NEWS
12/06/2018 06:33 SAST | Updated 12/06/2018 06:33 SAST

Mkhwebane Gets Roasted Over 'Legal Nonsense' Report On Zille

Busisiwe Mkhwebane's report on Helen Zille's colonialism tweets has been heavily criticised.

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Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

As the Public Protector braces herself to face an inquiry into her fitness to hold office on Wednesday, her report into Helen Zille's colonialism tweets, released on Monday, once again called into question her understanding of the law.

In her report, Mkhwebane held that Zille had breached the Executive Members Ethics Code, when she tweeted in 2017 that "For those claiming that the legacy of colonialism was only negative, they should look at various aspects of South Africa's development, such as the judiciary and other infrastructure," according to Eyewitness News (EWN).

Zille reportedly responded, saying she intended to take the report on judicial review.

The complaint against Zille was reportedyl laid by an ANC member of the Western Cape provincial legislature. The ANC in the Western Cape reportedly said it felt "vindicated" by Mkhwebane's findings.

Mkhwebane directed the Speaker of the Western Cape provincial legislature to sanction Zille.

DA MP John Steenhuisen tweeted on Monday that his request for a hearing into Mkhwebane's fitness had been granted.

In an opinion piece published on his blog on Monday, constitutional law expert Professor Pierre de Vos wrote that the report was "a legal nonsense" that was "so legally misguided that it is difficult to believe that a qualified lawyer wrote it in good faith".

One of the many legal flaws in her report, wrote De Vos, is that in making her finding, Mkhwebane held that Zille had breached the section of the Bill of Rights that deals with speech not protected by the Constitution. This would be speech that could, for example, stir up racial violence.

"The reaction of the South African public towards the Premier's tweets is indicative of the likelihood stirring up violence based on race..." she wrote.

But the Public Protector is not empowered to investigate alleged infringements on the Bill of Rights, De Vos wrote.

He also said that while the Public Protector is empowered to investigate corruption, maladministration and other abuses of power by the state, there are other Chapter 9 institutions empowered to deal with human rights abuses, like the South African Human Rights Commission and the Commission for Gender Equality.

Former DA leader Tony Leon was also of the view that Mkhwebane had made serious legal errors.

He tweeted:

The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) also questioned the report.

Financial consultant Dirk de Vos said Mkhwebane's findings would now "shake out" all those who had, in his view, misinterpreted Zille's tweet.

South African Institute for Race Relations (SAIRR) researcher and former DA spokesperson Gareth van Onselen was one of many who were also critical of the report.