President Cyril Ramaphosa has stated that suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has “no right or entitlement in law to return to office” pending the final judgments of the National Assembly committee formed under section 194 of the constitution.
This comes after Mkhwebane posted on X app that on June 9, 2022, Ramaphosa signed a presidential minute confirming his decision to suspend her “pending the completion of the committee’s proceedings.”
Mkhwebane believed that the process had been completed, she said, “The period of suspension defined in the presidential minute issued in terms of section 194 (3) (a), read with section 101 (1) of the constitution, has expired.
“Therefore, and as a matter of courtesy and protocol, advocate Mkhwebane has advised President Ramaphosa that she will be reporting back to work tomorrow morning on Tuesday, September 5 2023.”
On 9 June 2022 the President signed a Presidential Minute recording his decision to suspend the Public Protector,Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane “pending the finalisation of the proceedings/inquiry initiated by the Committee of the National Assembly established in terms of… pic.twitter.com/FirEcfRfEQ
— Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane (@AdvBMkhwebane) September 4, 2023
Meanwhile, in a letter that was addressed to Mkhwebane, President Ramaphosa stated clearly that the committee’s proceedings had not been completed.
“Now that the Committee has adopted its report, the proceedings which were initiated by the Committee will be finalised either when the National Assembly does not adopt a resolution calling for your removal from office; or if the National Assembly does adopt such a resolution, when I act in terms of section 194(3)(b) of the Constitution.
“It is therefore patently clear that the process initiated by the Committee is not completed (as your letter suggests) when the enquiry by the Committee has been finalised,” the President said.
President Ramaphosa further stated that he has not been aware of any resolution passed by the National Assembly, as required by section 194(2) of the Constitution in respect of the matter.
Ramaphosa said, “The National Assembly has therefore not yet completed its part of the process. In the circumstances, you have no right or entitlement in law to return to office pending the decisions.
“In the circumstances, while I thank you for your courtesy in informing me of your intention, your interpretation of the Presidential Minute and my letter is wrong, and your intention to return to office is misconceived.”
Mkhwebane, according to Ramaphosa, also waited until Monday to inform him of her plan to return to work, saying, “Your letter states that you were advised on 24 August 2023 that the Committee had completed its part of the process and that its report would be tabled in the National Assembly.
“You waited until today to inform me of your intention to return to the office tomorrow. Such precipitate action is unjustified on any basis. I do not answer all of the remaining allegations in your letter, and my failure to do so should not be understood as indicating that I agree with them. I do not.”
Despite her plan to return to work on Tuesday, Mkhwebane’s suspension remains in effect, according to the Office of the Public Protector.
“The institution acknowledges the importance of the subject matter and hereby advises that the Public Protector is not an employee of the PPSA. The Public Protector is appointed to office by the President of the Republic of South Africa.
“The Section 194 Committee enquiry is a Parliamentary process, and the PPSA is not a party thereto. Accordingly, in the absence of communication emanating from the President, Adv. Mkhwebane’s suspension remains effective,” it said.
The parliamentary committee investigating Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office issued its final report last week, recommending her permanent dismissal. Mkhwebane is yet to respond to the guilty findings of incompetence and misconduct.
This follows her conviction for misconduct and incompetence. Mkhwebane has sworn to remain in her position and combat the “dark forces” that are “pretending to act in the interests of the constitution.”