PP hits out at FS official

The Public Protector (PP), Busisiwe Mkhwebane, has hit out at a senior official in her office who supervised an investigation into the controversial multimillion-rand Vrede Dairy project in the Free State.

OFM reports that her reactions follow after the official from the PP’s office in Bloemfontein laid a complaint at Parliament about Mkhwebane’s alleged financial mismanagement. She says the complainant, only when action is being contemplated against him for being found guilty of assault, only thereafter decided to submit an affidavit to Parliament, accusing her of spending too much money on litigation.

She says this is nothing but an attempt to aid calls for her removal from office. Mkhwebane also says the officer contravened the PP’s media policy and confidentiality agreement.

“The latest staff member to depose to an affidavit alleging misconduct against the Public Protector supervised the senior investigator who led the Vrede investigation in the Bloemfontein office. A report thereof was issued in February 2019 and he kept quiet all along,” she adds. “The question that any open-minded person should ask themselves, is why these affidavits are being churned out in quick succession like this when the parliamentary process for the removal of the Public Protector has just commenced,” she further adds.

Last week, Mkhwebane came under scrutiny after a picture of former Free State Agriculture

MEC, Mosebenzi Zwane, who is implicated in the Vrede Dairy project, attending her 50th birthday party, circulated on the media. But Mkhwebane wasted no time to address the speculations and criticism. She said she will continue to do her work, without fear or prejudice, irrespective of who attended her 50th celebration recently.

Mkhwebane came under scrutiny over Estina when her report into the project was set aside and declared unconstitutional after it was taken up for review by the DA and Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac), citing shoddy work on the report.

The North Gauteng High Court also later dismissed her application to appeal the decision to set aside and declare the report as unconstitutional and further slapped her with personal costs. In her judgment, Ronel Tolmay found that Mkhwebane failed South Africans because of the way she conducted her investigation into the Vrede dairy farm project. Mkhwebane says her version of events on the Vrede investigation is a matter of public record.