The Star Early Edition
Mkhwebane slams politicians over spats
PUBLIC Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has lashed out at politicians who use her office for mudslinging and public spats.
Speaking at a charity event at the Moroka Municipality in Siyabuswa, Mpumalanga, Mkhwebane said her office was inundated with politicians who were reporting each other for one thing or the other.
She said this behaviour has the potential of drawing attention away from the issues that ordinary South
Africans are suffering from.
“They are using or fighting through our office. We have investigated some of them without fear or favour … all we check is if they acted according to the law and we issue our outcome based on that,” she said.
Mkhwebane said the majority of the cases they were investigating were worthwhile and had to deal with the well-being of ordinary citizens and the issues affecting them.
Around 5% of the cases involved politicians and political parties. The political mudslinging was a distraction that the government should deal with.
“We are encouraging government departments to have their own internal coping mechanisms so people must first go there and complain, if that fails, as a last resort, they must come to us. If people come to us directly it means public servants are sitting and not doing their work.”
Mkhwebane says she has faced criticism from the public and other interest groups that want to see her out of office. She said this did not distract her from her duty to serve the public.
“The public protector most of the time focuses on bread-and-butter issues, service delivery issues. Since I started, we have received more than 60 000 complaints and 53 000 have been solved, with pensioners getting their pensions, but some people are without water. We are there to assist the public.”
Mkhwebane has had death threats.
She said she had sometimes touched a nerve by investigating people who were seen as untouchables.
“The issue is we are focused on as an institution. I tell my staff not to be distracted. I can’t be attacked while I am there to assist the public.
“I am there to make sure that the government is accountable but it’s a question of you touching the untouchables and you should not be investigating some people. It’s for the public to see what’s going on. There’s still a long way to go for the democracy that we achieved in 1994 … I don’t think we achieved it,” she said.