In a move that has sent shockwaves throughout South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa has officially removed Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane from her position as the nation’s Public Protector. This decision comes just a month before Mkhwebane’s term was set to conclude.
The backdrop to this significant decision was the overwhelming majority vote by the National Assembly, where 79.5% supported the section 194 committee’s findings. The committee had deemed Mkhwebane incompetent and guilty of misconduct, thereby making her unfit to continue as the head of South Africa’s watchdog.
President Ramaphosa’s letter to Mkhwebane, which she shared on social media, cites the Constitution, stating that after the conclusion of the section 194 process, he “must” remove the Public Protector from office. The letter further elaborates that Mkhwebane’s removal is grounded in “misconduct and incompetence.”
However, Mkhwebane is not taking this decision lightly. She has expressed her intent to challenge this “injustice” legally. In a poignant statement, she remarked, “This injustice, sadly perpetrated on Steve Biko Day, will be legally challenged in review proceedings. If I perish, I perish.” This sentiment was echoed by the Economic Freedom Fighters, who have also pledged to contest Monday’s vote.
The decision to remove Mkhwebane has been met with mixed reactions from the public and political spheres. While some view it as a necessary step to uphold the integrity of the Public Protector’s office, others see it as a political move, especially given the timing, just a month shy of the end of her term.
Mkhwebane’s tenure as Public Protector has been marked by several controversies, including her probe into President Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala matter. The committee’s findings against her spanned a range of investigations, reports, and her handling of subsequent litigation, as well as issues related to public funds expenditure.
The unfolding events surrounding Mkhwebane’s removal highlight the intricate dance between politics, justice, and public service in South Africa. As the nation watches closely, the legal battles that are sure to ensue will further shape the narrative of governance and accountability in the country.