Fight between Ramaphosa and the public protector turns ugly

President Cyril Ramaphosa is facing increasing pressure from public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

On Friday (19 July). Mkhwebane ruled that president Cyril Ramaphosa violated the constitution and executive ethics code when he misled lawmakers about a campaign donation from a company implicated in paying bribes to senior government officials.

However, Ramaphosa has told the public protector that she does not have the jurisdiction to investigate these charges and that her probe is ‘unlawful’.

The president has also argued all of the allegations against him were unfounded, reports News24.

In a 51-page submission to Mkhwebane made before her findings were made public this week, Ramaphosa said that it was unfair to find that he had “deliberately” lied to Parliament.

“The president does not accept that the Public Protector has jurisdiction to investigate the CR17 campaign and to make any findings in relation to it,” the submission states.

“The (Ethics) Code only requires members to disclose their own financial interests and those of their dependent children. The donations to the CR17 campaign belonged to the campaign and not the president.”

Fight for office 

Mkhwebane is also facing a challenge against her office and has written a letter to National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise to say she will meet her in court if parliament tries to remove her, reports the Sunday Times.

The public protector has accused the speaker of violating the constitution for acceding to a DA-sponsored proposal that parliament resume a process to probe her fitness to hold office.

“Unlike in cases of removal of judicial officers or the president, there are no rules specifically adopted by the National Assembly to deal with the removal of the public protector,” the letter states.

“Instead the (justice) committee is given a free hand to adopt a clearly unlawful and unconstitutional process where the public protector is simply called to a meeting and berated about cases that are pending before the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal.”

The courts have overturned several of Mkhwebane’s previous rulings and rebuked her for failing to stick to her constitutional mandate.

Other critics have accused Mkhwebane, who served in the state security agency during the tenure of former president Jacob Zuma, of playing politics and siding with the president’s opponents in a power struggle in the ruling party.

Read: Public Protector says Ramaphosa violated the constitution

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Fight between Ramaphosa and the public protector turns ugly