Editorial: Step down, Busi

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Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Felix Dlangamandla
Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Felix Dlangamandla
Felix Dlangamandla

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane must save Parliament, political parties and South Africa in general the pain of going through a laborious process to remove her from office.

She needs to step down voluntarily.

Before this week’s damning judgment by the Constitutional Court, she probably could have argued that she had been misunderstood.

But the apex court put paid to any doubt that she is fit for that office.

In awarding punitive, personal costs against her, the Constitutional Court said her conduct fell short of the highest standards expected from public officials.

Her poor conduct included misstatements, failing to provide a complete record to the court, failing to disclose material meetings and then obfuscating the reasons for them and the reasons they had not been previously disclosed, and generally failing to provide the court with a frank and candid account of her conduct in preparing the report on the SA Reserve Bank.

The highest court in the land said she acted in bad faith and in a grossly unreasonable manner.

Behaviour that concerned the court included having meetings with the president and the State Security Agency and not disclosing them.

She also provided contradictory reasons on why she felt the need to have the meetings.

The court held that her entire model of investigation was flawed as she was not honest about her engagements during the investigation.

On and on they went, demonstrating not only why her judgement was wrong and full of falsehoods, but also why she was not fit for office.

At this stage the Speaker of Parliament has referred the motion to remove her from office to the justice committee to attend to.

The committee has not acted yet but Mkhwebane has already threatened the Speaker with legal action should Parliament proceed with the action. However, we urge her to spare us the drama.

Her fitness to hold office was already suspect before this judgment and it has served only to confirm the reservations.

Even she knows that, by now, every report she issues will be treated with suspicion and be challenged in court.

This renders her a lame duck Public Protector whose orders are not effected, making her investigations and reports a waste of time for her and those who seek help from her office.

She must save herself the indignity of being removed from that office, kicking and screaming.

Go now, Busi.

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