After major court defeats, will Mkhwebane be axed as Public Protector in 2021?

This year marks the real turning point in her controversial tenure as one of the country’s top corruption busters.

FILE: Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

CAPE TOWN - It’s been a terrible year for Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane whose job is now on the line as she finds herself in Parliament’s cross hairs.

Mkhwebane is no stranger to the courts and has fought numerous court battles since her appointment.

But this year marks the real turning point in her controversial tenure as one of the country’s top corruption busters.

READ: 8 legal challenges that overturned Mkhwebane’s reports and findings

Mkhwebane’s 2020 has been marked by two major court defeats.

The most recent related to the now infamous Sars so-called ‘rogue unit’ report that saw her find against Pravin Gordhan.

The Pretoria High Court found in December that she had acted outside her jurisdiction and relied on a discredited report.

“We are satisfied that the report is a product of a wholly irrational process bereft of any sound legal or factual basis,” said Gordhan’s lawyer Tebogo Malatji.

“And this is what we have been saying all along.”

ALSO READ: Mkhwebane's report into Gordhan, Sars ‘rogue' unit set aside

The second major defeat for the year relates to her Western Cape High Court case.

She’d approached the courts to stop a parliamentary inquiry into her fitness to hold office.

The inquiry stems from a complaint laid by DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone.

“The Speaker this year very importantly granted the DA’s request to have a motion of no confidence moved against the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane. That committee is currently sitting and have asked for an extension of their work.”

With the court ruling, the way was clear for Parliament to appoint an independent panel to investigate the complaint.


In November National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise announced a three-member panel that will decide whether or not Mkhwebane has a case to answer.

The panel consists of Justice Bess Nkabinde, Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza SC and Advocate Johan De Waal SC.

READ: Modise announces 3-member panel to decide on Mkhwebane’s fate as Public Protector

In early December the independent panel was granted an extension to do its work.

The panel asked that the 30-day period prescribed in the rules for it to conduct the inquiry be extended to 90 days – effective from 25 November.

It’s already held its first meeting.

This means the first two months of 2021 will be critical for Mkhwebane’s survival as the panel receives and considers submissions during its investigation.

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