In an unprecedented turn of events, President Cyril Ramaphosa has taken the historic step of dismissing Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, the head of a Chapter 9 institution in South Africa.
This significant development marks the first time in the nation’s history that the leader of such an institution has been ousted from office.
Parliament’s Debate and Resolution
The culmination of this extraordinary action can be traced back to a debate in the National Assembly on September 11th, during which the Section 194 Committee’s Report was extensively discussed.
An overwhelming majority of more than 300 Members of Parliament voted in favor of the removal of Busisiwe Mkhwebane from her position as the Public Protector.
DA’s Motion and Grounds for Removal
The genesis of this process can be found in February 2020 when the Democratic Alliance (DA) in Parliament initiated a motion to institute removal proceedings against Mkhwebane.
This motion was rooted in a series of scathing court judgments that had been issued against her, particularly pertaining to her conduct during various investigations, including the high-profile Estina Dairy probe.
Parliament’s Action and Committee Formation
March 2021 marked a significant milestone when Parliament voted in favor of establishing the Section 194 Committee.
This decision came after the adoption of a report compiled by a panel of experts.
The report concluded that there were substantial grounds to investigate the fitness of the Public Protector to hold office.
By August 2023, the Section 194 Committee, chaired by Qubudile Dyantyi, reached a critical juncture in its deliberations.
The committee found compelling evidence to sustain charges of misconduct and incompetence against Busisiwe Mkhwebane during her tenure as the Public Protector.
President Ramaphosa’s Formal Action
In a letter dated September 12th, President Cyril Ramaphosa invoked Section 194(3)(b) of the Constitution, which mandates the removal of the Public Protector when the National Assembly adopts a resolution for such removal.
The President, in his official capacity, communicated the decision to Mkhwebane, citing grounds of misconduct and incompetence as the basis for her removal from the Office of the Public Protector.
This historic dismissal underscores the significance of institutional accountability and adherence to the rule of law in South Africa.
It reflects the willingness of the nation’s leadership to address concerns of misconduct and incompetence within key public offices.
The repercussions and implications of this unprecedented action are poised to shape the future landscape of Chapter 9 institutions and their leaders in the country.
The removal of Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane from her position as the Public Protector marks a watershed moment in South African governance and legal history.
President Ramaphosa’s decisive action, following Parliament’s resounding vote, underscores the commitment to upholding the principles of accountability and transparency in public office.
The fallout and future developments in the wake of this historic decision will be closely watched as South Africa navigates the implications of this landmark event.