Ramaphosa fires Mkhwebane

On Monday, the National Assembly voted 318 to 43 to remove suspended public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane from office. This decision came just weeks before her seven-year term was due to expire in mid-October. It took R160 million to remove Busisiwe Mkhwebane – and to defeat her Stalingrad campaign

Opposition and Support

The resolution was opposed by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the United Democratic Movement (UDM), the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), African Transformation Movement (ATM) and Al Jama-ah. However, it was carried with ease thanks to the combined strength of the ANC, the Democratic Alliance and several small parties.

The Investigation

Qubudile Dyantyi, the ANC MP who chaired the section 194 inquiry into Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office, stated that it was the most scrupulously thorough investigation parliament had conducted since the advent of democracy in South Africa in 1994. The committee found evidence that not only sustained the main charges of misconduct and incompetence against Mkhwebane, but also brought to light more missteps in the course of critical investigations.

Also read: Ramaphosa fires Mkhwebane a month before her term as Public Protector end

Findings of Misconduct and Incompetence

Dyantyi stressed that the committee heard hundreds of hours of testimony before resolving in a report drafted in July that the charges were sustained. He said, “Where we have established misconduct and incompetence, we are confident that advocate Mkhwebane did not raise any valid defence for her conduct to sway us.”

Additional Evidence Unearthed

The inquiry unearthed even further examples of misconduct and incompetence that had this committee not adduced evidence in the manner that it did, would have never come to the fore. The committee heard startling evidence that EFF chief whip and deputy president Floyd Shivambu gave a copy of a classified report of the office of the inspector-general of intelligence (OIGI) on the South African Revenue Service (Sars) to the public protector.

Consequences for Public Confidence

ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina said Mkhwebane had eroded public confidence in a crucial chapter 9 institution in the manner in which she had mishandled high level investigations. She stated, “The inadequacies in the Vrede investigation and the exercise of the lifeboat [Bankorp-Absa] investigation both of which caused serious harm, are such that they would have destroyed a reasonable member of the public’s confidence in her ability to discharge her duties and functions.”

It took R160 million to remove Busisiwe Mkhwebane

The impeachment process has taken more than two and half years since then DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone submitted a substantive motion for Mkhwebane’s removal from office in December 2020. It has cost the taxpayer some R160 million.

Legal Fees and Contempt

Freedom Front Plus MP Corné Mulder noted that roughly R36 million was spent on Mkhwebane’s legal fees. He accused her lawyer, Dali Mpofu, of displaying contempt for the country’s poor majority by suggesting that the money he charged was “peanuts”.

Voting and Nomination of New Public Protector

Voting on the committee’s report took place by roll call. When his name was called, Gordhan responded by saying “absolutely yes”. An ad hoc committee has nominated Mkhwebane’s deputy, Kholeka Gcaleka, as the new public protector. Gcaleka is already facing one court challenge to her findings.

By Shamiso Miracle

Shamiso Miracle completed her degree in journalism and media studies at the University of Zimbabwe before honing her skills at Savanna News. She then went on to work at iHarare News, becoming a voice for everyday SA citizens who wanted to share their stories. When she's not writing news that entertains and inspires ,Shamiso is an avid reader and a wellness bunny.

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