Defend Truth


The show will go on — dirty tricks and playground insults aside — as Mkhwebane faces the heat

The show will go on — dirty tricks and playground insults aside — as Mkhwebane faces the heat
Suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane speaks to advocate Dali Mpofu during the parliamentary inquiry into her fitness to hold office. (Photo: Gallo Images / Daily Maverick / Leila Dougan)

This weekend would have seen suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane — seemingly abandoned by her lawyers on Thursday at her Section 194 impeachment hearing — scrambling to contain the fallout.

As far as the Section 194 committee is concerned, the show will go on.

Tuesday will be D-day for Mkhwebane to explain Seanego Attorneys’ apparent decision to dump her, out of the blue, while she fights for her job and reputation in an inquiry that will make the history books.

The impeachment committee has heard evidence that the firm bagged about R49-million of the R147-million that Mkhwebane during her time in the hot seat forked out in legal fees.

The Office of the Public Protector, in this instance, is not footing Mkhwebane’s legal costs for her postponement challenges. These are on her own dime.

With regard to the inquiry itself, the Public Protector SA is paying for one senior counsel, one junior counsel and one attorney (or two junior counsels). Mkhwebane brought in a five-person team: Dali Mpofu, two attorneys and two junior counsel.

Committee chair Qubudile Dyantyi had set out earlier that Seanego would be expected to proceed with the questioning of witnesses should Mkhwebane’s application for an adjournment fail. The firm, he said, had agreed to do so in correspondence with the committee.

Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations

When the postponement bid bit the dust, Mpofu informed the committee (and apparently his client for the first time at that moment) that he was pulling out. He was doing this as his “mandate” had only extended to representing the Public Protector (PP) in her bid for an adjournment.

The parliamentary legal adviser, advocate Fatima Ebrahim, on Friday told the committee that the suspended Public Protector needed to provide clarity “as to how between Friday, 21 October and… [Thursday, 27 October], the PP’s legal team got stripped of their mandates without her knowledge”.

On Thursday, Mpofu announced: “So, that’s it”, adding enigmatically: “What it means is that we are not able to take part in further illegal activities.”

Mpofu claimed dramatically that the committee, “as it is currently constituted is completely illegal”. He exited with a breezy: “Good luck, we’ll see you again, maybe. Or maybe not.”

Suspicions run high

Suspicions ran high among committee members that the “People’s Advocate” had “staged” the walkout as yet another attempted spanner hurled in the works failed to stop the impeachment juggernaut.

The Democratic Alliance’s Mimmy Gondwe addressed the committee, asking it “to call a spade a spade” and saying she agreed with African National Congress MP Bekizwe Nkosi that the walkout “was clearly staged”.

This, she said, had followed three failed recusal applications by the suspended PP.

Mkhwebane, in a rare speaking moment, on Thursday protested that the members had no evidence that the attempt at backing the inquiry into a legal cul-de-sac had been preplanned.

Mpofu, at the start of the inquiry in July, had already warned the committee: “be careful what you wish for, you might just get it”, adding the caveat that his client was there “under protest”. He promised fireworks from the start, aided and abetted by the EFF, the ATM and the UDM.

Rat’s poo-poo

EFF leader Julius Malema last week threatened to withdraw from the inquiry after Mpofu had got all the airtime earlier. So far, the quality of Malema and the EFF’s engagement in this inquiry has been embarrassing, petty and vacuous.

Malema has been so single-mindedly focused on defending Mkhwebane that the Champagne populist appeared to run out of language on Friday during question time after Mpofu’s short goodbye.

Here, word for word, is an exchange, broadcast on television and other public platforms across the country for all to hear, between Malema and ANC member Xola Nqola.

After a remark by Nqola about basic principles with regard to how attorneys instruct counsel, the mental flatulence found release.

Malema: “There is no need for shouting… wena [Nqola], you are suffering from the mind of a peanut, a mind the size of a rat’s poo-poo. That is what you are suffering from.”

Nqola: “You are suffering from the mind of a cockroach.”

Malema: “A cockroach has got no mind. You and a cockroach are the same. That is why you don’t know.

“You are a small boy who has nothing to show in the history of politics except opportunism.

“You are here because you are hungry, you have nothing to offer. Poverty brought you here,” said the man who runs his political party claiming to fight for the dignity and hopes of the poor.

Meanwhile, once she has clarified whether she is sans legal team, whoever ends up representing Mkhwebane is expected to examine witnesses, including legal services manager Neels van der Merwe, who is expected to blow the lid on how and to whom the PP paid R147-million in legal fees. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Nancy Brindley says:

    What an utter farce. The world is watching this Circus . !!!
    Foreign investment , Russian super yatchs, SA is a Joke !!

  • Josie Rowe-Setz says:

    Dear heavens . You couldnt make this up. A new soapie perhaps?

  • gorgee beattie says:

    Defeating the ends of justice.
    A despicable bunch.
    There should be a news blackout of all of the leading actors in these farcical soap operas

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    The upside is that these nitwits who lead the country are seen for the waste of space they are. Hopefully, the electorate will be unimpressed too – one can dream.

  • Deon Irish says:

    PLEASE note that the plural of “counsel” is “counsel”. There is one inaccurate and one accurate usage of this plural noun in the article. 🙂

  • Uma Kabanye says:

    Oh, I can’t stop laughing! The exchange between Malema and Nqola is a classic. And a stark reminder of the quality of our politicians.

  • Manfred Hasewinkel says:

    Nothing will help to improve Mkhwebane’s IQ & legal skills. Sadly, there are people who believe that she is the best SA has to offer for the position of PP which makes the soap opera appropriate.

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    The chairperson and members of the committee that are making a running commentary on television and are supposedly neutral, have displayed their colours as people who ought to adjudicate on the matter. A judge who ought to listen to evidence and apply the law to the facts is not expected to be making comments in the media about the case or conduct of the defence as that disqualifies the judge from adjudicating the matter. Dyantyi and Nqola have just done that. You make your comments and views inside the court or committee and once you go outside to make comments how valid they are you disqualify yourself to adjudicate on the matter. The defence of the Public Protector has got them where they wanted them. They have simply confirmed their unfitness to preside over the matter and have actually have the Public Protector acquitted not on merit but technicality. The author can have her views but the courts will deliver the judgement.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Become a Maverick Insider

This could have been a paywall

On another site this would have been a paywall. Maverick Insider keeps our content free for all.

Become an Insider
Elections24 Newsletter Banner

On May 29 2024, South Africans will make their mark in another way.

Get your exclusive, in-depth Election 2024 newsletter curated by Ferial Haffajee delivered straight to your inbox.