Ramaphosa Suspends Mkhwebane With Immediate Effect
President Cyril Ramaphosa has suspended public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane with immediate effect.
The presidency announced on Thursday that Mkhwebane would be suspended until the impeachment process in parliament was completed. The impeachment hearings are set to begin on July 11.
Ramaphosa had given Mkhwebane ample time and opportunity to submit his submissions, taking into account “the nature of the public protector’s office and his own constitutional obligations.” The constitution provided that if the public protector was unable to perform her duties for any reason, her deputy would do so.
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“The absence of advocate Mkhwebane from office will therefore not impede the progress of any investigations that are pending or under way.”
Despite Mkhwebane’s attempts to litigate to prevent her suspension, the decision was made. A decision from the Western Cape High Court is pending in which she sought an interim interdict to prevent her suspension.
Mkhwebane had been given until May 26 to provide reasons why she should not be suspended. In a statement that day, she mentioned her reasons “under protest.”
She stated that Ramaphosa was precluded from playing any role in her suspension because he had a conflict of interest and that his power of suspension would only be activated after the start of impeachment proceedings, which she claimed had not yet begun in law.
Though several steps have been taken to investigate Mkhwebane’s possible impeachment, she has argued in court that the “proceedings” have not yet begun.
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On Wednesday, the public protector confirmed that her office was investing a complaint filed against Ramaphosa regarding his “alleged conduct in relation to allegations of criminal activity at one of his properties.” Vuyo Zungula, MP for ATM, filed the complaint.
However, the statement stated that the public protector was the only institution with the authority to enforce it. The public protector must investigate any complaint received under the code, according to the statement.
The presidency said on Thursday that both Ramaphosa and Mkhwebane were obligated to act in the best interest of the country “in compliance with the constitution and mindful of the need to protect all constitutional institutions. The president’s decision to suspend advocate Mkhwebane is the best manner to fulfil these obligations.”
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