African National Congress (ANC) deputy Secretary General, Jessie Duarte, has expressed concern over the continued interference within the office of the Public Protector.

Her comments come after a scathing judgment by the North Gauteng High Court on Tuesday against Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane on the matter involving President Cyril Ramaphosa and his CR17 campaign Bosasa donation.

In the video below,  North Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo says Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane acted unlawfully in exercising her powers in the manner that she did in this case: 

She has described the judgment as scathing but also fair, as it found that Mkhwebane should not have investigated political party campaigns, but government-related issues.

‘Political interference’

The debate over the future of Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane rages on. However, the ANC says that the parliamentary process which seeks to determine whether or not the Public Protector should vacate office must be respected and allowed to play its role.

Duarte says that it is concerning that there has been a continuing political interference in the office of the Public Protector and that must stop.

“What is important is that the public protector’s office must never become the object of a political play. So, the DA and the EFF have a particular issue here, because they are the respondents in this judgment, without accepting that the review by the president is a natural process. It is in the public protector’s act … in the constitution that the review is part of the process. But immediately that had to be dealt with, don’t go via and say the president mustn’t be reviewed and so on. It is worrisome that this office, over the last 15 years, has not had the privilege to do its work alone.”

Video: Debate over Public Protector’s future

‘Foregone conclusion’

Meanwhile, Political Analyst Professor Dirk Kotze says this judgment shows a foregone conclusion that the days of the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane are numbered.

“We also know that Parliament has adopted rules to start the process and that since then the DA has submitted a motion, thousands of pages in that regard. I think what we have seen yesterday (Tuesday) is really now the last step and very much from the ANC point of view, that there will possibly be no more support for them than in the past. Up to now, they have always said they have not taken a view on the matter. I think now they have assumed an unset position since yesterday (Tuesday).”

Donations

Political Analyst Ralph Mathekga believes this judgment by the North Gauteng High Court has political implications for President Cyril Ramaphosa because he still has to account for the donations he allegedly received from the controversial Bosasa Company for the CR17 campaign.

“Now, the court says to Ramaphosa, ‘look, legally you stand a good ground. You have not broken any rule. There was nothing wrong on your side, but the political issues still stand. You still did not want to account or disclose who funded you. That is a critical question that will not be resolved by any court, hey.’ If he had detractors within his own party, you know, on that funding based on this issue, the court’s decision is not going to change any of those dynamics internally.”

The ANC is adamant for now that it has no official position on Mkhwebane’s removal and the DA wants her gone, while the EFF says the public protector has full back-up support at all costs. However, Parliament and its process will decide on the future of Busisiwe Mkhwebane.