Cape Town – With a cloud still hanging over him regarding the US dollars allegedly concealed on his farm, under-fire President Cyril Ramaphosa has suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane with immediate effect.
In a statement, his office said: “President Cyril Ramaphosa has, in accordance with section 194 (3)(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, decided to suspend Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane from the office of the public protector effective 9 June 2022.
“Section 194(3) (a) of the Constitution provides that the president may suspend the public protector (or any member of a Chapter 9 institution) ‘at any time after the start of proceedings by a committee of the National Assembly for [their] removal’.Advocate Mkhwebane will remain suspended until the section 194 process in the National Assembly has been completed.”
According to the statement, Ramaphosa fulfilled his obligation to provide Mkhwebane “a fair hearing by according her sufficient time and opportunity to make submissions”.
“In considering each element of the Public Protector’s submissions carefully, the President has taken into account the nature of the Public Protector’s office and his own Constitutional obligations. The absence of Advocate Mkhwebane from the office will therefore not impede the progress of any investigations that are pending or underway.”
The suspension comes a day after Mkhwebane confirmed receipt of a complaint lodged in terms of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act No. 82 of 1998 (EMEA) against Ramaphosa for allegedly breaching the Executive Code of Ethics.
“The complaint, which relates to President Ramaphosa’s alleged conduct in respect of allegations of criminal activities at one of his properties, was received last Friday from Mr. Vuyo Zungula, MP, President of the African Transformation Movement (ATM). The ATM is a political party represented in Parliament.”
“Due to the silence of the EMEA when it comes to the appropriate recipient of the report in case the complaint is against the president, the public protector has previously had to improvise and send it to the Speaker of the National Assembly. The investigation concerning Mr. Zungula’s complaint has commenced, with allegations letters already written to sources of information, including President Ramaphosa,” said Mkhwebane.
Ramaphosa is under pressure to disclose the full details of the supposed robbery on his farm where millions in foreign currency were apparently stolen. The incident, which he said had only been reported to the head of his security and not the police, has seen him attract strongly-worded criticism from opposition MPs and political analysts.
It remains unclear if the foreign currency was declared with the South African Revenue Service and/or the Reserve Bank.