Will Ramaphosa suspend Mkhwebane? Such a move will risk opprobrium from his opponents but will send a strong message that he is not to be trifled with.
The old saying that “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings” is an appropriate dampener to the euphoria which might be felt in some political quarters about the double blows controversial Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane was dealt yesterday.
First, the Constitutional Court rejected Mkhwebane’s attempt to block any parliamentary inquiry into her fitness for office.
Then, in an unprecedented show of agreement across party lines, 275 MPs voted for a DA-proposed motion that parliament institute an official probe into Mkhwebane, while just 40 voted against the inquiry.
Despite previous ANC vows that its MPs should never vote for any motion proposed by the opposition, its representatives in the House of Assembly were forced to toe the line and vote along with the DA.
The orders came in a short, but terse, emergency meeting of the party’s parliamentary caucus, addressed by Gwede Mantashe and Paul Mashatile who, effectively, took on the roles as President Cyril Ramaphosa’s enforcers.
While the motion may have passed, Mkhwebane is still a long way from being fired. There were a number of ANC members in parliament who were angry about being made to vote with the DA.
That they came out openly this week is seen as a growing confidence in the anti-Ramaphosa faction in the ANC, which is consolidating around secretary-general Ace Magashule and which is loyal to former president Jacob Zuma.
A vote in a formal inquiry might not be the open-and-shut event yesterday’s one was… especially as the EFF has thrown its weight behind Mkhwebane and, by implication, Ramaphosa’s enemies.
The pressing question now is: will Ramaphosa suspend Mkhwebane? Such a move will risk opprobrium from his opponents but will send a strong message that he is not to be trifled with.
Also, the acid test will be the final vote on Mkhwebane. It is one Ramaphosa cannot afford to lose.
For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.