MPs to discuss Public Protector's fate as calls for her removal intensify
Politics / 1 August 2019, 06:13am / African News Agency (ANA) and Sihle Mavuso
Cape Town - Members of Parliament are set to discuss a request to look into the fitness of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to hold office once the parliamentary recess period is over, chairperson of the National Assembly committee on justice Bulelani Magwanishe said on Wednesday.
Magwanishe said the request by the DA chief whip John Steenhuisen was referred to MPs via Speaker Thandi Modise.
“The committee will discuss the request and map out a way forward at the first possible opportunity when it resumes its work after the Parliamentary recess period, provisionally set down for September 3.
“It is only after that the committee would be able to comment further on this matter,” he said.
Calls for Mkhwebane to be removed from office intensified over the past few weeks following several scathing court judgments against her.
In terms of the Constitution, the public protector can only be removed from office on the grounds of “misconduct, incapacity or incompetence”, or “a finding to that effect by a committee of the National Assembly”.
A resolution to the effect must then be adopted in the National Assembly and can only be done via a two thirds majority.
On Tuesday, Mkhwebane’s office was forced to issue a long statement when the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) alleged that in 2014 she received $5000 (R70 000) from the Guptas via a Hong Kong-based bank.
According to the report, the money was sent from an account at HSBC’s subsidiary in Hong Kong to First National Bank in South Africa.
Her spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said the report, which was later picked up by some local media outlets, was malicious and defamatory.
He said it was strange that the OCCRP linked that money to the Guptas without evidence.
When asked on Wednesday what evidence they had there were people out to get Mkhwebane, Segalwe said the patterns suggested such.
“We are deducing that from what is happening at the present moment and it shows that there are attempts to tarnish her name by all means necessary,” he said.
Political analyst, Thabani Khumalo, said it was hard to tell whether the allegations by OCCRP were meant to force Mkhwebane out of office even before Parliament discussed her matter.
But, Khumalo said, some of the allegations which were sometimes baseless, were aimed at ensuring that Mkhwebane was weakened to an extent that one day she finds herself alone.
“These allegations are serious and are damaging her reputation.
“Bear in mind that these allegations came at a time when she was already under pressure as a result of court rulings against her findings and herself,” Khumalo said.
“Additionally, Mkhwebane can only convince the public that there are moves to force her out of office by providing evidence.
“Having said that, all the allegations are tarnishing her name and if indeed it is true that someone is pulling the strings from behind, this is a well-crafted campaign as it is working in their favour,” Khumalo said.