Public Protector Accuses Ousted Predecessor of Financial Mismanagement

Public Protector Gcaleka accuses ousted predecessor Mkhwebane of financial mismanagement, alleging R147M spent on defending "indefensible reports" and a R10M gratuity demand that "ignores the financial wreckage" Mkhwebane caused.

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Mazhar Abbas
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Public Protector Accuses Ousted Predecessor of Financial Mismanagement

Public Protector Accuses Predecessor of Financial Mismanagement and Reckless Spending

Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka has leveled serious allegations of financial mismanagement against her ousted predecessor Busisiwe Mkhwebane. In an affidavit filed in the Gauteng High Court, Gcaleka stated that Mkhwebane left the Public Protector South Africa (PPSA) "in financial dire straits" after being removed from office for misconduct and incompetence in 2021.

Gcaleka claims that Mkhwebane's demand for a R10 million gratuity payment "completely ignores the financial wreckage" she caused during her tenure. This includes a staggering R147 million spent on defending what Gcaleka called "indefensible reports" issued by Mkhwebane. The Section 194 inquiry into Mkhwebane's fitness to hold office, which was initially supposed to cost the PPSA R4 million, ballooned to over R32 million in payments to Mkhwebane's lawyers, an amount the DA's Annelie Lotriet described as a "reckless abuse of taxpayers' money".

Why this matters: The allegations against Mkhwebane raise serious questions about the financial management and oversight of the Office of the Public Protector during her tenure. As a critical institution tasked with investigating government corruption and misconduct, any misuse of public funds by the Public Protector undermines public trust and the effectiveness of the office.

The PPSA and Mkhwebane are currently engaged in an ongoing legal dispute over her demand for the R10 million gratuity. While the PPSA has conveyed its stance to Mkhwebane, it declined to provide further comments due to the matter being subject to ongoing litigation . The High Court in Pretoria has deferred the proceedings to facilitate discussions between the parties, but the dispute remains unresolved.

Mkhwebane Gratuity: Legal experts argue that Mkhwebane's entitlement to the gratuity is contentious, given her impeachment and alleged misconduct while in office. The outcome of the case will depend on the legal interpretation by the presiding judge(s) and the specific circumstances surrounding Mkhwebane's tenure as Public Protector.

Gcaleka's accusations depict an office left in financial disarray by her predecessor. "The former Public Protector's demand for a R10 million gratuity completely ignores the financial wreckage she has caused to the institution," Gcaleka stated in her affidavit. The allegations suggest that Mkhwebane's actions as Public Protector not only led to her removal from office but also had severe financial consequences for the watchdog body.

Key Takeaways

  • Gcaleka accuses Mkhwebane of financial mismanagement at PPSA, leaving it in dire straits
  • Mkhwebane's demand for R10M gratuity ignores R147M spent on defending her "indefensible reports"
  • Section 194 inquiry into Mkhwebane's fitness ballooned to over R32M, a "reckless abuse"
  • Mkhwebane's entitlement to gratuity is contentious due to her impeachment and alleged misconduct
  • Gcaleka's accusations depict PPSA left in financial disarray by Mkhwebane's actions as Public Protector