Public Protector impeachment process paused

Will Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s deeply flawed chapter as Public Protector EVER end?!

After court rulings trashed a number of her findings in various matters, Parliament began to navigate the tricky terrain of constructing an impeachment process involving an office-bearer whose independence is sacrosanct. The PP is supposed to act like an ombud for government services, but Mkhwebane has acted more like a Jacob Zuma acolyte who hasn’t noticed that her faction has fallen apart. 😝

She’s now scored a rare (though fairly minor) victory after heading to court to challenge the constitutionality of impeaching the head of a chapter nine institution such as herself. She made 12 arguments and the court ruled in favour of two, finding that it was unconstitutional that:

1. Her lawyer isn’t allowed to participate in the part of the impeachment process conducted by a parliamentary committee.

2. The independent panel which cleared the way for the impeachment process was chaired by a retired Constitutional Court Justice – this, the court ruled, was a violation of the principle of the separation of powers. 

Now parliament’s hands are tied, as these two issues mean the process it’s about to embark on is already flawed. So, like seemingly everyone else these days, parliament is appealing straight to the Constitutional Court for a decision (those justices must be busy!). 

If the court rules in favour of the appeal, the impeachment process will go ahead. If not, the entire process will be deemed invalid, aaaaand the National Assembly will have to start from scratch. 😕 How many lives does Mkhwebane have?? 

In other Mkhwebane news, she could be facing her third charge of perjury. This, after President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered the National Prosecuting Authority to investigate Mkhwebane’s conduct in relation to her CR17 campaign report. She claimed before parliament that Ramaphosa lied about receiving a donation from Bosasa for his 2017 presidential campaign; this allegation made its way to the ConCourt, which ruled against her. Ramaphosa also filed papers on Monday asking the ConCourt to dismiss her recent attempts to rescind that ruling. Clearly, he’s not a fan. And at this point, with ALL her missteps, neither are we. 

Nevertheless, it’s crucial any process to remove her is completely above board. Let’s see what the ConCourt says. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 26 August 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.