The DA has called on parliament to expedite removal proceedings against Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane after her remedial actions against President Cyril Ramaphosa were set aside, pending a judicial review of her report.
On Monday, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria granted Ramaphosa an interim interdict to stay Mkhwebane’s remedial action in her investigation into a R500,000 donation to his ANC presidential campaign from Bosasa boss Gavin Watson.
Mkhwebane did not oppose Ramaphosa’s application for the interim relief but has indicated she would oppose his application to have the report set aside.
It was DA leader Mmusi Maimane who first laid the complaint.
On Monday, DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said the party had noted the court’s decision.
“While the DA believes the president has a case to answer for and that he must be held to account, we respect the court’s ruling and will abide by this decision,” Steenhuisen added in a statement.
“Our obligation is to the public and Constitution. The rule of law is sacrosanct, and if the president believes he has done nothing wrong, then he is well within his rights to take this matter on review and obtain an interdict.”
On two occasions during the fifth parliament’s term, Steenhuisen unsuccessfully attempted to have the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services institute removal proceedings against Mkhwebane.
“Today’s ruling does, however, raise questions about Mkhwebane’s fitness for office and is a further blow to her credibility,” Steenhuisen said.
“It cannot be that the Public Protector staggers from one defeat to the next on an almost weekly basis. The high court decision reaffirms the DA’s position that Mkhwebane needs to be removed.”
He said while the DA respects the authority of the Office of the Public Protector and its constitutional role, it has “serious concerns over the competence and independence of the incumbent”.
“In her almost three years in office, she has on numerous occasions showed the public that she is wholly unsuitable for office.
“The DA reiterates its call that Parliament expedites removal proceedings against Mkhwebane. The longer she remains in office, the more she will erode the nation’s faith in this very crucial Chapter 9 institution.”
Mkhwebane has previously defended her tenure in office, with her office saying adverse court judgments were not a sign of incompetence but “clarifications of law”.
The DA’s latest attempt to institute removal proceedings has been referred to the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services, which will map out a way to deal with this in early September.
Several civil society organisations have called on the process to be expedited in the wake of adverse court rulings against Mkwhebane.