Mixed reaction to Mkhwebane’s first 100 days in office
\n Neo Goba | 2017-01-24 17:33:32.0\n \n \n \n \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n \n\n \n\n\n \n \n
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\n \n \n \n Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane the new Public Protector. File photo \n \n \n \n
Image by: MOELETSI MABE\n \n \n \n
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\n There has been mixed reaction from various stakeholders to Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s first 100 days in office.\n
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Mkhwebane‚ who succeeded Thuli Madonsela‚ not only met the criteria to become the head of South Africa’s most trusted office‚ but also enjoyed the most support for the position across political parties.
There was strong support from the African National Congress for Mkhwebane‚ with Members of Parliament (MPs) noting the seven years she spent as an investigator in the Office of the Public Protector and that she was a woman.
Mkhwebane was among five candidates shortlisted from 14 to take on the job. She came out on top‚ beating Judge Siraj Desai‚ Professor Bongani Majola‚ Muvhango Lukhaimane and Sharise Weiner‚ who were all gunning for the top job.
“It’s a superficial perception that one has at this time but I think she has really been struggling to find her direction between the obvious pressures on her to counter Thuli Madonsela’s legacy‚ pressures on her to help resurrect the president and obviously the ABSA saga goes into that category as well‚” said Professor Suzan Booysen from the Wits School of Governance.
Booysen described Mkhwebane as an individual who played her cards too close to her chest – missing an opportunity to prove her detractors wrong – which attests to what the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema accused her off on Monday.
“Instead‚ she has conformed pretty well to the expectations that she would protect the president and profiling these issues that would help resurrect the legacy for Zuma. So far‚ the impression she has given is that she is thoroughly in the business of building a presidential Zuma legacy.
“We have not yet seen evidence of her asserting an independent profile but perhaps there’s something brewing under the surface that are in the first 100 days‚” said Booysen.
The professor also pointed out that the Public Protector has been “pretty diplomatic” in how she does her work‚ “although actions speak louder than words”.
On Monday‚ Malema told reporters at the party’s headquarters that supporting Mkhwebane to become Madonsela’s successor was a terrible mistake.
“That one is a puppet from [the] Gupta’s kitchen and they planted her there. I said we must give her a chance [but] she is proving without fail that she has been sent there to destroy that office‚” Malema asserted.
Her first real test was how big a fight she put up when she submitted her responding affidavit to the applications to interdict the release of the State of Capture report.
On Monday‚ the Helen Suzman Foundation released a statement saying Mkhwebane’s integrity was put to the test when the Presidency applied to interdict the release of the report. The foundation said her decision not to oppose the court interdict raised the first troubling question.
Public Protector spokesperson Oupa Segwale declined to answer questions sent to him and said Mkhwebane plans to hold a media conference soon to report on her first 100 days in office and details will be communicated in due cause.
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