Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has hit back at allegations of factionalism related to the timing of the release of her report on allegedly siphoned funds that were meant for transport to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's memorial service.
The Eastern Cape provincial executive committee (PEC) of the African National Congress (ANC) met on Monday to discuss the report.
In a statement, it alleged that Mkhwebane timed the report to coincide with the elections, which are scheduled for 1 November.
"It is unfortunate that the report of the Public Protector (PP) is released on the verge of the local government elections when it was finalised two months back. This stance and timing regrettably weaponised the belief that the PP is a party to intra-party and external factionalism," the PEC said.
The Public Protector found that Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane and Public Works MEC Babalo Madikizela unduly benefitted from funds that were intended for the memorial service.
Mabuyane allegedly benefitted from R450 000 which was used to pay for upgrades to his East London home. Madikizela allegedly received R350 000. The ANC in the province was said to have been paid R288 000.
The roughly R1.1-million was transferred from the Eastern Cape government to the Mbizana Local Municipality. It was intended to help fund transport for the public to the memorial service.
Mkhwebane's office said the allegations were far from the truth.
It countered that Madikizela and Mbizana Municipal Manager Luvuyo Mahlaka were the ones who asked for extensions in response to notices issued in June and July.
The Public Protector's office then compiled the report and investigated certain aspects of the matter.
Mkhwebane's office said, "The report was released along with seven others at the office's most recent end-of-quarter media briefing. The office does not stop exercising its powers or performing its functions merely because an election is approaching."
It said: "That would be at odds with the Section 181(2) of the Constitution, which provides that the office is independent, and subject only to the Constitution and the law, and that it must be impartial and must exercise its powers and perform its functions without fear, favour or prejudice."
The Public Protector's office added that the Eastern Cape ANC should concern its self with the contents of the report - firstly on whether public funds were siphoned to Mabuyane, Madikizela and the ANC and secondly, on the criminal questions that arise from the funds being transferred to unintended beneficiaries.
"The office of the Public Protector stands by its report. The office has also taken note of intentions by some of the parties to obtain an order suspending the implementation of the remedial action, pending the judicial review of the report. The office looks forward to a speedy review process to pave the way for full accountability," the Public Protector's office said.