The Congress of the People called on parliament to remove "this incompetent" Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Henk Kruger/ANA/African News Agency
The Congress of the People called on parliament to remove "this incompetent" Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Henk Kruger/ANA/African News Agency

Cope wants Parliament to remove 'incompetent' Public Protector

By ANA Reporter Time of article published May 26, 2019

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Cape Town - The Congress of the People on Sunday called on parliament to remove "this incompetent" Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. 

Cope was very disturbed at the blatant disrespect shown by Mkhwebane in releasing controversial reports that "are intended to divert the President [Cyril Ramaphosa] in appointing his Cabinet, Cope spokesman Dennis Bloem said. 

"We have observed factionalist tendencies in adv Mkhwebane, and [she] is incapable of protecting the public in a honest and sober way. We call upon parliament to remove this incompetent public protector," Bloem said.

On Saturday, Freedom Under Law (FUL) deplored Mkhwebane's adverse findings against Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan as a rehash of the discredited charges against him under former president Jacob Zuma's administration.

"Freedom Under Law is dismayed but not surprised to learn of the public protector’s findings in respect of Mr Ivan Pillay’s early retirement and Minister Pravin Gordhan’s authorisation of the retirement," said Nicole Fritz, the CEO of the rights group.

"The matters canvassed in the public protector’s report are the exact same matters as those which frame one of the most notorious episodes in the National Prosecuting Authority’s history – the decision to charge and then ultimately ignominiously withdraw charges against Gordhan, Pillay, and former SARS commissioner Oupa Magashula," she said.

Mkhwebane found that Gordhan's approval of Pillay's early retirement and subsequent re-employment on a fixed-term contract amounted to "maladministration" and directed President Cyril Ramaphosa to take disciplinary action against him.

Fritz said Mkwebane's findings were not only alarming, but confirmed her disregard for fairness and the basic tenets of justice.

"This attempt to reheat a long cold dish and serve it up to the public as evidence of wrongdoing is on its own alarming. But that the public protector releases her report a mere two days after receiving responses from the implicated parties – failing to meaningfully engage the responses – makes a mockery of the most basic tenets of justice."

She did so in a week in which a court had found in respect of another of her investigations that: “the Public Protector did nothing to assure the public that she kept an open and enquiring mind and that she discovered, or at least attempted to discover the truth”.

"With this her latest report, the public protector yet again makes no pretence of what she is about," Fritz said.

On Thursday, the Democratic Alliance wrote to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise calling for parliament to institute removal proceedings against Mkhwebane.

This request followed the latest indictment on Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office when, in a damning ruling on Monday, the North Gauteng High Court set aside her report into the Vrede Dairy Project, finding the report was unconstitutional and invalid, DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said.

"This is but one example in a long list of Mkhwebane‘s failures in her role as public protector. She jumped to the defence of former president Jacob Zuma by laying criminal charges against former public protector advocate Thuli Madonsela for releasing the transcript of her interview with him.

Mkhwebane had admitted to stepping outside of her mandate by recommending changing the Constitution regarding the mandate of the South African Reserve Bank, and she had first consulted Zuma’s legal advisors and discussed further recommendations not included in her initial report into the ABSA/Bankorp bailout, Steenhuisen said.

Over the past three years, Mkhwebane compromised the integrity of the office of the public protector by showing "a poor understanding of both the law as well as of her own powers". In addition to this, she had also brought the independence of her office into question.

"The public protector’s office has not only stumbled form one blunder to the next, but the public has now also lost faith in her ability to competently and fairly represent their best interests and for these reasons she must be removed," Steenhuisen said.

In terms of section 194(1) of the Constitution, the public protector may be removed from office on a finding of “misconduct, incapacity, or incompetence” by a committee of the National Assembly, followed by the adoption of a resolution on said removal by two thirds of the members of the National Assembly.

African News Agency (ANA)

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