Busisiwe Mkhwebane clarifies affidavit on state capture inquiry
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has denied reports that she made a court bid to help draft narrowed terms for the Zondo inquiry into state capture for the remainder of the commission's hearings.
“The truth is that Advocate Mkhwebane did not take the state capture commission to court as implied. She was cited as the second of eight respondents in the application made to the court by Justice [Raymond] Zondo.
“Presumably, she was cited in view of the fact that the commission’s existence and work are borne out of an investigation originating from her office and that, in the State of Capture report, the public protector is tasked with the responsibility of monitoring the implementation of remedial action,” spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said.
Mkhwebane said in an affidavit dated February 7 that the state capture inquiry should be extended for a “prescribed minimal period”.
This after the commission's chairperson, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, made an application to have its lifespan extended from March to December.
“Among the issues she raises in the affidavit is that the scope of the inquiry as prescribed in the State of Capture report was always meant to be confined to evidence contained in the report as a starting point.
“According to her, the commission is where it is now because it did not entirely align itself with the remedial action prescribed in the report.”
Mkhwebane pointed out that remedial action 8.10 in the report had already made provision for law-enforcement agencies to conduct their own investigations parallel with evidence gathered or reflected in the report, adding that prima facie evidence should not have been “reinvestigated” by the commission.
“This would have significantly reduced the amount of time and resources spent to date.”
She said that the 180-day time frame in which the commission was meant to conclude its work was considered appropriate because it first “considered and confined itself to matters already in the report”.
She warned that should the commission run beyond 2020, it would cost more than R1bn.
“It would be self-evidently pointless if the extensive action being conducted to the tune of several hundreds of million rand to date and having lasted a couple of years already turns out not to have been ‘remedial’ of any of the harm caused to the public, the protection of which is the core and primary function of the public protector,” Mkhwebane said.
“Even worse and unthinkable would it be for the public if they were to be robbed of more billions of rand in the name of ‘remedying’ the alleged looting of the public purse. No person’s legitimate interests can conceivably be served by such outcome, which is not outside the realms of possibility as matters currently stand.”