Public protector 'still in the dark' on reasons for COO's resignation

10 November 2021 - 15:28
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. File photo.
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander/Sunday Times

More than a month after his shock departure, the office of the public protector is still in the dark as to why its former COO Charles Mohalaba resigned.

Mohalaba resigned at the end of September with immediate effect and later told News24 that his time at the office was a period he wished to quickly forget.

He had joined the office after the departure of former COO Basani Baloyi, who was at loggerheads with public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. The bad blood between the two had played out in public after their matter landed up in court.

Addressing parliament's justice and correctional services portfolio committee, CEO of the office of the public protector, Thandi Sibanyoni, said she had received a call from Mohalaba informing her about his decision to resign.

She said Mohalaba did not give any reasons for resigning but only said it was for personal reasons, which were not divulged.

“He did not give us an opportunity to have an interview,” said Sibanyoni when asked about Mohalaba's exit interview.

She said because Mohalaba refused to give an interview, they did not know the reasons for his departure, and there was no law forcing him to do an exit interview.

Mkhwebane further emphasised that the position of the COO was important in her office and that they needed stability in the office.

In her fight with Mkhwebane after her sacking, Baloyi accused the public protector of bias and abuse of her office to manipulate investigations. She stated in papers before the Constitutional Court that there was serious rot at the core of the office.

“For as long as the public protector is not completely beyond reproach, her office cannot fulfil its function of holding the powerful to account. The remedial action she proposes lacks legitimacy and her reports are liable to be set aside on review,” said Baloyi.

She said complaints at the public protector's office were not properly considered and warned that competent and principled employees would leave to work elsewhere. 

Baloyi said facts had shown that Mkhwebane was actively biased against President Cyril Ramaphosa, public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan and other executive officials.

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