Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Bracing herself for more court battles amid an intensifying bid to remove her from office through Parliament, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, threw another punch at her detractors by saying she will continue to do her job "without fear or favour".

Speaking at the 7th Annual Spring Law Conference of Unisa, held in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Mkhwebane said the constant and costly court battles against her were meant to get her out of office.

She was twice ordered to personally pay legal costs, first in the Absa-bankorp matter and later in the Vrede farm matter.

In the Absa-Bankorp matter, the bill stands at around R900 000 and there are attempts by Democracy in Action to fundraise for her.

She said: “It's difficult to remove the public protector, so the only way is to bankrupt her and make her unfit to hold office.

"Possibly, that's the way that it's being done, using the courts to do that.

"All I can say is that I will continue doing my work without fear or favour, and if I perish, I perish,” Mkhwebane added.

Political analyst Xolani Dube of Xubera Institute said this was a clear signal that Mkhwebane is bracing for a brutal war with her detractors and was not ready to back down.

Dube said the battle of Mkhwebane and the likes of President Cyril Ramaphosa and Pravin Gordhan was no longer a proxy war, but a war by the public protector to prove to South Africans that she did her work diligently, hence the fight to stay in office.

Dube said “the battles lines are now drawn” adding that Mkhwebane feels she has been unfairly judged while executing her duties.

“She is trying to fight a just war. What she is exposed to you I are not, she is the only person that is exposed to this.”

Dube was scathing and accused Parliament of painting a picture of an institution that is not serving the interests of the people by resolving to change the rules used to remove the public protector.

“We need to start to ask ourselves whose interests are they really serving because it is serving the interest of the public, let the public protector expose the corruption that is there.”

Mkhwebane is still awaiting high court rulings on two matters involving Gordhan and Ramaphosa.

In the Gordhan case, Mkhwebane has already lost round one after the North Gauteng High Court ruled in July that her remedial recommendations over the SARS rogue unit and early retirement approval for Ivan Pillay, should not be implemented by Ramaphosa until a judicial review of the whole report is concluded.

Against Ramaphosa, Mkhwebane is locked in a battle over her Bosasa probe findings and the president wants the report which carries adverse findings against him to be reviewed and set aside.

It was anticipated that there would be a new legal battle between Mkhwebane and Ramaphosa over the CR17 leaks after the latter successfully applied to have them legally sealed, saying they were illegally obtained.

Political Bureau