Busisiwe Mkhwebane opens crimen injuria case against Fikile Mbalula
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has opened a case of crimen injuria and contempt against transport minister Fikile Mbalula, who tweeted that Mkhwebane was a hired gun.
Public protector spokesperson Oupa Segalwe confirmed to TimesLIVE that Mkhwebane went to the police after Mbalula's tweet on Sunday.
“Mr Mbalula and other ministers who have made contemptuous remarks about the public protector were previously reported to the president,” said Segalwe. “The request was for the president, in his capacity as head of the executive, to rein them in. It’s not clear if anything ever came of the request,” he said.
Segalwe said what was clear was that Mbalula continued with this conduct, “which is unbecoming of a member of the executive”.
"A hired gun" opened a case against me apparently— Minister of Transport |Mr Fix (@MbalulaFikile) March 8, 2021
Mkhwebane opened the case at the Brooklyn police station.
The other ministers that she complained about were finance minister Tito Mboweni and Mineral Resources and Energy's Gwede Mantashe.
"Mr Mbalula is not just any other person. He is a member of the executive," said Segalwe, as he cited section 181(3) of the Constitution.
That section reads: "Other organs of state, through legislative and other measures, must assist and protect these institutions to ensure the independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness of these institutions."
Segalwe said: "This provision is exactly like 165(4) which is applicable to the judiciary. And yet you have a member of the executive injuring the dignity of the head of an independent constitutional institution. You can imagine what would have happened if he had said the same about a judge," said Segalwe.
Mbalula has been tweeting candidly for the past two days, first responding to a Sunday Times report that ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule had instructed ANC MPs to vote against a parliamentary move to remove Mkhwebane from office.
“Ace Magashule is wrong to suggest that Mkhwebane can’t be removed. Yes, as a friend to Mkhwebane he can express that view, but not on behalf of the ANC,” Mbalula tweeted. “Which structure of ANC arrived at such a position? Mkhwebane is being charged with misconduct. Let’s talk about that.”
He then turned his attack on Mkhwebane, tweeting: “Mkhwebane is a hired gun not a public protector”.
“Which NEC meeting resolved to defend Mkhwebane? Second, the ANC strategy and tactics talk about unity and struggle of the opposite. It doesn’t characterise the opposition political parties as the enemy. You were dining with EFF leader the other day — is he your enemy?” he said in another tweet.