Makhosi Khoza, who chaired the ad hoc committee that appointed the Public Protector in 2016, has admitted that Busisiwe Mkhwebane's performance in office has been disappointing.
Khoza was speaking on Wednesday on the sidelines of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse's (OUTA) announcement of the opening of its Parliament engagement office in Cape Town.
She joined the organisation to head local government strategy. Her first day was on Friday, June 1.
Former ANC MP Khoza told News24 that she understood the general "regret" expressed by some opposition parties over Mkhwebane's appointment, notably the EFF's admission.
Mkhwebane raised the ire of the Portfolio Committee on Justice on Wednesday after informing MPs in an eleventh-hour letter that she would not attend a scheduled meeting due to a "family emergency".
"I've expressed this before, she's been a huge disappointment," Khoza said.
"When we engaged with her, we indicated she had the overwhelming support from members of Parliament, all the political parties except the DA. 'Please don't let them down,' [we said].
"I can understand why the EFF is so frustrated, because it is the same kind of disappointment I have.
"We were thinking that she was going to understand that she is filling the very big shoes of Thuli Madonsela, and Thuli had done a fantastic job. There is nothing more painful than seeing a good job undone."
Khoza was pessimistic about Mkhwebane's ability to turn the ship around following high-profile court judgments against her.
"Frankly... I think she has dented her credibility and legitimacy, [so] that even if she had to try to repair the damage whichever way she could, it would be very difficult for anybody to believe."
Khoza said she was shocked when Mkhwebane "overstepped" her mandate by recommending changes to the Constitution in her ill-fated ABSA/CIEX report, released in 2017.
The report was set aside by the North Gauteng High Court in February.
"I posted on my Facebook page and asked: 'What are you doing there? You're not a politician, we must talk about those issues.'
"I'm sad. She is a relatively young woman, and I'm a feminist. But we have to understand that there is no [separate] standard for women and [another] for men.
"There are only good standards and those standards need to be maintained at all times."
'Agenda required my personal attendance'
Mkhwebane clarified her reasons for not sending a delegation to Parliament on Wednesday in her stead in a statement released on Wednesday evening.
While not explaining the details of her family emergency, she said she was of the view that the agenda items required her "personal attendance".
"Reluctant to send a delegation of officials without executive authority, advocate Mkhwebane opted to humbly request the committee to defer the meeting to a later date."
She had requested a postponement to June 21 or July 5 – both dates that would fall during Parliament's recess.
She then appeared on Afro Worldview later on Wednesday evening.
In the interview, she maintained that there was never an instance where she refused to appear before Parliament.
One of the agenda items, a discussion on whether to institute an inquiry into her performance, was for MPs alone to decide, and didn't need her attendance, she said.
She had no qualms with the committee, she maintained and defended her record.
Some users on Twitter criticised her appearance on the channel on a Public Protector SA Twitter post, asking whether her emergency "was resolved", and why she had time "to appear on TV, but not before Parliament".
Public Protector Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane will this evening be on @afroworldview to talk about her non-attendance of Portfolio Committee meeting on Wednesday morning— Public Protector SA (@PublicProtector) June 6, 2018
The committee meanwhile resolved to summon her to appear next Wednesday.