Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is adamant her job is not to interpret the law.
During a hard-hitting interview with Aldrin Sampear on POWER Talk she argues: “The Public Protector receives a complaint. I am not even a court. My investigations are inquisitorial, not accusatorial. I am there to establish what happened, what should have happened, what are the prescripts which are applicable and how can we remedy that situation. The courts are there to interpret the law. I am not there to interpret the law.”
To which Sampear quizzed: “Can we agree that that process includes interpreting the law?”
“Application of the law is different from interpreting the law. That is the responsibility of the court,” Mkhwebane retorted.
The embattled Mkhwebane lost another legal battle after the North Gauteng High Court dismissed her report into the Vrede Dairy Farm Project.
The court also found that she either blatantly disregarded her constitutional duties or merely had a “concerning lack of understanding” of them during her investigation into the Gupta-linked farm.
- Public Protector’s office: We were surprised at high court ruling.
Also weighing in on the matter was the former state prosecutor and now DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach who said she was shocked by Mkhwebane’s understanding of her duties.
“Listening to what the Public Protector has just said, leaves me somewhat mystified. How the Public Protector can hold the honest view that in the course of her investigations she doesn’t have to interpret the law, leaves me puzzled.
“I don’t know how you can do the type of investigations that the Public Protector’s Office is required to do without interpreting and applying the law, but maybe that is the rub here. Perhaps that is why the reports keep getting set aside because it hasn’t been done,” Breytenbach said.
Last year, the North Gauteng High Court set aside Mkhwebane’s Bankorp/CIEX report.
Fitness to hold office
Mkhwebane shot down any suggestions that she is ill-suited for her position.
She argues that one cannot be judged by one report.
“Also, that report (CIEX) is still pending before the Constitutional Court. Some reports will be set aside – and setting aside a report means one can still review that particular report.
“I think it’s just a political ploy to just pursue this matter. I am focused on doing my work. I will follow the rule of law guided by the constitution,” Mkhwebane said.
Mkhwebane also fires a salvo to the country’s courts, accusing them of suggesting that she is working as an individual.
“It’s interesting, why is the court referring to ‘her’. When they refer to the DA they mention the organisation, when they refer to Casac they refer to the organisation. It then questions as to why they refer to ‘her’ when I have done my work as a public protector who’s appointed in terms of the constitution of this country.”