Ex­ceed­ing her man­date

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

IT USU­ALLY takes time for peo­ple to warm up to a per­son, and it’s hu­man na­ture that those ap­pointed to po­si­tions of power get com­pared to their pre­de­ces­sors. When for­mer pub­lic pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela’s term ended, many lamented the fact that who­ever re­placed her would have some re­ally big shoes to fill, as she had made quite an impression with her no-non­sense at­ti­tude and tough stance on cor­rup­tion.

When Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane took over, some had their reser­va­tions but there were many oth­ers who felt she ought to be given a chance to forge her own path, prove her­self and cre­ate her own legacy.

The spot­light has been on her from day one, and she didn’t make a good ini­tial impression when she ap­peared to fo­cus much of her en­ergy on at­tack­ing Madon­sela.

Then, over the past few weeks, there was con­ster­na­tion over the fact that she was sit­ting on ma­jor re­ports re­lated to the po­lit­i­cally con­nected Gupta ty­coons, among them the land­ing of the fam­ily’s wed­ding guests at Waterk­loof Air Force Base in 2013; the Gupta-owned The New Ages’ un­savoury re­la­tion­ship with the SABC; as well as their deal­ings with cer­tain top ANC politi­cians.

Be­cause of this, some even sug­gested that Mkhwe­bane’s pri­mary fo­cus was pro­tect­ing Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s in­ter­ests.

But on Mon­day, she sought to prove she was her own woman and not Zuma’s pup­pet when she an­nounced that she would be op­pos­ing Zuma’s ap­pli­ca­tion to re­view and set aside the damn­ing “State of Cap­ture” re­port com­piled by Madon­sela. That, we be­lieve, is a move in the right di­rec­tion.

We can­not have a pub­lic pro­tec­tor who dances to the pres­i­dent’s tune.

While she should also be lauded for the tough stance she took on the SA Re­serve Bank for its fail­ure to re­cover mis­ap­pro­pri­ated pub­lic funds given to Absa to­talling more than R1 bil­lion, she left many won­der­ing whether she un­der­stood her man­date as pub­lic pro­tec­tor when she sug­gested that the con­sti­tu­tion should be amended re­gard­ing the role of the Re­serve Bank.

It is re­ally wor­ri­some for a per­son in her po­si­tion not to un­der­stand the con­sti­tu­tional lim­i­ta­tions of her of­fice.

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