President takes Public Protector's report on review

Sunday, July 21, 2019

President Cyril Ramaphosa has taken the decision to seek an urgent judicial review of the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report released on Friday, its findings and remedial action.

“I have instructed my legal representatives to prepare an application to this effect as a matter of urgency,” President Ramaphosa said, addressing members of the media at the Union Buildings on Sunday.

In her report, the Public Protector concludes that the President violated the Executive Ethics Code and the Constitution with regards to a donation received for his 2017 ANC presidential campaign.

“Given the gravity of this matter – and appreciating the effect that these findings have on the standing and credibility of both the President and the Public Protector – it is essential that the courts be given an opportunity to review the report and to find accordingly,” President Ramaphosa said.

He said he took the decision to take this action not only to protect the rights that the Constitution affords him as a person, but also to preserve the integrity of the office he occupies.

“I have decided to take this action not out of disrespect for the Public Protector as a crucial institution of our democracy, but in the expectation that the institution will ultimately be strengthened by an independent and impartial judicial review.

“My decision to seek a judicial review of the report should not be seen as a comment on the person, competence or motives of the Public Protector, but is motivated instead by a determination that the law should be applied correctly and consistently,” he said.

The President said the findings that the Public Protector has made against him are serious. They allege conduct that cannot – and should not – be taken lightly.

“It is therefore essential – as it should be in all investigations – that such findings are based on fact, that they have a sound legal basis, that they are rational and that they have been arrived at through a fair, impartial and lawful process,” he said.

The President said it was unfortunate that the report released by the Public Protector fails to satisfy these crucial requirements.

“After careful study, I have concluded that the report is fundamentally and irretrievably flawed. This is strongly confirmed by my legal representatives. The report contains numerous factual inaccuracies of a material nature. The findings are wrong in law, are irrational and, in some instances, exceed the scope of the powers of the Public Protector,” the President said.

He said the Public Protector failed to provide him with an opportunity to comment on proposed remedial action, violated provisions of the Public Protector Act, the Constitution and principles of common law.

“Given these deficiencies, and consistent with our Constitutional architecture, it is appropriate that the courts make a final and impartial determination on this matter.”

President Ramaphosa said he was taking this action in the firm belief that the President is not above the law, and nor is the Public Protector. He said the Public Protector is equally bound by the law and, like the President, is answerable to the provisions of the Constitution.

He said since taking office in February last year, he undertook to work alongside all South Africans in bringing a decisive end to state capture, to turn the tide on corruption and to restore the integrity and credibility of public institutions.
“Since then, as a country, we have made remarkable progress.” –