The continuing pressure has forced the Public Protector Busi Mkhwebane who has for the first time revealed that President Jacob Zuma’s input influenced the final CIEX report on the R1.125 billion given by the SA Reserve Bank (SARB) to Bankorp, one of Absa’s predecessors.
In her answering affidavit filed in the high court in Pretoria on Friday, Mkhwebane said her draft remedial action directed Zuma to set up a judicial commission of inquiry.
“From the discussion during our meeting (with Zuma) I became concerned that my draft remedial action to direct the president to establish a judicial commission may face similar difficulties as currently faced in the State of Capture report,” reads Mkhwebane’s affidavit.
Mkhwebane’s admission on the Absa matter comes as she has again been accused of ordering “irrational and unlawful” remedial action. The Department of Arts and Culture is also dragging Mkhwebane to the high court in a bid to review and set aside a report she released in June.
Mkhwebane said she changed the draft CIEX remedial action after the meeting with Zuma in April because there was already a pending legal determination. This was the president’s application to review her predecessor Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report, which also ordered Zuma to set up a judicial commission of inquiry.
In this application, Zuma wants the high court to determine whether the public protector’s office can direct him to establish a commission of inquiry.
The SARB and Absa also want Mkhwebane’s report that Absa must pay back R2.25bn, including interest, for the lifeboat given to Bankorp to be reviewed and set aside.
Mkhwebane’s remedial action directing Parliament to amend the constitution and change the SARB’s mandate was set aside in August.
In its replying affidavit, the SARB’s Johannes de Jager said that despite its being standard procedure, Mkhwebane had not provided a transcript of the meeting with Zuma in which she dropped the remedial action directing the president to set up a judicial commission of inquiry.
“The only explanation that the public protector gives about the subject matter of the meeting is not credible,” reads De Jager’s replying affidavit.
According to De Jager, the draft remedial action did not direct Zuma to establish a commission of inquiry, but required him only to consider establishing one.