Gigaba report yet another reason for Public Protector to be removed
The latest report by the Public Protector in which she clears Malusi Gigaba from abusing his powers as Home Affairs minister when granting early naturalisation for the Gupta family, comes as no surprise to OUTA. “In fact, adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane has been questioned on a number of occasions about findings showing favour to people heavily implicated in the state capture saga,” says adv Stefanie Fick, Executive Director of the Accountability Division at OUTA.
In her latest report, the Public Protector in essence cleared Malusi Gigaba of abusing his powers, although she found Gigaba breached the Executive Ethics Code by not informing Parliament within the required 14 days of his decision to grant the Guptas citizenship under exceptional circumstances.
“It’s one thing to let Gigaba off the hook on a technicality by blaming department officials for failing to exercise due diligence on the Gupta’s motivation, but the buck stopped with the former minister. Especially in the case of a controversial family with known links to and contracts with the government of the day – Gigaba should have been extra cautious,” says Fick.
Gigaba’s relationship with the Guptas has been making headlines since the release of the Gupta Leaks in 2017, and OUTA finds it difficult to believe that the Public Protector cleared him of wrongdoing in this matter.
The PP’s decision is even more shocking when considering that the Gupta Leaks implicated Gigaba in decisions to redeploy a Home Affairs official, Mr Gideon Christians, to the DHA office in India in 2015, even though there was not a post for him.
Christians – who served in India before – had a good relationship with the Guptas and was sent back to India to assist them with visa applications for their family, connections and staff members. When Christians needed “top secret” security clearance for his new post and DHA indicated this was an issue, he appealed to the Guptas for help. Besides helping the Guptas to circumvent the law on immigration, there are also indications that Christians took favours from the Guptas.
It is also common knowledge that Gigaba assisted the Guptas to try and gain control of the Fireblade private terminal at OR Tambo airport, a matter in which the Gauteng High Court found he has perjured himself.
As the head of a Chapter 9 institution tasked with protecting the public against government and corrupt officials, the Public Protector should have been very aware of these facts, as Gigaba’s alleged role in state capture since he was appointed minister of Public Enterprises in 2010, has been widely publicised for at least four years.
OUTA believes that the Public Protector should have taken all of these aspects into account when making her finding. “In the very least, Gigaba had a duty to ensure that his team had done a thorough investigation of the Gupta’s motivation for their early naturalization application. This was clearly not done, as the many misleading statements in their motivation later revealed,” says Fick.
“To now let DHA officials now take the fall for what appears to be clear meddling by a former minister whose links with the Gupta family is still under investigation, is a travesty of justice.”
OUTA – who laid charges of perjury against Mkhwebane in September 2019 – repeats its call for her removal as Public Protector. “Our country can no longer afford her mistakes. We trust the parliamentary process will find her unfit for office and that the NPA’s investigation into the complaints of perjury against her, will see her removed from office, sooner rather than later.”