Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is poised to oppose President Jacob Zuma’s application to take the state of capture report on review.
Addressing the media on her first 100 days as Public Protector on Thursday, Mkhwebane said: “We are opposing President Jacob Zuma’s legal application to review [the report].”
In an affidavit filed with the North Gauteng High Court on December 2, Zuma sought to review and set aside the report that detailed how the president’s controversial friends, the Gupta family, allegedly held influence in state-owned institutions.
Zuma accused former public protector Thuli Madonsela of trying to take away his discretionary powers.
This was in response to the state of capture report’s remedial actions that he set up a commission of inquiry that will be headed by a judge solely selected by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, as directed by Madonsela.
The president argued in his affidavit that this remedial action was unlawful and would result in him abdicating his powers to another person and amounted to being instructed as to when he should exercise his executive power.
However, Mkhwebane said she had filed a notice to oppose the president’s application to comply with court rules.
“In the notice‚ I clearly indicated that I will consider my position once I have been advised by senior counsel on the legalities of the basis of the application‚” she said.
According to Mkhwebane, the comprehensive legal opinion from senior counsel could be expected some time next week.
The Public Protector used the word “bumpy” to describe her first few days in office.
Asked what she meant by the word, Mkhwebane said: “What I found bumpy about the last 16 weeks was the allegations that have been made against me.”
Mkhwebane, like her predecessor Madonsela, has come under much scrutiny in her position as Public Protector.
Some of the allegations she was referring to include those made by the DA when the party labelled her a spy last year.
“You know, sometimes you need to prove to people that you are there to work, to deliver services and not to go against any agendas,” she said.
The Public Protector warned that she would be taking action against the DA over these allegations because the party had been given enough time to prove their claims or withdraw the allegations but had failed to do either since October.
Mkhwebane also accused the media of nearly jeopardising the investigation into billions of rands allegedly loaned by the Reserve Bank to Bankorp before it became Absa.
“Unfortunately this investigation was nearly jeopardised because some of you could not wait for the process to be finalised. The media went and published the contents thereof, setting off a chain of irreversible events.
"Publishing contents of draft reports that are released improperly without our consent impacts negatively on the credibility of this institution.”
Mkhwebane also saw the need to clear the air between her and Madonsela.
“The media is the one saying I hate Thuli Madonsela,” she said.
“I do not hate Advocate Thuli Madonsela. We work together and even before the audio was released we spoke ... she [asked for] information because she was getting a lot of media queries, to which I said no, leave them to me.”
Mkhwebane promised to engage with the media more often from now on, indicating that she just needed space to do her work and focus.
“We will be interacting more, you won’t have to wait another 100 days,” she said.