Busi hates on Thuli

New Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor banned Madon­sela from an event she or­gan­ised and threat­ened to can­cel om­buds’ con­fer­ence if her pre­de­ces­sor ap­peared

CityPress - - Front Page - SIPHO MASONDO sipho.masondo@city­press.co.za

Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane dis­likes her pre­de­ces­sor, Thuli Madon­sela, so much that she threat­ened to with­draw South Africa’s host­ing of an African om­buds’ con­fer­ence if the for­mer pub­lic pro­tec­tor was in­vited. Last month, Mkhwe­bane told the sec­re­tar­iat of the African Om­buds­man and Me­di­a­tors’ As­so­ci­a­tion (Aoma) that the coun­try – along with the African Om­buds­man Re­search Cen­tre, based at the Univer­sity of KwaZulu-Natal – would not host the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s con­fer­ence if it in­vited Madon­sela.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion, which held its con­fer­ence from Novem­ber 1 to 4 in Dur­ban, did not in­vite Madon­sela, de­spite hav­ing hon­oured her at the event for her “out­stand­ing and ex­em­plary ser­vice” in of­fice.

Madon­sela’s tro­phy and cer­tifi­cate, pre­sented at the event, were ac­cepted on her be­half by Deputy Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Kevin Malunga.

Nei­ther Mkhwe­bane nor her of­fice re­sponded to ques­tions sent by City Press on Fri­day.

Mkhwe­bane’s threat to with­draw South Africa from host­ing the con­fer­ence is con­tained in a heated string of emails from the of­fice’s out­go­ing chief of staff, Bonginkosi Dh­lamini.

Mkhwe­bane fired Dh­lamini last week, say­ing his post did not “match” his ex­per­tise, and on Wed­nes­day she had her VIP pro­tec­tion of­fi­cers es­cort him from the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor head­quar­ters in Brook­lyn, Pre­to­ria.

Dh­lamini told City Press that on Wed­nes­day, he was called into a meet­ing with hu­man re­sources per­son­nel.

“When I ar­rived there, I found Mkhwe­bane’s se­cu­rity guys wait­ing for me. When I fin­ished [meet­ing] with hu­man re­sources, they es­corted me to my car. I gave them the ac­cess card and that was it; I left.”

An email, which Dh­lamini sent to Mkhwe­bane the Monday be­fore he was kicked out of the of­fice, reads: “I will also ask Par­lia­ment whether it gave you a man­date to tell Aoma that you will not host the fifth an­niver­sary and con­fer­ence if [Aoma] in­vited your pre­de­ces­sor to re­ceive an award that she de­served.

“I will ask [the de­part­ment of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions and co­op­er­a­tion] what does this do to the good name of our coun­try in a con­ti­nent that we are try­ing to pos­i­tively in­flu­ence?”

Dh­lamini, whom Madon­sela ap­pointed six months ago, also threat­ened to go to Par­lia­ment and make a pro­tected dis­clo­sure about the go­ings-on at the of­fice un­der Mkhwe­bane.

A se­nior man­ager in Mkhwe­bane’s of­fice con­firmed this, but added: “I would rather that we don’t dis­cuss the de­tails on the phone.”

Madon­sela de­clined to com­ment, but a source close to Aoma said: “Yes, Ad­vo­cate Madon­sela was not in­vited to the con­fer­ence, de­spite be­ing the one who ac­cepted [that the Aoma gen­eral assem­bly] be hosted by the African Om­buds­man Re­search Cen­tre, of which she is the in­au­gu­ral and out­go­ing chair­per­son.

“Madon­sela was told by her Aoma col­leagues that Mkhwe­bane had threat­ened to with­draw South Africa’s host­ing of the con­fer­ence if she at­tended. Her Aoma col­leagues from other coun­tries were shocked by it all as out­go­ing om­buds­men are not only in­vited, but also hon­oured at events which take place shortly af­ter or be­fore the end of their term.

“Madon­sela was sup­posed to have been hon­oured at that event, but her tro­phy and cer­tifi­cate were re­ceived by the deputy pub­lic pro­tec­tor.”

STAFF EX­PECTED MKHWE­BANE’S AP­POINT­MENT

A num­ber of se­nior em­ploy­ees in the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s of­fice told City Press they were not sur­prised when Par­lia­ment en­dorsed Mkhwe­bane for the po­si­tion of Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor.

Two ex­ec­u­tives said they knew long be­fore Mkhwe­bane was ap­pointed that she would get the job.

One for­mer ex­ec­u­tive told City Press via SMS: “You need to know that Madon­sela’s for­mer chief of staff, Risenga Maruma, told me a few days af­ter Ad­vo­cate Mkhwe­bane took of­fice that Linda Molelekoa, who started act­ing as chief of staff on Monday, Oc­to­ber 17, had flashed an SMS from the new Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor, say­ing: “You are my fu­ture chief of staff”, long be­fore Par­lia­ment voted on Ms Mkhwe­bane’s ap­point­ment.”

An­other se­nior ex­ec­u­tive said: “We were not sur­prised when Par­lia­ment en­dorsed her. We knew long be­fore she was ap­pointed that she was com­ing. She had told peo­ple that she was com­ing, and the ru­mour did the rounds in the of­fice long be­fore she came. We were not sur­prised at all.”

In one of his emails, Dh­lamini ac­cuses Mkhwe­bane of be­ing “heart­less”, “cruel” and “un­rea­son­able”; of hav­ing “lit­tle re­gard for other hu­man be­ings and their le­git­i­mate rights”; and of hav­ing treated em­ploy­ees in Madon­sela’s of­fice like “gar­den­ers”.

Dh­lamini is one of a num­ber of staff who worked in Madon­sela’s pri­vate of­fice and have fallen foul of Mkhwe­bane.

There are three oth­ers, whose names are known to City Press. All of them worked on Madon­sela’s State of Cap­ture re­port and all were moved by Mkhwe­bane to other units.

In his emails, Dh­lamini also ac­cuses her of hav­ing “an is­sue” with the State of Cap­ture re­port.

“If you have an is­sue with the State [of] Cap­ture re­port – which you clearly have – do not pun­ish in­no­cent peo­ple ... for it,” he writes.

“You can undo what Ad­vo­cate Madon­sela has done over the past seven years if that is your man­date, but think about the in­no­cent peo­ple that you have made col­lat­eral dam­age. “How low have we fallen in a few weeks of your stew­ard­ship.” He also charges that Mkhwe­bane is “ob­sessed” with Madon­sela. “Where do you de­rive the right to play God with peo­ple’s lives? These peo­ple that you have hu­mil­i­ated and abused for no rea­son other than your ob­ses­sion with Ad­vo­cate Thuli Madon­sela did noth­ing to you,” he writes. “These are in­no­cent hu­man be­ings with chil­dren and fam­i­lies to look af­ter. They de­serve dig­nity and fair treat­ment. What did they do to you to de­serve such treat­ment? “How do you rec­on­cile your ac­tion with the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor man­date and the Bill of Rights in our Con­sti­tu­tion? How do you rec­on­cile this with the Labour Re­la­tions Act? “You are do­ing what the apartheid regime did to our peo­ple – forced re­movals, job reser­va­tion ... “It can never be true that you can walk into an or­gan­i­sa­tion and say, ‘I will re­move the peo­ple that worked closely with my pre­de­ces­sor just be­cause I do not trust them.’” Dh­lamini adds that the Of­fice of the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor should be the last place “to treat peo­ple in this fash­ion”. “Over the years, this of­fice has in­ves­ti­gated lesser complaints than these and has found in favour of our cit­i­zens,” he writes. “One day, God will­ing, we will be around when you are told, ‘Show cause why you should not be sus­pended’, by the very peo­ple you are try­ing to please – at the ex­pense of the con­sti­tu­tional man­date and the peo­ple of our coun­try. And put me to the test, Ms Mkhwe­bane.” Two weeks ago, Mkhwe­bane sent Dh­lamini a dis­missal let­ter, in which she wrote: “I have con­sid­ered your place­ment in the of­fice of the chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer and your ex­per­tise, based on your CV, and re­alised that it is not in the in­ter­est of both you and the in­sti­tu­tion to keep you in a post where your ex­per­tise do [sic] not nec­es­sar­ily match those of the post. “Also, con­sid­er­ing the fu­ture plans of the in­sti­tu­tion and your ex­per­tise, I am of the view that it will not as­sist the in­sti­tu­tion to keep you on board. In light of the above, I have de­cided that the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor South Africa [sic] should part ways with you in an am­i­ca­bly [sic] man­ner from Jan­uary 1 2017.”

DH­LAMINI TACK­LES MKHWE­BANE

Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane

Thuli Madon­sela

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