South Africa’s new Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has reportedly ordered staff at her offices to switch news channels – from eNCA, to Gupta-owned ANN7, the Mail & Guardian reports.
According to staff at the offices, the order came from Mkhwebane directly to the IT department to make the change. The offices can reportedly only have one feed distributed to the TV screens.
According to the paper, the change was made because the new Public Protector believes her staff needs a “broader perspective”.
While seemingly innocuous, the change has raised eyebrows, considering that Mkhwebane’s ‘preferred’ news source is aligned to the Gupta family, who are currently at the centre of an investigation being conducted by the office of the Public Protector.
Former Protector, Thuli Madonsela initiated an investigation in the the Gupta family around allegations of state capture. The investigation was split into two parts, the first of which was completed and signed off before Madonsela left the office.
However, the release of the report was blocked by two court applications for an interdict, launched by president Jacob Zuma and cooperative governance minister Des van Rooyen – who are both implicated in the report – to be heard in November.
Since taking up her new office, Mkhwebane has made several statements that appear to criticise Madonsela’s running as Public Protector. She has stated that she will run the office in her own way, focusing on the poor, and doing away with the use of consultants – which caused the office to incur R5 million in “irregular expenditure” under Madonsela.
Mkhwebane also stated that she would stop foreign funding of the office, highlighting that Madonsela had accepted a donation of $500,000 from United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Madonsela has refuted this, however, saying that the donation was made to government, which was then made available to the office of the Public Protector for training.
The full report is open to subscribers of the Mail & Guardian.