Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s days in office could be numbered, particularly after an independent panel found that there was merit to a bid by the Democratic Alliance (DA) to have her removed from office.
In November 2020, Parliamentary Speaker Thandi Modise appointed a three-member panel to look determine if there was indeed prima facie evidence of Mkhwebane not being fit to hold office. The panel consists of Constitutional Court Judge, Justice Bess Nkabinde (who leads it) as well as advocates Dumisa Ntsebeza and Johan de Waal. The panel found there was evidence of both misconduct and incompetence on the public protector’s part.
Prima Facie evidence of misconduct
- Prima facie evidence demonstrating the Mkhwebane’s overreach and exceeding the bounds of her powers in terms of the Constitution and the PP Act
- Repeated errors of the same kind such as incorrect interpretation of the law and other patent legal errors (in reference to the number of court rulings against her and her findings)
- Failure to give audi (right to be heard) to the affected persons
- Incorrect factual analysis
- Sustained lack of knowledge to carry out duties and/or inability or skill to perform the duties effectively and efficiently as required by the Constitution
“According to the Panel, these instances, cumulatively assessed, meet the threshold of prima facie evidence of sustained incompetence,” said Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo.
Prima Facie evidence of incompetence
- The public protector’s failure to reveal that she had meetings with the former president Jacob Zuma and the Social Security Agency
- Her failure to honour an agreement with the SARB thereby displaying non-compliance with a high standard of professional ethics as required by the Constitution and to investigate the third complaint regarding the alleged involvement of certain politicians in the Vrede Dairy Project
- Her alleged modification of the final report and providing untruthful explanation to a review court as to why same was done as well as her patently wrong findings on money laundering in the CR17 Campaign matter
DA: Mkhwebane must be removed
The DA said Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s independence and credibility have also been called into questions on a number of occasions and she has failed to inspire trust within the public.
“The DA believes that it is of the utmost importance that Mkhwebane be removed as Public Protector and that someone competent, credible and independent is appointed in this post to regain the public’s trust in this crucial Chapter 9 institution and to ensure that once again the interests of the vulnerable would be protected above the interests of the politically connected,” the DA’s Natasha Mazzone said.