South Africa’s biggest opposition parties are united in their view that it is time for Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to go.
EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi in a statement late on Monday night said his party was calling on the public protector to do the right thing and vacate her position.
They accuse her of conceding being in the wrong about her remedial action that was recommended to change the mandate of the Reserve Bank through a constitutional amendment.
Mkhwebane had earlier said in a statement that she would no longer be opposing the Reserve Bank’s challenge of her report on Absa, in effect conceding that she does not have a strong case.
Ndlozi said the fact that the public protector was even offering to “pay for legal costs of opposing counsels” highlighted just how out of her depth she is.
Fellow opposition party the DA echoed the EFF’s view, but they want her to be held personally liable for the costs as well as to step down.
Mkhwebane agreed on Monday in her answering affidavit to the high court that her remedial action of seeking amendments to the constitution can be reviewed and set aside. She was willing to pay the legal costs for the Reserve Bank but not for those of Absa.
“We call on her to do the honorable thing and step down. This is not only for an illegitimate and dangerous remedial action, but also for the audacity of offering to use public funds to pay for her incompetent decisions.
“If she really is genuine in her realisation of how flawed her remedial action is, why did she wait for others to initiate a court action? More fundamentally, she should be protecting public funds, not using them wastefully. Thus, if she is genuine, she should be offering to pay these legal costs personally.”
Ndlozi added it was well known that “the remedial actions of the public protector are binding”.
“Had no one challenged her dangerous remedial action regarding constitutional amendment, she would have basically coerced the whole country into a wrong direction.”
He charged that Mkhwebane was not different to “Baleka Mbete, Jacob Zuma and Berning Ntlemeza” in undermining the constitution when they were in fact expected to protect it.
“It also means in the name of this important office, she has now immersed the culture of constitutional defiance that characterises the conduct of many in the ANC state institutions in the office of the PP.”
He said the last thing South Africa needed was a legal novice who was also a “chance-taker”.
The public protector’s statement said on Monday that she had recommended constitutional amendments to protect “the socio-economic interests of ordinary South Africans”. She also offered other reasons for her ideas, which have unleashed major criticism and were even opposed by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba.
Mkhwebane is reportedly still opposing Absa and Gigaba’s legal challenges.
On Absa, she said: “I am advised and respectfully submit that the application for recognition as a co-applicant [in the Reserve Bank’s challenge] is, in any event, irregular.”
The EFF supported the choice of Mkhwebane as the new public protector last year despite the DA warning that there were too many unanswered questions about her past, raising the question that she was possibly an agent working on behalf of President Jacob Zuma.