Public protector and her office need support right now

Busisiwe Mkhwebane has been labelled incompetent and has taken this on the chin. /Thapelo Morebudi
Busisiwe Mkhwebane has been labelled incompetent and has taken this on the chin. /Thapelo Morebudi

Yesterday's landmark ruling against the public protector still doesn't make her incompetent or clueless.

A bruising judgment yes, but the chief justice dissented, a minority ruling held that the supreme court ruling be set aside. The chief justice also found that no harm had been done by the public protector and the high court misdirected itself.

That said, I have nonetheless observed in great anguish the personal attacks on the public protector on social media platforms that seek not only to discredit her findings, but leave her without dignity. This really amounts to bullying and she has endured this since occupying office.

Busisiwe Mkhwebane has been labelled clueless and incompetent and has taken this on the chin over and over again. As a public protector, she is certainly not immune to criticism - I have criticised her previously based on court rulings which she has taken on review.

She was found to be lacking an understanding of her constitutional mandate among other things. I thought it was damning, but she has since taken it on review - so why not leave the criticism and labelling until all the matters conclude?

One cannot rely on judgments taken on review or appeal to vilify and condemn a person. That would be irrational and malicious.

As a woman, I am bothered to see another woman being vilified and attacked so violently.

But what bothers me most is observing, with great disappointment, how the so-called social justice advocates have chuckled in delight as Mkhwebane is unduly charred.

Not once has Thuli Madonsela condemned the attacks on her successor. Instead, our former public protector has tacitly joined the hateful bandwagon, sub-tweeting Mkhwebane almost every time she releases a report.

The tacit snide remarks have not gone unnoticed, Thuli. You have no business commenting on Mkhwebane, especially not so negatively and in such a sneaky manner.

The problem is that our society has generally become so polarised. And it is not polarised based on differing views, because that may well be normal, but it is instead based on hate, intolerance and overwhelming ignorance.

Why have South Africans adopted "if you are not with me, then you are my enemy" attitude? We no longer stand for the truth and our arguments ignore nuance - we have become a nation of my enemy's enemy, void of any principals.

Also note that Mkhwebane and her office need our support no matter the court rulings. It's important to note further that even decisions by judges are often taken on review or appeal. That is justice for you.

Even in the apex court, judges do not always concur - there are dissenting judgments. Remember judge Thokozile Masipa who presided over the Oscar Pistorious murder trial? Masipa erred materially in law and the supreme court set aside her judgment, but that didn't make her incompetent or clueless.

She was instead praised by the supreme court for her tenacity and conduct during the trial.

So why are we so harsh on Mkhwebane? By the way, any adverse findings are by nature bound to peeve some while pleasing others. Unfortunately, her findings come at a time of toxic political milieu.

What is concerning is that President Cyril Ramaphosa seeks to rely on legal technicalities in a bid to avoid accounting truthfully.

Kindly note that procedural arguments without answering to the fundamental findings is tantamount to deception.

Why am I the only one whose campaign funds are being scrutinised?

Ramaphosa must answer on the money laundering and reveal his presidential campaign donors.

You may label Mkhwebane whatever you want, but her findings against the president remain significant.

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