Sipho Mabena
Premium Journalist
3 minute read
26 Jul 2019
9:35 am

Bumbling Mkhwebane is an embarrassment

Sipho Mabena

Does she operate alone in that office? Where is her deputy? Are there no other legal minds helping her?

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Felix Dlangamandla / Netwerk24

After the clobbering of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane by the highest court in the land this week, many – even those who had a bit of faith in her – concluded that she is out of her depth.

Not only has her inexplicable decisions brought shame to that sacrosanct office, she is an embarrassment to herself and has crushed the esteem brought to the office by her predecessor, Thuli Madonsela.

Unlike Madonsela, who was revered for speaking the truth to the powerful and making the crooked eat dust, Mkhwebane has hogged the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The recent hammering by the Constitutional Court should be the final nail in her coffin.

As her office is a creation of the constitution, she is the defender of the constitution and for her to be slated by the court safeguarding the constitution should be an embarrassment of the last degree. It signals her ineptness.

It was a complete shock, although expected, listening to the majority judgment tearing her integrity, ability and aptitude in law to shreds.

It is worse than having your parents telling you how useless you are; how they regret having you as a child and that you have become the opposite of what they were or was expected of you.

The integrity, or lack of it, that she went to the apex court to salvage was instead buried, with the judgment finding her entire model of investigation flawed and that she was dishonest about her engagements during her Absa / Bankorp investigation.

This, loosely interpreted, means she does not know what she is doing and would even use dishonest means to push for what she wants, not what an investigation establishes.

She seemed to have failed in the most basic requirements and methods of conducting an investigation and, instead, put her foot in it, failing to engage with those directly affected by her new remedial action before publishing her final report.

Does she operate alone in that office? Are there no other legal minds helping her to conduct and engage with those she was investigating? What are they saying about the flames of negativity engulfing this all-important office? Where is her deputy?

How does a public protector fail to provide an intelligible explanation of why she discussed the vulnerability of the Reserve Bank with the State Security Agency?

Of grave concern was that Mkhwebane failed to explain why she did not disclose any of her meetings with former president Jacob Zuma in her 2017 report. And that she presented falsehoods in her litigation.

An advocate, the court slammed her for misrepresenting, “under oath”, the economic analysis that underpinned her investigation.

I wonder what the pupils of Mkhephuli Secondary School in Kwaggafontein, where she matriculated in 1986, think of her now.

The pupils from the dusty semi-urban area in the former KwaNdebele homeland were fired up and inspired when Mkhwebane was appointed to her position in October 2016.

Because I grew up in Kwaggafontein when Mkhwebane took the office, I was also inspired and believed she would put the area on the map – and, oh boy, she certainly did.

Sipho Mabena pictured at The Citizen, 16 July 2019. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

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