Sun, 22 Sep 2019

The DA's outgoing federal executive chairperson James Selfe says the party has been warned that it cannot just rely on adverse court findings against embattled Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to have her booted out of office.

He was commenting on the ongoing matter during a media briefing at the DA's headquarters in Johannesburg on Saturday, following a two-day federal executive committee meeting.

The party, which was the only one to take a stand when Mkhwebane was appointed as former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's successor in 2016, has not only been one of her most vocal critics but has constantly called for an inquiry into her fitness to hold office.

In July, the speaker of Parliament, Thandi Modise, referred the DA's request to the justice portfolio committee for consideration but she has since received a letter from the Public Protector threatening court action if Parliament pushed on with a bid to remove her from office.

The Public Protector argued that Modise's request to the committee to consider the DA's request violated the Constitution.

While, the Constitution provides grounds for the removal of a Public Protector, Parliament itself had not adopted any rules about how the process should be governed.

"We have obtained a legal opinion about that and it is of the effect that we ought to give serious attention to the process the committee follows, because we cannot simply move in despite all the adverse findings against the [Public Protector] and assume because of that, she is unfit to hold office," Selfe told journalists.

Mkhwebane has lost a series of court battles challenging some of the reports released by her office and some involve cost orders in which she was found personally liable for some of the legal costs.

Just last week, the Gauteng High Court in the Pretoria ruled that she must pay costs in a case relating to her investigation into the multimillion-rand Estina dairy farm scandal.

She has also been labelled "dishonest" by the highest court in the land - the Constitutional Court.

Selfe said under her watch, the Public Protector's office, which is tasked with developing an accountable democracy, had been reduced to "an arm of a certain faction within the ANC".

"Mkhwebane lacks both the impartiality and technical ability required to justify her continued occupation of the role of Public Protector, and there is little evidence to suggest otherwise. She must be removed at once," said Selfe.

He told journalists the federal executive reiterated the party's view on Mkhwebane and the need for her to go as soon as possible.

"The first order of business is to persuade the justice committee to adopt that process and once it has done so, follow that process in relation to the inquiry into her fitness to hold office," said Selfe.

"We hope the justice committee will get to work as soon as possible on that," he added.

18 months of business as usual

"No one can deny that South Africa's economic crisis," said DA leader Mmusi Maimane. This as his federal executive works out an economic recovery plan it believes can save the country.

Maimane made public some of the ideas relating to the party's recovery plan during a media briefing at the DA's Nkululeko House headquarters in Bruma on Saturday following the 2-day federal executive committee meeting.

He told journalists it was a plan the DA would put forward when Parliament holds an urgent debate on the country's economy next month.

Maimane criticised President Cyril Ramaphosa, saying he held onto a "business-as-usual" attitude since taking over as South Africa's president last year, only putting forward summits, talk shops and roadshows, which the DA leader described as "doses of economic gimmicks" that have not produced a bold reform plan.

"Many of the citizens in our country are living in fear. They fear where the next job is going to come from, they fear the fact that their children will not be able to participate in the economy of our country," said Maimane.

He said the DA s greatest preoccupation was the spiralling decline of the South African economy and finding ways to create opportunities for those outside of the economy.

Some of the ideas suggested by Maimane included: splitting electricity provider Eskom into two separate entities, placing SAA under business rescue and then selling it off, passing the DA's jobs bill, which gives incentives to foreign companies who invested in the country, a review of government spending, tax incentives for sectors that create the most employment opportunities and introducing a voluntary civil service year for young people.

Maimane says these had the ability to "shock" the country's economy, reviving it and bringing in an era of rapid economic growth.

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