The ANC has thrown its weight behind Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, saying a parliamentary inquiry into her fitness to hold office is nothing but an "opportunistic witch-hunt".
In a statement on Wednesday, the governing party said it views the intention of Parliament's portfolio committee on justice and correctional services to institute an inquiry into Mkhwebane in "a very dim light", believing it to be an "opportunist exercise requested by the opposition for political expediency".
She has chosen to focus her attention on serving the masses of our people rather than solely conducting Hollywood-style investigations. -- The ANC
"Disagreement or discomfort with the investigations and outcomes of investigations of the Public Protector does not render the incumbent unfit for office, it simply means the aggrieved party does not agree and should therefore seek other remedies, including judicial review of the public protector's rulings," the party said.
"During her [Mkhwebane's] tenure, she has chosen to focus her attention on serving the masses of our people rather than solely conducting Hollywood-style investigations. Further, she has dared to question the mandate of the Reserve Bank and called upon Absa, successor to apartheid-era bank Bankorp to repay monies lent to them by the Reserve Bank."
The ANC said Mkhwebane had clearly rattled cages and unsettled "entrenched interests" and that, as per the Constitution, the Public Protector may only be removed from office on the grounds of misconduct, incapacity or incompetence -- which the ANC believes she is not guilty of.
"[Mkhwebane] has been at the receiving end of a concerted campaign to discredit her since her appointment almost a year ago. The proposed inquiry is merely a witch-hunt designed by the opposition to intimidate her into silence and bend her to their warped views on what constitutes the work of the Public Protector," the party said.
The DA wrote to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete last month, asking for the institution of a process to remove Mkhwebane.
Mkhwebane has made a number of controversial decisions, most notably her report into the Absa lifeboat saga, which saw her having to retract recommendations that the mandate of the South African Reserve Bank be reviewed.