Is the public protector on borrowed time? The long-standing public discomfort that the Democratic Alliance (DA) expressed, is now a full-blown war declared against Advocate Busi Mkhwebane.
The DA, supported by some opposition parties, seeks to have Parliament remove Mkhwebane from public office even if it means violating the principle of democracy. It seeks to do so with claims of her incompetency, assisted by a court ruling against her.
Mkhwebane was never the DA’s choice for the public protector’s office. It never afforded her the necessary space and time to come into her own right. It also continued to accuse her of bias to its public-enemy-number-one, former President Jacob Zuma. The so-called respect it had for her predecessor never manifested. The DA’s fight against this Chapter 9 Institution office holder intensified with her findings on ABSA and the South African Reserve Bank.
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, Mathole Motshekga this week admitted, “There is currently no basis for Parliament to say we have a public protector that is not fit to hold office.” The committee led by this claim of its chairperson decided to afford the public protector an opportunity to respond to the DA’s submission against her fitness to hold office.
While the DA appears to have lost this round, its plan will ultimately succeed. Hardly because she is unfit, nor because she has committed a crime, but due to the fact that the DA continues to exert control over spaces it has little to show for in terms of voting mandate. It will succeed because the ANC in parliament’s context is preoccupied with corruption, defined in Zuma’s presidency, and anything else is not a priority.
What then is the ardent crime Mkhwebane may have committed? Contrary to what we have heard, Mkhwebane’s crime is her refusal to let the public protector’s office be a political office and player in the daily party-political jabs the opposition has come to use as a strategy to secure governance power. Mkhwebane committed the unpardonable sin of finding against the DA’s Helen Zille for her irresponsible tweets on colonialism. Advocate Mkhwebane summed up her claim with these words: “…So I think that perception that you cannot find against a certain person… I don’t think we should encourage that sort of behaviour as a country. I think we need to make sure that we respect the law if there is a complaint against them.”
As far as the DA and its chief-whip John Steenhuizen is concerned, Advocate Mkhwebane is guilty as charged and deserves no right to be heard, the ongoing agony of so many black executives in South Africa that are guilty in the court of media opinion. From that exacted guilty verdict, the justice committee, therefore, must act and recommend to Parliament to have her shown the door.
When Mkhwebane is fired it will be less for any incompetence or even the findings of a court order she has appealed. We also know courts in the daily sense rule on matters and those ruled against as jurist are seldom considered incompetent or actively engaging in misconduct. Mkwhebane will be fired because the DA continues to act as the real political power, ascribing itself the inalienable right to know what and who is good for South Africa. It does so by controlling the cudgels of discourse, a space the where the ANC is absent and evidently has no time and energy to be a part of. It is too busy fighting capital-sponsored personal fights at an organisational level to be leading a discussion as to how disingenuous the DA’s claim against Advocate Mkhwebane is.
The DA’s crafted narrative, borne out in many instances, of seeking blacks removed from high office is anchored in its fundamental conviction that blacks are not fit to lead. Its campaign of declaring blacks unfit continues to claim victories and the public protector will ultimately be a part of that statistic.
On the surface, it looks like the DA ’s focus is on proving individuals incompetent as a means to demand the best for SA, however the essential issue is its drive to prove the apartheid black identity incompetent as a general rule. For the record, the DA has never questioned anyone to whom apartheid extended a white identity. No one in any office of government or state-owned enterprise.
It has not done so in the general sense or even in an ANC sense. As much as the DA may abhor the ANC it will never question a white minister or deputy minister or any ANC-appointed white CEO. It cannot find whites incompetent, because that would derail its earlier stated overarching agenda.
The blacks the DA want in office must be blacks approved by the DA. The DA would have behaved exactly the same towards Mkhwebane’s predecessor had she not been prepared to listen to them, afford them space until her cases adopted the focus and central aim of the DA led-narrative of a corrupt ANC and SA president.
Lindiwe Mazibuko was a good black for as long as she shouted “Zuma must go”. When she began to question the ideological thrust of the DA on employment equity she became a problem. Mmusi Maimane was celebrated as the Obama of South Africa when he told Parliament about a broken president Zuma. The moment he sobered up and began to see white privilege as inseparable to black poverty he was questioned.
Advocate Thuli Madonsela, the former public protector, became for the DA a deity because in its understanding she was a good black, who worked with and for the DA agenda. She never in an unequivocal sense challenged the DA for playing political games.
Why then would Mkhwebane ultimately be shown the door? The ANC in this season is super-sensitive to what the media has to say. We know the media is credited and praised for unveiling of the extent of state capture. The ANC often takes its line of direction from what the media directs. With an eye on a national election earmarked for 2019, and its new drive to deal with corruption, Mkhwebane will fall as part of a new public relations clean-up exercise. A drive to rid the public office of anything remotely associated with former President Jacob Zuma – which is for some is the be-and-end-all of corruption in the ANC.
The DA’s strategy and campaign to prove black people incompetent is a meticulous and sophisticated campaign that really seeks to direct government appointments when it does not officially govern as trusted by the ballot. It has over time managed to get the ANC to doubt itself and play second fiddle.
The sad reality is the ANC is caught up in battles of comrades destroying one another at an individual level and blinded to what is really happening. Also, factions in the ANC have decided that they are the real ANC, and above reproach, and that their opponents are corrupt to the core. They use this DA-led campaign and agenda to fight one another in the name of ANC renewal, in the name of who can save the ANC and claim a messianic role for this era.
South Africa’s fourth public protector, Advocate Mkhwebane, will proverbially be downed by a political stray bullet fired from a DA weapon. The trigger will be pulled by a media-swayed ANC in Parliament.