Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: REUTERS
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: REUTERS

Busisiwe Mkhwebane has become something of an enigma. On the most generous of interpretations, it’s unclear how someone so incompetent on matters of law and the basics of evidence could have attained the office of public protector. A less magnanimous critic may suggest she was placed there to do someone else’s bidding. But if that’s the case, you’d think her handlers would be queuing for their money back round about now. Because the only thing she seems to have done with any real measure of success is lay the groundwork for her own removal from office.

SA’s courts have set aside two of Mkhwebane’s reports — one, on the Vrede dairy farm, for being "unconstitutional" and "invalid"; the other, on the Bankorp bailout, because, in part, she did not "fully understand her constitutional duty to be impartial". On Monday the Constitutional Court upheld that ruling, citing dishonesty and "bad faith", among other ills.

That Mkhwebane has done untold damage to SA is not in dispute. Neither is the fact that she should go. Perhaps she did us all a favour in challenging the Bankorp matter: this ruling may finally give parliament the impetus to push her out. After all, one fails to see how she can continue to serve, having been found so wanting. But either way, it’s frighteningly clear that the fault lines in our politics lie far deeper than we thought.

From a Constitutional Court ruling that she fell short of the standards required of her office in the Bankorp-Absa bailout matter to releasing a report in which she found President Cyril Ramaphosa broke the ethics code by "lying" about donations to his CR17 presidential campaign, public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane continues to dominate headlines.