Brief reprieve for public protector
IT MAY be a very tall order to have Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane removed from her office, or it may happen as swiftly as possible to keep voters happy as the country approaches election season, say political analysts.
Two very different views emerged from analysts Somadoda Fikeni and Thabani Khumalo, who commented on Parliament’s decision to give Mkhwebane an opportunity to first respond to the DA’s submission before a decision is taken on whether to hold an inquiry into her fitness to hold office.
The DA, EFF and ACDP yesterday tried to push for the immediate establishment of an inquiry against Mkhwebane, with the intention of removing her from office. But ANC MPs said they should wait a few months.
The DA has complained that Mkhwebane is not fit to hold office after she produced shoddy reports on the Estina dairy farm project, and for her poor handling of the Ciex report into the bailout of Bankorp.
Fikeni said that given the electoral season and growing tensions between the ANC, DA and EFF, “I don’t see these processes taking place any time soon”.
He said Parliament could institute a process to remove her from office if she was proven to be incapable of fulfilling her duties.
However, Khumalo believes the ANC will look to score points with the public by acting fast on the matter.
“She has failed to take the public protector’s office to the next level. Members of Parliament and the public are fed up as she was supposed to fill the big shoes left by Thuli (Madonsela), and she failed dismally,” Khumalo said.
Lawson Naidoo from the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, believes Parliament has created an unnecessary step.
“There’s sufficient evidence that points to a prima facie case. They have given her a chance to respond, but she would be given a chance to respond during an inquiry. If she responds now, what will they do?” Naidoo asked.
DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said there were a number of reasons why Mkhwebane should be removed, including scathing legal judgments against her.
Opposition parties warned the ANC that if they failed to hold an inquiry it would be a serious indictment of Parliament. They said the decision would come back to haunt them, as had happened with the Nkandla judgment when the Constitution Court made serious findings against Parliament for not acting on the matter.
Steve Swart of the ACDP agreed that an inquiry had to be conducted.
“If we do not agree on the inquiry we will be faulting on our responsibility. We have breached our responsibility in the past,” said Swart, in reference to the Nkandla ruling.
Thilivhali Mulaudzi of the EFF said they also wanted the inquiry to be conducted as soon as possible.
But the chairman of the committee, Mathole Motshekga, said they could not take a decision until they had given Mkhwebane an opportunity to respond to the allegations.
“All I can do, to be fair to you (Steenhuisen) and to her, is to submit your presentation to her for her to comment. We will look at what she is saying and decide whether to hold an inquiry. We will wait until we have heard her,” he said.
Earlier, Mkhwebane told journalists that the committee had every right to decide what to do with the matter.
“We have got democracy in South Africa, and it is a vibrant democracy. The deliberations will take place with members of the committee, I have nothing to say and I will leave it to them,” said Mkhwebane.