Economy / 20 February 2018, 2:22pm / Staff Reporter
JOHANNESBURG - The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (
Outa) has called on the
Public Protector advocate, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to resign, following the recent court rulings against her office, and last week’s ruling on the CIEX matter.
“We will be approaching Parliament requesting them to review her actions and call her to account,” Outa COO Ben Theron said in a statement.
Th Public Protector released the report in June last year and caused an uproar among various institutions as it called for an amendment of the Constitution.
In her report Mkhwebane had ordered that the Absa bank should pay back R1.125 billion that it received from the South Africa Reserve Bank (SARB) as part of a apartheid-era bail out in the early nineties.
The bailout was given to Bankorp, which was later acquired by Absa. Mkhwebane felt the bank needed to take responsibility for paying back the money.
“We have not been impressed by the Public Protector’s conduct since her early days and this particular judgment sends a clear message that advocate Mkhwebane acted outside of her powers and was biased in her findings,” advocate Stefanie Fick, OUTA’s Head of Legal Affairs said.
“We are concerned at her one-sided reporting and it is extremely worrying when the Public Protector does not apply the basic principles that require her to conduct an in-depth interview with the accused before making her findings.” In this case, she did not consult with Absa before publishing her report as required. Instead, she consulted other parties, including the Presidency and the State Security Agency, and accepted their evidence. She also visited the President’s residence but failed to mention this in her report.
The Pretoria judges were scathing, saying that the Public Protector “does not fully understand her constitutional duty to be impartial and to perform her functions without fear, favour or prejudice”.
They said that she “did not conduct herself in a manner which should be expected from a person occupying the office of the Public Protector”, that there was a “reasonable apprehension of bias” and ruled the remedial action recommended in the report to be unlawful. The court took such a dim view of her actions that it took the unusual punitive step of ordering her to personally pay 15% of the SARB costs.