By Mbali Sibiya
The Economic Freedom Fighters is calling on Busisiwe Mkhwebane to step down as public protector. This follows her concession that she was wrong to order a change in the South African Reserve Bank’s mandate. The Democratic Alliance maintains Mkhwebane was the wrong candidate for the public protector position from the start.
On Monday evening, she announced that she would not oppose the central bank’s court application to overturn her findings. Mkhwebane made the recommendation in her report on the Reserve Bank’s bailout of Bankcorp. The bank approached the court to review the finding, arguing that a stable currency was essential for economic growth.
Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete and Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba later joined the legal bid against Mkhwebane. The EFF called on Mkhwebane to leave office, describing her recommendations as dangerous.
“We call on her to do the honourable thing and step down,” the party said in a statement. “This is not only for an illegitimate and dangerous remedial action but also for the audacity of offering to use public funds to pay for her incompetent decisions.
“If she really is genuine in her realisation of how flawed her remedial action is, why did she wait for others to initiate a court action? More fundamentally, she should be protecting public funds, not using them wastefully. Thus, if she is genuine, she should be offering to pay these legal costs personally.”
The EFF said Mkhwebane should know that the remedial actions of the public protector are binding.
“Had no one challenged her dangerous remedial action regarding constitutional amendment, she would have basically coerced the whole country into a wrong direction,” the EFF said.
The DA said Mkhwebane should not be the public protector as she does not understand the role of the office. Her admission that she was wrong raised serious questions about her ability to perform independently and that her misunderstanding of the constitution was an indictment on her office.
“The DA has maintained from the start that Mkhwebane was the wrong candidate for the role of public protector. This entire debacle has only strengthened our concern,” the party said.
“There seem to be only one of two possible explanations for this travesty – either Mkhwebane’s understanding of the constitution and the law is so inadequate that she could make such a blatantly flawed recommendation, or she consciously did so in order to further the interests of outside parties. While the first explanation is gravely concerning, the second, far more sinister explanation is something that, if true, should concern us all.”
The DA says Mkhwebane should be held personally liable for the costs of the court application. The party also announced that its leader, Mmusi Maimane, would meet Mkhwebane in the next few weeks to seek answers.