The Public Protector public spat: Mkhwebane vs Madonsela

By Drum Digital
06 February 2017

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and her predessesor Thuli Madonsela have had their fair share of differences aired out in the media.

The succession of events that have unfolded between Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and her predecessor, Thuli Madonsela, has evolved into a much-talked about media spat.

From the onset, Mkhwebane made it apparent that she had a new style of leadership compared to Madonsela and words have been exchanged in the media between the two leading ladies.

Here’s what has unfolded between the two ladies so far:

The State Capture Report

Madonsela admitted to leaking an audio conversation between herself and President Jacob Zuma to the media after Zuma denied being interviewed by her during her investigations into state capture.

Mkhwebane made a decision to open a case against Madonsela in the interest of maintaining the credibility of the Public Protector’s office and for people to trust the institution.

The resignation of staff members

In an interview with the Huffington Post SA, Madonsela said a clear pattern was being set by Mkhwebane who was edging out members of her team who worked closely with Madonsela on the State Capture Report. Former chief of staff, Bonginkosi Dlamini resigned, while special advisor Janine Hicks took Mkhwebane to the CCMA for unfair dismissal.

Mkhwebane’s reasons for ushering out Bongikosi Dlamini is that he was a threat to her security.

Hosting the African Ombuds' Conference

Mkhwebane threatened the African Ombudsman and Mediators Association by saying she would withdraw South Africa from hosting the African Ombudsman Conference if Madonsela was invited.

Madonsela was not invited to the conference, despite being honoured at the event for “outstanding and exemplary service”.  Her trophy and certificate were accepted on her behalf by Deputy Public Protector Kevin Malunga.

Lies and Untruths

During her 100 days in office press briefing, Mkhwebane said there have been “lies and untruths” told about her in the media and that she respected Madonsela who had created a “strong foundation” for her to work from as the new Public Protector.

In an exclusive interview with Madonsela, The Citizen reported that Madonsela described their relationship as being tense from the beginning, with Mkhwebane refusing to be part of a handover process, and that her emails to Madonsela had in fact been “angry and dismissive.”

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