OPINION

Suspend and make the Public Protector accountable

Paul Hoffman |

29 April 2022

Paul Hoffman says there is ample evidence that the music needs to be faced without delay

Suspend and make the Public Protector accountable

29 April 2022

Cape Town, 29 April 2022: Anti-Corruption watchdog organisation, Accountability Now, has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa, demanding the suspension of Public Prosecutor, Busiswe Mkhwebane.

The president is considering suspending the Public Protector, who faces removal from office proceedings in the National Assembly. According to the Public Protector she behaves accountably and the president is too conflicted to suspend her due to pending investigations of him by her.

Paul Hoffman, SC, Director, Accountability Now, wrote to the Public Protector in April 2022*, challenging her to behave accountably by answering questions put to her in January 2017, questions which remain unanswered. The Public Protector did not reply to Accountability Now.

The matter has been escalated to the president who has been asked to suspend the Public Protector, or, if there is a risk of a conflict of interest, to get the Deputy President to consider the matter of her suspension. The relevant correspondence is attached to this media release.

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The presidency has acknowledged receipt of the email addressed to him*, neither the Public Protector nor the Justice Portfolio Committee have responded at all to the emails addressed to them.

Mkhwebane needs to “own up” and face the consequences

Public Protector Busiswe Mkhwebane has taken to shooting herself in both feet. Her complaint to the Judicial Service Commission regarding the strongly worded judgment of the majority of the Constitutional Court against her, penned by retired Justice Chris Jafta, is so wide of the mark, misconceived and inappropriate that it can best be regarded as a stratagem in a scheme of delaying tactics rather than as a serious complaint.

Her litigation to ward off or delay the long overdue proceedings for her removal from office offends the basic tenets of the rule of law. Finality in litigation ought to be achieved when the highest court in the land has ruled on a matter. While a tenuous procedural right to claim rescission of the final ruling of that court exists, it ought not, in the public interest, hold up the proceedings required by the constitution. The National Assembly has a duty to act diligently and without delay when any Public Protector goes rogue. There is ample evidence that the music needs to be faced without delay and that dilatory skirmishing should not be countenanced by the courts.