Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane. File photo: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA).
Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane. File photo: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA).

Public Protector 'ill-qualified' to make judgements against anyone, says Cosatu

By Getrude Makhafola Time of article published May 24, 2019

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Johannesburg - The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Friday lambasted Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, urging President Cyril Ramaphosa to not implement her remedial actions in the light of the latest damning high court ruling against her.

This comes after Mkhwebane released various reports on Friday, including an adverse finding against Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. She recommended that Ramaphosa take appropriate disciplinary action against Gordhan for approving ex-SARS senior official Ivan Pillay’s early retirement.  

"The federation, while not taking an easy path of proclaiming anyone found guilty by the public protector to be a shining innocent, feels that she is ill-qualified to make any judgements against anyone. 

"The Pretoria High Court ruling on the Estina matter that said she failed in her duties under both the Public Protector Act and under the constitution in investigating and reporting on the dairy farm project was a harsh indictment on her. This has called into question her competency and credibility," the trade union federation said in a statement.

"Public Protector Mkhwebane has been impeached by her very disappointing standards in doing her job. We appeal to the fair-mindedness and fairness of President Cyril Ramaphosa to not act on any of her reports until the Pretoria High Court ruling has been scrutinised and dealt with. Currently, the federation does not believe that a contaminated Public Protector’s Office should be allowed to tell other people whether they are guilty or not."

Mkhwebane said an anonymous complaint on Pillay's pension payout was lodged with her office in November 2016. At the time, Gordhan was finance minister and Oupa  Magashula SARS commissioner. Mkhwebane said approval of Pillay’s retirement violated the constitution and amounted to improper conduct that unjustifiably enriched Pillay at the taxpayers' expense.

Gordhan's lawyers said the minister would take Mkhwebane's report on review and that he took issue with "both the haste and the timing of the release of her report."

" The complaint involves complex considerations of pension fund laws in as far they relate to public servants. It is doubtful whether due consideration was given to Minister Gordhan’ submissions," lawyer Tebogo Malatji said in a statement.

"The haste and the timing of the Public Protector shows a complete disregard for an important constitutional event for our country, the inauguration of the President of the Republic of South Africa. The Public Protector announced her findings to the media today, a little under 48 hours from when Minister Gordhan’s response was submitted to her," said Malatji. 

African News Agency (ANA)

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