Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is playing her cards close to her chest as she faces yet another fresh bid to remove her from office. The DA has made a request to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise to institute removal processes following the passing of new rules on the removal of office-bearers in the Chapter 9 institutions. This week, parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said the DA’s request and draft substantive motion would be considered in terms of the new rules.
Asked on Friday about her reaction to the latest push to remove her from office, Mkhwebane’s spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said she would cross the bridge when she got to it. She said she will deal with that matter when she is approached by Parliament.”
In July, it was reported that Mkhwebane had accused Modise of violating the constitution for acceding to the DA’s proposal to resume the process to probe her fitness to hold office.“Unlike in the case of removal of judicial officers or the president, there are no rules specifically adopted by the National Assembly to deal with the removal of public protector,” said part of her letter.
Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution executive secretary Lawson Naidoo said it expected Mkhwebane’s removal to be revived now that the rules were in place. “She is not fit to hold office. She’s proven herself to be incapable of executing the mandates of the Office of the Public Protector,” Naidoo said.
“This has been confirmed in various court judgments and it’s unprecedented for a public protector to be issued with cost orders, and not just one but two cases. This calls into question the competence of advocate Mkhwebane to hold this office and Parliament needs to take steps for her removal,” he said. Anton van Dalsen of the Helen Suzman Foundation, which wrote to Modise calling for Mkhwebane’s removal to be speeded up, said the court rulings against Mkhwebane’s reports were proof enough that she had to go.
“These courts rulings against her have evidenced bad faith and incompetence and I don’t think that Parliament has any option in the matter, they have to proceed.
She is not fit for that office and it has been documented in the court judgments that have been delivered,” Van Dalsen said.
In June, Modise referred the initial request from former DA chief whip John Steenhuisen after the North Gauteng High Court set aside Mkhwebane’s report on the Vrede Dairy Project. This was as Mkhwebane was appealing the court rulings that were made against her.
Mkhwebane lost her appeal on Friday, with Judge Ronel Tolmay saying her application had not convinced the court that another court would arrive at a different conclusion. On Friday Mkhwebane said the Vrede investigation began in 2013 and was completed in 2015. She said the probe never included the role of politicians in the report issued in 2018 and the Free State government had implemented the remedial actions.
Mkhwebane said she wished other public protectors would not find themselves in her situation. I hope other PPs won’t have to deal with what I’ve been through: harassed daily, including my family; certain journalists tasked to deal with me and questionable judgments. It looks like we are faced with a constitutional crisis. Never thought I’d see this post 1994.
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