The DA is deeply disappointed that the Public Protector, Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane, has chosen to absolve the Minister of State Security, David Mahlobo, despite unequivocal evidence that he lied to Parliament.

We do not accept this attempt to explain away Mahlobo’s blatant lies and his deliberate attempt to mislead the Legislature. We look forward to pursuing this matter further in the Powers and Privileges Committee to which this matter has also been referred.

I had reported Mahlobo to the Public Protector on 18 November 2016 for violating the Executive Members Ethics Act by deliberately misleading Parliament about his relationship with #feesmustfall student leader, Mcebo Dlamini. It has taken a staggering nine and a half months for the Public Protector’s Office to complete its report, despite the Executive Members Ethics Act stating it must do so “within 30 days of receipt of the complaint”.

On 16 November 2016, Mahlobo told a bald-faced lie in the National Assembly when, responding to an oral question from DA MP, Prof Belinda Bozzoli, he stated that “Mcebo Dlamini has not been to my house”. Yet only two days prior he himself revealed his relationship with Dlamini when, participating in a panel discussion hosted by the Institute for Security Studies, he declared: “[A]nd I happen to know Mcebo [Dlamini]. He has been to my house several times.”

The Public Protector has unthinkingly accepted Mahlobo’s excuse that the “context” and the “gist” of Prof Bozzoli’s question “sought to suggest that Mr Mcebo Dlamini met with him at his residence to discuss the student protests”. The question was clear. The lie was clear. The intention to mislead Parliament was clear.

It is disturbing how disposed the Public Protector is to accepting Mahlobo’s vapid explanation. We can only hope that this is not a portent of things to come.

Mkhwebane’s predecessor, Thuli Madonsela, was instrumental in holding the Executive to account and would not have accepted Mahlobo’s nonsense defence. Sadly, it seems the incumbent Public Protector does not have the same appetite for holding errand ministers accountable and is all too willing to let liars off the hook.

The DA will not allow Mahlobo or any other minister to escape censure for misleading the legislature.