Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane will be challenging her suspension from office by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Mkhwebane made the announcement in a statement, barely 24-hours after she was suspended by Ramaphosa, who himself is under investigation by the Public Protector for allegedly breaching the executive code of ethics relating to criminal activities at his Phala Phala farm in Limpopo.
Mkhwebane said Ramaphosa’s decision to suspend her pre-empted the Western Cape High Court judgment, which he knew was going to be delivered on Friday morning.
The Western Cape High Court dismissed her bid to interdict the parliamentary process to impeach her from office.
The court has also imposed a costs order against Mkhwebane in her personal capacity.
Mkhwebane filed an interdict application, which sought to halt Parliament’s impeachment process and prevent Ramaphosa from suspending her.
“The judgment was to decide on the legal entitlement of President Ramaphosa to suspend me. Various independent commentators have correctly questioned the wisdom and legality of such conduct and pointed out that the rational and respectful thing to do would have been to await the court’s decision. rather than acting in contempt of court,” Mkhwebane said.
Mkhwebane said the court judgement was focused on a technicality.
“It seems clear that the judgment is largely and focused on the technicality that the application is for an interim interdict and the special requirements of such interim interdicts, rather than the merits of whether this particular President is personally legally entitled to suspend a person who is investigating him for serious and impeachable offences,”
“And whether the provisions of the empowering section 194(3)(a) of the Constitution had been triggered (i.e., whether the removal proceedings had started) by 17 March 2022 or even yesterday when the suspension occurred,” Mkhwebane said.
Mkhwebane added that despite the errors of the judgment, which dismisses an application to strike out which was specifically not pursued, but grants personal costs orders which the Speaker and the President did not seek and only the Democratic Alliance (DA) which is the complainant in the impeachment process, asked for based on its obvious political agenda.
“Therefore, it seems appropriate to approach the Judge President to urgently set down Part B of the application so that those issues can be decided outside of the technical context of the requirements of interdicts, and before the commencement of the purported impeachment proceedings.”
A defiant Mkhwebane warned that she will fight her suspension.
“I will also challenge suspicious and legally questionable suspension decision made yesterday, more particularly in so far as it was done in apparent contempt of court, in breach of undertakings made to me by the President via his lawyers, and by a President who is now even more conflicted given the more recent Glencore and Phala Phala complaints/investigations.”
Mkhwebane said she remains hopeful and optimistic that one day justice will be done.
“The truth will come out and there will indeed be much needed accountability by all those entrusted with very serious constitutional powers including the President, the Speaker, the Judiciary and the Public Protector.”
Mkhwebane said she will not comment further and pleaded that her privacy be respected for the next few days.