Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. File photo: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA).
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane on Monday came out guns blazing, slamming DA leader Mmusi Maimane for giving her an ultimatum to release her report into allegations that President Cyril Ramaphosa misled Parliament over a donation for his ANC presidential campaign.

She said undue pressure from Maimane was at odds with the Constitution.

“The public protector does not take kindly to Mr Maimane giving her ultimatums, threatening her with legal action, accusing her of involvement in politics without basis and coercing her to jump to his tune.

“The public protector is, in terms of the Constitution, an independent and impartial institution that must execute its powers and perform its functions without fear, favour or prejudice,” said Mkhwebane’s spokesperson Oupa Segalwe.

Maimane lodged a complaint with Mkhwebane’s office after Ramaphosa clarified his initial oral response on the R500 000 he received from Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson as a payment made to his son Andile.

On Monday, Maimane wrote to Mkhwebane asking her to “release the full unredacted report in the next 48 hours”.

This came after a report was leaked to The Sunday Independent saying Mkhwebane had found Ramaphosa guilty of “inadvertently misleading” Parliament and failing to declare the Bosasa donation.

In Maimane’s letter, seen by Independent Media, he said the report was six months overdue.

“I therefore respectfully request that you release the full unredacted report within the next 48 hours.

The DA is considering legal options should you fail to do so,” read the letter. “I trust that this request will receive the urgent attention it warrants,” he said.

Segalwe said the Constitution stated that no person or organ of state could interfere with the functioning of the public protector.

“As it was previously indicated to Mr Maimane, the investigation in question is ongoing and the protector asks for space to do her work without interference.”

Segalwe also said Mkhwebane was aware that in terms of the Executive Members Ethics Act, she was to have submitted a report on her investigation within 30 days of receipt of Maimane’s complaint.

“However, she is also aware that in terms of the same law, if she reports at the end of the 30 days that the investigation has not yet been completed, as is the case now, she ought to submit another report when the investigation has been completed.”

This played out amid calls for National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise to appoint a committee to probe Mkhwebane's fitness to hold office after several damning court judgments against some of her findings.

The SACP fired the first salvo over the weekend following its central executive committee, with general secretary Blade Nzimande urging an inquiry into the conduct of Mkhwebane. He, however, was adamant that his party supported the existence of the office.

On Monday, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) became the latest civil society organisation to formally ask Modise to lodge an inquiry into the conduct of the protector.

Outa chief legal officer advocate Stefanie Fick said she had submitted a petition and a letter to Modise detailing their reasons for an inquiry.

In the letter, Fick stated that Mkhwebane “has failed in her constitutional duties and powers, and earnest action is required before serious damage is caused to the reputation of the institution, democracy and the Republic”.

“Outa asks the Speaker to appoint a committee to investigate advocate Mkhwebane’s conduct with a view to removing her from office,” she said.

Fick noted that Mkhwebane was appointed in October 2016, but less than three years into her seven-year term, there had been “a series of blunders relating to her own conduct or to her investigations and subsequent reports”.

The SACP and Outa calls added impetus to an earlier application by the DA to Modise to institute an inquiry with immediate effect.

Political Bureau