Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Parliament approves Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s nomination to become new public protector

Parliament on Wednesday approved Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s nomination to replace outgoing Thuli Madonsela as public protector, a top anti-corruption position whose findings have vexed the scandal-tinged President Jacob Zuma.

Mkhwebane (46), a lawyer whose most recent job was with the State Security Agency (SSA), has also worked as a director at home affairs and as an immigration official in China.

Madonsela led high-profile investigations that subjected Zuma and other government officials to unwelcome scrutiny. 

Mkhwebane’s nomination was approved with 263 votes in favour, 79 against and 1 abstention. Her name will now go to Zuma for his assent, which is likely after she was backed overwhelmingly by the ANC.

If approved, she would replace Madonsela, whose seven-year, non-renewable term ends in October. The public protector has a constitutional mandate to investigate misconduct and abuse in state affairs.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) declined to support Mkhwebane due to her work with the SSA, which has responsibility for civilian intelligence operations, saying this could prevent her from taking on cases implicating senior government officials.

“The public protector cannot be seen to be even remotely connected to the SSA,” Glynnis Breytenbach, the DA’s shadow minister of justice said without elaborating.

Corruption Watch, an NGO that focuses on graft issues, applauded the Parliament committee that recommended Mkhwebane and said in August it was satisfied “that the final candidate got the job on merit and not for any other reason”.

During her interview in August, Mkhwebane said she was apolitical, had no criminal record and was unbiased.

Analysts said Mkhwebane, who has worked as a senior investigator in the public protector’s office, will have a tough act to follow.

Madonsela won acclaim after investigating major scandals in South Africa.

“Her integrity will be tested immediately,” said political analyst Nic Borain.

“There are cases looming, the most obvious one is the state capture allegations and quite soon her ability to stand above the politics of her job will be tested very quickly and we have to wait and see how she performs.”

In one of her most high-impact investigations in 2014, Madonsela found Zuma had included in a R248-million “security upgrade” to his rural Nkandla home a raft of non-security items including a swimming pool and amphitheatre.

She said Zuma should pay back the cost of those items, and her view was supported in March by South Africa’s highest court, which said Zuma had broken the law by ignoring Madonsela’s order. Zuma has since said he will pay back some of the money.

Madonsela has said she is investigating whether Zuma allowed a wealthy business family, the Gupta family, to decide on Cabinet appointments. Both Zuma and the Guptas have denied the accusations made by the opposition. – Reuters

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Wendell Roelf
Wendell Roelf has over 48 followers on Twitter.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

‘The children cannot cope any more’: Suicide in Calvinia highlights...

How Covid-19 has intensified the physical and emotional burdens placed on children’s shoulders.

Capitec Bank flies high above Viceroy’s arrow

The bank took a knock after being labelled a loan shark by the short seller, but this has not stymied its growth

More top stories

If the inflation-driving supply strain in the US lasts, it...

In South Africa, a strong trade surplus, buoyed by robust commodity prices, will cushion our economy against pressure arising from US policy

Covid-19: No vaccine booster shots needed yet

Scientists agree it is important to get most of the population vaccinated before giving booster jabs

The convenient myth of an Africa spared from Covid-19

There are few, if any, studies to support Pfizer chief executive’s assertion that the global south would be more vaccine-hesitant than the north
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×