Busisiwe Mkhwebane, the new public protector, was due to lock horns with President Jacob Zuma in court on Tuesday to defend the much-anticipated state capture report.
It is the same Mkhwebane that Zuma wanted the report on state capture to be deferred to. Mkhwebane has also made an about-turn, saying she will prioritise the state capture report.
Mkhwebane’s second day in office could be as dramatic as Thuli Madonsela’s last day, when Zuma lodged a last-minute court interdict to prevent Madonsela from releasing the report.
The report on state capture has led to a wrangle between opposition parties and Speaker Baleka Mbete regarding its safekeeping.
Parliament confirmed on Monday the report has been returned to new public protector Mkhwebane, raising the ire of the official opposition.
DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said Mbete needed to keep the report until the cases have been finalised in the courts.
Zuma lodged an urgent court interdict on Thursday to block Mkhwebane’s predecessor, Madonsela, from releasing the report in public.
Madonsela decided, after legal advice, not to make the report public but sent it to Parliament for safekeeping.
Madonsela had also indicated Mkhwebane will be in court to defend the report.
If the court decides at some stage that the report can be released, Mkhwebane will have to make it public and speak on its contents.
Madonsela had wanted to release the state capture report on Friday, because she had worked on it.
But Zuma scuppered her attempts after the two were locked in a dispute over the report. Zuma felt he was not given an opportunity to respond to the evidence of some of the witnesses.
Some of the witnesses who gave evidence against Zuma include members of his own cabinet.
However, Madonsela had stuck to her guns that Zuma had failed to respond to the list of questions sent to him in March.
Co-operative Governance Minister Des van Rooyen lodged his own application on Friday to interdict Madonsela, but the matter was postponed to November 1.
The opposition parties got a preservation order that the report not be tampered with. Madonsela had also made it clear last week that this was a final report after she had signed it off.
This meant it would not be changed and its contents will remain the same.
But Zuma still protests he wants the opportunity to interrogate the witnesses.
Mkhwebane and her spokesperson Kgalalelo Masibi could not be reached for comment on Monday.
The new public protector will have to make the report public if the high court makes a decision later.