Editorial: Busi, this horse is a skeleton

2019-03-24 16:00

We are told that Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has too small a budget to thoroughly investigate cases.

One of the cases which, presumably, should be on her urgent to-do list, is that of the Estina dairy farm.

In her sop of a report on the subject, Mkhwebane failed to make any findings against Gupta lackey Mosebenzi Zwane, who was the Free State’s agriculture MEC at the time R250 million was syphoned from the province’s coffers and into the Guptas’ bank accounts.

She also failed to investigate the role of former Free State premier Ace Magashule – who is now ANC secretary-general – whose office played a pivotal role in the lead-up to the syphoning.

Mkhwebane’s repeated refrain is that her office does not have enough money to perform the vital task the Constitution has entrusted her with.

It boggles the mind then that, tomorrow, former acting SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Ivan Pillay, his predecessor Oupa Magashula, Sars lawyer Vlok Symington and another Sars official will meet with Mkhwebane after being summonsed to appear before her.

The case she is investigating is that of Pillay’s early retirement, which was granted by his then boss, Pravin Gordhan.

Gordhan did this after receiving a legal opinion confirming it was lawful for him to do so.

Read: Gupta cases in crisis

This case again! For the whole of 2016, the nation was seized with the intricacies of this matter.

The Hawks’ Crimes Against the State Unit was used as the attack dog. It was deployed to find something – anything – on Gordhan and make it stick.

Even Shaun Abrahams – the former prosecutions boss who successfully managed to ensure that former president Jacob Zuma’s acolytes never saw their day in court – eventually declined to prosecute Gordhan on this one.

That Mkhwebane will now administer CPR to this case beggars belief. It’s not just flogging a dead horse, it is flogging the skeletal remains of a horse.

By all means, investigate Gordhan. If he is found wanting, he should, like everyone else, be subject to the rule of law.

But Mkhwebane’s action – together with her fight with State Security Minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba over an intelligence report on the so-called Sars rogue unit – smacks of her playing into the ANC’s factional agenda.

And it’s not a good look.

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January 26 2020