Former Public Protector Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane is expected to be unveiled as a new EFF MP, said party sources.
They said Mkhwebane might be sworn in any time from now, pending the finalisation of the organisation’s internal processes.
Mkhwebane joined Julius Malema’s red berets on Monday, saying EFF policies attracted her even though other parties had approached her. This came a month after Parliament removed her as public protector, accusing her of incompetence.
The DA introduced a motion for her removal. President Cyril Ramaphosa later suspended Mkhwebane after she sent him a list of questions about the Phala Phala scandal.
Mkhwebane joined a growing list of former state functionaries who entered active politics or swapped their jobs for roles within lobby groups. This included former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) prosecutors Glynnis Breytenbach and Gerrie Nel, who joined the DA and Afriforum respectively.
Breytenbach is now the DA’s Shadow Minister of Justice. Sources said they expected the former public protector to be sworn in as an EFF MP soon.
“She might be sworn in anytime from now. Yes, she will be in parliament and contributing at the policy and strategic level,” said a highly placed source.
If confirmed, Mkhwebane will join former ANC and ATM member Mzwanele Manyi, who was unveiled as an EFF MP a few months after joining the party. On Tuesday, Mkhwebane declined to comment on talk of her moving to parliament.
However, the former public protector said she has much to contribute to the EFF and South African politics in general, especially in addressing service delivery failures and holding the executive and municipal officials to account. Mkhwebane said her experience as a government official, an immigration counsellor and public protector would come in handy to assist the EFF.
“I will be making a huge contribution. Remember, as a public protector, I issued several reports recommending remedial action to deal with systemic maladministration, service failure, conduct failure, which perpetuate corruption, as well as the legislation to check whether a person or a public servant has not conducted themselves improperly. On other legislation, you find that there are gaps in policies which still stifle growth and the complete issue of liberating the poor and the marginalised. I have a lot of experience as far as that is concerned,” Mkhwebane said.
Mkhwebane said the EFF is her first political home as she was “never a card-carrying member of any political party”, including the ANC. She said while other political parties approached her, she chose the red berets because of its relatable policies.
This included expropriation of land without compensation, nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), nationalisation of the mines, building state capacity and fighting corruption.
“To protect the public is a continuous process. You actually don’t need a title, but as a politician, you can continue to be the voice of the voiceless. So then I decided, when approached, to take the offer. There were several other organisations, but I couldn’t relate to their manifestos,” she added.
Mkhwebane said her joining the EFF is a culmination of discussions which started when the red berets approached her after Parliament removed her as public protector on September 12. She then promised to consider the idea only after the official expiry of her term this month.
“Their seven cardinal pillars attracted me to the EFF. These include expropriation of land without compensation, nationalisation of mines and banks, free equality education, healthcare and houses, building state and government capacity, massive industrial development, and especially an open, accountable and corrupt-free government, which is my expertise,” she said.
Mkhwebane said she is ready to help the EFF address service delivery failures that have led to corruption.
“These need to be dealt with quickly. I have experience in that to change the status quo, we must enforce implementation of all issued PP reports to contribute to policy change for the betterment of people’s lives,” she said.
The EFF hailed Mkhwebane for joining their party, stating she stood up against “the abuse of the establishment” during her seven-year tenure as public protector.
“Born and bred in Bethal in the province of Mpumalanga, Advocate Mkhwebane has extensive experience in education and senior management, and brings this valuable expertise to the EFF as we head into governance after the national and provincial elections in 2024,” said EFF spokesperson Sinawo Thambo.
Thambo said the EFF also appreciates the roles Mkhwebane has played in the public domain, including her stints as senior researcher for the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), senior investigator in the Public Protector’s office, immigration and civic services counselor in the South African Embassy in the People’s Republic of China and national immigration services director in the Department of Home Affairs.
“She additionally served South Africa as a Public Protector from 2016 up until her untimely and politically-motivated impeachment in 2023. During her tenure in office there were three consecutive clean audits from the Auditor-General from 2019 to 2022, along with a notable reduction in caseload.
“The office also issued a total of 412 investigation reports and conducted 2,372 public education and outreach activities. Impressively, of the 412 reports issued, only 17 were subject to review and were subsequently set aside by the courts,” Thambo said.
The EFF stated that it would continue to welcome professionals within its ranks.
Approached for comment on assertions that Mkhwebane was heading to Parliament, Thambo said: “The EFF has not made any announcement about any new deployments to Parliament. Should new deployments be made, we will confirm that on our relevant official platforms.”