Johannesburg - South Africa’s ruling Africa African Congress (ANC) has expressed concern at the country’s Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s decision to investigate President Cyril Ramaphosa over a R500 000 donation to his 2017 ANC presidential campaign by Gavin Watson, the boss of services firm, African Global Operations, formerly known as Bosasa.
Bosasa is one of the organisations under investigation for massive corruption at the state capture inquiry in the country.
During an impromptu media briefing on the sidelines of the Nehawu policy conference in Johannesburg this week, ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe Mantashe said Mkhwebane must be "engaged".
Mantashe added that he had found out that Mkhwebane had involved herself in politics.
"The Public Protector is a Chapter 9 institution. If it behaves delinquently, that should be followed formally and be engaged. There are times when you think that she has occupied a political space that does not belong to her, but you must find a way of dealing with that. That is why we are in politics," said the ANC chairperson.
Mantashe also questioned the validity of the Public Protector’s investigation into alleged money laundering during Ramaphosa’s campaign for the ANC presidency.
"There were seven presidential candidates of the ANC. She is not interested in any of them, except one. That is political. If she is really interested to follow the question of fundraising of campaigning in the party, not in government, which I don't think is her jurisdiction, if she has an interest in that, she would have investigated seven of them. Once you select one, you are playing a political role," he added.
His comments came a day after SA Communist Party second deputy general secretary, Solly Mapaila, claimed that Mkhwebane was a "hired gun” whose office was used to delegitimise individuals, "particularly, those who fight back whom rogue elements in the intelligence don't agree with, so that finally there could be adverse rulings against them".
Mapila added that that the cases Mkhwebane was investigating were moral cases and not criminal ones.
The Public Protector initiated an investigation into Ramaphosa after the opposition Democratic Alliance requested that she probe the R500 000 donation.
This was after Ramaphosa initially responded to a question from DA leader Mmusi Maimane, saying the R500 000 was a payment to his son, Andile, for work done. Days later, he wrote a letter to then National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete to correct this.
In her preliminary report last month, Mkhwebane said that Ramaphosa had inadvertently misled Parliament and had failed to declare the R500 000 donation to his 2017 ANC leadership campaign from Watson.
Meanwhile, the Public Protector also believes President Ramaphosa is failing to uphold the Constitution by not taking action against Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, as she recommended, a development that has attracted much attention and debate across the country.
Earlier this year, she found Gordhan guilty of "improper conduct" and urged Ramaphosa to take disciplinary action against him and the South African Revenue Service (SARS) to get back a pension payout made to former SARS deputy commissioner, Ivan Pillay.
She has since written to Ramaphosa, indicating that his refusal to implement her remedial action was not only a failure to uphold the Constitution, but was also a foregone conclusion, as it was only based on Gordhan's assertions.
Gordhan's legal team filed a court review application asking for Mkhwebane report to be set aside and for an order that she did not act in accordance with the Constitution or the Public Protector Act.