The preferred candidate for the position of Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, has trashed claims by the DA that she was a spy while working as an immigration officer for Home Affairs in China.
Speaking by cellphone yesterday afternoon, Mkhwebane said that the DA’s claim had taken her by surprise.
The DA announced yesterday that it would not support Mkhwebane’s nomination when it was debated and voted on in the National Assembly today.
The DA argued that her links to the State Security Agency (SSA) were questionable, a concern the party had raised during the selection process.
But taking the concerns a step further, the DA claimed it had received information from more than one source that she was on the payroll of the SSA when she spent time in China as an “immigration officer” from 2010.
After initially saying she had no comment, Mkhwebane disputed the claim: “I was deployed by Home Affairs when working in China,” she said.
Her link to the SSA – in July 2016 when she took up employment as an analyst – had been publicly disclosed during interview proceedings before the parliamentary ad hoc selection committee, she said.
“I don’t see any issue working with the SSA, which is a state institution.”
Mkhwebane added that she was not obliged to respond to the DA’s claim as all the information about her career history had already been made available to Parliament.
“The DA was part of the shortlisting, and the investigations,” she said.
Arguing that the appointment would be “irrational”, the DA said at a media briefing yesterday that she was not the best candidate, and she had been “illogically” preferred over other qualifying candidates.
The party also questioned why she had changed her high-paying job from Home Affairs as a director, to a “’demotion” as an analyst with the SSA earlier this year.
“We hold the view that the Public Protector cannot be seen as even remotely connected to the State Security Agency,” said a DA statement read out at the briefing.
The ANC has described the DA’s objections as “perplexing, irrational and constitutionally baseless”.
During the ad hoc committee’s selection process, all parties except the DA supported the nomination of Mkhwebane as the preferred candidate.
MPs will consider the recommendation of the ad hoc committee during a debate in the National Assembly late today before it is put to the House for a vote.
At least 60% of MPs need to vote in support of her nomination for the recommendation to be passed.