Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina has criticised officials who take Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s reports on judicial review, saying they are wasting taxpayers’ money in their attempt to discredit her.
This comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan recently took Mkhwebane’s reports on appeal.
Speaking at the Public Protector’s stakeholder roadshow at the Rabasotho Community Centre on Wednesday, Masina said a case against him was among the 140 that Mkhwebane was currently probing, however he committed to not approaching the courts regarding the matter unlike other public representatives.
“A total of 140 cases have been reported by the public to Mkhwebane’s office and one of those includes accusations against me over a R1.9-billion toilet tender. Even in light of this I’m not going to run around going to court; I’m going to the Public Protector and answering the accusations,” he said.
Masina said “all those who run to the courts to challenge the Public Protector are using our money [taxpayers’ funds]” and went on to allege that “in most cases they [individuals who challenge Mkhwebane’s reports in court] have something to hide”.
In July Masina found himself embroiled in a R1.9-billion chemical toilet tender which was in fact awarded in June 2016 when he only took office in August 2016.
Read: Mayor Masina: I am going nowhere, as R1.9bn tender scandal hots up
While he refuted any wrongdoing in the awarding of the tender as it was prior to his tenure, he questioned why he should be prosecuted for giving dignity to the poor through building toilets for them when the city could afford it.
“Imagine a member of the mayoral committee with a four-bedroom house. The house would have more than one toilet and we expect 10 families to share one toilet in informal settlements; that’s not right. So how were we wrong in building the toilets when the city can afford to do so,” he said.
Masina emphasised the importance of the office of the Public Protector, saying it was one of the first institutions put in place to hold the executive to account.
He then went on to lambaste the judiciary – in particular their recent judgments against Mkhwebane.
“Who is looking into judges and the decisions they make? The Public Protector erred and found me wrong, I as a mayor can go court ... but where does she go if the court says yes indeed you’ve erred? That’s the end of the story,” Masina said.
Mkhwebane, addressing the media after the community engagement, said she felt like she was being persecuted but maintained that she would continue investigating cases presented to her “without fear or favour”.