Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane tembisa 10

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane / Photo by Luke Daniel,

PR disaster: Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s humbling ConCourt defeat explained

Just 15 hours after President Cyril Ramaphosa blasted Busisiwe Mkhwebane in a televised address, the Public Protector was steamrollered in ConCourt.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane tembisa 10

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane / Photo by Luke Daniel,

Busisiwe Mkhwebane has suffered a humiliating defeat in the Constitutional Court of South Africa (ConCourt) on Monday, as the bench of judges ripped into the Public Protector over the Bankorp / ABSA fiasco.

Her character was called into question by the institution, which upheld the decision to slap her with a hefty costs order, and dimissed her application to appeal. The judgement comes at the worst possible time for Mkhwebane, who is engaged in a legal battle with President Cyril Ramaphosa. Her credibility has taken a massive knock, here.

Busisiwe Mkhwebane vs Bankorp, ABSA and SARB explained

The initial submission that was made by ABSA, in partnership with the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), asked the North Gauteng High Court to set aside Mkhwebane’s recommendation that compelled the bank – formerly known as Bankorp – to ‘repay’ R1.1-billion to the government.

In June 2017, Mkhwebane dusted off the Bankorp-Ciex report that was scribed by Michael Oatley, the founder of Ciex – a UK-based company that specialises in debt recoveries. In Oatley’s report, ABSA was fingered as the company that owed the government money after it bought-out Bankorp.

The Public Protector, as part of her remedial action in her findings, also suggested that the Constitution must be edited to help ensure “the socio-economic well-being of South Africans” is protected. However, in her proposed changes, Mkhwebane forgot to include a very important part of Section 224 – the bit that guarantees the “protection of the Rand”.

ConCourt judgement on Busisiwe Mkhwebane – what was said?

Her erroneous move ended up sending the Rand into a nosedive, significantly decreasing its value in 2017. The claimants against her, in this case, have labelled her entire decision-making process as flawed. ConCourt have agreed with them, and their scathing judgement against Mkhwebane pulls no punches:

What she’s had to pay

You can add “falsehoods”, “contradictory”, “dishonest” and “unacceptable conduct” to the terms that ConCourt used to describe Mkhwebane’s actions here, too. The Public Protector has been told to cover 15% of the SA Reserve Bank’s legal fees and 85% of those attributed to her own office.

You can almost hear Cyril Ramaphosa grinning from behind your screen. His statement against the PP’s investigation into his CR17 campaign was pretty damning. To have the highest court in the land vindicate your words just 15 hours later is a major PR victory for the President and a disastrous own goal for Mkhwebane.

What will happen next for the public protector?

Her authority has been undermined by the courts for the second time in two months. Back in May, Busisiwe Mkhwebane saw her Estina Dairy Farm report labelled “unconstitutional and invalid” by the North Gauteng chambers.

With the Vrede scandal also coming into focus at the State Capture Inquiry this week, the Public Protector’s errors have been pulled into sharp focus. The President may be compelled to remove Mkhwebane from office, but he’d have to gain the support of his Parliamentary colleagues first.