As Advocate Kevin Malunga prepares to vacate his position as Deputy Public Protector, a rift between him and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane came to light in Parliament earlier on Friday afternoon. Mkhwebane intimated that Malunga’s lack of security clearance had led to him being allocated minor duties.
She said she had asked parliament for guidance on this matter but so far none has been provided.
Mkhwebane, accompanied by Malunga and senior officials of her office, was briefing parliament on her office’s annual report.
“Even the former Public Protector had no high profile matter or the good governance matters were allocated to DPP. Most of the time it was administrative justice and service delivery matters which we allocated. So, it was based purely on that. And then the additional work was allocated to him. We’re having a backlog which has been there since 2013 which also has had an impact on our Department. ”
Malunga tweeted immediately, however, that he had, in fact, worked on high profile cases.
The tweet was pointed out by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) after which Malunga stated to the committee that until Mkhwebane arrived in office, there had been no issues about his security clearance.
“So, I did get involved in high profile matters and did conduct interviews for example for the Free State website. I interviewed the person who got the tender. And I got the basics and in fact everything regarding that report that incriminates the Department in question. I elicited that from the complaint in question; the same for the Mandela funeral, … the same for Pickit-Up and State Capture,” expressed Malunga.
Outgoing Malunga, who finishes his seven-year term at the end of the year also highlighted that he wants greater scrutiny on the reports of the Chapter 9 institution. This follows several damning court rulings against reports of the Office of the Public Protector.
He concedes that there have been “low points” when courts found against the Public Protector’s office.
“I’m finishing my term this is the advice I’m giving you. What we had as the Public Protector has indicated was a think tank mechanism where all reports would be put up and scrutinised line by line by very senior people in the organisation and people would plug holes, they would criticise and so forth. And of course my advice has been to say I think in spite of the expensiveness of that process we might have to bring something back similar to it because the courts have been quite scathing in terms of what they have been saying about our reports.”
Meanwhile, Mkhwebane has also taken a swipe at politicians who she says are undermining her office.
She also disputes that she is acting in the interest of a faction of the African National Congress (ANC).
“My office has been at the receiving end of blistering attacks from members of the executive because then when we have issued reports some would not appreciate the way we have reported on them but this has been raised with the Speaker.”
Mkhwebane says 42% of her 150 reports have been taken on legal review. She says this is becoming a dangerous trend as she is being slapped with personal cost orders.
“The people who are raising the money for the Public Protector understand that our democracy is in danger and if we allow people who are occupying these positions who are there for them being threatened by personal costs orders, it would be a challenge. Therefore it would be a question of allocating the money in my personal space which will be declared and we have a legal opinion on this particular matter.”
She appealed to MP’s for an additional R111 million over the next three years to fund critical positions, hire experts to deal with complex cases and provide security to their office following robberies.