Seven years of DA pressure sees Parliament voting on removal of unfit Public Protector

Issued by Siviwe Gwarube MP – Chief Whip of the Official Opposition
11 Sep 2023 in News

Please find attached a soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP.

In 2016, the Democratic Alliance stood alone in its opposition to Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s appointment as Public Protector, while the ANC and EFF stood together to appoint her. For the last seven years, we held firm in our conviction that she was not a suitable individual to occupy the office of Public Protector.

Some of the most notable cases in which Mkhwebane failed in her duties were:

  • In 2017, Mkhwebane sought to amend the Constitution and ordered Parliament to nationalise the South African Reserve Bank. This was rightly set aside by the North Gauteng High Court for violating the separation of powers;
  • That same year, Mkhwebane’s Report into Absa Bank was set aside by the Pretoria High Court, where she was found to have acted outside of her office, lying under oath, and acting in bad faith. She was ordered to personally pay costs;
  • Then came her infamous Vrede Dairy Farm Project Report, which the DA successfully had set aside in 2019 as unconstitutional. The whitewash Report exonerated the likes of the Guptas and Ace Magashule. The Gauteng High Court ordered Mkhwebane to personally pay costs.

In light of the scandals mentioned above, in 2020, the DA successfully initiated a Parliamentary inquiry into her fitness to hold office. The panel chaired by a retired judge found prima facie evidence that Mkhwebane was unfit for office. This laid the groundwork for a Section 194 impeachment inquiry in 2021 – the first of its kind in South Africa. She was suspended by the President in 2022.

While Mkhwebane attempted all sorts of Stalingrad tactics, the writing was on the wall. In August 2023, the Section 194 Panel adopted its final report, recommending the Public Protector’s removal. This report will now serve before the National Assembly where the support of two thirds of its members is required to successfully impeach the Public Protector.

Today is not just a vote to remove the first head of a Chapter 9 Institution but is a confirmation of the DA’s relentless commitment to the rule of law and the accountability. After years of opposing this appointment, we look forward to closing this turbulent chapter which will set a precedent for Parliament on how an unsuitable head of a Chapter 9 institution is impeached.

The DA remains proud of its members who served on the Section 194 Committee with diligence and upheld their oath of office; at times in the face of vicious and ad hominin attacks.

May this be a lesson to the institution on the importance of selecting fit-for-purpose candidates at all times. This is especially important as we nominate a new Public Protector in the coming days.