Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and her team present her office's annual performance plan to Parliament's portfolio committee on justice and correctional services. Photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA).

PARLIAMENT - Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane on Wednesday went to great lengths to defend herself against accusations that she was playing politics as she appeared before Parliament's watchdog on justice.

Briefing members of Parliament (MPs) in the recently constituted portfolio committee on justice and correctional services for the first time on her office's annual performance plan, Mkhwebane insisted that while she investigates and sometimes made findings against politicians, her office operated independently.

"We operate in a political space but as an office, we are never influenced by what is happening," she said.

Mkhwebane also took an apparent swipe at Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe who had criticised her after her findings against Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and her investigation into President Cyril Ramaphosa and donations to his election campaign.

She told MPs the mandate of her office was often misunderstood.

"As an example, we recently had a senior member of the executive accusing us of venturing into political territory when investigating a complaint lodged in terms of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act," said Mkhwebane.

"The member of the executive in question appeared to be under the impression that we just woke up one morning and decided to pursue the subject of the investigation when in fact we do not target people. Instead, we received a complaint from a member of Parliament and merely did all that the law requires and empowers us to do."

African News Agency (ANA)