Public Protector furnishes the President with reasons why her suspension is neither due nor lawful
Public Protector Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane would like to confirm that she wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday, May 26, 2022, setting out the reasons she believes he should not place her on suspension. This was in response to a letter President Ramaphosa wrote to her on March 17, 2022.
Adv. Mkhwebane’s correspondence was, however, sent under protest. She reserves her rights in this regard. This is based on her belief that the letter in question will only be due after a decision on her two-part application in the Western Cape High Court in which President Ramaphosa, Chairperson of the Section 194 Committee Mr Richard Dyantyi and Speaker of the National Assembly Hon. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula are among the respondents.
In Part A of the application, in which judgment is reserved, Adv. Mkhwebane seeks an interim relief interdicting President Ramaphosa, Mr Dyantyi and Hon. Mapisa-Nqakula from proceeding with the mooted suspension. In Part B, which has yet to be heard by a differently constituted court, she seeks an order declaring the conduct of President Ramaphosa, Mr Dyantyi and Hon. Mapisa-Nqakula in respect of the impeachment process unconstitutional, unlawful, null and void.
Adv. Mkhwebane holds a strong view that President Ramaphosa is precluded from playing any role in her suspension primarily because he is conflicted and that, in any event, the powers to suspend as envisaged in section 194(3)(a) of the Constitution will only be triggered after the start of the removal proceedings, which has not yet happened.
President Ramaphosa’s conflict stems from the pending litigation relating to the Bosasa/CR17 bank statements matter and the multiple Public Protector investigations in which the President is heavily implicated. The President has previously conceded, under oath, in proceedings before the Western Cape High Court, that he is indeed conflicted. This was in respect of another Bosasa/CR17 court case.
The very questions of conflict are at the heart of the pending decision of the Western Cape High Court in both Part A and B of Adv. Mkhwebane’s application referred to above. She is of the view that any suspension before the finalisation of these processes would undermine the independence of the judiciary and amount to or border on the criminal offence of contempt of court.