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Oscar Mabuyane in hot water: what you need to know

Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane is in our public protector’s sights. Busisiwe Mkhwebane recently released a report finding that he and the province’s Public Works MEC Babalo Madikizela may have criminally benefited from the over R1m meant for Winnie Madikizela’s memorial service in 2018. According to the report, Mabuyane allegedly bagged nearly half a million, which was used to upgrade his East London home (what’s with corrupt politicians and all the home upgrades?).

Now look, Mkhwebane isn’t the most reliable person and we’re hard-pressed to believe any of her reports given how many have been slammed in court, but this DOES sound serious. 👀

The ANC’s top decision-making body in the province, the PEC, has asked the duo to answer to the party’s local integrity commission, especially since they both previously faced allegations of misusing funds. Mabuyane has, of course, denied it all and headed to court to overturn Mkhwebane’s report. 

You may be wondering if Mabuyane should step aside as per the ANC’s famous but unevenly applied rule. But this only kicks into action when a person has been formally charged. Quick explainer: the Public Protector can only make recommendations. The police – or Hawks if it’s serious –  are responsible for investigating. Then the National Prosecuting Authority takes a look at the results of the investigation and decides if there is enough evidence to present a case before a judge. Only then is the person charged. ☝🏽

The Hawks told the M&G they have concluded their two-year investigation into the misused funds, as per Mkhwebane’s recommendations, and are impatiently waiting for the NPA to take action. 

The Eastern Cape is one of South Africa’s worst-run provinces. Let’s hope this heads to court soon!

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 21 October 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.