South Africa: Military Vets Defend Public Protector Against 'Attacks' On Her Integrity

Public Protector house.

The Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) has leapt to the defence of Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, saying her integrity is under attack by people linked to those she is investigating.

"More recently these attacks have increased in their scope and intensity, with the latest attacks accusing her of somehow being 'politically motivated', and acting in favor of, or trying to, advance the interests of some 'faction' within the [ANC]," stated MKMVA spokesperson Carl Niehaus on Saturday.

"It should be noted that these allegations are contrived, and that there is absolutely no evidence of such conduct by Advocate Mkhwebane.

"It is helpful to note that these attacks are often initiated by parties who are under investigation by the Public Protector, or by the supporters of those who are under investigation, and who thus have a vested interest to try and undermine the integrity of the Public Protector in person, as well, as her high office in general."

The association comprises veterans of the ANC's apartheid-era military wing.

This week, speaking at trade union Nehawu's conference in Ekurhuleni, the SACP's first deputy president, Solly Mapaila, reportedly referred to her as a hired gun, working for "rogue units", while the ANC's national chairperson, Gwede Mantashe, later said the Public Protector's investigation into Ramaphosa was political.

The associaton called for "cool heads" and a return to constitutional provisions that allow the Chapter Nine institution to work without interference and said people should follow President Cyril Ramaphosa's lead in confirming her right to investigate.

On Friday, ANC secretary general Ace Magashule, speaking to News24 in wide-ranging interview, called on the governing party to respect the office of the Public Protector.

"The position of the ANC is that we respect Chapter 9 institutions. We may disagree with her, agree or whatever... People have said we must leave the judiciary, the legislature and Chapter 9 institutions to do their work," said Magashule.

Ramaphosa is currently among the subjects of investigations the office is conducting following questions over the origin of a campaign contribution towards his election as president of the ANC.

He is being investigated for alleged violation of the executive ethics code relating to a R500 000 donation, allegedly from Bosasa (now known as African Global Operations) CEO Gavin Watson, in his personal capacity. Bosasa was controversially contracted to provide services at South Africa's prisons, allegedly via bribery of goverrnment officials.

The leader of the opposition DA, Mmusi Maimane, lodged a complaint regarding the contribution with the Public Protector.

On Thursday, Ramaphosa spokesperson Khusela Diko stated: "The President has reaffirmed his respect for the Office of the Public Protector and his commitment to offer his full cooperation."

"To launch deliberate and malicious public attacks on the Public Protector are actually tantamount to undermining the Constitutional protection of each and every citizen. This is nothing short of treasonous."

Speaking on behalf of MKMVA president Kebby Maphatsoe, Niehaus said any finding by the Public Protector can be reviewed in line with legal processes.

However, the association claimed that some senior ANC politicians and those in alliance with the majority party have used the review process to malign the Public Protector through personal and patriarchal attacks against her.

The MKMVA called for an end to this behaviour.


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