South Africa-Ombudsman-Suspension

Ramaphosa suspends S/Africa’s ombudsman from office

APA-Pretoria (South Africa)

President Cyril Ramaphosa has suspended South Africa’s Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane following a recommendation by parliament for her to be removed from her role as the country’s ombudsman.

Announcing the suspension on Thursday, the presidency said Ramaphosa had decided to suspend Mkhwebane from office with immediate effect and that she would remain suspended until an impeachment process in parliament has been completed. Impeachment hearings are due to get under way on July 11. 

The president had given Mkhwebane until May 26 to give him reasons why she should not be suspended after an independent panel set up by parliament concluded in March that there is substantial evidence demonstrating she was not fit to hold the office of public protector due to the repeated errors she made in the interpretation of the law.

“President Ramaphosa has fulfilled his obligation to provide Advocate Mkhwebane a fair hearing by according her sufficient time and opportunity to make submissions,” the presidency said.

According to the South African constitution, if, for any reason, the public protector is unable to perform his or her functions, the deputy ombudsman would take over. 

“The absence of advocate Mkhwebane from office will therefore not impede the progress of any investigations that are pending or under way.”

The suspension comes a day after Mkhwebane announced that she would be investigating a case in which Ramaphosa is accused of covering up a crime in which several millions of US dollars were allegedly stolen from his farm. 

The president is accused of allegedly paying off the suspects to ensure they kept quiet about the undeclared foreign currency.

The decision by Ramaphosa also comes a day before the Western Cape High Court is expected to pass judgement in a case in which she was seeking an interim interdict preventing her suspension.

JN/APA

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