South Africa: DA Will Again Try to Have Parliament Remove Mkhwebane

After another court ruling didn't go Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's way, the DA wants to revive a parliamentary process to remove her from office.

On Monday, the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria found her report on the Estina Dairy Farm Project to be unconstitutional and set it aside on the grounds that she failed in her duties to investigate and report on the controversial project.

The project has been central in the web of state capture which allegedly connects the Guptas, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and returning ANC MP Mosebenzi Zwane.

Monday's ruling was the outcome of an application brought by the DA and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) last year.

Speaking to the media after the first meeting of the DA's parliamentary caucus for the new term, Maimane said they did this to fight for the people of Vrede.

In the previous term, DA chief whip John Steenhuisen on two occasions petitioned the Portfolio Committee on Justice to remove Mkhwebane from her position following the ruling by the High Court in Pretoria in 2017, which stated that she grossly went above her powers when she recommended constitutional amendments to alter the mandate of the Reserve Bank.

However, in February this year, the committee adopted a report which recommended that Mkhwebane should not be removed from her post, much to the DA's chagrin.

"We moved a process in the last Parliament to have her removed, we should resume that process in this term," Maimane said on Tuesday.

"Because ultimately, you simply cannot have a public protector who cannot issue judgments that isn't consistent in law that cannot be upheld by any court," Maimane said.

"And that one in Vrede is crucial. Because it exempted people who have serious allegations against them. Ace Magashule and Mosebenzi Zwane must face the full might of the law," he said.

This, however, did not mean Maimane had lost faith in the office of the Public Protector, which he described as an important institution.

"We must talk about how we capacitate that office better," he said.

Whenever Mkhwebane, or her predecessor Thuli Madonsela, appeared before Parliament, they raised the matter that their office's capacity is impeded due to budgetary constraints.

Maimane said this must be corrected in the budgetary process that Parliament will proceed with soon, after its establishment on Wednesday.

"We must allocate the budget so that the office can function better.

"The Public Protector as an institution must work better, and we must ensure ultimately when we deliver judgments, they can stand up to legal scrutiny," he said.

"The sooner we can get an individual who can restore the institution to its strength, the better it will be."

Mkhwebane indicated that she is considering appealing Monday's judgment.


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