President Cyril Ramaphosa has declined to approve a request by Suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to return to work.
Mkhwebane had announced on September 4, that she intended to return to office as she believed her suspension was over.
In a statement, she claimed that the president suspended her temporarily as parliament finalizes an inquiry into her fitness to hold office.
“The section 194 proceedings/inquiry has now been finalized. The period of suspension defined in the Presidential Minute issued in terms of section 194(3)(a), read with section 101(1) of the Constitution, has expired,” Mkhwebane said.
President Ramaphosa had informed her about the suspension in a letter dated June 9, 2022.
At the same time, the Office of the Public Protector South Africa (PPSA) has released a statement, explaining that Mkhwebane remains suspended until further notice.
“The institution acknowledges the importance of the subject matter and hereby advises that the suspended public protector is not an employee of the PPSA,” said spokesperson Ndili Msoki.
Consequently, the president wrote a letter to Mkhwebane, dated 4 September, informing her that she had no entitlement in law to return to office.
“In the circumstances, while I thank you for your courtesy in informing me of your intention, your interpretation of the Presidential Minute and my letter is wrong, and your intention to return to office is misconceived,” noted Ramaphosa.
He explained that the proceedings that were initiated by the committee would be finalized either when the National Assembly does not adopt a resolution calling for her removal from office, or if the National Assembly does adopt such a resolution.
“Fourth, it is therefore patently clear that the process initiated by the committee is not completed (as your letter suggests) when the inquiry by the committee has been finalized,” he added.
The head of state urged Mkhwebane to be patient as she waits for the National Assembly to complete its part of the process.
A motion on Mkhwebane’s conduct will be tabled in the National Assembly on 11 September. A two-thirds majority is required for her removal from office.