Despite increasing questions from the public about the ability of Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane to fulfill her role as an independent public protector, Corruption Watch has been prepared to give her the opportunity to settle into a difficult position, and show her willingness to stand up to political pressure under the Zuma administration.

However, after a series of appalling reports emanating from her office and after her performance today before the parliamentary Justice and Correctional Services Committee, Corruption Watch is increasingly persuaded that she should do the honourable thing and resign, or be removed from office through the required parliamentary processes.

David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch, commented: “Recent reports emanating from the public protector demonstrate an extraordinary level of professional incompetence and, of greater concern, a lack of integrity. She has, in the course of her work, not only incurred the displeasure of the public but has suffered the extraordinary rebuke of having a personal costs order imposed on her by the High Court. She is clearly not fit to occupy this high office and must go or be removed.”

Her response to questions about the whitewashing of key political figures implicated in the Estina Dairy Project, and her obdurate refusal to investigate key transgressions, vindicates the view that she should be removed. The Estina Dairy project represents a clear example of her willingness to protect high profile individuals such as Ace Magashule and Mosebenzi Zwane, both of whom are clearly centrally implicated in the Estina project, and whose roles should have been investigated by the public protector. Instead neither Magashule nor Zwane’s names are mentioned in her report.

Through her actions, the public protector has demonstrated the extent to which she has been captured by political interests and is driven by the desire to protect the “big person” at the expense of the “little person,” despite her commitment when assuming office to focus on the most disadvantaged individuals and communities. Instead she did not bother to make contact with any of the emerging farmers who had been prejudiced by the actions of Magashule, Zwane and their cronies, the Guptas.

Corruption Watch urges all South Africans to be concerned at the demise of a key institution that has played a vital role in pursuing, without fear or favour, those involved in state capture, and has made an invaluable contribution to fighting corruption. We call on those in Parliament who share our concerns to begin the process of seeking her removal from office.

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Phemelo Khaas:            083 763 3472

• Image: Flickr / GovernmentZA