Only God can remove me from my position, says Busisiwe Mkhwebane
Johannesburg - Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has hit back at Parliament, saying only God can remove her from her powerful position before the end of her seven-year term in office.
“I have not considered resigning and I won’t resign. As I’ve said several times, I’m here to serve and change South Africans’ lives,” she said.
A defiant Mkhwebane added: “If the parliamentary process leads to my removal, it will be God’s way of doing that. His will will be done. As I’ve indicated several times, I’m in this position to serve, to change the lives of the people.”
She said God used the people in Parliament to put her in the position, and that if He uses them to remove her, “so be it”.
“I will stay as long as I can (in my position) to deliver services to the people, the poor, the marginalised. That’s my only focus; my focus is the people of this country.”
Parliament fired the first salvo this week when it indicated that it had approved a motion submitted by the DA requesting that the National Assembly initiate proceedings to remove Mkhwebane.
But Mkhwebane yesterday warned that the DA’s bid to make her the first head of the country's six Chapter 9 institutions to be axed since 1994 was grossly unfair and should be temporarily suspended until all her concerns have been addressed.
She said National Assembly rules provide that the Speaker Thandi Modise could only approve a motion once a prima facie case had been made, and that a case cannot be made without having afforded the affected person an opportunity to be heard.
“The Speaker’s conduct in purporting to approve the DA’s motion is unlawful on that basis alone,” Mkhwebane contended.
She said she had also written to Modise seeking an undertaking that the process, which was approved on Friday, be temporarily halted.
“I want to stress the point that I am not against scrutiny.
“All I am asking for is fairness,” Mkhwebane said.
“This office and that of the Speaker of the National Assembly too are the guardians of fairness, and should be exemplary,” Mkhwebane said.
As the head of a Chapter 9 institution, she said she had penned a letter to Modise through her lawyers, bringing to her attention the many deficiencies of the rules adopted last month, and asked her to respond to her request.
Mkhwebane also complained that the DA was involved in litigation against her after she took the official opposition to court to substantiate its allegations that she was a spy, which she has dismissed as a false claim and an insult aimed at undermining her office, and in violation of the Constitution.
“The complaint by the DA has to do with matters that allegedly occurred long before the adoption of the rules. The purported retrospective application of the rules is at odds with constitutional values and principles of natural justice,” she said.
Mkhwebane also expressed her concerns about Modise’s conduct of making a public announcement about the process to remove her without informing her of the decision, which she had only learnt about in the media, she said.
“To date, I have not heard from the Speaker. This is a violation of my rights to dignity, privacy and confidentiality, and undermines the effectiveness of this very important constitutional institution,” she said.
Mkhwebane meanwhile highlighted that the members of the previous portfolio committee on justice and correctional services were at odds with the requirement that MPs be barred from discussing the merits or any matter in which a judicial decision in a court of law is pending, and further insisted that the rules adopted last month breached the rights of heads of Chapter 9 institutions, as set out in the Constitution.
The rules do not make provision for the requisite non-participation or recusal of a number of seriously conflicted parties in any of the envisaged processes, including the making of crucial decisions, Mkhwebane stated.
Moreover, Mkhwebane said there are several parties both in the executive and the legislature, who are or have recently been the subject of her investigations.
She also defended her record in the more than three years that she has been in office, saying more than 150 reports had been issued since October 2016.
She pointed out that she and her team “have done stellar work”.
DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone said Mkhwebane had “an exceptionally poor understanding of the law”, and that the Constitution provided for her removal or any other head of a Chapter 9 institution on the grounds of misconduct, incapacity or incompetence.
Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said he could not confirm whether or not Modise had received Mkhwebane’s letter.