Exceeding her mandate
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.