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Conflicted Ramaphosa not entitled to suspend me — Mkhwebane

Isaac Mahlangu Senior reporter
Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

Embattled public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, whose suspension is looming, has dug in her heels in a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa saying the head of state “is not legally entitled or competent” to suspend her.

Responding to Ramaphosa's letter, dated  March 18, in which he wanted Mkhwebane to furnish him with reasons why he should not suspend her, the public protector's lawyers, Seanego Inc, stated that the president is “personally and multiply conflicted” in the matter due to various investigations she has investigated that involved him.

Mkhwebane's letter stated that if he were to suspend her that would be illegal and inappropriate.

“The president is personally, heavily and multiply conflicted in this matter due to various investigations which have recently been or are presently being investigated by her against or concerning allegations of breach of ethics and/or violations of the constitution,” Mkhwebane's lawyers stated in the letter.

This comes as parliament's inquiry into Mkhwebane's fitness to hold office has already started its work as National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise has already indicated in a letter to Ramaphosa earlier this month.

The process to impeach Mkhwebane was stopped after she approached the Western Cape High Court after then speaker Thandi Modise had appointed a panel to determine if there was a prima facie case against Mkhwebane.

The panel, chaired by retired Constitutional Court judge Bess Nkabinde, had found that she had a case to answer. In February, the Constitutional Court ruled that the appointment of a judge on an independent panel to determine the grounds for her removal was procedurally correct giving parliament the green light to continue with the inquiry into her fitness to hold office.

Mkhebane's lawyers also stated in her letter to the president this week that the courts have refused to entertain the merits of her complaints on a technicality as they had stated that Mkhwebane had no jurisdiction to investigate non-state fundraising in the Bosasa matter involving Ramaphosa.

“It would be convenient to refer you to or remind you of your own concessions made under oath in respect to the so-called Bosasa matter. Bosasa has also been recently identified in the Zondo commission report as a key conduit for the crimes of corruption and/or money laundering, to mention a few,” stated Mkhwebane's letter.

Mkhwebane also stated that it would be a “fundamental mistake to adopt the view that the admitted conflict, whether actual or potential, simply disappeared or evaporated with the most recent finalisation of all related litigation”.

Two weeks ago, the apex court dealt Mkhwebane a blow, dashing her hopes of holding onto her office when it ruled that she had failed to make a case for the CR17 report rescission.

Mkhwebane had raised this matter in a letter to parliament, indicating that the inquiry into her fitness to hold office has to await the ConCourt's ruling.

She has, more than a week ago, filed another application for a rescission of the February ruling in the apex court arguing that the green light given by the ConCourt to parliament's impeachment process opened the public protector up to the possibility of being suspended “by the biased president, with the obvious far-reaching implications thereof to her rights and the public interest”.



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