After keeping a tone of civility during the election campaign, John Steenhuisen has brushed off his acid tongue to re-emphasise the grievances he and his party have with Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Busisiwe Mkhwebane and the Vrede Dairy Farm
The North Gauteng High Court delivered a devastating blow Mkhwebane earlier this week, when they ruled her findings on the Vrede Dairy Farm case were “unconstitutional”. The report has been blasted as a whitewash, and omits key figures like the Guptas – despite the fact it was their money-laundering scheme.
The judgement has severely undermined Mkhwebane’s authority, and her popularity with opposition parties has reached an all-time low. In fact, the DA have already given newly-elected house speaker Thandi Modise a job on her first official day of business – they have asked her to institute removal proceedings against the public protector.
Public Protector in John Steenhuisen’s cross hairs
John Steenhuisen is the DA’s chief whip, and although he’s in charge of regulating the behaviour of his fellow party members, he also wants Busisiwe Mkhwebane to face some accountability. He’s labelled her knowledge of the law “poor”, and blasted her for a series of blunders:
“Over the past three years, Mkhwebane compromised the integrity of the Office of the Public Protector by showing a poor understanding of both the law as well as of her own powers. In addition to this, she has also brought the independence of her office into question.”
“The Public Protector’s office has not only stumbled from one blunder to the next, but the public has now also lost faith in her ability to competently and fairly represent their best interests and for these reasons, she must be removed.”
Those “blunders” include laying criminal charges against her predecessor Thuli Madonsela, and single-handedly destroying the value of the rand when she suggested amending the constitution to reclaim misappropriated funds from the apartheid era.
How can Busisiwe Mkhwebane be removed as public protector?
According to Section 194 of the Constitution, the Public Protector may be removed from office on a finding of “misconduct, incapacity or incompetence” by a committee of the National Assembly.
If a resolution gets adopted, the house will vote on a motion to remove Busisiwe Mkhwebane from office. In order to successfully get her out, it would require two-thirds of MPs to vote against her. That would mean roughly 100 ANC representatives would have to vote against one of their own.