Cape Town - "She deceived us all. Including myself. The eloquence and high moral standing that she presented to us fooled us all. I personally feel cheated.”
With these harsh words, former ANC MP Makhosi Khoza laid into Public Protector Busiswe Mkhwebane, accusing her of deceiving the parliamentary committee that appointed her. Khoza was the head of that committee.
Mkhwebane and Khoza were scheduled to share the stage at a round table discussion on Mkhwebane’s first year on office. The event was hosted by the Hanns Seidel Foundation and Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office in Cape Town. Mkhwebane, however, snubbed the event.
The snub comes as calls become louder for an inquiry to test her fitness to hold office and her mishandling of the controversial report into banking giant Absa, which she ordered to repay R1.125 billion, and then instructed Parliament to amend the constitution and SA Reserve Bank Act.
“We could have never thought she would do what she has done so far. She had the eloquence and fit the criteria of the public protector.
“However, what was at stake was getting to the bottom point. That was the problem, not the process in selecting a person for the job. “But not only did she deceive political parties, she deceived a whole nation,” Khoza said. Khoza also said her experience should not be a matter for discussion.
“I was 26 years old when I was elected as the deputy mayor of Pietermaritzburg. At that time I’ve never held R10 000 in my hands. It is not fair and very unwarranted to punch holes in her experience,” she said.
Khoza, however, said there were two critical positions in the country: those of public protector and president.
“When we look at these two people now, we might see some collusion. If the public protector consults with the president on which cases must get preference that has nothing with to do with experience. It has to do with your moral compass. She made us believe that she was someone she was clearly not,” Khoza said.
Without referring to the controversial Absa report, Khoza said Mkhwebane’s orders were reckless.
“Previous public protectors never made orders like that. They would always make recommendations after the Constitutional Court ruling which emphasised that recommendations of the public protector are binding,” she said.
Cleo Mosana, Mkhwebane’s spokesperson, said an invite to speak at the event was sent late. “It was sent to our communications department. Advocate Mkhwebane wanted to go, but she had other commitments which she already agreed to attend. It was then delegated to one our directors, but the official had prior meetings scheduled with the Health Ombudsman. It was unfortunate we could not attend."
About Khoza’s comments, Mosana said: “It is really unfortunate and somewhat unwarranted. It’s advocate Mkhwebane’s first year in office and it would be very unfair to judge her so harshly so early. The (Absa report) mistakes she already acceded too.”