Busisiwe back in the ring

Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane is threatening to take action in court. | Oupa Mokoena Independent Newspapers

Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane is threatening to take action in court. | Oupa Mokoena Independent Newspapers

Published Jan 15, 2024


Former public protector, and now a Member of Parliament, advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, has accused the National Assembly of failing to respond to her letter of demand for her pension and R10 million gratuity payment.

Mkhwebane says efforts to deny her the gratuity will not succeed as she will be taking the matter up in the courts. This comes after she was removed from office before her term ended, resulting in a possibility of not being eligible for the payment.

Mkhwebane is ready to go to court to get her pension and other benefits she believes she is entitled to.

According to a weekly paper, she has instructed her lawyers to begin court proceedings against the Office of the Public Protector and Parliament.

On Sunday, Mkhwebane also confirmed her intentions to Newzroom Afrika, indicating that Parliament was refusing to respond to her letter of demand.

Mkhwebane became the first public protector to be removed from office after MPs voted in favour of Parliament’s Section 194 Committee report in September. She was then fired by President Cyril Ramaphosa just days before her term of office was coming to an end following the recommendations of the National Assembly.

“The most arrogant thing is that the Public Protector’s office has never responded to that letter of demand. They were supposed to have responded by December 13, 2023, but they never responded. So, in civil litigation then we still have an opportunity to go back to them because it is part of negotiation.

“But if they still maintain that position, it means that the other issue is to approach the courts or issue summons against them, even it means that in their personal capacity. There is nowhere it provides that one will be losing benefits because the issue of the conditions of service of the public protector are very clear that on vacating the office, it does not matter how you vacate the office, you are entitled to the benefits,” Mkhwebane told Newzroom Afrika on Sunday.

Spokesperson for the Public Protector, Ndili Msoki, said the office will not be able to meet The Star’s 5pm deadline but will respond on Tuesday.

“Thank you for your inquiry. I will not be able to meet your deadline of 5pm today (Monday), but should have something for you before midday tomorrow (today),” Msoki said.

Last year, Ramaphosa immediately wrote to Mkhwebane a day after Parliament voted overwhelmingly that she should be removed from office.

In his letter, Ramaphosa said she had been on suspension from last year pending the inquiry into her fitness to hold office.

“In terms of Section 194(3)(b) of the Constitution, when the National Assembly adopts a resolution for the removal of the public protector, the president 'must' remove the public protector from the office,” wrote Ramaphosa.

The African Transformation Movement (ATM) and other political parties in Parliament which was at the forefront of challenging Mkhwebane’s impeachment slammed Ramaphosa for firing Mkhwebane.

In September, ATM leader Vuyo Zungula slammed Parliament for not acting in the best interests of the people, but rather those of their funders.

Zungula said most parties are funded by the very same banks and mining companies that are interested in keeping the status quo, and not the interests of the people of this country.

The ATM, the EFF, the UDM, and the PAC were some of the parties that objected to Mkhwebane’s impeachment.

Zungula said the banks and the state have used their power to end the career of the public protector, whose only sin was to probe and question these institutions through her investigations.

“There is a link between the banks, the mining sector, and the politicians because most of the political parties are funded by the very same banks and mining companies.

“With advocate Mkhwebane finding against such powerful individuals, it was most likely that these mighty and powerful institutions would unleash parties that they control in order to push through such a motion.

“This shows that parties in Parliament are no longer acting in the best interests of the people. Rather, they are acting in the interests of whoever is funding them,” Zungula.

The Star

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