Presidency, public protector react to scathing CR17 court ruling
Johannesburg - The North Gauteng High Court has slammed Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s investigation into President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC presidential campaign.
A full bench of the high court – Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, along with judges Keoagile Matojane and Raylene Keightley – reviewed and set aside Mkhwebane’s investigation into Ramaphosa’s CR17 campaign to be ANC president in December 2017.
Matojane said Mkhwebane had no jurisdiction to investigate the CR17 campaign funding.
In a scathing judgment, Mkhwebane was ordered to pay the legal costs of National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise and National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shamila Batohi, against who she issued remedial action in her report.
”In the result the review of the president, the speaker and the NDPP succeeds,” said Mlambo.
Mlambo continued: “The Public Protector’s decision to investigate and report on the CR17 election campaign for the African National Congress leadership elected in December 2017 is reviewed, declared invalid and set aside. The Public Protector’s report number 37 of 2019/20 on 19 July 2019 including the findings and remedial orders in paragraph 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 8.1.1, 8.1.3, 8.2.1, 9.1, 9.3, 9.4 is reviewed, declared invalid and set aside.”
Mkhwebane was also ordered to pay Ramaphosa’s legal costs on a punitive scale.
“The Public Protector is therefore enjoined by the Constitution to observe the highest standards of conduct in litigation,” said Mlambo.
According to Mlambo, Mkhwebane is carrying out her constitutional duties and the Constitution demands that she must be scrupulous in using her powers in accordance to her constitutional mandate.
During oral arguments last month, Ramaphosa’s advocates had argued that Mkhwebane’s conduct during the investigation showed a reckless determination to make an adverse finding against the president and that her findings amounted to egregious misreading of the Executive Ethics Code.
Ramaphosa’s lawyer Peter Harris described the judgment as a resounding victory for the president and a sad reflection on Mkhwebane.
Mkhwebane’s spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said no decision had been taken on whether the Public Protector would appeal the high court’s decision.
Segalwe said Mkhwebane was not anticipating the kind of ruling handed down by the full bench.
Mkhwebane’s next step will be to study the extensive judgment with her legal team but will not offer a knee jerk reaction, according to Segalwe.
He said it was a disappointing judgment but Mkhwebane respected the judiciary.