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Mkhwebane: Legal battle with Ramaphosa could lead to constitutional crises

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Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (David Harrison/M&G)

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is facing off with the president in court after Ramaphosa filed for an interdict to suspend her remedial actions against Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Godhan and applied for a review against her Bosasa report. 

The Public Protector has warned that her legal battles with President Cyril Ramaphosa could lead to a constitutional crisis.

Mkhwebane has accused Ramaphosa of not applying her remedial actions equally over his ministers.

Mkhwebane found that Ramaphosa violated the Executive Code of Ethics by not declaring donations to his African National Congress (ANC) presidential campaign in 2017, and misled Parliament when he responded to a question about the R500,000 donation from former Bosasa boss Gavin Watson in the National Assembly.

The Public Protector accused the president of failing to uphold the Constitution by not implementing her remedial action. Ramaphosa has also accused her of not understanding her constitutional duties.

Mkhwebane said there were dangers to this face-off.

“With this pace, we are moving, we are going to face a serious constitutional crisis,” she said.

She said she had expectations from the president.

“Having taken an oath of office to respect and uphold the Constitution, you would expect that level of respecting that oath of office,” Mkhwebane said.

Mkhwebane suggested Ramaphosa had been picking and choosing how to apply the law.

“I have issued 4,5,6 reports relating to other ministers, [Malusi] Gigaba, [Lynne] Brown, [Des] van Rooyen and others, I have received quick responses and cooperation on how the president has implemented the report, let it be equal, let’s be treated equally,” she said.

She said she would ask for a meeting with the president to deal with the tensions, which she conceded had the potential to weaken both offices.

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