President Cyril Ramaphosa has suspended Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane pending the completion of a parliamentary inquiry into her fitness to hold office.
The suspension follows submissions Mkhwebane made to Ramaphosa, a statement from the Presidency said on Thursday (9 June).
Busisiwe Mkhwebane suspended
“In considering each element of the Public Protector’s submissions carefully, the President has taken into account the nature of the Public Protector’s office and his own Constitutional obligations,” the statement added.
“Section 2A (7) of the Public Protector Act states that whenever the Public Protector is, for any reason unable to perform the functions of his or her office, or while the appointment of a person to the office of Public Protector is pending, the Deputy Public Protector shall perform such functions.
“The absence of Advocate Mkhwebane from office will therefore not impede the progress of any investigations that are pending or underway.”
The Presidency said Ramaphosa’s decision to suspend Mkhwebane is “the best manner” to fulfil his constitutional obligation “to act in the best interest of the country, in compliance with the Constitution and mindful of the need to protect all Constitutional institutions.”
The suspension comes just a day after Mkhwebane confirmed that her office has started a new investigation into whether or not Ramaphosa has breached the Executive Code of Ethics.
The new investigation follows a complaint by African Transformation Movement (ATM) leader Vuyo Zungula and relates to allegations that Ramaphosa concealed a February 2020 theft of an alleged $4 million at his Phala Phala farm in Limpopo.
Mkhwebane has fought against both the suspension and parliamentary inquiry in the courts to no avail. According to a News24 report on Wednesday, she has now approached the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights for redress.
She claims the Republic of South Africa has violated her rights by seeking to remove her from office, and is thus seeking R50 million in compensation.
“The matter is so important to the human dignity of the complainant [Mkhwebane] and is in the interest of justice, and that of the complainant, that the hearing of this complaint be on [an] urgent basis,” Mkhwebane reportedly states in her application.
The inquiry against her was initiated by the Democratic Alliance (DA), which argues that she is incompetent following numerous adverse court rulings against her, some with personal cost orders.