Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. File photo: Mike Hutchings/Reuters.
Corruption Watch has thrown its weight behind calls for the investigation of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office.

In a 19-page letter, the organisation has written to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise and the portfolio committee on justice, giving them two weeks to expedite the process of probing Mkhwebane, whom it described to have tarnished the office’s public confidence through her conduct.

The DA and the SACP have also been among the most vocal organisations on the need for Mkhwebane to be investigated and removed by Parliament, with the official opposition having already written to Modise.

Mkhwebane has been under the spotlight after a number of her reports, and remedial actions have been reviewed by the courts and set aside, with the courts accusing her of bias, dishonesty and of conducting herself below the standards expected for her office.

This includes her report into the controversial Free State Vrede Dairy Project which was declared unconstitutional and set aside by the North Gauteng High Court in May, after finding she have acted irrationally and unreasonably and that she had failed to fully investigate the complaints brought to her.

This week, the Constitutional Court found her to have acted in bad faith and lied under oath during her investigation of the Reserve Bank/Absa apartheid loan report and the subsequent litigation that ensued.

Corruption Watch’s head of investigations Deborah Mutemwa-Tumbo said the judgments raised serious questions about Mkhwebane’s understanding of her office’s mandate and whether she was conducting her investigations in a required manner.

“Of greatest concern, she appears to flout procedural fairness and to misunderstand the constitutional limitations and powers of her office,” Mutemwa-Tumbo said.

She said the committee had no choice but to urgently probe the public protector.

“Given that these findings have been made by the apex Court and there is no opportunity for the public protector to appeal the findings, it is imperative that Parliament act to interrogate the context in which the public protector has conducted her investigations and prepared her reports.”

She said Parliament had to specifically establish whether Mkhwebane’s discredited reports were a product of deliberate malice or incompetence.

“In determining whether the public protector is guilty of misconduct or has been incompetent, the committee is therefore required to determine the circumstances surrounding her conduct and the motivations behind her decision-making,” Mutemwa-Tumbo said.

Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said he was not yet sure if Parliament had officially received the report.

Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa is taking Mkhwebane’s report in which she found him to have deliberately lied to Parliament and violated the Constitution on review, describing it as illegal and irretrievably flawed.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan is waiting judgement of the high court in his application to halt Mkhwebane from implementing her report on her SA Revenue Service’s “rogue” unit, as he is also taking it on review.

Mkhwebane’s spokesperson Oupa Segalwe had not responded at the time of going to print.

Political Bureau