Public Protector: I’ve had a rocky start
Genevieve Quintal and SIPHO MABENA | 2017-02-03 06:20:53.0
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. File photo.
Image by: Ruvan Boshoff
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane will oppose President Jacob Zuma’s application to the High Court that it review the State of Capture report compiled by her predecessor, Thuli Madonsela – but she could reverse her position,depending on legal advice.
Speaking to the media yesterday about her first 100 days in office, Mkhwebane said she had filed a notice of her intention to oppose Zuma’s application to comply with court rules.
“In the notice, I clearly indicated that I will [re]consider my position once I have been advised by senior counsel on the legalities of the basis of the application,” she said.
Mkhwebane said this was a complex matter without precedent in South African law.
She said it had been a “bumpy” 16 weeks for her but she had expected as much.
She said that because of the intense interest in who would take over from Madonsela, it was not surprising that her seven-year term had got off to a rocky start.
“What I did not expect was the peddling of half-truths, fabrications, innuendo and vitriol about me.”
Mkhwebane said that she and her team would not be “defocused” by the hostility.
She said she had considering taking the DA to court for alleging that she was a spy.
“I’ve given them enough time to [retract] but unfortunately they have not done that,” Mkhwebane said.
She said that she had no objections to the content of the State of Capture report.
She was taking legal advice on whether to oppose Zuma’s application for a judicial review of the report to make sure that her position was sound.
Of particular interest is what a court would say about a public protector directing a president to appoint a judicial inquiry headed by a specified judge.
In November, Madonsela said an inquiry into the allegations of state capture must be convened and that Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, not Zuma, should appoint the presiding judge.
Zuma has argued that implementing Madonsela’s remedial actions would be an abdication of his constitutional responsibility, rendering a judicial inquiry “unlawful and a nullity”.