Helen Zille on the 'dilemma' the DA faces with controversial Public Protector

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane step down. (Leon Sadiki)
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane step down. (Leon Sadiki)

Former DA leader and Western Cape premier Helen Zille says the DA faces a 'dilemma' with the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Earlier this week, DA leader Mmusi Maimane spoke out on the Democratic Alliance's complicated relationship with Mkhwebane.

He said that while he was pleased with her finding regarding President Cyril Ramaphosa's campaign funding, he still thinks she should go.

In her response to News24 on Saturday, Zille said she was not in a position to make any statements on behalf of the DA in any way whatsoever.

"I have no position in the DA.  In my capacity as former Premier of the Western Cape, I have two review applications pending against the Public Protector, so I do not want to comment about the issue of her removal.

"The only avenue the DA can take when there is an alleged violation of the Executive Ethics Code, is to report the matter to the Public Protector. A major dilemma arises when the integrity of the Public Protector has been compromised and when the incumbent appears to have been captured by one faction in the ruling party, it creates a major problem for society as a whole. 

"Should one still use the channels required by the law? Or does one ignore an alleged violation of the Executive Ethics Code because the office of the Public Protector has been comprised," said Zille.

She continued that this is the dilemma the DA faced and it was a very difficult one. 

"That is why it is so important to retain independent capable institutions of State.  That is where the problem lies," she said.

READ: Mkhwebane probes SARS commissioner's recruitment, selection

On Friday, News24 reported that the Helen Suzman Foundation had also joined the bandwagon of civil society organisation and political formations which are calling on Parliament to expedite the process to conduct an inquiry into Mkhwebane's fitness to continue in her role as Public Protector.

In a letter addressed to the Speaker of the National Assembly, a representative of law firm Webber Wentzel, on behalf of the foundation, explicitly called on Parliament "...for an expedited vote for the removal of Ms Busisiwe Mkhwebane from the high office of Public Protector."

According to the foundation, the call follows the handing down of the recent judgment of the Constitutional Court in the Public Protector vs South African Reserve Bank matter.

In its judgment, the court confirmed the punitive costs order awarded by the high court against her personally.

A statement by the foundation continued that "...this judgment, along with other damning high court judgments, illustrates the ways in which Ms Mkhwebane has been found to 'lack integrity', 'competence', 'honesty' and 'independence'. These judgments all point to the indisputable conclusion that Ms Mkhwebane is not fit and proper to hold office as the Public Protector."

It called on Speaker Thandi Modise, to take heed of the "accumulated adverse judicial findings" and to act swiftly to remove Mkwhebane, adding that "...each day that Ms Mkhwebane remains in office is damaging to the integrity of the office." 

Parliament spokesperson Moloko Mothapo told News24 that Parliament received the letter on Friday.

"The Speaker had not had an opportunity to study and consider it. Once she has done so she will respond to the organisation," said Mothapo.

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