DA asks Modise to institute proceedings to remove Mkhwebane

Public Protector Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane is seen during a press briefing held at her offices, 4 December 2017, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The embattled public protector can get the chop if two-thirds of MPs agree to it.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to the newly elected Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, to request the institution of removal proceedings against Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

In a statement on Thursday, the DA’s chief whip, John Steenhuisen, said the request followed “the latest indictment on Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office when, in a damning ruling on Monday, the North Gauteng High Court set aside the Public Protector’s report into the Vrede Dairy Project. The Court found that the report was unconstitutional and invalid.”

This was but one example in a long list of Mkhwebane‘s failures in her role as public protector, Steenhuisen said, listing others as follows:

  • She jumped to the defence of former president Jacob Zuma by laying criminal charges against former public protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela for releasing the transcript of her interview with him;
  • She admitted to stepping outside of her mandate by recommending changing the constitution regarding the mandate of the South African Reserve Bank; and
  • She first consulted Zuma’s legal advisers and discussed further recommendations not included in her initial report into the Absa/Bankorp bailout.

“We have long stated that Mkhwebane is not the right person to serve as the head of such a critical Chapter 9 body.
It is for this reason the DA has submitted another request to the Speaker of the National Assembly in terms of Section 194 of the Constitution, to have the Public Protector removed,” Steenhuisen wrote.

In terms of section 194(1) of the constitution, the public protector may be removed from office on a finding of “misconduct, incapacity or incompetence” by a committee of the National Assembly, followed by the adoption of a resolution on said removal by two-thirds of the members of the National Assembly, he added.

“Over the past three years, Mkhwebane compromised the integrity of the Office of the Public Protector by showing a poor understanding of both the law as well as of her own powers. In addition to this, she has also brought the independence of her office into question.

“The Public Protector’s office has not only stumbled from one blunder to the next, but the public has now also lost faith in her ability to competently and fairly represent their best interests and, for these reasons, she must be removed.”

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