Public Protector needs to have thick skin

It's not bullying to scrutinise the Public Protector, it is freedom of speech, the writer says.
It's not bullying to scrutinise the Public Protector, it is freedom of speech, the writer says.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali/ Sunday Times.

I disagree with the views of columnist Palesa Lebitse in Sowetan yesterday regarding the apex court ruling on the public protector's Bankorp matter and other judgments she took on review.

Lebitse's starting point that the public protector is not incompetent and clueless is rather poor compared to being dishonest as required by the magnitude of her office.

It does not matter who dissented but the fact remains that the majority of the bench found otherwise.

The public protector will always be under public scrutiny and she must handle that professionally. It's not bullying, it is freedom of speech and she should also have borne in mind that she had too big shoes to fill after the vacation of that position by her predecessor.

Of utmost concern is her sexualising the matter; to quote her verbatim, Lebitse says: "As a woman, I am bothered to see another woman being vilified and attacked so violently."

The statement is sexist; if one is found wanting, one's gender should not matter. Furthermore, it is not the truth that the protector is being attacked violently, unless she refers to reckless social media commentary, for which she would need to be thick-skinned to cope with.

The writer should not generalise that society is polarised by hatred, especially with regards to the matter of the public protector as it is only her action that is not approved of. Who would tolerate a dishonest person in a chapter 9 institution?

Constructive criticism and disapproval is not ignorance because the protector is producing remedial actions that are overturned by the courts, at a high cost to taxpayers.

The protector is an advocate by profession and it is unacceptable to have so many decisions being overwritten by the courts.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and minister Pravin Gordhan are equal before the law like anyone else, just as the public protector must be beyond reproach.

Sfanele Booi, Sunninghill

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