Editor's note: Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's critics claim that her pursuit of Pravin Gordhan has become overly-politicised. Her new report plays right into the hands of those making this argument, says Sydney Majoko.
“ 'An almost-assassinated leader gets so much credibility, so he can stay in power and gets to stick around and enjoy it.'
"That’s a quote from the 2005 movie, The Interpreter. On Friday, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane released her report into the establishment of the so-called 'rogue spy unit' within the SA Revenue Service (Sars).
"She not only released a report but was at pains to point out the very difficult circumstances under which she had to work to get the report out.
"Strangely, though, she harps back to a 2011 incident in which a public protector investigator died in a 'mysterious' car accident to explain why her current atmosphere is threatening. She further refers to a possible poisoning incident where one of her staff was admitted to hospital. The police have cleared this case and no poisoning was found.
"Mkhwebane has taken a leaf out of The Interpreter and used it to bolster her credibility. By using the 'possible poisoning' story and mysterious 2011 car accident, she lays the ground to lend herself and her reports undue credibility.
"Sadly for her, her reports will have to stand on their own when taken on review. Their legality will not be considered together with the manufactured fear factor that she so skilfully weaved into their release.
"It might be that she has managed to create a perception that those implicated in the report are involved in cloak-and-dagger shenanigans of poisoning and killings, but only the contents of the reports get taken on judicial review.
"Even just a cursory glance at some of her findings reveal a lack of legal depth. Her investigation into the establishment of the so-called rogue unit at Sars has two very obvious flaws that you don’t need a legal degree to understand.
"The first is that the conclusion is reached about the existence of this unit based on the Sikhakhane report, which has been discredited because auditing firm KPMG publicly retracted the report. The Sikhakhane inquiry report has been questioned on so many fronts and cannot be relied upon by the public protector to bolster her findings on the existence of a so-called rogue unit at Sars."
Read the rest at The Citizen.
Sydney Majoko is a writer based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Briefly.co.za.
Enjoyed reading our story? Download BRIEFLY's news app on Google Play now and stay up-to-date with major South African news!