Public protector still confident of being cleared of alleged wrongdoing despite panel’s report
Durban – Speaking for the first time since a panel of three people appointed by Parliament recommended she should be impeached, Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane is still unfazed and sticking to her guns.
Mkhwebane, who is on sabbatical leave to “get some rest”, says the panel jumped the gun as she has two pending litigations related to the process and was hopeful that their outcomes would favour her.
Speaking via Oupa Segalwe, her long-time spokesperson, Mkhwebane said the report is a pronouncement on the alleged existence of prima facie evidence against her and not findings of any wrongdoing.
“It should be noted that there are still court processes in relation to this matter. The Public Protector is confident that both the parliamentary process and the judicial proceedings, which are before the High Court and the Constitutional Court, will ultimately result in her being cleared of any alleged wrongdoing,” Segalwe said in a statement on Tuesday.
The two cases the statement was referring to is a pending appeal lodged by Mkhwebane to the Constitutional Court, which she approached directly after being turned down by the Western Cape High Court, to interdict Parliament from going ahead with the process of impeachment.
The second court case, which will be heard in June this year by the Western Cape High Court, relates to Mkhwebane’s bid to challenge the rules Parliament is relying on as it moves to impeach her. Her gripe is that they should be scrapped as they do not conform to the current democratic dispensation.
By insisting that the process to impeach her is being rushed, Mkhwebane is sticking to what she told the panel of Justice Bess Nkabinde, advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza SC and advocate John de Waal SC – that they should have waited for these court challenges to be concluded. She had been invited to deliver input before Monday’s report was concluded and her objection is noted in the report.
However, the panel dismissed her objections, saying their work was in no way interfering with the two court cases.
Segalwe then assured the public that despite all these legal battles around Mkhwebane, the head of the chapter 9 institution tasked with investigating negligence and abuse of power in public office, all was on track and its operations were continuing.
“We wish to assure the public that the Office of the Public Protector is fully operational and that the ongoing parliamentary process has no direct bearing on the functioning of the office.
’’Staff across the office’s 18 service centres around the country remain hard at work, processing all incoming complaints of maladministration and improper conduct in line with the office’s constitutional mandate.”