Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane believes that adverse court findings against her cannot be the basis of a parliamentary inquiry, which could result in her removal from office.

Last week, Mkhwebane launched an urgent bid to block any inquiry into her fitness to hold office from proceeding, pending her main challenge to the unconstitutionality of the process that could lead to her removal.

The public protector has been slammed for being dishonest and displaying possible bias by multiple courts. She has been accused of not understanding the constitutional requirements of her position and pursuing investigations with ulterior purposes.

Mkhwebane, in her urgent application, argued that the adverse court rulings cannot legally form the basis of the parliamentary inquiry — because this would amount to a violation of the separation of powers doctrine.

This doctrine, Mkhwebane argues, means that the “judiciary should play no direct or indirect role in my removal, which is a matter solely confined to the legislature by the constitution”.

Mkhwebane launched a series of scathing attacks on those involved in the parliamentary process, including accusing National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise of being “compromised” and strongly suggesting that she acted with an “ulterior purpose” in initiating the inquiry process.

She also hit out at the DA for laying multiple complaints about her fitness to hold office, saying some of the party’s “newfound supporters” were driven by “corrupt motives”. She further accused the DA of seeking to “undermine the constitution” by attacking her.

Mkhwebane insists President Cyril Ramaphosa cannot lawfully suspend her, because he is conflicted. This after she found that he lied to parliament and that his CR17 election campaign may have been embroiled in money laundering.

According to Mkhwebane, her removal from office through a formal inquiry and a two-thirds majority vote in parliament is a “numerical and political improbably”.

But, she argued, if it was determined by parliament that she should face a formal fitness inquiry, a “conflicted” Ramaphosa may decide to “unlawfully” suspend her — and this potential “embarrassment” was one of many reasons why she sought an urgent interdict to halt the process.

“Such a step would not only serve to destabilise the office but also to remove me, albeit temporarily, from the scene at a time where some of the most sensitive cases involving members of the executive, the president personally and his alleged political allies, would be in the process of being decided,” she said.

“My participation in such litigation as the author of the said reports, is of crucial national importance and my temporary absence may provide them with an unfair advantage.”

While Mkhwebane has hit out at Ramaphosa and public enterprise minister Pravin Gordhan for accusing her of pursuing investigations against them with improper motives, her lengthy court application is replete with similar dark allegations against Modise, the DA and the president.

Mkhwebane has accused MPs on the justice portfolio committee who raised questions about her fitness to hold office — in the wake of the scathing rulings that overturned her Reserve Bank and Estina Dairy Project reports — of unlawfully prejudging the issue of whether she should be removed.

“According to the rules of natural justice and fairness, such delinquent members, having prejudged the issues, ought to play no role in the process intended to look objectively into the very allegations they made.”

She believes that any MP who questioned her fitness should not be allowed to participate in the inquiry intended to evaluate it.

In addition to attacking almost every aspect of the preliminary processes that could lead to her facing a formal inquiry, Mkhwebane wants the high court in Cape Town to interdict any political party or its members who “have a conflict of interest from voting and/or participating in any way” in her inquiry.

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