Judge Davis: Mkhwebane’s Absa report could have implications for govt spending

Judge Dennis Davis says that while he has examined her report very closely, he does not find any fact or reasoning to change his finding that Absa should not pay any money to government.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane during a press briefing. Picture: Kgothatso Mogale/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Judge Dennis Davis says Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkwhebane's Absa report could have huge implications, as it says that all monies misspent by government must be recovered.

Davis on Wednesday said that Mkwhebane's report finding that Absa must pay over R1 billion to government because of the Bankorp bailout did not change his view that Absa actually had no debt to repay.

Davis chaired the Davis Committee of Experts that investigated the Bankorp bailout in 2000.

Judge Davis says Mkhwebane points to an international treaty signed by South Africa that says that government has an obligation to recoup money that has been shown to be wasteful expenditure.

“If that is the argument the Public Protector is presenting in the report, I suspect it is going to be a very interesting argument that will come before court on a broader argument on government expenditure.”

Davis also says that while he has examined her report very closely, he does not find any fact or reasoning to change his finding that Absa should not pay any money to government.

On Monday, Mkhwebane ordered the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to recover the money from Absa.

The Public Protector said the government failed to act on the CIEX report.

“Dealing with alleged stolen state funds after commissioning and paying the same, whether the South African government failed to improperly implement the report is substantiated.”

She referred the matter to the SIU to recover an amount of R1.1 billion.

“The South Africa Reserve Bank must cooperate fully with the SIU and also assist the SIU in the recovery of the misappropriated public funds.”

Mkhwebane found that the government’s failure to recover the funds has prejudiced the public.