Overwhelming political party support for incoming Public Protector

Cape Town – Political parties on Wednesday backed Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane to replace Thuli Madonsela as public protector and rubbished the DA’s opposition to her appointment.

Mkhwebane should be given a chance to do the job, parties said before the National Assembly voted on her appointment.

Cope said it would abstain from voting. She received an overwhelming 263 votes. A total of 79 MPs voted against her. One MP abstained.

Presenting the report of the ad hoc committee that selected and interviewed the candidates, chairperson Dr Makhosi Khoza said public interest in the process had been unparalleled.

She said Mkhwebane was phenomenal in many respects, including her ability to remember each question during her interview, and the name of the committee member who had asked it. 

The ACDP’s Steve Swart said Mkhwebane should be given a chance to prove herself. It was regrettable that the DA had raised allegations that she had worked for the State Security Agency at such a late stage.

“If this allegation can be proved, then it would be very serious as Parliament would have been misled,” he said. If she had done so, Parliament did have legal recourse, Swart said.

She was more than capable.

“Should we be vigilant? Absolutely,” he said. 

Hit the ground running

The EFF’s Floyd Shivambu said they were impressed with the experience she had with the public protector’s office, having worked there for five years.

“This will make it easy for her to hit the ground running. She has got the most believable and practical plan about how people can gain access to the office of the public protector,” he said. 

The EFF believed she was not politically affiliated. The party asked her to serve with integrity and never sell her soul to politicians. She had to be humble, and not be easily angered, Shivambu said.

The EFF paid tribute to the outgoing Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. She should be allowed to address Parliament to bid farewell and give advice on avoiding wastage of public resources.

Brave candidate

The IFP’s Christian Msimang rejected the DA’s comments about Mkhwebane and would give her the benefit of the doubt. 

The National Freedom Party called her a brave candidate who should be given support.

The UDM’s Nqabayomzi Kwankwa said he did not know why working for the State Security Agency should work against her. It meant she had security clearance and was committed to working for people.

“Without evidence of wrongdoing, or a clear relationship with President Jacob Zuma, how can we block her appointment?” he asked. 

FF Plus MP Corne Mulder said while there were concerns about Mkhwebane, they would support the ad hoc committee’s recommendation.

“Sometimes politics must make a choice between bad or worse... Time will tell if Mkhwebane will make a difference,” he said.

The African Independent Congress, Pan Africanist Congress, African People's Convention, and Agang supported Mkhwebane. 

Fly in the ointment

The PAC said the objections to Mkhwebane were only due to the fact that some people saw African women only as fit for working in a kitchen.

The APC’s Themba Godi called the DA a fly in the ointment.

ANC MP Bongani Bongo said Mkhwebane had proved to be fit and proper for the job, would be able to take up the job immediately, and work without fear or favour.

The DA’s allegations were “contemptful”, the party was “grandstanding” and resorting to “petty politicking”.

“The DA must give us evidence, if they can't bring the source, they are the spies,” Bongo said

The DA’s Glynnis Breytenbach said they could not support her nomination.

“She has little or no practical experience to justify such an appointment when compared with the experience of the other four candidates. More worrying, we have been advised that the time spent as an 'immigration officer' in China is also suspicious, having been informed that this is simply coded language for being on the payroll of SSA,” she said, to booing from the ANC benches.

Breytenbach said the single-minded support for Mkhwebane was unreasonable.

Cope MP Deidre Carter said because of the unanswered questions hanging over Mkhwebane’s head, the party would abstain from voting.


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