Busisiwe Mkhwebane ... ‘The closest thing we have to Thuli Madonsela’

Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Jaco Marais
Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Jaco Marais

Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane is two steps away from being South Africa’s next Public Protector. 

This afternoon, the special parliamentary committee tasked with finding Thuli Madonsela’s replacement resolved to nominate the 46-year-old Mkhwebane as its candidate for the job. 

Her nomination was supported by all the parties represented in the multiparty committee with the exception of the Democratic Alliance. 

“We reserve our comment,” said DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach as the committee wrapped up the process. 

The broad consensus on a name is exactly what committee chairperson Makhosi Khoza was hoping for. 

Throughout the process, Khoza repeatedly voiced her hope of finding a Public Protector who was supported by all, and not just by the governing ANC through its numerical dominance. 

This, however, does not mean there will be no voting when the name is presented to the National Assembly next week for approval. 

If the DA’s position does not change, the nomination may have to go to a vote in the house and according to the Constitution, 60% of the National Assembly MPs must support the candidate for the vote to carry. 

If all the parties minus the DA support Mkhwebane, she would easily get 75% if her candidature was indeed put to a vote. 

MPs were full of praise of her performance during the interview two weeks ago. 

“She is balanced. She has the right temperament. She remained cool and did not become emotional despite gruelling questions. Her CV is impressive. She is black, young and female,” they enthused. 

Even EFF leader Julius Malema, who said he was impressed by Mkhwebane during the interviews but later heard that she was President Jacob Zuma’s preferred candidate, supported her. 

Malema said he decided to continue supporting Mkhwebane despite the alleged backing by Zuma, because of her solid performance in the interview. 

“She’s the closest thing we have to Thuli Madonsela,” said EFF leader Julius Malema. 

The DA MPs were not convinced. 

Breytenbach said she was concerned that Mkhwebane left a senior post at home affairs where she was a director of the country information and cooperation management unit for the department to become an analyst at the State Security Agency on a lower salary. 

She said Mkhwebana never explained this move during her interview. 

Western Cape High Court judge Siraj Desai’s name was also debated at length and it was heated. 

ANC MPs were in full support, citing his experience in the legal fraternity, record as human rights activist and saying he was a pro-poor candidate. 

But opposition parties begged to differ. 

“He is arrogant, rude, aggressive, temperamental and had no control of his tongue and temper,” they said. 

The committee has to present the name to the National Assembly by next Wednesday.

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