Protector's spokesperson: We got the law right on Reserve Bank, we just made a typo

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Gallo)

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Gallo)

Cleopatra Mosana, the spokesperson for public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s office, has tried to dismiss an admission by Mkhwebane that she got the law wrong about her powers. 

Mosana has said mistakes were made in the process of writing up the remedial action regarding changes to the Constitution on the role of the Reserve Bank.

Mosana was speaking to Radio 702 on Tuesday morning when she repeated that it was the “crafting” of the report that led to widespread misunderstanding about the public protector’s instruction that Parliament must begin a process to amend the Constitution on the Reserve Bank’s role. 

The rand took a nosedive shortly after her report was made public.

Mosana said: “She [the public protector] didn’t get the law wrong ... at the end of the day why is the report still standing and being implementable if she got the law wrong. 

“What is the core issue? If you make a mistake - you do a typo yourself when you typing it and say ‘Oh, this was a typo’...”

Radio 702 host Eusebius McKaiser interrupted her to ask whether she meant the public protector’s office had made a typo when it typed up its remedial action on the Reserve Bank.

Mosana responded: “That’s why I was saying the issue is on a technicality because it’s on crafting. At the end of the day, why would the report not be implementable as the way it stands?” 

She said the “crafting” errors had been made when the public protector’s findings on the apartheid-era loan to Bankorp (now owned by Absa) was written. In her remedial action, Mkhwebane said Parliament should change the role of the Reserve Bank in the Constitution so that it makes job opportunities and other socioeconomic challenges its core focus instead of inflation targeting and protecting the currency.

The Reserve Bank, Parliament, Absa and Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba have all filed court papers to have Mkhwebane’s remedial action reviewed and set aside. 

On Monday, Mkhwebane said in an answering affidavit that she would not oppose the arguments made by the Reserve Bank. She quoted sections of the Constitution to demonstrate her office does not have the power to instruct Parliament to begin a process that will result in changes to the Constitution.

“To this extent, the remedial action in paragraph 7.2 of the report trenches on the powers of Parliament,” Mkhwebane said in her affidavit.

It was after McKaiser said the word “trenches” was perhaps a mistake in the affidavit that Mosana used the example of a typo in the remedial action to say that it was badly crafted.

“This is an issue of language ... it’s an issue of crafting,” she said.

On Monday the Economic Freedom Fighters called for Mkhwebane to step down as public protector. ANC MP Derek Hanekom has also said that Mkhwebane should vacate the post because the public should be able to have trust in the office.

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