New Public Protector denies gunning for Madonsela

Thuli Madonsela
Thuli Madonsela

Feisty ANC MP, Vytjie Mentor, who blew the whistle after being allegedly offered a cabinet position by the Guptas, is incensed at the behaviour of the successor to former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela. She’s labelled former State security staffer Busisiwe Mkhwebane, the ‘State protector’. One can understand why; Mkwebane’s explanation as to why she asked police to probe Madonsela’s leaking of the Zuma audiotape seems pretty lame. Ironically, Mkhwebane cites the very reason Madonsela gave for releasing Zuma’s stumbling, evasive replies to her questions; the credibility of the institution of the Public Protector. Critically, Madonsela said she released the tape to rebut ongoing Zuma-led claims that she never gave him a chance to respond to damning State Capture allegations. Zuma acolytes climbed in, claiming she “leaked” the tape for nefarious political reasons. Mkhwebane says she asked for the current police probe because Madonsela may have brought the office of the Public Protector into disrepute – by breaking sacrosanct confidence with an interviewee (Zuma). Mkhwebane may well be on a hiding to nothing here, even if the police findings favour her view of enquiry protocols. Madonsela is the darling of the burgeoning anti-Zuma camp and is regarded internationally as a heroine of the citizenry. Mkwhebane is perceived as being pro-Zuma, or as Mentor tellingly puts it, a State ‘protector’. Her citing an alleged breach of the Public Protector Act smells suspiciously like the time-honoured use of the law for political ends. Either that, or unlike Madonsela, she is still politically naive. – Chris Bateman

By Thulani Gqirana

Cape Town – Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has denied claims that she has opened a case against her predecessor, Thuli Madonsela.

This follows Sunday reports that Mkhwebane had laid a criminal charge against Madonsela following a complaint from President Jacob Zuma.

New Public Protector Busisiwe Joyce Mkhwebane
Public Protector Busisiwe Joyce Mkhwebane

This was in relation to the leaking of an audiotape of a four-hour interview between Zuma and Madonsela.

“It is not true that Adv Mkhwebane laid charges against her predecessor. Instead, she opened a case at the Brooklyn police station in Pretoria, requesting an investigation into the alleged leaks to establish if they amount to a breach of section 7(2) of the Public Protector Act,” spokesperson Kgalalelo Masibi said in a statement.

The decision to open the case was made after complaints were received from Zuma and Speaker Baleka Mbete’s office, the Public Protector said.

Additionally, Mkhwebane had received a media query from a publication that claimed to be in possession of another recording related to the State of Capture investigation.

Mkhwebane was concerned that the alleged leaking of evidence could compromise the trust that the public had in her office, her office said.

This was what led to her office opening a case for investigation.

Mkhwebane ‘saddened’ 

“In order to maintain the credibility of the Public Protector… and for the people to trust the institution we need to safeguard whatever evidence such people, including whistleblowers, give to us,” she said.

This was the only information she had shared with Sunday Times, she said, and it was not clear how the newspaper had interpreted the information in the manner that it did.

According to the Sunday Times, Mkhwebane said the case was opened at the Brooklyn police station in Pretoria on November 11.

Mkhwebane was also “saddened” by former ANC Member of Parliament Vytjie Mentor’s response to the article.

In the weekend reports, Mentor was mentioned as one of the people who had complained about the leaks.

Mentor accused the Public Protector of being a liar, promising to approach the bar council over the matter. She also plans to lay charges.

“I will never, ever for the duration of Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s tenure send anything to her office. I will go to the courts. I will go to the human rights commission instead,” she said on Sunday.

Mkhwebane would be taking up her grievances with the Sunday Times and Mentor privately, her office said. – News24


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