The DA has called her a spy with close ties to President Jacob Zuma.
But this didn’t stop most Members of Parliament from voting last week for her to be the country’s new public protector. Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s nomination was approved with 263 votes in favour, 79 against and one abstention in the National Assembly.
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It’s now left to Zuma to give her a stamp of approval and pave the way to her taking over from the indomitable Thuli Madonsela when her term comes to an end next month.
The DA believes the committee tasked with finding Thuli’s successor overlooked more qualified candidates and are concerned she has little appropriate practical experience.
“We have been advised that the time spent as an ‘immigration officer’ in China is also suspicious, having been informed that this is simply code language for being on the payroll of the State Security Agency,” DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach says.
The DA is the only party to express doubts about Busisiwe -- even the hard-to-please EFF has given her the nod of approval. Floyd Shivanbu, deputy president of the EFF, thought she was better than the other candidates and was impressed by her understanding of the independence of the public protector's office.
The EFF also commended her for her “believable and practical plan” and her desire to make the office more accessible to people far-flung corners of SA.
Dr Bheki Langa, SA's former ambassador to China, says he has known Busisiwe since 2010 when he posted to Beijing. Busisiwe was already in the embassy serving as counsellor responsible for the Department of Home Affairs.
He remembers the day he met the public protector-elect at a welcoming function organised by the embassy staff. "Busi was there, looking quite elegant, standing out in the crowd,” he recalls.
Her job involved engaging with the Chinese business community facilitating visa permits and other immigration services to would-be investors. “I found her to be a competent, highly qualified and professional worker who takes her job seriously,” Langa adds.
He was impressed with her sharp acumen and her grasp of all the issues relating to her portfolio. She also showcased a deep understanding of South Africa’s legal system and the challenges facing the country, he adds.
“Through her professionalism and strong work ethic, she challenged notions of poor service delivery and corruption in the public service.”
According to Langa, she was always willing to assist others, performed tasks that fell beyond her job description and promoted SA as a tourist destination.
He describes Busisiwe as a bubbly, sociable and fun-loving individual, but at the same an upright, principled, no-nonsense person. "She is also humble, shy and down-to-earth."
Langa he has no doubt she will be equal to the task of public protector and make her own distinctive mark. “She is her own person and she must be accepted as such and not be made to live in the shadow of her predecessor.”
Langa rubbishes claims made by the DA about Busisiwe’s dealings in China.
“I can confirm without any fear of contradiction that Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane was employed as counsellor for the Department of Home Affairs at the South African Embassy and was never in the employ nor did she perform any assignment for the State Security Agency throughout her period of service in China.”
*Read this week’s issue of YOU to find out more about Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Skip to 4:25 in the video below to watch Busisiwe's interview