‘I didn’t conspire with Zuma’ – Mkhwebane

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has denied conspiring with the presidency and State Security Agency‚ saying her office remains independent.

In papers filed in the High Court in Pretoria‚ the Reserve Bank accused Mkhwebane of meeting with President Jacob Zuma’s office and the State Security Agency before releasing her report on missing apartheid funds.

The report also contained a proposal to change the mandate of the Reserve Bank.

In her June report‚ Mkhwebane proposed an amendment to the constitution to make the bank focus on the “socioeconomic well-being of the citizens” instead of inflation.

The Reserve Bank said there was no legitimate reason for Mkhwebane to consult the presidency or the State Security Agency on the proposal.

In a statement released on Thursday‚ Mkhwebane acknowledged that she had met the presidency on June 7.

“The Public Protector would like to place on record that the meeting with the Presidency did not discuss nor was the Presidency consulted with regard to the amendment of the South African Reserve Bank’s mandate‚” she said.

The meeting‚ which she said was at the request of the presidency‚ was to explain the response of the current administration to her investigation into the missing apartheid money. Previous presidencies had been implicated in the CIEX report. Former president Thabo Mbeki and other government officials were also interviewed as part of the investigation.

The statement also explained that the meeting with the State Security Agency was a follow-up based on the investigation into the apartheid funds.

CIEX‚ the company initially hired to investigate the funds in the early 1990s‚ was contracted by the former SA Secret Service‚ which has since been renamed the State Security Agency.

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“The Public Protector would like to assure the public that the meeting between the Presidency and the SSA was part of the Public Protector’s constitutional mandate to conduct an investigation. Therefore‚ as part of her investigation‚ the Public Protector is required to meet any person who may assist her in her investigation.”

Mkhwebane also denied that the bank was not allowed time to comment on her draft report‚ saying the allegations are “rejected with the contempt they deserve”.

“There are several allegations orchestrated by a certain group of people with ulterior motives‚ including availing the SARB affidavit to the media even before being served on the Public Protector. The aim is to discredit the Public Protector and her independence‚” the statement said.

She said the “plot” would not see her lose her independence and impartiality.

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