Zimbabwean-born Deputy Public Protector Kevin Malunga is a South African citizen. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha
Zimbabwean-born Deputy Public Protector Kevin Malunga is a South African citizen. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha

Did Kevin Malunga throw Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane under the bus?

By Sihle Mlambo Time of article published Jul 30, 2019

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Johannesburg - Deputy Public Protector Kevin Malunga has come under fire for comments he made relating to work at the Public Protector’s office on Monday night. 

Malunga appeared on eNCA’s PolitBureau with Vuyo Mvoko on Monday night and said “there were lessons to be learnt” after serious legal blows at the Public Protector’s office since Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane took over from Advocate Thuli Madonsela. 

He told eNCA journalist Vuyo Mvoko that he had no part to play in the Public Protector’s report into the ABSA saga, which also involved the South African Reserve Bank.  

The matter went to the Constitutional Court, which last week upheld a Gauteng North High Court order that Mkhwebane pay a punitive personal cost order of 15% of the Reserve Bank’s legal fees after it held that she had acted in bad faith, was not honest and her conduct fell “short of the high standards required of her office”. 

Malunga distanced himself from the high-profile cases that Mkhwebane had investigated, including matters that related to Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and President Cyril Ramaphosa, saying those matters account for less than a percent of the work of the office.  

“I don’t lose sleep over politicians, whether it be Pravin (Gordhan), (Cyril) Ramaphosa, but I do lose sleep over that gogo with no pension seven years down the line. I certainly lose sleep over that refugee who says his permit is missing. 

“I do lose sleep over that tender, that has led to service delivery protests. I lose sleep when I go to Kopela village and the people there tell me that they have not had water for six months. That’s what we do, 99% of the time,” he said. 

Malunga said the latest legal lashings the office had suffered showed there was a need for introspection at the office.  

“I think there is a lot of things that the office has gotten wrong, for example, I think we should be consulting each other a lot more. I don’t know anything about the Absa report, sitting here as the deputy public protector,” he said. 

Asked why this was the case, he said: “I think that should have been done better, but I think these are lessons that should be learnt in future for the institution to grow. All of this is part of the growth process. The point I am making here is we are conforming to the service standards as far as the day to day of the institution (is concerned),” he said. 

Malunga said under the Madonsela tenure, there had been a think-tank process to ensure that reports were quality assured, but this had changed under Mkhwebane.  

“(Under Madonsela) there has always been a think-tank process, a quality assurance process, that quality assures reports and that’s how it worked. Certain things have changed (under Mkhwebane), and there is a quality assurance investigator who has been appointed recently, and that person will quality assured reports. 

“We try by all means to ensure these reports are litigation proofed. The increase in the number of challenges, if there was a think tank process for these reports, there are lessons to be learnt,” said Malunga. 

He came under fire from some on Twitter on Tuesday, with EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu leading the chorus of accusations. Shivambu accused Malunga of throwing Mkhwebane under the bus. 

“The problem with Adv. Kevin Malunga is that he always plays to the gallery. When the Zuma group started attacking Thuli Madonsela, he did exactly what he wants to do now: i.e. Distance himself from the Public Protector with the hope that he’ll find favour with the establishment,” tweeted Shivambu. 

Malunga defended himself, tweeting that his interview dealt with how to build confidence in the office and the entire work of the office. 

“I have no one to please. I am done and will be moving to other things in any event,” concluded Malunga. 

This is how some on Twitter reacted to Malunga, with some, branding him a patriarch and a snitch.

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