Cape Town - The public protector has reacted with shock to media reports that her remedial action report on Premier Helen Zille’s colonialism tweets was thrown out of the Western Cape Legislature.
DA chief whip in the legislature, Mark Wiley, dismissed the report on the basis that Mkhwebane had misunderstood the law and that the report was not in its jurisdiction.
In response to the DA’s actions, acting spokesperson for Mkhwebane, Oupa Segalwe, said if the report was true, then the conduct of the legislature might amount to “second-guessing” the public protector instead of assisting and protecting her to ensure the institution’s independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness, as obligated by the Constitution.
In a ruling last year, the Constitutional Court found in the case involving the EFF and other opposition parties including the DA and the speaker of the National Assembly, that the public protector’s remedial action report with regard to former president Jacob Zuma was binding.
The parties had argued that the National Assembly had failed to hold Zuma accountable in the Nkandla project as recommended by the former public protector.
“Basically what the ruling said was that once the public protector has drawn up a report in response to a complaint, you should deal with the recommendations. It’s not for you to make any shenanigans,” said a legal expert.
Other legal observers also noted that the fact that the report had been taken on judicial review would have been the sole basis on which the provincial legislature would delay acting on it because the matter was sub judice.
Any decision taken before the review was finalised might have to be changed based on the outcome. Segalwe said the public protector’s remedial action was binding unless set aside by a court of law.
The Constitutional Court had also observed that the “public protector would arguably have no dignity and be ineffective if her directives could be ignored willy-nilly”.
Segalwe said Mkhwebane believed the legislature had the power and jurisdiction to implement the remedial action.
In 2017, Zille tweeted: “For those claiming legacy of colonialism was ONLY negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure etc.”
Mkhwebane found Zille’s conduct was improper in terms of the Constitution and that the tweet had brought back a lot of pain and suffering to victims of apartheid and colonialism in South Africa.
Zille has taken the report on judicial review and lodged papers with the Gauteng High court.