Busisiwe Mkhwebane, suspended Public Protector (PO), intends to return to work on Tuesday.
MPs in the National Assembly (NA) vote on Monday for or against the report of the parliament’s art. 194 committee in which it is recommended that Mkhwebane be relieved of her office.
Mkhwebane states in a letter to Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa that she will however return to work today as the art. According to her, 194 committee’s work has now been completed. She argues that the period of her suspension has expired since pres. Ramaphosa suspended her “pending the conclusion of the investigation” of the art. 194 Committee.
“Therefore and as a matter of courtesy and protocol, Adv. Mkhwebane for Pres. informed Ramaphosa that she will report back to work on Tuesday 5 September 2023,” reads a statement shared by Mkhwebane on X.
Pres. In response, Ramaphosa outlined several points why Mkhwebane’s interpretation was wrong, and said she had no right to return to work.
The office of the OB said Mkhwebane’s suspension remains effective and that she is no longer an employee.
Adv. Glynnis Breytenbach, DA MP and the party’s spokesperson on justice and constitutional development, believes Mkhwebane’s latest efforts are a “demonstration of misplaced arrogance” and “simply emphasizes that she is simply not fit for purpose”. Breytenbach pointed out that the courts had previously found that Mkhwebane had a fundamentally flawed understanding of the law and the Constitution.
Mkhwebane’s view that she can return to work is wrong, Breytenbach points out.
“The art. 194 process will be finalized by the vote in the National Assembly on September 11, and not before that date. Mkhwebane, and whoever gives her advice, should know this.
“Any return to office before those proceedings are concluded will be against her notice of suspension and an embarrassment which must have undignified consequences.
“Mkhwebane would be well advised to reconsider. She in no way favors her own cause, nor does she think about the consequences of her actions for the office.”
The art. 194 committee found that Mkhwebane should be removed from her post on the basis of incompetence and misconduct as established by the evidence before the committee.
The committee was established on 16 March 2021 to conduct a constitutional investigation into the OB’s suitability to hold office.
Mkhwebane’s seven-year term expires on 14 October.