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News

Parliament committee summons Mkhwebane after release of Vrede project report

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services has summoned Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane after reports that she had ignored evidence that implicated Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.

The Sunday Times reported this week that Mkhwebane had been accused of suppressing evidence pointing at Zwane in her report on the controversial Vrede dairy farm project‚ which is surrounded by allegations that it was used to benefit the Gupta family.

“Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services has decided to urgently call the Public Protector‚ Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane to appear before the Committee to explain her statements in public over the recent weeks‚” the committee said in a statement.

Committee chairperson Mathole Motshekga said the committee was “extremely concerned”.

“We have further noted with grave concern allegations of her office suppressing some evidence. This type of allegations only tarnishes the good image of the office of the Public Protector‚” Motshekga said.

Mkwhebane has been asked to appear before the committee on Wednesday “on all matters that are currently in the public domain as put in this space by her office as it is of concern to the committee and South Africans in general.”

DA leader Mmusi Maimane has called Mkwhebane’s Vrede report a whitewash of corruption‚ saying it ignored leaked e-mails that had showed how the Gupta family was linked to the project. The business family has been accused of funneling millions of rand‚ meant to benefit poor communities in the Free State‚ for their own use.

Mkhwebane has also courted controversy in recent weeks for comments she made about the state capture commission of inquiry. At one point‚ the EFF accused her of damaging the reputation of her office after she called for the scope of the inquiry to be expanded. Critics believe that broadening the mandate of the inquiry is an attempt to bury allegations made against the Guptas and President Jacob Zuma.