Mkhwebane tells Parliament to 'back off', threatens court action - report

2019-07-21 14:11
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Thapelo Morebudi, Gallo Images, The Sunday Times, file)

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Thapelo Morebudi, Gallo Images, The Sunday Times, file)

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Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane has threatened court action in defence of her position, warning Parliament to back off amid a probe into her fitness to hold office, a Sunday report says.

Mkhwebane wrote to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise, saying she would meet her in court if Parliament tried to remove her, the Sunday Times reported.

The DA requested earlier this year that Mkhwebane's fitness to hold office be considered for the third time since she took office in 2016.

Modise referred the request to the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services, News24 reported in June.

In the letter, Mkhwebane claims Modise had violated the Constitution by acceding to the DA's request for the committee to consider the matter, the weekly publication reported.

'Incompetent'

Her main argument was that, while the Constitution does give grounds for the removal of the Public Protector, Parliament has not adopted any rules in how that process should be governed.

Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said Modise responded by saying the process would continue.

Fin24 previously reported that calls have intensified for Mkhwebane to be fired with the DA seeking to revive a parliamentary process to remove her from office.  

The Congress of the People called for Mkhwebane's head, describing her as "incompetent".

Trade union federation Cosatu said President Cyril Ramaphosa should set aside all Mkhwebane's reports until her competency and trustworthiness has been ascertained.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse also called for the Public Protector's reports to be set aside until her fitness for office has been reviewed.

READ| Ramaphosa to brief the nation on Public Protector's Bosasa report

In May, Gauteng High Court in Pretoria found Mkhwebane's report on the Estina Dairy Farm Project to be unconstitutional and set it aside on the grounds that she failed in her duties to investigate and report on the controversial project. 

On Friday, Mkhwebane found that Ramaphosa "deliberately misled" Parliament when he responded to a question about a R500 000 donation to his 2017 ANC presidential campaign from controversial company Bosasa in November last year.

She also said his campaign needed to be the subject of a money laundering investigation, and that Ramaphosa should declare all donations received in his campaign.

In a 51-page submission to Mkhwebane made before her findings were made public this week, which News24 has seen, the president told her that all findings made against him were unfounded, News24 reported.

"The president does not accept that the Public Protector has jurisdiction to investigate the CR17 campaign and to make any findings in relation to it," the submission read.

Ramaphosa's lawyers argued that his funding campaign was in his capacity as an ANC member and leader, not a public office bearer.

Ramaphosa is expected to brief the nation on the Public Protector's Bosasa report on Sunday.  

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Read more on:    public protector  |  politics  |  parliament 2019
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