Parliament, Saturday, 10 September 2022 – The Committee for Section 194 Enquiry into Public Protector (PP) Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office today heard that the State Security Agency (SSA) demanded to be reimbursed for the salary of the Acting Chief Financial Officer (CFO) that was seconded to the Office of the PP.

Ms Nthoriseng Motsitsi, Public Protector Executive Manager: Complaints and Stakeholder Management, who also served briefly as Acting Chief Executive Officer, told the committee that SSA sent a letter demanding repayment for Mr Vusumuzi Menzelwa’s salary.

During questions by Members of the committee regarding SSA’s involvement at the Office of the PP, Ms Motsitsi revealed that she was informed that the Acting CFO was from SSA and because of that, they would not have to pay him. Later she was informed that the Office of the PP had to pay his salary. According to her, there was also a meeting with the SSA for the development of a system. SSA quoted them R58 million but the Office of the PP only had a budget of R10 million, so they didn't procure it from them.

Ms Motsitsi also elaborated on the working environment in the Office of the PP and called it a “hostile environment” where she as an executive manager was not allowed to give an input. “Every time you felt belittled. One manager, that stood in for me once said she had to do the walk of shame as she was asked to leave a dashboard meeting.”

Earlier in the day during cross examination, Adv Dali Mpofu, SC, harped on investigations and deadlines not being met. He wanted to ascertain if it was acceptable to repeatedly miss deadlines, which Ms Motsitsi agreed that it was unacceptable. She elaborated that the reasons for missing deadlines and delays of finalising reports should also be taken into account, arguing that the issuing of “shoddy reports” would put the Office of the PP in a bad light.

Later in the day Ms Nelisiwe Thejane, Executive Manager: Provincial Investigation and Integration: Inland at the Public Protector, testified about pressure that was put on staff to accelerate the finalisation of investigations and reports.

She said that the PP would not merely insist that investigation procedures be rushed, but that she would also require that action be taken when staff did not deal with procedures with speed. She claimed that the manner in which Adv Mkhwebane was proceeding was killing the staff morale. She said the people were emotionally broken by working under pressure of meeting the PP's unrealistic deadliness. Ms Thejane told the committee that the immense pressure that was exerted on her and her team to complete investigations resulted in the escalation of absenteeism due to ill health.

She described the work pressure was “intolerable” stating during the day she was expected to attend a number of meetings that would lead to more meetings. According to her this led to staff at times to start working after 16:30. Ms Thejane stated in her affidavit that under the PP they worked nights and into the early hours of the following morning.

The committee heard that the reporting requirements for dashboard meetings became so burdensome that they started hampering staff from doing their work which she claimed contributed to delays in reports being finalised. Ms Thejane testified that the PP either did not care about the quality of investigations and reports produced as she pushed for more output or she did not understand what was involved in investigations, or both.

Committee Chairperson Mr Qubudile Dyantyi said the committee will meet on Tuesday. The committee was established by the National Assembly (NA) on 16 March 2021 to conduct a constitutional inquiry into the Public Protector’s fitness to hold office. The enquiry is hybrid and can be followed live on Parliament’s media platforms. Committee documents can be found at: Committee for Section 194 Enquiry - Parliament of South Africa


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