The office of the Public Protector on Wednesday published several reports on the investigations into President Cyril Ramaphosa, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, One SA movement leader Mmusi Maimane and former finance minister Tito Mboweni, among others.
The respondents were alleged to have failed to uphold the Constitution, breached the Executive Ethics Code, engaged in maladministration and improper conduct, violated the Code of Ethical Conduct and Disclosure of Members’ interests for Assembly and Permanent Council Members or unduly benefited from public business transactions.
On Gordhan, the Public Protector investigated allegations of maladministration and improper conduct relating to whether the Minister or a duly appointed representative permitted Transnet SOC Ltd to integrate the NPA as its operating division and, if so, whether such conduct constituted maladministration and improper conduct.
The Public Protector could not investigate the matter further as it is currently the subject of litigation before the High Court of South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal division, in Durban. She also closed the investigation after it was revealed Ramaphosa had already remedied the anomaly by announcing the establishment of an independent NPA with its own board of directors appointed by Gordhan.
Mboweni vs Shivambu
On Mboweni, the public protector investigated allegations that Mboweni irregularly appointed Ranjeni Munusamy to the position of the Community Outreach Officer and, in so doing, acted in violation of the Executive Ethics Code.
According to the statement issued by National Treasury on 21 October 2020, Munusamy was appointed as a Community Outreach Officer. However, according to Mboweni, she was appointed as a Political Secretary.
Regardless of the position she occupied, the Public Protector was requested by EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu to investigate whether Munusamy’s appointment was made irregularly.
The public protector closed her invetsigation into the matter because the allegations that Mboweni irregularly appointed Munusamy to the position of the Community Outreach Officer and thereby violated the Executive Ethics Code could not be corroborated.
“Minister Mboweni resigned as a member of Cabinet before the Public Protector could issue the final report and therefore President Ramaphosa can no longer take ‘any action’ against him as envisaged in section 3(5)(a) of EMEA.
“The Complainant did not make further submission in response to the discretionary notice that was issued to him on 24 August 2021 in terms of rule 42(1) of the Public Protector Rules,” reads the report.
Shivambu vs Gordhan
The public protector also investigated allegations that Gordhan interfered with the recruitment process of the CEO of Mango Airline. According to Shivambu, Gordhan illegally instructed the chairperson of Mango’s board of directors, Matsidiso Peter Tshisevhe, through his adviser, to ensure that Nico Bezuidenhout was appointed to the position.
The public protector found that the allegations against Gordhan could not be corroborated.
“Minister Gordhan’s involvement in the appointment of Mr Bezuidenhout was in line with the memorandum of incorporation, which requires him to approve the appointment of the CEO of Mango, being a wholly owned subsidiary of the SAA,” reads the report.
Bachu vs Maimane
Mkhwebane investigated allegations of violation of the code of ethical conduct and diclosure of members’ interests for assembly and permanent council members by Maimane. Leader of the Hindu Unity Movement Jayraj Bachu alleged that in 2017 and 2018, Maimane had declared a property valued at R4 million in Claremont in Cape Town as his own, notwithstanding that the house belonged to a shelf company owned by Durban-based businessman Wessel Jacobs.
Mkhwebane closed the investigation as the matter did not fall within the ambit of the breach of the code because Maimane had already resigned as an MP in October 2019. The matter also did not fall within the Public Protector’s jurisdiction.
Ramaphosa vs Zulu
Mkhwebane investigated whether Ramaphosa failed to uphold the Constitution in that he allegedly failed to provide protection to whistleblower Thabiso Zulu, even though he had undertaken to do so.
Zulu alleged that after an assassination attempt on his life in October 2019, he spoke to then minister of state security Ayanda Dlodlo, who promised to brief the President on the matter. Mkhwebane concluded that it would be improper to pursue the matter based on an alleged promise he made to Zulu as no evidence of such an undertaking could be established.
“It was also unclear how the conduct of the President in this regard would constitute failure to uphold the Constitution on his part. Furthermore, when Zulu was finally provided with such protection, he personally asked to be removed from it for personal reasons thereby rendering the basis for his complaint to the Public Protector inconsequential,” reads the report.