Mkhwebane fights back against 'grossly unfair' bid to oust her

'All I am asking for is fairness'

28 January 2020 - 15:07
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane told a media briefing on Tuesday the matter of her pending removal was of grave concern.
Image: Antonio Muchave Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane told a media briefing on Tuesday the matter of her pending removal was of grave concern.

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane wants the “grossly unfair” process which seeks to remove her from office to be temporarily suspended until issues raised by her can be addressed.

Speaking at a media briefing in Pretoria on Tuesday, where she released investigation reports, Mkhwebane said the matter of her pending removal was of grave concern.

“This is more so for the grassroots communities who see in this office their only hope at successfully exacting accountability on state functionaries and vindicating their rights,” Mkhwebane said.

National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise's office confirmed on Friday that she had  approved a DA request for parliament to initiate proceedings for the removal of Mkhwebane from office.

It will be the first time parliament looks into the fitness of the head of a Chapter 9 institution. It follows last month's adoption by the National Assembly of new rules concerning the removal of office-bearers at institutions supporting constitutional democracy. They include the office of the public protector.

Mkhwebane said on Tuesday she had been advised that the rules were unconstitutional and unlawful in that they amounted to a violation of the constitutionally prescribed duty imposed on organs of state to protect the independence of Chapter 9 institutions.

"The rules also do not adequately provide the audi palteram partem rule - the principle of listening to both sides of the story - at all. They breach the rights of the heads of Chapter 9 institutions."

She said the rules did not make provisions for the recusal of conflicted parties in any of the envisaged processes.

Mkhwebane said there were a number of people in the National Assembly who were currently or had recently been the subject of her investigations.

Also of concern was Modise having made public the announcement about the process to remove her without informing her of the decision. Mkhwebane said she only learnt about it via the media.

“This is the violation of my rights to dignity, privacy and confidentiality and has the effect of undermining the effectiveness of this important constitutional institution."

Mkhwebane said she had, through her lawyers, written to Modise on Tuesday morning, bringing to Modise's attention "the many deficiencies of these rules", and requested the speaker to respond.

“I further requested an undertaking from the speaker that this grossly unfair process be temporarily suspended until the issues I raised can be adequately addressed,” Mkhwebane said.

Mkhwebane said she was not against any scrutiny. 

“All I am asking for is fairness. This office and that of the speaker of the National Assembly are the guardians of fairness and should be exemplary,” she said.