South Africa: Public Protector - Court Judgment Provides More Evidence of Incompetence and Misconduct

analysis

The decision by the Gauteng High Court to review and set aside the Public Protector's Estina Dairy Farm Project Report raises new questions about the honesty and competence of the incumbent, Busisiwe Mkhwebane. While it is normal for constitutional office bearers to err from time to time and while they should not be removed from office merely for making an honest mistake, the findings against Mkhwebane contained in three different court judgments are so egregious that it has probably irrevocably tainted her credibility and has eroded public trust in her ability to act in a fair, impartial and legally informed manner to protect the public.

Section 194 of the South African Constitution prescribes a two-stage approach for the removal of the Public Protector from office. First, a committee of the National Assembly (NA) must engage in a factual inquiry to determine whether the Public Protector is guilty of misconduct or incompetence, or suffers from incapacity. If they answer yes to this question, the NA must then consider whether to support a resolution calling for her removal from office. The President is required to remove the Public Protector from office if at least two-thirds of the members of the NA vote...

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