Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane reported members of the executive responsible for “blistering attacks” on her office to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise.
She told the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services on Friday that the attacks were in contravention of the Constitution. She did not name the ministers.
Mkhwebane revealed this to MPs while presenting her office’s annual report for the 2018/2019 financial year, in which it received an unqualified audit with findings.
“…In contravention of sections 181(3) and (4) of the Constitution, my office has been at the receiving end of one blistering attack from senior members of the executive arm of government, who are also members of Parliament. Unsubstantiated accusations that I am beholden to a faction of the governing party have largely underpinned these attacks. We have reported these to the speaker,” her presentation to the committee read.
She also said some organs of state still “look the other way when my office points them to their administrative lapses”.
She said this happened despite an instructive Constitutional Court decision that her remedial actions were binding, unless set aside by a court.
“This leaves a lot of the complainants, in whose favour we have made findings and taken appropriate remedial action, in limbo,” she said.
“Moreover, owing to insufficient resources, my office cannot afford to have the remedial action we have taken enforced through the courts. As far as the affected parties are concerned, this renders the office somewhat toothless.”
She said, for this reason, she published a list of about 40 state organs who failed to implement full remedial actions at the end of the term under review.
“The idea was to appeal to the conscience of those involved, with the hope that they will see the plight of those affected members of the public. Unfortunately, in some cases, this only served to harden attitudes and invited more litigation,” she said.
Mkwhebane’s removal from office is currently before Parliament.
A sub-committee of the National Assembly’s rules committee also met on Friday morning to discuss the rules for the removal of the head of a Chapter 9 institution, such as the public protector.