Brief re­prieve for pub­lic pro­tec­tor

The Mercury - - NEWS - Kai­lene Pil­lay and Siyabonga Mkhwanazi

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.

In­quiry

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.

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