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DA: Mkhwebane must be investigated over Vrede claims, removed from office

The DA wants Busisiwe Mkhwebane to be investigated for possibly lying under oath and removed from office.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane at the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg on 22 July 2019. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Free State is turning up the heat on Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, saying she cannot be trusted on the Vrede matter.

AmaBhungane revealed at the weekend that Mkhwebane allegedly ordered that part of the report implicating former Free State Premier Ace Magashule and then Agriculture MEC Mosebenzi Zwane be removed.

The DA wants Mkhwebane to be investigated for possibly lying under oath and removed from office.

The amaBhungane report said that a whistle-blower claims part of the initial Vrede report, relating to Magashule, Mosebenzi Zwane and the beneficiaries of the project, were removed on instructions from the Public Protector.

Based on this, the DA’s Roy Jankielsohn said it’s possible that Mkhwebane had lied under oath.

He said Mkhwebane’s intention to spend more money on appealing the decision that denied her the right to appeal the case proves that she lied when she cited a lack of financial resources as the reason for not investigating the DA’s requests about the Estina dairy project.

Jankielsohn said Free State residents and the beneficiaries of the Estina project can no longer rely on Mkhwebane to conduct a reliable and credible investigation.

He hopes Parliament will remove Mkhwebane from office and ensure the new Public Protector will release a report that contributes leads to justice for Free State residents and the beneficiaries of the project.

ABOUT THE VREDE PROJECT

The Estina dairy received public money and was meant to benefit the local community. But prosecutors said funds were illegally diverted to bank accounts of people including Atul Gupta, a wealthy businessman.

Atul Gupta, as well as his brothers Ajay and Rajesh, is a friend of former president Jacob Zuma. Government has since launched the state capture inquiry into allegations the brothers influenced the appointment of cabinet ministers, among other things.

Zuma and the Guptas have denied wrongdoing.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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