News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
25 Oct 2018
6:25 am

DA application ‘a vendetta’, Mkhwebane’s legal team argues

Ilse de Lange

One of her senior advocates argued the application was not about the public protector but about the DA, who wanted the court to act as its conduit.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is seen during a press briefing held at her offices, 4 December 2017, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The Democratic Alliance does not like Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, wanted to remove her from office, and was using the court to get its way, her legal team has argued.

Judge Ronel Tolmay yesterday reserved judgment in an application by the DA and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) to set aside Mkhwebane’s report on the controversial failed Vrede Dairy Project.

They also asked the court to declare that Mkhwebane had failed in her constitutional and statutory duties by not properly investigating the DA’s complaints about the multimillion-rand project and sought a personal punitive costs order against her.

Mkhwebane found there were gross irregularities, negligence and maladministration in the project and recommended that Free State Premier Ace Magashule institute action against the implicated officials but did not investigate alleged links between the project and the Gupta family, claiming budgetary constraints.

The DA has accused Mkhwebane of whitewashing her report to protect Magashule, former Free State agriculture MEC Mosebenzi Zwane and the Gupta family following a series of media reports alleging the Gupta family and not disadvantaged Free State farmers were the main beneficiaries of the project.

A legal team of two senior and two junior advocates represented Mkhwebane in court, arguing that she had done nothing wrong, that the application was politically motivated and part of the DA’s vendetta against her and that the attack on her was unfair, unwarranted and intolerable.

Tolmay wanted to know why Mkhwebane needed two legal teams and why the public had to pay for it, but was assured that “time constraints” made it necessary.

One of her senior advocates, Vuyani Ngalwana, argued that the application was not about the public protector but about the DA, who wanted the court to act as its conduit.

He said politicians should fight their battles in the National Assembly and the DA should not use Mkhwebane as a “whipping boy” for issues that should be determined in the legislative.

“If the Democratic Alliance wants to govern in the Free State, they must compete politically in that province,” he said, adding that the court should not aid the DA’s political project by setting the report aside.

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