PUBLIC PROTECTOR MKHWEBANE’S REMOVAL: SA SHOULD LEARN FROM THIS
With Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane finally removed as Public Protector, OUTA urges Parliament to exercise extreme caution when appointing individuals to Chapter 9 institutions. If the pool of candidates does not include at least one outstanding nominee, then it is imperative to revisit the selection process.
In our view, the investigation into her removal was allowed to become unnecessarily drawn out and far too expensive. Apart from the obvious financial cost, it also nearly obliterated the credibility of a foundational Chapter 9 Institution.
Over the years, it became patently clear that Mkhwebane's primary allegiance was to herself rather than to the public interest.
Therefore OUTA implores Parliament to exercise the utmost diligence when selecting individuals for Chapter 9 institutions. If the pool of candidates does not include at least one exceptional nominee, it is imperative to revisit the selection process. It is of paramount importance that Chapter 9 Institutions fulfil their mandate to serve the people of South Africa and preserve citizens’ faith in our democratic systems.
We also urge Parliament to contemplate the necessity for policies, and possibly legislative measures, to prevent wrongdoers from exploiting public funds for their defence at an unreasonable expense to the public purse. The retrieval of funds misappropriated in this manner is paramount.
What has OUTA done to hold Mkhwebane accountable?
We were one of the first civil society organisations that voiced our concerns over the former Public Protector’s work. In June 2019 we petitioned the National Assembly's Speaker to investigate Mkhwebane's conduct and competence as Public Protector. We based this on her perceived failure to uphold constitutional obligations to South African citizens and the many negative court rulings that tarnished this vital Chapter 9 Institution's reputation. We also initiated legal action against Mkhwebane, pressing perjury charges following the Constitutional Court's findings that she had deliberately made false statements during legal proceedings, including misrepresentations, amounting to perjury. Read more about our work here.