NEWS

10 Times Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane Made Headlines For The Wrong Reasons

From changing channels to Gupta TV to clearing out Thuli Madonsela's staff, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has put her own stamp on her new job.

26/12/2016 15:32 SAST | Updated 02/02/2017 12:05 SAST

When Parliament was searching for Thuli Madonsela's successor, there was an anxious wait for the name and, when Busisiwe Mkhwebane was announced as the new Public Protector, there were mixed feelings about her. Now recent occurrences at Mkhwebane's office have raised a lot of eyebrows. These are some of the problems.

1) One of the first things she did when she took office was to change the channel on the office TVs from eNCA to Gupta-owned ANN7.

2) Shortly after Madonsela's explosive State of Capture report was released and the then Eskom CEO Brian Molefe — who was heavily fingered in it — resigned, Mkhwebane said that his departure was a great loss for the public sector. "I mean honestly it's a loss for the country."

3) Mkhwebane lodged a criminal complaint against Madonsela. She said the move was to "protect the credibility" of her office. The charge related to the leaking of recorded interviews including that of Madonsela and President Jacob Zuma.

4) She was accused of lying. Yep, former ANC Member of Parliament Vytjie Mentor called out Mkhwebane for claiming that she had laid a complaint against Madonsela.

"I was a whistle-blower. I was the first person to be interviewed by Thuli [Madonsela]. I have also been defending her on my Facebook wall. Why would I lay a complaint against her?" said Mentor.

5) She sent Madonsela's chief of staff packing and he was marched out of the building over claims he was a threat to her security. Bonginkosi Dhlamini said the new Public Protector sent her bouncers to usher him out. Dhlamini was shifted from his position when Mkhwebane took over and was temporarily moved to the office of the CEO as the senior manager: strategy support. His employment was then terminated in December and Mkhwebane offered to settle the remainder of the months on his contract.

6) She fired a former special advisor who in turn took her to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). She lost the case and was ordered to pay Janine Hicks for the duration of her contract for unfairly dismissing her. Hicks worked on contract in the private office of then Public Protector Thuli Madonsela until Mkhwebane took over.

7) Mkhwebane threatened to withdraw South Africa's hosting of an African ombuds' conference if her predecessor was invited. She allegedly told the secretariat of the African Ombudsman and Mediators' Association (Aoma) that the country — along with the African Ombudsman Research Centre, based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal — would not host the organisation's conference if it invited Madonsela.

She, however, refuted the report saying it was baseless and mentioned that new heads wanted to appoint their own people.

8) Mkhwebane faces more legal trouble as Dhlamini heads to the CCMA to challenge the termination of his contract.

9) She cancelled a staffer's trip leaving her stranded, in Durban after ordering the cancellation of her accommodation and return flight. Former journalist Belinda Moses, a member of the Public Protector's office's communications team, had accommodation booked for a week so she could work at the Aoma general assembly in Durban, but it is believed that Mkhwebane was not happy with her presence there.

10) On February 2, 2017, Mkhwebane confirmed a HuffPost SA report that one of the key investigators into the Nkandla report had handed in her resignation. She claimed advocate Nkebe Kanyane had left for a better offer. The Nkandla report, Secure in Comfort, was produced in March 2014 under Mkhwebane's popular predecessor Thuli Madonsela.