Gloves are off as Mkhwebane plans to resume her duties

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has told President Cyril Ramaphosa that she intends to resume duties on Tuesday since the suspension period has lapsed.

In a letter on Monday, Mkhwebane said according to Ramaphosa’s presidential minute that triggered her lay-off from office, her suspension was pending the finalisation of the proceedings or enquiry initiated by the committee of the National Assembly established under section 194 of the constitution.

From the above, said Mkhwebane: “It is crystal clear that the suspension period expired upon the finalisation of the enquiry initiated by the section 194 committee.

“According to a letter received from the chairperson of the committee dated 24 August 2023 … the enquiry was finalised on or about 28 August 2023 and upon the adoption of the final report of the committee.”

She said her intention is to return to work from Tuesday until the expiry of her term on October 14 “or any lawful removal in terms of section 194 of the constitution, whichever happens first”.

In terms of the National Assembly calendar, parliament is due to vote on the committee’s report on Monday after it recommended that Mkhwebane should be impeached.

On the same day, the house votes on the appointment of deputy public protector Kholeka Gcaleka following a recommendation that she be appointed the next public protector.

Mkhwebane told Ramaphosa on Monday that she, in any event, held a firm view that the clearly rushed effort to remove her from office in spite of the fact that she will be left with less than 20 working days before the expiry of her term on October 13 was driven by illegal, improper and motives of a political and personal nature other than any legitimate desire for accountability.

“This situation is further exacerbated by the inexplicable denial of my legal representation before the committee, which was more recently followed by last week’s premature termination of my attorneys’ mandate,” said Mkhwebane.

She said Gcaleka approved the premature termination despite the fact that she is still the constitutionally recognised public protector.

“Should it become necessary, these other related illegalities will be dealt with at a later stage and in the appropriate forum,” she said.

In a statement issued just before 10pm on Monday night public protector spokesperson Ndili Msoki said Mkhwebane was not an employee of the office. 

Msoki said Ramaphosa appointed Mkhwebane and similarly suspended her. “Accordingly, in the absence of communication emanating from the President, Adv. Mkhwebane’s suspension remains effective.”


This story has been updated. 


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