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[LISTEN] Did Mkhwebane overstep her mandate on Zille tweets findings?

On Monday, Advocate Busisiwe Mkwebane released a report saying Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s tweet about colonialism violated the Executive Members Ethics Code and the Constitution.

A screengrab of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane appearing before Parliament's Justice committee on 6 March 2018.

CAPE TOWN - The director of the Centre for Constitutional Rights Phephelaphi Dube says there are definite concerns about Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s interpretation of the of the law and a fundamental failure to grasp the precise jurisdiction of the Public Protestor’s office.

If the complaint was about freedom of expression, it should’ve been dealt with by the SA Human Rights Commission, Dube added.

On Monday, Mkwebane released a report saying Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s tweet about colonialism violated the Executive Members Ethics Code.

In 2017, Zille tweeted: “For those claiming that the legacy of colonialism was only negative, they should look at various aspects of South Africa’s development, such as the judiciary and other infrastructure.”

Dube says in terms of the Executive Members Ethics Code, it’s about how public officials conduct themselves, whether there’s any conflict of interest or any kind of maladministration. So on that basis, it would appear Mkhwebane misconstrued her powers and she stepped into an arena which has nothing to do with her office.

LISTEN: Where Zille's tweets on colonialism were an ethics breach?

It’s not the first time that the issue of the powers of the Public Protestor has been questioned. Last year, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said Mkhwebane had no experience running the Public Protector office.

This was after the advocate pronounced that she wanted to change the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy.

“Once again, she’s overstepped that mandate and one would have thought she would have learnt from the Absa Bank Corp,” John Steenhuisen, DA Parliamentary Chief Whip said.

Steenhuisen says the effect of the Public Protector's findings creates a convoluted way to police tweets.

LISTEN: Is Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane fit for office?

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