abuse of state power, not a vehicle for it”.

In its affidavit, the SARB has accused Mkhwebane of making up new reasons in her replying affidavit, filed last week, that details how she arrived at the conclusion that Absa benefitted from a controversial 1980s bailout of Bankorp.

Busiswe Mkhwebane

While Mkhwebane remained defiant despite suffering a devastating court blow earlier this month, the judges have ordered her to pay 85% of the costs of Absa and the South African Reserve Bank in her official capacity, but to also personally pay 15% of the costs.

At the time of the judgment, Mkhwebane said she was studying it and would decide upon “appropriate action”.

Meanwhile, the Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba‚ the South African Reserve Bank and Absa had complained that Mkhwebane had made findings based on information riddled with factual inaccuracies. These included the findings of previous investigations into the Absa-Bankorp lifeboat as well as non-consideration of material facts provided by other parties.

The public protector’s findings, which were effectively rendered null and void by the court, included that government had neglected its constitutional duty by failing to implement the findings of the Ciex report from a company established by a British investigator, Michael Oatley.

Both the DA and the EFF are calling for Mkhwebane to resign, along with other civic bodies. An EFF’s spokesperson Mbuyiseni Quintin Ndlozi reiterated the court statement which said Adv. Mkhwebane does not fully understand her constitutional duty to be impartial.

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In her latest interview on Sunday, Mkhwebane suggested the judges may not have been objective in their ruling. The public protector insisted she will remain in office until the end of her term in 2023. She also dismissed the suggestions that she was too close to former president Jacob Zuma.

A current report said that society watchdog Outa has planned to write to the speaker of Parliament to call for a debate on Mkhwebane’s suitability for office.