Are we clairvoyant? Last Thursday we told you that Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s days were numbered after her attempts to stave off impeachment hearings failed. Shortly afterwards, President Cyril Ramaphosa wrote to Mkhwebane asking if she thinks she should be suspended while her impeachment hearings are underway.
Ramaphosa is empowered by the Constitution to suspend Mkhwebane while impeachment proceedings take place. But he must also protect the independence of the Public Protector’s office. By writing to Mkhwebane, Ramaphosa is shielding himself from allegations that he’s playing politics by removing her – she’s previously made adverse findings against him, after all.
Mkhwebane was given ten working days from 17 March to write back to Ramaphosa on how she would like to be disciplined. Should he suspend her, Deputy Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka will act in Mkhwebane’s role until a new person is appointed to the top job. In the meantime, it may be wise for Mkhwebane to dust off her CV because ziyakhala ke manje… ish is about to go down.
Quick background: As we told you last week Mkhwebane has been making history for all the wrong reasons. Last Tuesday a huge majority of Parliament (230:40) voted to go ahead with the impeachment process to remove her because of a track record of dodgy reports and legally unsound findings. If successfully impeached, she will be the first head of a Chapter 9 institution to be removed so unceremoniously from her duties. Only the EFF, UDM, Al Jamah-ah and ATM voted against her impeachment. The EFF is also promising to halt the impeachment process by hauling parliament to court. Mkhwebane’s own legal challenges to the process have hit a wall.
Mkhwebane is rapidly running out of perks. But at least she gets to force the country’s president into asking how she would like to be disciplined. 🤭
This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 24 March 2022. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.