Busisiwe Mkhwebane victim of a political witch-hunt, says ATM
Johannesburg - While political parties are divided over the approval of the motion to initiate the removal of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, the African Transformation Movement (ATM) has come to her defence saying she has been a victim of a political witch-hunt.
This comes after Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise on Friday approved the DA’s application to kick-start a process to boot out Mkhwebane, who has been occupying her office since 2016.
On Sunday, Mkhwebane’s spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, said she had decided to reserve expressing her views about the process to remove her.
“She has not made any comment yet regarding the decision, but will do that in due course. She has, however, expressed her disappointment about the fact that she has not been kept in the loop about the application, and only learnt from the media that the Speaker gave a go-ahead for the process to continue,” Segalwe said.
At the weekend, ATM president Vuyo Zungula slammed Modise for giving the green light to the DA’s motion, saying she was being removed because of her investigations of President Cyril Ramaphosa and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.
“If you had to look at the issues they are raising, there is nothing that is speaking about incapacity because she has done tons and tons of cases. But it is only these high-profile cases that only touch the lives of President Ramaphosa and Pravin Gordhan,” Zungula said.
Political analyst Professor Somadoda Fikeni said Modise did not have much of a choice but to approve the motion to investigate Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office, as her controversial reports resulted in her being harshly criticised by the courts.
“You can’t avoid the fact that the political battles, given the importance of the office once they had discovered its power during the (former president Jacob) Zuma years, are going to see the office being highly contested. It’s appointment is politicised and that is why the removal of any public protector will be a high-stakes game,” Fikeni said.
Fikeni said there would be little legal recourse for Mkhwebane if she were to be removed by parliamentary processes, as some of the judgments which were going to be used came from the courts. “But if there was a procedural error in the process of removing her, that would be the ground for her to appeal,” he added.
Another political analyst, Ralph Mathekga said there was no way the investigation into Mkhwebane would be protected from insinuations of witch-hunt given the ANC’s history of using state institutions to settle political scores.
Parties have now been given until February to submit names of their preferred candidates to Parliament.
ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina had not responded by print deadline.