South Africa: The Public Protector South Africa (PPSA) has noted the media and public reports regarding the accommodation arrangement of the suspended Public Protector Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane, as well as calls for the legal fees to be investigated.
The institution acknowledges that the subject matter involves the use of public funds and thus is of interest to the people of South Africa.
The institution wishes to place it on record that it has taken a decision to notify the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) of its intention to terminate a lease agreement for immovable property entered into by the PPSA and the DPWI. Communication was formally addressed to the department on 31 October 2022.
This was done in order to rectify the obligation of who bears the financial costs of Adv. Mkhwebane’s accommodation, in line with the relevant applicable institutional policy as well as Adv. Mkhwebane’s conditions of service.
The institution confirms that it started looking into this issue before Adv. Mkhwebane was placed on suspension due to media enquiries and reports on the matter. The process to rectify has been fully communicated to Adv. Mkhwebane since 18 October 2022.
Adv. Mkhwebane is not being evicted from the residence, as she may continue to occupy the residence, should she elect to do so, in her personal capacity and at her own cost. The decision is in line with what was initially intended by the arrangement. As the PPSA, we are not at liberty to elaborate further on the details of Adv. Mkhwebane’s living arrangements.
Regarding the calls for an investigation/audit into the expenditures incurred by the institution in respect of legal fees over the last number of years, there is a process currently underway in Parliament, which amongst other issues, is tasked with ventilating this matter.
Whilst awaiting the outcomes of this process, which may give direction on further action to be taken by PPSA, the institution has already reported the matter to the Auditor-General, and confirmation was received that the matter will be an area on which they will focus on, within the scope of the next audit.
In the interim, the PPSA is in the process of reviewing its systems, which include those relating to the procurement of Legal Services. This is to identify gaps and put in place appropriate corrective measures, which will include reporting to the relevant authorities where necessary, in order to ensure that its message of promoting good governance in state affairs is lived up to from within.
We wish to assure the people of South Africa that we are acting within the parameters of the law in every action being taken.
As an institution that is entrusted with ensuring accountability in state affairs, we, too, remain accountable.
The institution will not be making any further comments on this matter.