‘PP will not be re­moved’

Mount­ing sup­port for Busi Mkhwe­bane as DA probe bid is re­jected, ANC con­fu­sion in com­mit­tee hear­ing

The New Age (Western Cape) - - News - BONOLO SELEBANO AND KUTULLO MADISHA news@the­newage.co.za

PUB­LIC pro­tec­tor Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane has un­der dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances fi­nalised more than 10 000 cases in her first year in of­fice of which half were up­held in favour of “ordinary peo­ple” who had com­plained to her of­fice.

Her sup­port­ers, es­pe­cially in the ANC, says her suc­cess rate shows the vir­u­lent at­tacks on her by the op­po­si­tion were po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

Fig­ures in the pub­lic pro­tec­tor’s an­nual re­port for 2016­17 pre­sented to Par­lia­ment re­cently show her of­fice man­aged to fi­nalise 10 787 cases out of a to­tal work­load of 16 397. Close to 50% of the cases fi­nalised were up­held which, ac­cord­ing to Mkhwe­bane, trans­lated to more than 5 000 peo­ple be­ing as­sisted in get­ting jus­tice.

Mkhwe­bane said her of­fice pub­lished only 17 re­ports as the “over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity” of her in­ves­ti­ga­tions, de­scribed as “bread and but­ter is­sues”, fell out­side the scope of for­mal and pub­lished in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­ports.

Mkhwe­bane’s fis­cal dis­ci­pline in her first year of of­fice came un­der the spot­light. The of­fice of the pub­lic pro­tec­tor ended the fi­nan­cial year with a deficit of more than R18m. An au­di­tor­gen­eral re­port on her pre­de­ces­sor’s first fi­nan­cial year in of­fice re­vealed that Thuli Madon­sela in­curred a net loss of R6.3m dur­ing the year ended March 31, 2010.

Mkhwe­bane’s CIEX re­port on Bankorp’s life­boat scan­dal and her re­lated re­me­dial ac­tion to change the man­date of the Re­serve Bank to fo­cus on the so­cio­eco­nomic well­be­ing of cit­i­zens pro­voked the ire of the DA and the busi­ness and bank­ing sec­tor. The ANC was it­self cleft into two camps, ei­ther sup­port­ing or de­nounc­ing the re­port.

Her sup­port­ers say this is the rea­son why Mkhwe­bane’s ev­ery move has been sub­ject to fault­find­ing scru­tiny in a bid to have her re­lieved of her du­ties.

The lat­est at­tempt came from the DA which is push­ing for Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma to sus­pend her pend­ing the fi­nal­i­sa­tion of an in­quiry into her fit­ness to hold of­fice.

Mkhwe­bane’s deputy, Kevin Malunga, is also un­der fire for al­legedly halt­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into two mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. A com­plaint was laid against him by the DA to par­lia­men­tary speaker Baleka Mbete, who later re­ferred it to the jus­tice port­fo­lio com­mit­tee for pro­cess­ing.

Mkhwe­bane’s CIEX re­port, which was ini­tially in­ves­ti­gated by her pre­de­ces­sor, and Madon­sela’s State of Cap­ture re­port both re­main the sub­ject of a ju­di­cial re­view. While the ANC at Luthuli House has dis­missed the DA’s pur­suit of Mkhwe­bane as a “witch hunt” and chief whip Jack­son Mthembu de­scribed the in­quiry into her fit­ness to hold of­fice as friv­o­lous, DA MP Glyn­nis Breyten­bach con­tin­ues to pile pres­sure on her.

Breyten­bach said of her first year in of­fice: “Ad­vo­cate Mkhwe­bane has demon­strated nu­mer­ous times that she is not fit to hold the of­fice of the pub­lic pro­tec­tor and the DA has op­posed her ap­point­ment from the start.”

The chair­per­son of par­lia­ment’s port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on jus­tice and cor­rec­tional ser­vices Mathole Mot­shekga also landed him­self in hot wa­ter for ap­par­ently dis­agree­ing with the ANC’s views on Mkhwe­bane’s in­quiry.

He later back­tracked say­ing he was not “sid­ing” with any par­ties and acted as an “im­par­tial” chair­per­son when he said the ad hoc com­mit­tee (that ap­pointed Mkhwe­bane) was the rel­e­vant struc­ture to de­cide her fate.

Con­sti­tu­tional law ex­pert Prof Shadrack Gutto said an in­quiry into Mkhwe­bane’s fit­ness to hold of­fice should be based on merit and not on par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal ends. “It is not some­thing which should be brought in a nar­row po­lit­i­cal bat­tle, but about the ci­ti­zen, the Con­sti­tu­tion and the law of the coun­try.”

But ANC na­tional spokesper­son Zizi Kodwa said there was not go­ing to be an in­quiry. “Any call to re­quest an in­quiry is noth­ing else but a witch hunt. It’s an at­tack on an in­sti­tu­tion which is im­por­tant to our democ­racy, a Chap­ter 9 in­sti­tu­tion. “There are rea­sons and grounds on which you can re­move the pub­lic pro­tec­tor. You do not re­move her be­cause you are un­happy about her re­me­dial ac­tions.”

Cosatu pres­i­dent Sdumo Dlamini yes­ter­day con­demned the DA on its “po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated” move to have Mkhwe­bane re­moved from of­fice.

“The call made by the DA is a very friv­o­lous but po­lit­i­cal call. They were op­posed to her ap­point­ment, be­fore she was even ap­pointed, They called her a spy. They even called her Zuma’s spy.

“So they never liked her and her case was made worse be­cause up to now she has not fought their en­e­mies. I think her mis­take, ac­cord­ing to them, was to fight against Absa and rec­om­mend that there should be a re­view of the Con­sti­tu­tion about the Re­serve Bank. The pub­lic pro­tec­tor is pro­tected by the Con­sti­tu­tion, they knew that even when Thuli Madon­sela was still there. So we don’t think we should ig­nore the hypocrisy of tar­get­ing her.”

FF Plus leader Pi­eter Groe­newald de­scribed Mkhwe­bane’s term in of­fice as a “big dis­ap­point­ment”.

“The FF Plus will sup­port the DA’s re­quest. Her find­ings on the Re­serve Bank was proof of her in­com­pe­tency. She’s a dis­ap­point­ment and we will be sup­port­ing her re­moval,” he said.

CON­NECT­ING: Pub­lic pro­tec­tor Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane dur­ing her 67 Min­utes For Man­dela con­tri­bu­tion at Moepathutse Or­phan­age in Stinkwa­ter.

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