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National Assembly votes Mkhwebane out of Public Protector office for incompetence and misconduct

National Assembly votes Mkhwebane out of Public Protector office for incompetence and misconduct
Suspended Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane during a media briefing at Premier Hotel Midrand, 30 August 2023, Midrand, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Lubabalo Lesolle)

Busisiwe Mkhwebane, the suspended Public Protector, has been impeached with a vote of 318 for, 43 against and one abstention in the National Assembly.

South Africa’s unprecedented impeachment inquiry ended with the removal from office as Public Protector for misconduct and incompetence of Busisiwe Mkhwebane after a debate in the House.

The EFF, African Transformation Movement (ATM) and United Democratic Movement (UDM) had opposed the impeachment inquiry when it started in July 2022 after delays from a slew of legal challenges by Mkhwebane, and a cost of millions of rand to the taxpayer.

On Monday, the EFF, ATM and UDM were joined by the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), African Independent Congress (AIC) and Al Jama-ah to continue to oppose Mkhwebane’s removal from office on grounds of misconduct and incompetence.

“The uninformed majority seeks to railroad all of us to impeach a person not liked by the establishment… We see Parliament being used to break the law to protect the powerful,” was how EFF MP Omphile Maotwe put it, after describing the process as “grossly unfair” and “a witch hunt”.

Citing Mkhwebane as “victim” continues the spin the Public Protector herself pursued through the recent past. 

DA MP Annelie Lotriet on Monday said the Section 194 committee did its job, and described as “seminal” the over one-year impeachment inquiry despite the Public Protector’s serial legal challenges.

“The evidence that we heard, it is clear without a doubt that advocate Mkhwebane cannot proceed any longer… We can correct the wrong by supporting the removal of advocate Mkhwebane.”

The ANC took a similar view.

“I have no doubt the committee has established, on the facts, that advocate Mkhwebane has indeed misconducted herself and is incompetent and is not fit for this esteemed office…” said Section 194 impeachment inquiry chairperson ANC MP Qubudile Dyantyi.

Freedom Front Plus Chief Whip Corné Mulder said it was a “sad day”, but that Mkhwebane had failed to live up to the requirements of office. “We can do something about this today… together. Let’s bring dignity back to the PP. The self-protector needs to go today.”

IFP MP Zandile Majozi earlier said South Africa could ill afford to have a Public Protector who’s not accountable and transparent: “the the individual taking up the home of the Public Protector must embody the best values of democracy…”

The IFP in 2016 proposed Mkhwebane to the shortlist of interviews. When the ANC’s preferred candidate Judge Siraj Desai became mired in opposition, the EFF proposed Mkhwebane as a compromise candidate. The DA did not support her.

Grumblings over Mkhwebane’s conduct emerged by 2017 with a damning judgement in the Bankcorp/Absa apartheid-era bail-out report included changing the South African Reserve Bank constitutional mandate. It dropped during the faction-ridden governing ANC July 2017 policy conference where calls were made for the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank.

On 3 December 2019 rules for the removal from office of a Chapter 9 institution head, modelled on the impeachment proceedings against a president, were adopted unanimously. By early 2020 then DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone brought the required motion to kickstart the the 17-step process that led to the appointment of an independent assessment panel in November 2020.

While the Section 194 inquiry was established by March 2021, it only got under way in July 2022 after the Constitutional Court dismissed all but one of Mkhwebane’s challenges — that the subject of an impeachment inquiry must be fully represented by a lawyer.

That, ironically, led to a legalistic and often antagonistic process that marked the parliamentary proceedings.

Still, whistle-blowers came forward (read here, here and here).

In late July 2023 the Section 194 inquiry committee upheld four counts against Mkhwebane, including victimising staff and misconduct and incompetence in three investigations — the Gutpa-linked Vrede Dairy Farm, the Bosasa funding of the CR17 campaign by Cyril Ramaphosa for ANC president, and the Bankorp/Absa bailout.

Monday’s debate and vote in the House were the final steps in the removal from office proceedings.

The National Assembly’s decision to immediately impeach Mkhwebane now goes to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who must remove her from office in line with Section 194(3)(b) — a month short of the expiration of her seven-year non-renewable term. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Graeme J says:

    Now Mkhwebane must pay for ALL the court costs in her personal capacity. It’s absolute rubbish that the tax payer must pay for Mpufo’s legal bills.

  • Graeme de Villiers says:

    I sincerely hope this means her pension payout becomes voided.

    • Bob Kuhn says:

      Reported elsewhere ….she is effectively “dishonorably discharged” with loss of all benefits, pension and a golden handshake in the millions that she was holding out for.

      No worries, one of the 43 who didn’t support her dismissal will “accommodate” her somewhere in the ANC’s marxist cadre system

  • Con Tester says:

    Score one point for sanity, reason, and probity. But there are so many other rotten apples in the ANC/EFF barrel that the removal of just one of them is hardly cause for celebration. 😒

  • Pet Bug says:

    Auf nimmer Wiedersehen.

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    Prosecute her now! She has laid waste to the PP office and must pay. Big time.

  • Confucious Says says:

    Gives me such a warm and fuzzy feeling inside to see this waste of oxygen being fired! Such an adverse judgement and vote will run off her shameless back right between the East and West hemispheres of her brain housing.

  • Andre Swart says:

    Good riddance!

    But those ANC gangsters who deployed the spy must account for the damages she caused the country.

    What a disgrace!

  • Kevin Schaafsma says:

    I think it was very unfair to impeach her because of incompetence. She was not appointed on merit in the first place. There were numerous candidates far more experienced for the position than her. She was appointed to the position that she quite clearly lacked the skill to do, and when she wasn’t able to do the job she gets hung out to dry.

    • Tony Reilly says:

      You obviously have not followed the trail of destruction left by this ANC stooge.
      I agree however that she was not appointed on merit, but the poor woman, being so dim is a stellar example of the Dunning-Kruger effect at play in public life.

    • Libby De Villiers says:

      Quite right. But then, nobody in government gets appointed on merit, competence or honesty.
      She was possibly so exceptionally incompetent that she became an embarrassment even for the ANC.
      And she was a Zuma groupie. That doesn’t sit well anymore.

  • Iam Fedup says:

    And we can safely predict that in a few years from now we will have to endure exactly the same playbook with Kholeka Gcaleka, another crooked and/or incompetent scoundrel appointed by the ANC to protect themselves, not you or me..

  • Denise Smit says:

    If you want to know how it will be if the EFF is in charge look at this terrible example, supported and propped up and the puppet of the EFF. Total chaos, autocracy, unconstitutional, abuse of powers, abuse of workers, mismanagement of funds, total disregard for taxpayers and abuse of tax money, walking in Gucci shoes and this brand that and you name it. The supreme leader is today in court for illegally firing a AK47 rifle in public, he is in court for animal cruelty, he is in court for warmongering and threatening to kill another race. Be sure he will do as they told Mkwebane to do and worse. Because he says so. Denise Smit

  • Took long enough, The fact that she was a “comprise” candidate says a lot.

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    One just has to look at the scumbag parties that supported her nomination and throughout her sleazy, idiotic and dishonest tenure to know that we are dealing with the most vile rubbish in the land. I include the anc as well as they approved her nomination, knowing full well her background and only very lately turned against her. She must be made to pay back all her legal costs as this was nothing but complete and utter abuse of taxpayer money! This untenable and disgusting phenomenon of civil servants being able to abuse taxpayer money in defending their criminal and nefarious activities has to stop. It is wrong, immoral and a get out card for delaying/negating justice. Lawyers and advocates like the odious Mpofu and co should also be made to pay their exorbitant and unwarranted fees back as they were part and parcel of this destructive and very costly abuse of the law and the taxpayer. Why should they be able to get away scot free?????

    • Con Tester says:

      I agree with the sentiment that it’s disgusting how civil/political servants are funded ad nauseam from the public purse for their legal troubles. This must stop, even if only to curb this culture of lawfare, SLAPPing, Stalingrad tactics, etc.

      My suggestion is to revise the rules of state legal funding as follows:
      1. When someone, who under the current rules qualifies for state legal funding, is charged or sued (or sues another entity) in their professional capacity, the state funds the first round of litigation, as is done at present. (Any legal action in their private capacity is in any case their own responsibility.)
      2. If the case goes against them and they wish to appeal, the state is prohibited from providing any funding for it. On the other hand, if the case goes in their favour, and the opposing party appeals, the state provides the funding to oppose the appeal.
      3. If they do appeal a ruling that went against them, and their appeal is upheld, the state will reimburse them all of their legal expenses for that case (including those of prior appeals, if any, that were dismissed by a lower court). If they lose again, the process repeats from step 2, or until no more appeals are possible.

      The above rules are simple and should help pull the handbrake on the unfettered use of state legal funding. However—and this is the kicker—it’s highly doubtful that SA has sufficient polypticians with the necessary integrity to support the rule changes that I have outlined here.

  • Leonhard Praeg says:

    Democracy: 1.
    Reducing-all-criticism-to-a-witch-hunt: 0

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


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