NATIONAL NEWS - In an interview on eNCA on Monday night, EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu clarified why his party is as hellbent as it is to support Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in her legal battles against top government officials.
Mkhwebane on Monday lost her attempt to stop Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan from interdicting her recommendations against him related to his time as the head of the SA Revenue Service.
And Mkhwebane’s lawyers will be back in court today to prevent President Cyril Ramaphosa from challenging her equally damning findings against him in another report.
Mkhwebane on Monday night expressed her disappointment with the high court’s interdict against her and vowed to take the ruling by Judge Sulet Potterill of the High Court in Pretoria on appeal.
The EFF has been supporting Mkhwebane in the case, and had said they would appeal the judgment even before Mkhwebane did. Shivambu alleged on eNCA on Monday night that the judge had, in their view, been far too keen too rush to a finding against the public protector. He suggested that Potterill had been racist in her behaviour because she’d supposedly been biased towards Gordhan’s “white male representation”, while the EFF and the public protector had used black advocates.
Shivambu said they would take Potterill’s ruling all the way to the Constitutional Court to “reaffirm” the powers of the public protector, but denied they have been defending Mkhwebane at all costs.
“…in areas where we disagree with her we will say [so],” he added.
The EFF made headlines earlier this month when they interrupted Gordhan in parliament and refused to allow him to speak since he was a “constitutional delinquent”, an allegation they based on Mkhwebane’s findings.
In response, Gordhan alleged they were defending state capture.
Several analysts, investigators and commentators have drawn the conclusion that senior leaders of the EFF appear to be in a battle of survival to discredit Gordhan and a newly reconstituted revenue service and government executive due to their own tax, corruption and legal battles, and in an effort to distract from them.
Political analyst Molifi Tshabalala has told TimesSelect that the EFF has been keen to “resurrect the ‘rogue unit’ narrative through the public protector … to pressure Ramaphosa to fire the minister”.
He said this was part of the EFF’s “fightback strategy to wrest back control of the revenue service and protect leading actors in the EFF”.
However, Shivambu – who has among other things been strongly implicated in VBS corruption – contends that their support of Mkhwebane is a matter of principle.
“We deal with politics. We are not fans of football clubs where people continue to be loyal to clubs even if they lose. In politics when you make a mistake, we tell you. And when you have done well, we say that you have done well.
“The public protector is not Kaiser Chiefs or Orlando Pirates. She is a human being who makes mistakes.”
He acknowledged that the EFF had been highly critical of Mkhwebane in the past but said that “worry” was driven by concern about her understanding of the law.
“When the public protector made a legal mistake to instruct parliament to change the constitution we were worried. We were beginning to question her understanding of the law.”
However, he said that they now understood she was prioritising cases holding the executive accountable, and applauded her for that.
“She’s not part of the band of the New Dawn people that are praising the current establishment despite their mistakes and wrongdoings.”
He also defended Mkhwebane’s legal approach, despite the fact that she has regularly been found wanting by the courts.