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Yesterday’s scathing judgement against South Africa’s Public Protector left little to the imagination. In upholding the punitive and personal cost order against her by a margin of 8 to 2, judges occupying the highest authority in the constitutional democracy sent a strong signal: South Africa’s old “Republic of No Consequences” has ended.
The majority judgment was clear: evidence shows Busisiwe Mkhwebane abused her office in an effort to terminate the independence of the SA Reserve Bank. She had pre-determined her decision and was oblivious to its implications. Not surprisingly, on the release of the report foreign investors sold SA government bonds worth R1.3bn.
ConCourt judges found the PP’s report was incompetently compiled and that Mkhwebane lied, including under oath, when attempting to defend it. Also, she did not disclose numerous meetings ahead of its compilation with former President Jacob Zuma and his State Security Minister David Mahlobo. And when caught out, offered no logical reason for meeting with them – and not the parties being attacked.
Para 153 of the judgement sends a powerful message to all public servants, including the litigious JZ: “When their defiance of their constitutional obligations is egregious, it is they who should pay the costs of litigation brought against them. Not the taxpayer.” Mkhwebane now has to pay R800,000 from her own pocket. Consequences, at last.
*Our first Personal Finance Live show on Biznews Radio at noon today focuses on two issues: What the new UK Prime Minister means for investing there (Simon Reader and Orbis’s Dan Brocklebank); and making sense of the PP saga (with Paul O’Sullivan).
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