The former public protector is at odds with the current incumbent. Thuli Madonsela, who was replaced by Busisiwe Mkhwebane in 2016, has questioned several of her successor’s decision relating to the Waterkloof scandal.
What is the Waterkloof scandal?
The controversy from 2013 – which allowed Gupta wedding guests to land commercial planes at a military base in Pretoria – was considered to be highly irregular, and illustrated how much control the Indian billionares had over the state. A state capture inquiry spokesperson recently told News24 this issue “will be investigated” by the commission.
The landing caused a public uproar, and it didn’t take long for Madonsela to react. Just weeks after the incident, the former office-bearer began her work on a report into the fiasco.
By the time she finished her investigation in 2016 and retired from her post, the only thing left to do for her successor was to release the findings – something she never got round to.
Public Protector @AdvBMkhwebane clarifies issues surrounding the investigation involving the landing of the Gupta aircraft at Air Force Base Waterkloof in 2013. Follow link here to access full closing report: https://t.co/KpnoVann5V pic.twitter.com/pMwL5RR5Q1
— Public Protector SA (@PublicProtector) June 12, 2019
Thuli Madonsela vs Busisiwe Mkhwebane
Instead, Busisiwe Mkhwebane was satisfied that no wrongdoing had been committed. This, despite a raft of complaints from senior political figures. Former International Relations Head of Protocol Bruce Koloane has previously revealed there was pressure “from the very top” to drop the guests off at this strategic location.
But if Mkhwebane thought she could sweep all of this under the carpet, she is sadly mistaken. In the end, the PP only entertained one complaint. That was from Lieutenant Colonel Christine Anderson, who claimed the JCPS probe in the Waterkloof landing was irregular. Mkhwebane says further investigation “would have served no purpose”.
State capture inquiry beckons for Waterkloof
Madonsela is calling for a much more thorough review process though, and she’s not above airing the dirty laundry in public:
“I’m saying, let the institution release the full record of what was investigated to the state capture commission. Every letter I wrote, every letter that was written by an investigator, all the responses we got and all of the interviews which were recorded and the footage.”
It seems Thuli Madonsela has indeed got one over on Busisiwe Mkhwebane, and their public spat over the Waterkloof issue will be put to the Zondo Commission in the near future.
It’s arguable that Busisiwe Mkhwebane began life in office on the wrong footing, after falling out with Madonsela very early on. Mkhwebane reportedly wanted nothing to do with Thuli, and it set the tone for a tumultuous transition. That bad blood has never really gone away.