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Mkhwebane slams Ramaphosa's lawyers for 'litigation through media'

11 September 2019 - 14:16 By Lwandile Bhengu
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane flanked by her CEO Vusi Mahlangu and speaker Nontembeko Boyce at the KZN legislature on Wednesday.
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane flanked by her CEO Vusi Mahlangu and speaker Nontembeko Boyce at the KZN legislature on Wednesday.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has accused President Cyril Ramaphosa's lawyers of "perpetuating unnecessary litigation through the media".

Mkhwebane was speaking to the media on Wednesday at the KwaZulu-Natal legislature, where she met speaker Nontembeko Boyce and the institution’s strategic leadership about pursuing closer co-operation with provincial leaders and committees.

"It's so unfortunate that the very same president's lawyers are litigating through the media. It's a challenge for us as an institution that they shouldn't be perpetuating this unnecessary ligation through the media," she said.

Mkhwebane was responding to a question on accusations made by Ramaphosa's lawyers that she had unlawfully used information contained in a report by the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) to make adverse findings on Ramaphosa's CR17 election campaign funding.

Ramaphosa has described Mkhwebane’s report on his campaign funding as legally and factually flawed and is challenging its validity in the high court in Pretoria.

"We will address those issues when we prepare our response to court and we will present our position as far as that is concerned and it's a matter of law," said Mkhwebane.

When asked if she would meet Ramaphosa to discuss the "ligation through the media", she said: "Sometimes letters are very cold. Sometimes it is good for us to just sit down and engage on things that are very important.

"As a constitutional institution, we are here to support and strengthen constitutional democracy. We are not here to be antagonistic towards government."

The public protector also took a swipe at the media, saying journalists needed to focus more on issues of good governance and transparency.

"It is concerning that you'd find an attorney writing a letter to us and the deputy chief justice, then you find a journalist questioning or sending inquiries to us trying maybe to discredit," she said.

"I think for the journalists, they need to be focusing on what the law is saying as far as the conduct of our leaders and the issues of good governance and transparency, instead of us focusing on this issue or litigation through the media."

Asked about the possibility of an investigation by parliament into her fitness to hold office, Mkhwebane said: "I will leave that to the speaker of parliament to comment, but what I have done as the PP is that until such time I am approached officially to comment on process or exercise my rights, that's when I will be able to respond on that."