OUTA calls on National Assembly to act swiftly and fire Mkhwebane

South Africans deserve swift action to maintain confidence in our democratic systems after a protracted investigation into suspended Public Protector’s competency.

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24/08/2023 14:17:19

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OUTA calls on National Assembly to act swiftly and fire Mkhwebane

“A resounding victory for accountability”. This is how Adv Stefanie Fick, OUTA's Executive Head of Accountability, described the adoption of the final report by the Section 194 committee which found Busisiwe Mkhwebane guilty of misconduct and incompetence. 

The committee, which started its work in July last year, recommended that Mkhwebane be removed from her position as Public Protector. Her fate is now in the hands of the National Assembly. 

In September 2019, OUTA petitioned the Speaker of the National Assembly calling for an inquiry into Mkhwebane’s conduct and competence to hold office.  

OUTA’s initial submission was based on the belief that Mkhwebane has failed in her constitutional duty towards the citizens of South Africa, and that she has brought an important Chapter 9 Institution into disrepute through all the negative court findings against her. 

We also filed a charge of perjury against Mkhwebane, based on the Constitutional Court's findings during her appeal against a personal costs order arising from her report on the SA Reserve Bank. The Concourt found that she had misled the court, presenting “a number of falsehoods” including misrepresentations under oath. Perjury involves the unlawful and intentional making of a false statement during a judicial process.

Judge Elias Matojane from the Pretoria High Court furthermore said in a judgment that the court found that Mkhwebane not only committed “material misdirection in her legal approach but also reached an irrational and unlawful conclusion on the facts before her”.

OUTA also made several further submissions to parliament regarding her conduct on findings related to the Estina Dairy Project, Phumelela Gaming and Leisure, ABSA and a previous Minister of Water and Sanitation. Furthermore, we filed an application to demand access to documents the Public Protector used in her report which exonerated David Mabuza of procurement irregularities while he was premier of Mpumalanga. 

Adv Fick says the Section 194 Committee's findings validate OUTA's concerns. “The adoption of the report finding Mkhwebane guilty on all charges underscores the urgency for action to preserve South Africa's constitutional values.”

However, OUTA remains deeply critical of the protracted process that has delayed addressing these serious issues. “Such delays have undermined the credibility of an essential Chapter 9 Institution. The citizens of this nation deserve a quick and efficient resolution to maintain confidence in our democratic systems. It is time for Parliament to act decisively and ensure accountability prevails," Fick says.

OUTA calls upon the National Assembly to prioritise the interests of the citizens and take swift action to remove Mkhwebane from office. “Even though she is nearing the end of her term, she cannot be allowed to stay in the position any longer. The country stands at a critical political crossroads, and the credibility of an essential Chapter 9 Institution hangs in the balance. We need a firm and swift decision to bring an end to this matter.” 

Fick reiterates that OUTA remains steadfast in its commitment to holding public officials accountable and ensuring that Chapter 9 Institutions fulfill their mandate to serve the people. “We will closely monitor the subsequent steps in this process and continue advocating for a transparent and fair resolution to this matter. South Africans have paid dearly for the Public Protector’s legal mistakes – we cannot be expected to pay her gratuity as well.”

More information

More information and supporting documents can be found here

A soundclip from Adv Stefanie Fick can be found here.

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