THE investigation into Busisiwe Mkhwebane's competence as public protector should have taken a few weeks, instead of more than a year at a cost of R160-million.
It was the most shameful chapter in our legal history since 1994, driven by two advocates who should have been removed from the roll long before this process.
Dali Mpofu and Mkhwebane, with their political allies, made a mockery of the whole saga and treated an entire nation like fools. It was pure politicking and had nothing to do with justice or good governance.
A senior advocate told me yesterday: “Section 194 of our constitution provides for ‘removal' on grounds of ‘misconduct, incapacity or incompetence'. If a parliamentary committee makes such a finding, it must be approved by two-thirds of parliament, which has now happened.
“In my opinion, it was entirely unnecessary to lead evidence before the committee to prove it, as there have already been numerous court rulings confirming it."
Some R34-million of taxpayers' money was paid to Mpofu and his team to assist Mkhwebane before the parliamentary committee.
A significant portion of this was spent on frivolous applications in higher courts solely to delay the process and score political points.
(Constitutional law expert Prof Pierre de Vos wrote this week: “Ethically, it seems unconscionable that the state would pay R34-million for one person's legal fees when it could have used that money to, say, feed 45,000 children for a month.")
The parliamentary committee heard last November that Mpofu had already been paid R13-million for his services to Mkhwebane.
His response was even more egregious than the infamous “I didn't struggle to be poor": R13-million is “peanuts", he said, and if he'd been paid for everything he'd done it would have been double that. So, R26-million in total.
And this comes from a senior leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters who parades in red overalls “in solidarity with the poor".
Mkhwebane and her political protectors still insist her right to legal representation was denied. This is an easily disprovable lie, and parliament rightly stated in a press release: “At no stage has the committee denied Adv Mkhwebane the right to be legally represented. The committee halted its proceedings after 31 March 2023 and assisted in ensuring that Adv Mkwhebane was availed additional funds for purposes of concluding the enquiry. These efforts were made notwithstanding the significant expenditure incurred by the public protector on her legal costs and litigation up to that stage."
From her sometimes bizarre and mostly unprofessional behaviour during her active six-year term and her often absurd remarks in statements and press conferences, it is clear Mkhwebane is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.
(She said at a public meeting in 2019: “I know some of you may not be Christian, but I strongly believe I was placed in this position by the god that I serve, and I believe that only he can remove me if he is of the view that I have failed." On July 18 this year, she said she might make herself available as an independent candidate for the presidency.)
There is little doubt that the whole circus was mainly orchestrated and driven by Mpofu, with the ANC's old RET faction (including the ATM party) and the EFF as instigators, and Cyril Ramaphosa and his faction as the target.
(UDM leader Bantu Holomisa has also forfeited his last shred of credibility in my eyes by singing in this choir.)
Mpofu's crude, insulting and aggressive treatment of honourable witnesses such as Johann van Loggerenberg and Thuli Madonsela was scandalous. His constant quibbling with committee chair Qubudile Dyantyi, his political statements and his theatrical grandstanding have no place in parliament and fall far below the standard expected of a senior lawyer.
He and his colleagues in the Mkhwebane team walked out of the committee session on national television last October, only to deny they had done so. On March 31 this year, he walked out again.
Mpofu never really addressed the substance of the charges against Mkhwebane; he simply questioned procedures, employed delaying tactics and attempted to humiliate witnesses against her.
Numerous court rulings have highlighted Mkhwebane's incompetence, lack of legal knowledge and dishonesty, more than enough reason for the Legal Practice Council to remove her from the roll of advocates.
There can hardly be a more serious offence for a servant of the court than perjury. (Mkhwebane was questioned about the perjury charges at a press conference last year. She expressed her surprise that the Hawks were concerned with such a “trivial matter".)
But the real question is how long the Legal Practice Council will allow Mpofu to get away with murder.
He has been warned about his behaviour by several judges, including Chief Justice Raymond Zondo for Mpofu's contempt during the commission of inquiry into state capture. His questions to candidate judges and sexual innuendo about a female judge before the Judicial Service Commission have been sharply criticised in legal circles.
During the investigation into Mkhwebane, he dismissed statements from the highest courts as “mere opinions".
Mpofu was accused again this week by the Gauteng High Court of misleading the court and was once again involved in altercations with judges.
Disgraceful scenes playing out at PMB High Court as Dali Mpofu who is representing Jacob Zuma has a heated exchange with judges. Dali waffled & went over the agreed time. Karyn Maughan is represented by legal heavyweight Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC in this case#Mkhwebane pic.twitter.com/jXXkyxvRP2— Goolam (@goolammv) September 11, 2023
If only he were a successful lawyer. Just this week, he lost two major cases that should never have been brought before the court.
Mpofu styles himself as the Tsar of Stalingrad, but he is a poseur, a political buffoon and a stain on the legal profession.
NDZ's middle finger
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and People with Disabilities, showed a bold middle finger to the ANC leadership this week when she defied instructions and did not attend parliament to participate in the Mkhwebane vote.
Other RET veterans who had previously defended Mkhwebane to the hilt, such as Supra Mahumapelo and Mosebenzi Zwane, did show up and voted that she be ousted.
NDZ got away with it last year when she voted against Luthuli House's instructions for the acceptance of a panel's findings on the Phala Phala scandal, but this time she might be in trouble.
The ANC's chief whip, Pemmy Majodina, was furious: “Her absence today was a shock to me. She has no apology; she has no permission to be absent. I can account for others; I know their whereabouts. I don't know the whereabouts of Mama Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. As I usually do, I'm packaging the report to the secretary-general's office. It's high time that they act once and for all; it's enough now."
But can Ramaphosa afford to kick her out if his support in KwaZulu-Natal is so low?
The non-playing rugby stars
Manie Libbok, Eben Etzebeth, Kurt-Lee Arendse, and Cheslin Kolbe are not South Africa's only superstars at the Rugby World Cup.
Jaco Peyper's performance in the match between France and the All Blacks was probably the best of all the referees so far.
But our biggest superstar is Schalk Burger, former Springbok and now a commentator. His excellent analysis of the game, his easy way of speaking and his personality have made him the favourite among the gathered media in France, and he can't keep up with all the requests for TV appearances. I hope Multichoice's SuperSport realises what an asset he is.
In this RugbyPass video, he shows why:
♦ VWB ♦
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