16 June 2019

South Africa: Timeline - Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's Term in Office So Far

After being in office for more than two years now, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has faced criticism for some of her reports and some have said that she is "incompetent" and that her credibility has "plummeted".

Mkhwebane previously said her office was going through "testing times" and that the institution was faced with attacks from every angle, including the "most unfair reporting in the media".

The DA has repeatedly called on National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise to appoint a committee to probe Mkhwebane's fitness to hold office.

Here is a look at her time in office thus far:

October 2016: Mkhwebane is appointed new Public Protector. She was selected from more than 60 candidates nominated by South Africans. Her candidacy was endorsed with an overwhelming 263 votes during a debate in the National Assembly on September 7, 2016. Seventy-nine MPs voted against it and one abstained. Only the DA opposed her nomination and accused her of being a spy and on the State Security Agency's payroll.

January 2017 - The ANC wants the Public Protector report linking Absa to billions of rand in bailout funds from the apartheid government made public. The party criticised former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela for not releasing the report during her tenure, saying this strengthened the perception that she prioritised cases against the governing party over others. The leaked provisional report's remedial action includes that Absa should pay back R2.25bn to the fiscus. The report was based on an investigation by UK company CIEX in 1997, which probed claims that the Bankorp group of banks, bought by Absa in 1992, had been offered R1.5bn under the guise of a bailout before the dawn of democracy.

June 2017: Mkhwebane releases the report and finds the South African Reserve Bank's R1.125bn bailout of Bankorp between 1985 and 1995 was unlawful and that Absa should pay back the money.

June 2017 - Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago files an urgent application in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to set aside the remedial action the Public Protector proposed on the Bankorp bailout.

August 2017: The South African Reserve Bank wins its application to have Mkhwebane's remedial action to change its constitutional mandate set aside.

October 2017: Mkhwebane survives the first DA attempt to have her fitness to hold office reviewed.

November 2017: The South African Reserve Bank applies for a declaratory order from the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria that Mkhwebane abused the office of the Public Protector, and wants her to pay legal costs independently.

November 2017: Absa CEO Maria Ramos says the bank will seek a punitive costs order. Mkhwebane continues to defend the Bankorp/CIEX report.

February 2018: The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria sets aside Mkhwebane's Bankorp-CIEX report, in which Absa was ordered to pay R1.125bn.

February 2018: Mkhwebane quietly releases a report on the Vrede dairy project in the Free State, highlighting procurement irregularities, "gross negligence" and maladministration related to the controversial project.

March 2018: The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria dismisses Mkhwebane's application for leave to appeal a previous judgment that she should personally pay 15% of the costs incurred by the South African Reserve Bank in the long-running Bankorp-CIEX matter.

November 2018: The Constitutional Court hears an application from Mkhwebane against a ruling which requires her to pay, in her personal capacity, a portion of the SA Reserve Bank's legal costs in the Bankorp matter.

January 2019: Mkhwebane confirms that she will investigate whether President Cyril Ramaphosa lied about a campaign donation received from controversial facilities company Bosasa, now known as African Global Operations.

February 2019: Mkhwebane survives a second DA proposal that Parliament start procedures for her removal.

March 2019: Mkhwebane opens criminal charges against then Minister of State Security Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba over her alleged interference in the functioning of the office of the Public Protector. The matter is still pending.

May 2019: The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria rules that Mkhwebane failed in her duties to investigate and report on the Vrede dairy project in the Free State.

May 2019: Mkhwebane finds Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan guilty of "improper conduct" over his approval of then-deputy SA Revenue Services Commissioner Ivan Pillay's early retirement and payout. The EFF throws its weight behind Mkhwebane, saying anybody who disagrees with her report on a pension-related decision Gordhan made when he was finance minister, should take it to court on review.

June 2019: Mkhwebane says she has laid a formal complaint with the police against people who insulted her in line with the laws governing her office.

June 2019: Parliament's justice and correctional services portfolio committee is asked to look at a third DA request to have Mkhwebane's fitness to hold office reviewed.

Source: News24

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