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Corruption Watch backs calls for parliament to probe Mkhwebane's fitness to hold office

Corruption Watch has called for parliament to probe public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Corruption Watch has called for parliament to probe public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Image: Ruvan Boshoff

Corruption Watch has called on parliament to initiate an urgent investigation to determine whether public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is fit to hold office.

Corruption Watch expressed concern in a letter to National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise and to members of the portfolio committee on justice that while parliament had been called on to act on Mkhwebane's conduct, no concrete steps had yet been taken.

The letter cited the critical role played by the office of the public protector in the fight against corruption and impropriety in state affairs.

Corruption Watch also cited the findings of a number of courts, including the Constitutional Court which on Monday found Mkhwebane to be incompetent, dishonest and biased.

"Given that the oversight responsibility of the public protector falls to your committee it is the responsibility of the committee to determine whether the public protector is guilty of misconduct, lacks capacity or is incompetent," the head of legal and investigations at Corruption Watch, Deborah Mutemwa-Tumbo, wrote in the letter.

She said that while Corruption Watch accepted the notion that the setting aside of a public protector’s report was not, on its own, grounds for removal, judicial review judgments of Mkhwebane’s reports demonstrated a deeply concerning pattern of poor performance, misconduct and incompetence.

She said this pattern could not go ignored by the portfolio committee tasked with exercising oversight of the public protector’s office.

She said the comprehensive list of failures and dishonesty identified by the Constitutional Court on Monday raised serious concerns about the competence of the public protector to hold office.

"Given that these findings have been made by the apex court and there is no possibility for the public protector to appeal the findings, it is imperative that parliament act to interrogate the context in which the public protector has conducted her investigations and prepared her reports," she said.

Corruption Watch requested parliament to respond to its request before August 7.

Meanwhile, the application by the public protector for leave to appeal against a judgment which set aside her report into the Vrede dairy farm project, which was due to be heard on Thursday, has been postponed.

The postponement was to allow Pretoria High Court judge Ronel Tolmay to determine the order on costs in the matter, following Monday’s Constitutional Court ruling which held that Mkhwebane should pay a portion of legal costs from her own pocket in the Absa-Bankorp matter.

When Tolmay passed her judgment in May setting aside the Vrede report, she postponed the judgment on costs as she was awaiting judgment in the Absa-Bankorp matter.

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