‘To launch public attacks on the Public Protector is tantamount to undermining the Constitutional protection of each and every citizen’ – MKMVA

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Sello Theletsane

JOHANNESBURG- The Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) has on Saturday, expressed its sadness and condemned the malicious public attacks leveled against the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

This comes after recent attacks on the Public Protector that have increased in their scope and intensity, with the latest attacks accusing her of somehow being ‘politically motivated’, and acting in favor of, or trying to, advance the interests of some ‘faction’ within the African
National Congress (ANC).

“It should be noted that these allegations are contrived, and that there is absolutely no evidence of such conduct by Advocate Mkhwebane. It is helpful to note that these attacks are often initiated by parties who are under investigation by the Public Protector, or by the supporters of those who are under investigation, and who thus have a vested interest to try and undermine the integrity of the Public Protector in person, as well, as her high office in general,” the MKMVA said in a statement.

According to the MKMVA, when one is faced with such unfortunate conduct, they should keep cool heads and return to the basic provisions of our Constitution.

“It is critical to always appreciate that the Office of the Public Protector is one of the Chapter Nine Institutions that have, in terms of Chapter Nine of our Constitution, been established to protect our constitutional democracy, and the rights of
every South African citizen. Those who attack the Office of the Public Protector do so at their own peril, and inadvertently also undermine the Constitutional protection of their own human rights.”

The MKMVA further added: “Our Constitution stipulates in Chapter Nine, Clause 181, that these Institutions must
strengthen constitutional democracy in the Republic, and that these Institutions must be independent, and subject only to the Constitution and the law. They must be impartial and must exercise their powers and perform their functions without fear, favor or prejudice.”

“Furthermore, that other organs of state, through legislative and other measures, must assist and protect these Chapter Nine Institutions to ensure the independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness of these Institutions. No person or organ of state may interfere with the functioning of these Institutions. These Institutions are accountable to the National
Assembly, and must report on their activities and the performance of their functions to the Assembly at least once a year.”

The movement also added that among the said Chapter Nine Institutions, the Public Protector is of particular importance,
because the Institution, as the name indicates, forms the first line of defense and protection of the Constitutional rights and interests of all South Africans.

“To launch deliberate and malicious public attacks on the Public Protector are actually tantamount to undermining the Constitutional protection of each and every citizen.

This is nothing short of treasonous. It must be noted that anyone who disagrees with a finding/ruling of the Public Protector has adequate provision within the law to take such a finding on review. However, in doing
so all the legal processes must be respected, and allowed to take their course without interference. Furthermore, it is disingenuous to abuse any application for review as a platform to then try to malign the Public Protector, and launch public propaganda attacks.”

According to the MKMVA, some of these attacks have been very personal against Advocate Mkhwebane, and it is the distinct impression of MKMVA that she is also under attack for being woman. “It is truly sad that the insidious patriarchal nature of our society leads to such attacks, which indicate that our society finds it difficult to accept and support strong and independently minded women.”

MKMVA further called for the attacks against Advocate Mkhwebane to cease immediately, and for her to be allowed to do her work in a conducive and supportive atmosphere, in accordance with the provisions of our Constitution that the Chapter Nine Institutions must be protected in order to ensure their independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness.

“We commend President Ramaphosa for his expressed willingness to cooperate with the Public Protector regarding the investigations that she is conducting concerning matters about the alleged improper conduct of the President, and some parties associated with him. It is good that the President is taking the lead in doing the right thing, and we call on other South Africans to heed his example.”

In conclusion, the MKMVA said it wants to make an overall principled call on each and every South African citizen to behave in a manner becoming of a nation that only twenty five years ago managed to free itself from the shackles of the apartheid regime, which was universally recognized as one of the most oppressive regimes in the world.

“We fought hard, and many people sacrificed their lives, for the human rights, Constitutional protection and human dignity that we are now all able to enjoy. Any conduct that undermines our human rights, and the Institutions that we have put in place to protect those rights – such as the Public Protector – should be anathema, and condemned without reservation.”