Mkhwebane Lauds Victory Over Zille

  • Judgment about dignity of the poor
  • Clears air on Vrede Diary probe

Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane on Wednesday said the favourable court ruling in which her report on Democratic Alliance (DA) Federal Council leader Helen Zille’s controversial pro ‘colonialism’ tweets was upheld is a victory for the poor.

Mkhwebane said this while addressing members of the media at the Free State Legislative Building in Charlotte Maxeke Street during a roadshow.

The Public Protector was also in the province to sign a memorandum of understanding with the speaker of the Free State legislature, Zanele Sifuba.

Western Cape High Court Acting Judge Malebo Habedi this week dismissed Zille’s application against Mkhwebane’s findings and recommendations, and ordered her to pay the costs.

“The Zille matter is about South Africans. You cannot have people after a gruesome past of apartheid coming out to praise colonialism. As an executive you need to conduct yourself above board,” said Mkhwebane

Her remarks come after Zille, in a controversial tweet, wrote that colonialism was better for the country than the current democratic dispensation. The sentiments gave rise to a volley of criticism for the embattled senior DA leader.

Mkhwebane said the ethics committee of parliament had also found Zille on the wrong lane.

“It’s about the dignity of our people; one cannot talk like that while holding a position of authority,” she asserted.

She reiterated that an investigation into the controversial Vrede Diary Project in Estina by her office never involved any politician.

A report by her predecessor, Advocate Thuli Madonsela on the matter became a subject of a court challenge by the DA, which called the report “a white wash’ since it did not probe the involvement of politicians.

“After they (DA) took the matter to court we interviewed all political figures involved in the project, from provincial to national, including national treasury as this project was funded by the national department of agriculture,” noted Mkhwebane, adding a report on the outcomes would be issued soon.

Mkhwebane maintained her office – which has been accused of facing a credibility crisis – is intact.

She added it is a pity that the ‘haves’ use the courts to destroy her office and kill the only hope the masses have to have their concerns addressed.

The road shows by the Public Protector across the country, with the Free State being the seventh province she visits, are meant to showcase to the public the services rendered by the office.

“We are bringing services to the people. I was in Hobhouse where complaints from the people centred on service delivery, as well as access to necessary documentation such identity books and birth certificates,” she said.

Residents also complained that the local municipality drags its feet in attending to sewer spillages. They further want the local clinic to operate for 24 hours daily.

In the absence of health care after hours, said Mkhwebane, residents of the small town have to be ferried to Ladybrand and unfortunately some have lost their lives before getting to hospital.

She undertook to work closely with the provincial and national departments of health to resolve the matter.

Since Apri this year, her office has received 667 complaints from the public and successfully concluded 476 of these.

Mkhwebane explained the memorandum of understanding with the Free State legislature was aimed at ensuring that there is synergy between the two offices in order to serve the public better.

“People lodge complaints with the office of the speaker of the legislature through petitions and through us. The MoU will help us avoid duplication and save the state both money and time,” she said.

The MoU, she added, will also assist in getting heads of departments not implenting the Public Protector’s remedial actions to account for their non-action.

By: Ramosidi Matekane