Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane says those who are speaking out against her are doing so only because they are either facing disciplinary action or know of contemplated action. She has also questioned the timing of their complaints and says she suspects they might be working with those who are trying to have her removed from office.
This follows another complaint to parliament by a senior official in her office about alleged financial mismanagement. One of the complaints is that she spends too much money on litigation. Mkhwebane’s spokesperson, Oupa Sekgalwe, says she is forced to defend herself in court.
“The PP does not just wake up and decide to take people to court. It is those people who take her to court. They filed affidavits citing her as a respondent. That alone forces her to take part in that litigation and therefore spends the money,” says Sekgalwe.
National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise has been asked to investigate the office of the Public Protector for alleged financial mismanagement. In a letter, the Public Protector’s representative in the Free State Sphelo Samuel says he has no other recourse but the Speaker’s office.
Among the allegations is that Mkhwebane has created an atmosphere of fear and that staff are isolated. He also says staff members are unable to perform their duties as they are not provided resources. Samuel has cited the example of not being able to visit their office in Qwaqwa, where there were protests recently.
“We have an office there. I can’t even visit my office. I have to rely on report and I can’t guide the investigation. That is because the office claims not to have money. The reason we don’t have money is because Mkhwebane is using the resources to fight court battle we don’t need to be fighting,” says Samuel.
The Public Protector has also noted with disappointment what she calls the blatant distortions of the explanatory affidavit she deposed to following a court application by the Chairperson of the Judicial Commision of Inquiry into Sate Capture.
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She released a statement to clarify.
— Public Protector SA (@PublicProtector) February 16, 2020