NEWS

Mkhwebane Called Incompetent After Absa Report U-Turn

The public protector will no longer oppose a court challenge to her recommendation to change the SARB's mandate.

11/07/2017 06:09 SAST | Updated 11/07/2017 06:58 SAST
Mike Hutchings / Reuters
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane listens during a briefing at Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa October 19, 2016.

The DA says the public protector's competency should be reviewed, after she announced that she would not oppose a court application by the South African Reserve Bank challenging a recommendation she made that its mandate should be changed. Parliament on Monday submitted papers to court opposing the recommendation too.

Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane recommended that the bank's mandate be changed from one of maintaining currency stability to one of taking responsibility for economic growth. It set off court challenges by Absa, finance minister Malusi Gigaba, the Reserve Bank and Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete.

After initially deciding to oppose the court case, on Monday, Mkhwebane's office said she had changed her mind, according to Reuters.

According to Eyewitness News (EWN), the DA's Glynnis Breytenbach said Mkhwebane should personally pay the cost of the legal fees for the parties who initially challenged her.

"When I look at the facts, she shouldn't be in that position," she reportedly said.

In a statement, Mkhwebane's office reportedly said: "Having considered the legal advice from the senior counsel, which advice she accepted, the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane has decided not to oppose SARB's review application."

The Bank accused Mkhwebane of overreaching on her mandate by dictating to Parliament that it had to amend the Constitution and the Bank's mandate.

However, Mkhwebane is only backing down on the challenge to this finding. She is still opposing a court challenge to the merits of her report into Absa's "lifeboat" bailout.

Breytenbach told TimesLive that the developments meant Mkhwebane did not understand the full scope of what she was doing.

"There seem to be only one of two possible explanations for this travesty – either Mkhwebane's understanding of the Constitution and the law is so inadequate that she could make such a blatantly flawed recommendation‚ or she consciously did so in order to further the interests of outside parties.

"While the first explanation is gravely concerning‚ the second far more sinister explanation is something which, if true, should concern us all."