The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation shares growing public concern over the competence and ability of the Office of the Public Protector to discharge its constitutional and legal obligations.
Last Friday’s hasty adverse findings of the Public Protector, Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane, against former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan raises serious questions on the credibility of the process and the report itself.
The Foundation has noted that the National Prosecuting Authority withdrew its charges against Gordhan in 2016 on the same allegations, on the basis that it had no prospect of success, as well as the Nugent Commission of Inquiry’s finding that Ivan Pillay’s pension pay-out by Gordhan was lawful.
The Kathrada Foundation’s Executive Director, Neeshan Balton, said that the Public Protector was acting in a manner that came across as being “irrational” and “driven by an agenda that is clearly not about protecting the interests of the public”.
“The timing of the announcement of her findings and subsequent hasty release of the report seems to suggest that it was made with only one purpose in mind, to try and influence the President’s choice of Cabinet members,” Balton said.
“The report was made public a mere two days after those implicated had filed their responses to the Public Protector. This resembles an administrative charade rather than following due process,” added Balton.
The Kathrada Foundation supports the growing calls by political and civil society organisations such as Cosatu, the SACP, CASAC and Freedom Under Law for Parliament and the President to review her fitness to hold office and relieve Advocate Mkhwebane of her post as the Public Protector.
“Her repeated blunders are eroding public trust in a constitutional body that is meant to protect citizens against state maladministration,” said Balton.
“It also is becoming increasingly clear that some investigators in the Office of the Public Protector are an essential part of a factional agenda targeting selected public figures to discredit them. They too have to be weeded out,” added Balton.
The Foundation reaffirms the late ANC veteran Ahmed Kathrada’s public support for Gordhan and his continued fight against state capture.