Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane confirmed on Friday that her office’s CEO, Vussy Mahlangu, has resigned.
Mahlangu’s last day of work is Friday, January 31, 2020.
“He resigned to pursue other opportunities,” Mkhwebane said in a statement.
“I was saddened by and accepted the resignation with regret. Mr Mahlangu’s contribution is commendable.
“He brought about stability in the institution through various management committees responsible for implementing decisions resulting in improved performances.
“There are noticeable strides in our endeavours to achieve a clean audit and he contributed immensely towards that.”
Mkhwebane thanked Mahlangu for leading the turnaround that saw the office obtain a clean audit.
According to the statement, Mahlangu thanked the public protector for “the privilege of having served the multitude grassroots communities who see the institution as the only avenue through which they can vindicate their rights and exact accountability on their leaders, saying the experience had been enriching and rewarding”.
Mkhwebane wished Mahlangu all the best in his future endeavours.
Processes are under way to find a replacement “who must inspire the management team to build on Mr Mahlangu’s achievements, taking the institution to new heights”.
This follows what has been termed a “purge” at the Office of the Public Protector in October, when Mkhwebane dismissed the institution’s chief operating officer, Basani Baloyi, and suspended four senior officials and investigators – executive manager Pona Mogaladi, chief investigator Abongile Madiba, chief investigator Lesedi Sekele and senior investigator Tebogo Kekana.
News24 later reported this step was seemingly taken over a Financial Services Conduct Authority (FSCA) report that was being taken on judicial review.
Even though Mkhwebane told the SABC at the time three of the officials were suspended for sabotaging investigations, former senior investigator for quality assurance Isaac Matlawe told News24 they were targeted for other reasons.
Baloyi challenged her dismissal in court. In her founding affidavit, she said she believed she was “purged” as a result of being “an obstacle to the Public Protector and the CEO [Vussy Mahlangu] using their powers for their own personal advancement”, News24 reported.
Mkhwebane indicated she would oppose the case.
At the time, her spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, said: “The Public Protector will be defending this matter and rejects all of the allegations levelled against her as baseless and malicious in that they seek to feed into the meritless claims and perceptions that are out there.”
Mahlangu’s appointment in May 2018 was mired in controversy.
He was dismissed as the deputy director-general of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform under the tenure of former minister Gugile Nkwinti. His dismissal came in the wake of a scandal that involved handing over a farm to Nkwinti’s colleague in the ANC, Errol Velile Present‚ who at the time had been employed at Luthuli House for 10 years, City Press reported.
At the time, Mahlangu said he believed his name would be cleared.