We always knew Public Protector Busisiwe Mkwebane was a Gupta appointee despite her rather pathetic efforts to appear nonpartisan, but finally she has flown her colours out in the open. Of course what I am referring to is her findings released last week regarding Absa and the Reserve Bank. The subject of Mkwebane's investigation was an apartheid era bailout of now Absa-owned Bankorp, but her findings ventured many miles from that mandate.
The core finding is that Absa should pay back the R1.125 billion it benefited from the 1985 bailout of Bankorp. I am all for holding accountable those who have unduly benefited from situations like this, but the shareholders who would be punished today are not the same shareholders who benefited during the apartheid era bailout and takeover. Thus it would be unfair to punish the current shareholders and by now, 3 decades later, it is impossible to track down the actual benefactors, rendering Mkwebane's investigation a waste of time, as the likes of Mbeki, Manuel, Gordhan and Madonsela already knew.
It is not, however, just the wasting of time and resources by our state institutions that we are worried about. The major problem is the capture of yet another chapter 9 institution, especially one so symbolically named the Public Protector. Mkwebane had already revealed her Gupta allegiance by having the office's televisions switched to ANN7 and insinuating that the leaked Gupta emails were fake, but now she is chasing after the first bank that closed the Gupta accounts. Also note that this is in light of a questionable relationship with Gupta-associated, Bell-Pottinger-linked Andile Mngxitama and the Black First Land First movement as well as the fact that Gupta-linked figures have condemned, or even talked publicly about the report, especially the other, more controversial part we are yet to discuss.
Before we get to the climax of this story we need to ask why the public protector is chasing a controversial, almost irrecoverable R1 billion and ignoring the R700 billion stolen by the ANC in the last 20 years. To be short, this simply reeks of favouring special interests.
Finally, we get to the crux of the matter. The public protector has no right to recommend changes to the constitution. Simple as that. Mkwebane completely overstepped the mark when she recommended parliament amend the constitution to change the mandate of the Reserve Bank. First, this is nowhere close to what she was asked to investigate, and second, she would not have the mandate to make the those recommendations even if she was asked. Yet we have these ridiculous findings playing right into the vague, unintepretable radical economic transformation rhetoric, designed purely to draw attention away from state capture.
So in the end, what we have, amongst other things, is another ploy to draw attention away from the Guptas and state capture. But it has, in fact, drawn a whole lot of attention to the capture of yet another state institution, the office of the public protector.