Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane celebrated her 50th birthday earlier this month. Picture: Supplied
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane celebrated her 50th birthday earlier this month. Picture: Supplied

Sorry Public Protector, but people do tend to judge you by the company you keep

By Dennis Pather Time of article published Feb 16, 2020

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Belated happy birthday, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Turning 50 is such a memorable milestone in one’s life.

I notice, however, that not everyone appears to be celebrating the occasion, especially those offended by your choice of guests at your recent birthday bash.

Some have complained that among the guests were controversial figures, including a few who are the subject of investigations by your office. They say you should have known better than to invite people like former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane who’s believed to have played a major role in the controversial Estina dairy farm project from which the gluttonous Guptas raked in millions.

Some people also raised eyebrows that former senior NPA prosecutor Nomgcobo Jiba got the nod. Wasn’t she the one who was fired by President Cyril Ramaphosa last April after a judicial inquiry?

Probably a case of the enemy of my enemy being my friend.

Other prominent guests who caused a stir included former state security minister Bongani Bongo, who stands accused of corruption; Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina, who recently said he was prepared to go to jail for former president Jacob Zuma who is facing corruption charges; and head of the African Transformation Movement, Mzwanele Manyi, an old cohort of the notorious Guptas.

Your critics believe that, as public protector, you should have been more circumspect and be seen as someone who is impartial, non-controversial and ethical.

You obviously thought otherwise.

I’m not sure how you went about drawing up your guest list but I guessed Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan wasn’t holding his breath for an invitation. Or was it just a case of you not having catered for vegetarians?

Some reports say President Ramaphosa was in fact on your official invitation list, but he probably politely declined because he was busy scripting his speech for Sona.

But then, given the present legal impasse, I’m not even sure if you two are even on talking terms.

I must say I’m surprised the name of EFF leader Julius Malema hasn’t been mentioned. He clearly would love to see you as public protector for life, but after his infamous flip-flop over his support for Zuma, you’re never sure where you stand with him.

National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise would have added a touch of political gravitas to your event. I suppose she didn’t make the cut now that she’s busy setting up a panel to look into your fitness to hold office.

To conclude, here’s a word of advice from someone older: think very carefully when drawing up your guest list for your 51st because people do tend to judge you by the company you keep.

Reminds me of that old song about a drunken slob lying in a gutter one evening when a pig came past and lay down by his side.

Disturbed by this unsightly scene, an old woman passerby scowled in disgust: “You can tell a man who boozes, by the company he chooses.”

That’s when the pig got up and slowly walked away.

* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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