Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane has filed an urgent bid in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday 4 February to “challenge the lawfulness and constitutionality of the rules which the national assembly is to rely upon”.

Earlier reports have suggested that Mkhwebane filed the interdict to avoid her removal. However, she has stressed that she has “no problem with the inquiry, so long as the rules are lawful”.  

Speaking to the public protector’s spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, it was stated that Mkhwebane is only asking that the process unfolding in parliament be halted temporarily until the concerns she has with the rules are ironed out. 

“She [Mkhwebane] just wants a fair process that will not unduly prejudice her,” said Segalwe.

He went on to confirm that the case is against the National Assembly speaker. “Several parties, including political parties represented in parliament and other Chapter 9 institutions, are cited as parties in the papers to the extent that they are interested parties, but no order is sought against them.” 

Mkhwebane contradicts herself 

Mkhwebane has stated that her interdict was not to prevent her removal. However, as seen in the court papers that were sent to TheSouthAfrican.com, she cannot help but refer to her potential removal as being outrageous. 

Cited directly from her affadavit, Mkhwebane said: “It is the very first time ever, in our young democracy that a serious attempt is being made to remove and dethrone the head of a watchdog institution by impeachment”.

The public protector also stated that taking accountability involves making it “very difficult for politicians to control and remove, at a whim, those who are entrusted with the role of being the watchdogs of the public”. 

What are the public protector’s concerns? 

Mkhwebane has called on the court for those respondents and their members who are conflicted, to be identified and stopped from participating in the process aimed at her removal from office. 

The “watchdog” is also asking the court for an order forcing National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise to provide her with reasons for her decision to approve the motion by acting DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone, to remove her from office.

“I merely request that the process for my removal and/or possible suspension be delayed until the finalisation of the main application.”

Mkhwebane then tackled the Democratic Alliance (DA) saying that she was elected as the public protector by everyone except them. Since then, she claims they have made multiple baseless allegations against her.

She claims their first malicious attempt was accusing her of being a “spy” — and when that didn’t work — the blue party allegedly went on to call her incompetent and “not fit to hold her position in office”.

The accusation of incompetence by the DA is “demonstrably false, baseless and malicious”.Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane

She later cited statistics, including that, since her appointment, her office has finalised 40 240 complaints out of 55 429 that was lodged. In addition, only three out of 135 investigation reports have been successfully reviewed (four were successfully defended).

“If I were to be judged according to these statistics, my performance is clearly above board and excellent. This is coupled with the fact that for successive years, I have received clean audits from the auditor-general.” Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s affidavit

“How the National Assembly and the speaker should discharge their constitutional responsibilities and duties, and whether in a particular case they did so properly, lies at the heart of this matter. So too does the constitutional values of democracy, fairness, ubuntu and the rule of law but, above all, accountability,” she added.