Treat Busisiwe Mkhwebane fairly civil society says as Public Protector faces impeachment
Durban - AS PUBLIC Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane prepares to possibly face impeachment, some civil society organisations have said her treatment was not fair and believe that she was “being prosecuted by people she was bringing to book”.
It was reported earlier this week that a panel that consisted of Constitutional Court Judge Justice Bess Nkabinde, advocate Dumisa Ntsebenza and advocate Johan de Waal found that there was prima facie evidence of incompetence and misconduct against her.
Abahlali Basemjondolo president S’bu Zikode said the organisation had nothing against Mkhwebane and believed that she needed to be given a chance to do her work.
Zikode said he understood that Mkhwebane had big shoes to fill when she came in after Thuli Madonsela and that her office was doing well so far. Zikode said he believed it was not fair that she was being judged on a few cases she lost in court. He also said he believed that politicians were pushing for her removal.
“We believe politicians need to stop being evil. She is being prosecuted by people she was bringing to book,” Zikode said.
The panel was formed by National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise after complaints from DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone, who made a motion for her to be removed from office after her loss of a series of court cases. Mazzone questioned Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office.
Mazzone on Monday welcomed the findings of the panel and said: “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.”
Political analyst, Professor Sipho Seepe said the decision to impeach the head of a Chapter 9 institution would set a precedent, but the Constitution provided for this to happen and this would not be a problem under normal circumstances.
“The problem with this one is that it is driven more by politics than the supposed incompetence of the incumbent. The fact that some of her findings may have been found wanting is neither here nor there. It is part of our judicial system that decisions may be overturned on review. This happens all the time with judges, and even those of the Supreme Court of Appeal. Some judges have been found grossly incompetent but no one calls for their removal,” he said.
Seepe said the difficulty with the findings of the panel was that it dealt with merits of matters that were currently pending appeal and Parliament could not deal with merits of cases that were still before the judiciary.
South Durban Community Environmental Alliance co-ordinator Desmond D’Sa said he feels that she did not take up matters that involved the man on the street.
“The ordinary man on the street did not get any support from her,” he said.
D’Sa said Parliament needed to be fair when dealing with her matter and be believed that she would get a fair hearing.
He also said that her office needed to be independent and work in the interests of the people.
In a statement yesterday, the Office of the Public Protector said: “The report is a pronouncement on the alleged existence of prima facie evidence against the public protector, and not findings of wrongdoing. It should be noted that there are still court processes in relation to this matter. The public protector is confident that both the parliamentary process and the judicial proceedings which are before the High Court and the Constitutional Court will ultimately result in her being cleared of any alleged wrongdoing.”
The organisation said it wanted to assure the public that what was happening would not have any impact on its operations and it was business as usual across all of its offices around the country.