Is the job of Public Protector Busisiswe Mkhwebane on the line? That’s a question that’s been asked since a High Court’s damning decision against her.

It declared Mkhwebane’s Estina Dairy Farm report unconstitutional and invalid. On Monday, Judge Ronel Tolmay ruled in favour of the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution and set the report aside.

The court also ruled that she failed to properly investigate those implicated in the R224 million scandal around the Estina Dairy Farm project in the Free State.

She’s considering appealing the judgment. There were always going to be big shoes to fill. In October 2016 Public Protector Busisiwe Mkwebane succeeded.

Thuli Madonsela, who had significantly increased the visibility of the Chapter 9 institution, just two and half years into her seven year tenure of office Mkhwebane is again on the ropes.

Mkhwebane’s detractors insist that this is just the latest instalment in the saga of the Public Protector’s incompetence. And whilst taking the Public Protector to court is accepted as a proper platform the problem is the number of times her rulings are overturned.

Prof Steven Friedman says, “She has had judgments where the judge said you don’t understand the constitution, she appears to be the wrong person to keep the job.”

Other judgments include her report recommending the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank on which she backtracked and the setting aside of her recommendation by the courts that ABSA pay back more than R1 billion for an apartheid-era bill.

But the pertinent question remains: can Mkhwebane be removed from office?

Meanwhile, Mkhwebane has vigorously rejected the latest court judgment saying that the report was never a final one and indicating that she will consider lodging an appeal.
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