Parties who voted for the removal of the Public Protector (OB), adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane, believes she has been letting members of the public down for years and her removal should have happened earlier.
According to dr. Corné Mulder, FF Plus MP and chief whip, Mkhwebane was more concerned with her own interests than with the protection of South Africans.
A total of 318 MPs (79.5%) voted in support of a recommendation for her removal on Monday, while 43 voted in her support and one abstained.
Siviwe Gwarube, chief whip of the DA, says the party has already opposed her appointment in 2016.
“For the past seven years, we have stuck to our belief that she is not a suitable candidate to hold the office of Public Protector. Today, our opposition to her appointment is finally justified,” says Gwarube.
In 2020, after a number of scandals, the DA successfully launched a parliamentary inquiry into Mkhwebane’s suitability to hold office. A panel chaired by a retired judge found prima facie evidence that Mkhwebane was unfit to serve. This effort by the DA then gave rise to the art. 194 impeachment inquiry in 2021, the report of which was presented to the National Assembly for a vote on Monday afternoon.
RNews reported earlier that the art. 194 committee was set up on 16 March 2021 to conduct a constitutional investigation into Mkhwebane’s suitability to hold office. The testimony of dozens of witnesses was heard during the investigation about the investigations that Mkhwebane conducted during her period of service as OB, reports that were taken up for review and the culture in the office of the OB.
The process to fire Mkhwebane was the first since 1994 by which an attempt was made to get rid of the chairman of a chapter 9 institution. Chapter 9 institutions play an important role in protecting members of the public by playing watchdog over government institutions. Democracy itself is thereby protected.
According to Mulder, the parliamentary process under the designated section 194 committee was the most comprehensive, thorough and fair of its kind since 1994. The committee’s report on the investigation covers 404 pages.
Gwarube, for his part, is very proud of the members who served on the committee and says they have shown “diligence” and “upheld their oath of office”, even in the midst of harsh criticism and ad hominem attacks.
Mulder says that from the beginning of the investigation, the strategy of the OB and her legal team was to drag out the investigation as long as possible in order to undermine the process. “This is exactly what happened,” says Mulder.
“Her senior legal representative, adv. Dali Mpofu, indignantly denied it. After 18 months and at least R36 million in legal costs, no one could deny that I was right.
“The strategy was also to present the OB as the fragile and innocent victim of a conspiracy. In the process, millions upon millions of rands of the taxpayers’ money were wasted – the very people she was supposed to protect.
“No ordinary citizen has the privilege of trying to justify his incompetence with tax money in this way.”
To rub salt in the wounds of members of the public, in 2022, when he had already received R13.1 million, Mpofu referred to it as mere change. This while around 60% of the country’s youth are unemployed and hungry, says Mulder.
However, the EFF was against the decision to remove Mkhwebane.
The party says her removal is “a gross undermining of our democracy, in that it seeks to intimidate all Chapter 9 institutions and investigating authorities that investigate those in power, to show them that if they investigate the powers that be without prejudice, they will be criminally removed become”.
According to Omphile Maotwe, EFF MP, the process was unfair and a “political witch hunt”. Among other things, she refers to the fact that Mkhwebane had to tackle this without any legal representation.
“We reject the report, and we reject the political witch hunt initiated by the DA and supported by the ANC to punish Mkhwebane for pres. to protect Cyril Ramaphosa,” Maotwe said.
“We reiterate our position that we reserve the right to take this report and the illegal adoption of this report by parliament to judicial review, and we invite all interested parties to do so with us, including Mkhwebane.”
The EFF Treasurer General @OmphileMaotwe in Parliament rejecting the consideration of the report on the removal of Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane from office of Public Protector.
We reject the report, and we reject the political witch-hunt initiated by the DA and… pic.twitter.com/UiAoVOTaXO
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) September 11, 2023