The DA submitted further “evidence” – of over 7,000 pages – to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise on Friday to strengthen the party’s motion for the removal of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
“With over 7 000 pages to support our motion, the DA hopes that Parliament will act swiftly by establishing an ad hoc committee for Mkhwebane’s removal proceedings. There has been mounting evidence and continuous blunders to support our calls for Mkhwebane’s removal since the submission of our motion,” DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone said in a statement.
In December, three days after the National Assembly adopted rules for the removal of the head of a Chapter 9 institution like the public protector, Mazzone lodged a substantive motion for Mkhwebane’s removal at Modise’s office.
Last month, Modise announced that the motion was approved and the proceedings will go ahead. The first step would be the appointment of an independent panel to assess whether there was a prima facie case for the removal of Mkhwebane in the DA’s motion.
Modise will appoint this panel by the end of the month after which it will have 30 days to come to a decision. The rules adopted last year allowed for the provision of further evidence at this stage.
“In her almost three years in office, Mkhwebane has successfully tarnished the credibility, authority and independence of the Office of the Public Protector,” Mazzone said.
She lists some of Mkhwebane’s “notable blunders” as follows:
- The Constitutional Court found that she acted in bad faith and was not honest with the High Court regarding her investigation process in the Reserve Bank matter.
- 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.
- In late 2019, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria dismissed her appeal to overturn Judge Ronel Tolmay’s scathing judgment lamenting her handling of the Estina dairy farm matter and the report thereof.
- She was also recently reported to have celebrated her 50th birthday party with individuals allegedly involved in state capture – she chose to spend an evening sipping champagne with the very people she should be investigating.
“The DA hopes that the disgraceful chapter that was Mkhwebane’s rule at the helm of a once-proud Chapter 9 institution, will soon come to an end, and that we can begin the work to build a strong and capable Public Protector’s office that upholds the rule of law and protects South Africans from state abuses. The DA will not rest until South Africans are given the Public Protector they deserve.”
Mkhwebane has railed against the institution of removal proceedings against her and filed an urgent application in the Western Cape High Court, asking for an interdict to halt the parliamentary process. She argued that the rules were illegal and unconstitutional.
Apart from the interdict to halt the removal proceedings, Mkhwebane also asked the court to declare the rules for her removal unlawful and for an order to compel Modise to provide her with the reasons for her decision to approve Mazzone’s motion.
“It is the very first time ever in our young democracy that a serious attempt is being made to remove and dethrone the head of a watchdog institution by impeachment,” read Mkhwebane’s affidavit.
Section 194 of the Constitution gives parliament the power to remove a sitting public protector.
Modise indicated previously that parliament will oppose Mkhwebane’s application and that the proceedings will continue despite the application.