The office of the Public Protector has over the last years firmly established itself as one of the major defensive walls against corruption, poor governance, and criminality.
Since Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane took over office from Thuli Madonsela, she has apparently refrained from building on the successes of her predecessor but seems to be exercising extreme loyalty to the government.
Perhaps it’s still too early to judge her, but the truth remains that most South Africans still doubt her ability and readiness to protect the masses ever since she was elected and officially appointed on 6 October 2016.
This sentiment was echoed by Public Protector Busisiwe herself on Thursday, during her first public Stakeholder Forum at the Johannesburg City Hall. She disclosed that her office is being fired with barrages of criticism and that it hurts her a lot.
The embattled Public Protector added that the trust deficit in her office has been taken to the social media, where her critics claimed she is President Zuma’s spy and puppet.
Public Protector Busisiwe told delegates at the event: “Some of you have been outspoken on all platforms; during phone-in programs on radio, social media and other channels. You voiced your apparent frustrations with us while others were being supportive.
“This road show presents an opportunity for you to engage us directly. I urge you to bring your concerns and suggestions to our attention so that, together, we may find ways of ensuring that this office lives up to its constitutional mandate and works for you.”
Regardless of the political jabs, she, however, promised to examine public sentiment surrounding her office and herself since she assumed the venerable position.
The public protector also promised to meet with Members of Parliament, traditional leaders, the media, business, labour, political parties and civil society over the next few months.
How Much Do You Know About The Office Of The Public Protector?
1. Did you know that the office of the Public Protector serves as one of the Chapter 9 bodies of state institutions that support constitutional democracy?
Yes, the office of the Public Protector forms part of the Chapter 9 institutions established in terms of Chapter 9 of the South African Constitution to guard democracy. The rest include:
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC)
The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission)
The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE)
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)
An Independent Authority to Regulate Broadcasting.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa(Icasa)
2. The office of the Public Protector is operated under the Public Protector Act of 1994
3. The office of the Public Protector is independent of government
This explains why it was exclusively established for the “Public”. The officer’s mandate is to tackle complaints from ordinary citizens against maladministration in Governmental Agencies and Institutions and also serve justice where it is needed.
4. The Public Protector is independent of government but the office bearer is required by law to report to the National Assembly in terms of the constitution.
Although the public protector is very much independent, the powers of the office bearer are regulated by the national legislation. This is to ensure accountability and to also appraise executions made by the office.
5. The Public Protector has to date investigated at least 40 000 cases
6. Findings made by the Public Protector are usually open and accessible to the public.
However certain aspects may be kept confidential under exceptional circumstances.
7. Under chapter nine of the constitution, the Public Protector only serves a non-renewable period of seven years in office.
8. The Public Protector is appointed by the president, in accordance with the provisions of section 193 of the Constitution.
Was Public Protector Busisiwe right when she said South Africans judged her wrongly?
Do you see her placing the needs of the country’s overexploited public over those of a deeply parasitic and corrupt government?