Public protector tiptoes around opposing Zuma’s bid to block state capture report

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane previously filed notice that she intends to oppose an attempt by President Jacob Zuma to have the controversial state capture report set aside – but on Thursday she said that was a formality for now.

Zuma wants the courts to review the State of Capture report by Mkhwebane’s predecessor, Thuli Madonsela, which found that various parts of the state had acted in a most peculiar manner, largely to the benefit of the Gupta family.

“Yes, I have lodged an intention to oppose,” Mkhwebane said, but immediately qualified the statement, saying she had done so “just to comply to the court rules” on timing.

“I’ve indicated that this is a complex matter and there is no legal precedent on it, therefore I will be getting a comprehensive legal opinion and I will assess the information, and I will decide whether to continue opposing or to then change course.”

She wanted to be sure whether to actually oppose Zuma’s application or not, she said.

Mkhwebane said there were intricate issues in the State of Capture report matter, particularly its order to Zuma that he must establish a broader judicial inquiry into allegations of state capture, down to the mechanism he must use to select a judge

“The complexity comes in the sense of saying we don’t have precedents over this matter, so it is checking whether institutions like the public protector can instruct the president to perform his duties in terms of the provisions of the Constitution, she said.

Mkhwebane said that she had no reservations about the report as such.

“I don’t have a problem with the report. The report is there, the report is binding.
I won’t change the report.”

Mkhwebane also confirmed that one staffer, described as the primary investigator in the State of Capture report, Nkebe Kanyane, had resigned.

“Yes, she has resigned. You know, we have a good quality and skilled employees at the institution so any organisation would like to employ them. She voluntarily resigned and she is being offered a better offer somewhere else.”

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