Editorial: Welcome, but watch out!

2016-10-23 06:01

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The new Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, has only been in office for five days and it would be ill-advised for anyone to make any pronouncements about her fitness or otherwise to hold that office.

Her first week was quite dramatic as she was thrust into the middle of a storm about the state capture report compiled by her predecessor.

She was also unfairly expected to account to Parliament about work she knew little about.

However, in the process, Mkhwebane appears to have relished the opportunity to present herself and to set a marker about who she is and how she will go about her work.

In the main, she sought to send a message that she would do things differently. To quote just one example, she said the use of consultants would be a thing of the past.

She also disclosed that Thuli Madonsela had received and used money from US donors, which she said was problematic, given her intelligence background.

She was roundly praised by MPs who used to cross swords with Madonsela most of  the time.

Because of the sterling work performed by Madonsela, the Office of the Public Protector has become a deeply politicised and scrutinised institution.

Mkhwebane must therefore be conscious of all the agendas at play and how politicians will try to use her office to settle scores.

Those who praise her today might be the same ones digging knives into her back tomorrow.

She must strenuously assert her independence and resist appeasing anyone, including those who favoured her appointment.

And in stamping her mark, she should guard against measures that could compromise her ability to execute her work.

While there is nothing wrong with getting rid of consultants, she must ensure that her office is fully capacitated to do its work.

Read more on:    public protector  |  busisiwe mkhwebane  |  thuli madon­sela  |  politics

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