Bid to remove Busi an attempt to ensure the office of the protector functions well

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's show of arrogance and ignorance has reached the ceiling as she tries by all means to hold on to her position, says the writer.
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's show of arrogance and ignorance has reached the ceiling as she tries by all means to hold on to her position, says the writer.
Image: Phill Magakoe/ Gallo Images

Barney Mthombothi labelled public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane a public danger. Mthombothi joined a long list of those calling for Mkhwebane to vacate the office of the public protector, and the official opposition party recently attempted to accelerate her removal in parliament, citing alleged incompetence.

But Mkhwebane as usual hit back in a remarkable show of arrogance. She said that efforts to remove her were unconstitutional, and that no person may interfere with the functioning of the office of the public protector, not even parliament.

This is true, but as usual Mkhwebane blurs the lines. Can the DA's attempt to remove her be viewed as interference with the functioning of the office?

No, it shouldn't. It is in fact a sincere attempt to ensure the office of the public protector functions well - with a competent public protector.

It is seems inconsequential to Mkhwebane that her conduct since the day she took of office has been found wanting. The court lamented her ignorance when it set aside her report recommending that the Reserve Bank's constitutional mandate be changed.

That she assumed that her office was competent to make such a recommendation reveals her incompetence as public protector. So careless she was in the matter that the court ordered her to pay a portion of the legal costs from her own pocket.

She appealed and lost, and now is heading to the apex court, where she is likely to lose and get an earful again.

Too many of her reports are currently on review. Funny enough, in her submission in parliament, Mkhwebane acknowledges her incompetence, to a certain extent.

She called her previous blunders mere human errors. She said, like all judicial officers, the public protector "will sometimes make human errors in discharging his or her constitutional powers ."

Even when this is accepted, there is no judicial officer and there should be no public protector who continuously fumbles - such pattern significantly highlights incompetence.

Was it also a human error when Mkhwebane found that her office was competent to investigate a tweet? I am not convinced that Helen Zille's tweets breached the Executive Members Ethics Code, brazen as they were. And how the Western Cape legislature was expected to hold the premier accountable, as the report recommends, leaves much to be desired.

But it is Mkhwebane's latest spat with finance minister Tito Mboweni that is by far the worst. It is the worst to the extent that the public protector doesn't seem to have learnt anything from her previous mistakes. Mkhwebane's show of arrogance and ignorance has reached a ceiling.

In the first place, Treasury's DG Dondo Mogajane allegedly explained to the public protector that he was not even aware that he had a criminal record. This explanation is honest.

Many people would assume an admission of guilt for driving over the speed limit and paying a fine would finalise the matter. He was unaware that he had a criminal record, yet Mkhwebane found his failure to disclose as dishonest and he ought to be disciplined, she says.

This is also despite Mkhwebane having allegedly accepted Dondo's explanation during the investigation, according to Mboweni's affidavit. Mboweni laments the report as irrational and it seems likely. As a young black women and aspiring advocate, I am ashamed of Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

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