Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has found herself in the news for all the wrong reasons recently, with many of her indiscretions drawing a backlash from both her political opponents and the current government.
She’s been slammed by the likes of Pravin Gordhan and her predecessor Thuli Madonsela this month, and the now-infamous Waterkloof report could be set for scrutiny at the state capture inquiry. But the scandal does not end there for Mkhwebane – her office is now being accused of harassment, intimidation and even spying.
Busisiwe Mkhwebane and her office embroiled in “spying” claims
The shock claims come from the Public Servants Association (PSA). The trade union group have received several complaints about impropriety with regards to the Public Protector and those who serve in her office. The group claims that workers have had sensitive information seized while being unlawfully surveilled.
“The PSA has expressed concern about the Union’s members and shop stewards at the Office of the Public Protector (OPP), who are being victimised and mysteriously investigated by the State Security Agency (SSA).”
“Laptops of shop stewards, containing confidential information related to members’ grievances with the OPP have been confiscated. The allegations ranged from nepotism and irregularities in appointment processes to unfair or discriminatory treatment of employees within the OPP.”
“Confidential information related to politically-linked investigations was allegedly confiscated by the Public Protector’s attorneys. Employees are also being subjected to unlawful surveillance of their cell phones, telephone calls and laptops without any repercussions or reasons for such acts.”
John Steenhuisen vows to oust the Public Protector
The PSA are demanding that Mkhwebane and her office address these serious allegations in a public forum. They aren’t the only ones demanding accountability, either: DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen has also flagged the issue, as his party aim to institute removal proceedings against the office-bearer.
Not only has their request to give Busisiwe the boot been referred to the portfolio committee on Justice and Correctional Services for consideration, but they have also asked House Speaker Thandi Modise to remove the Public Protector, based on the terms set out by Section 194 of the Constitution.
Steenhuisen also confirmed that their initial removal application will now feature a submission based on these claims of spying and harrasment, once they have got in contact with Modise:
“The DA will write to the Speaker, requesting that this additional information from the PSA is also referred to the portfolio committee and that the committee should hear evidence from the PSA on the potential abuse of her office by Mkhwebane. It is in the best interest of all that she is removed from [her position].”