Beginning of the end for Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane

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Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Jan Gerber, News24)
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Jan Gerber, News24)

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s days in office could be numbered after the DA’s motion to initiate proceedings to remove her from office received the green light from the office of National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise.

The DA wrote a letter to Modise’s office on December 6, just three days after the National Assembly adopted new rules concerning the removal of office bearers in chapter 9 institutions.

The rules provide the basis for any member of the National Assembly to initiate, through a substantive motion, proceedings for a section 194 inquiry.

Section 194 of the Constitution deals with the removal from office of the Public Protector, the Auditor-General or a member of a commission established by chapter 9 of the Constitution.

In July last year the Constitutional Court found that Mkhwebane was not honest about her engagements during the investigation relating to the Reserve Bank/Absa matter.

Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office has been in question since some of her judgments were overturned and the courts granted personal costs against her.

In a statement released on Friday, the office of the National Assembly speaker said that the new expanded rules allowed for the DA’s motion to be considered.

READ: On borrowed time: Justice committee refers Mkhwebane removal to Speaker 

Modise having given the matter green light means that the motion meets all requirements and that she will now refer the motion and its supporting documents to an independent panel for a preliminary assessment.

Modise has written to political parties to put forward proposed nominees to serve on the panel.

“The rules stipulate that the panel must collectively have the necessary legal and other competencies and experience to conduct the assessment. A judge may be appointed to the panel, but the speaker must make such an appointment in consultation with the chief justice,” Modise’s office said a statement.

Political parties have until February 7 to submit their panel nominees.

In a letter Mkhwebane wrote in July she rebuked the speaker for “repeatedly failing to protect her on numerous occasions in the National Assembly”.

READ: Mkhwebane slams Modise for failing to protect her 

Mkhwebane’s legal tussle with President Cyril Ramaphosa only grew calls to have her removed from office.

READ: Ramaphosa seeks urgent judicial review of Mkhwebane’s ‘flawed report’ 

Ramaphosa challenged Mkhwebane’s report in which she found that he deliberately misled the National Assembly when he responded to former DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s question relating to whether his son, Andile, had received money from African Global Operations chief executive Gavin Watson.

The president said Mkhwebane’s findings were “inaccurate and her investigation had violated the provisions of the Public Protector’s Act”.

He then applied for an urgent judicial review of her findings.

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