Busisiwe Mkhwebane Biography | Background | Age | Qualifications | Career | Controversies as Public Protector | Impeachment
Busisiwe Mkhwebane, a South African advocate, prosecutor, and ombudsman, held the position of the 4th Public Protector of South Africa from 2016 to 2023. However, her tenure was marred by numerous controversies, leading to her impeachment by the National Assembly of South Africa on September 11, 2023. This marked a historic moment as she became the first head of a Chapter 9 institution to be removed through impeachment.
Busisiwe Mkhwebane Background
Busisiwe was born in Bethal in the former Transvaal province (now Mpumalanga) on February 2, 1970.
Mkhwebane’s educational journey began at Mkhephula Secondary School, where she matriculated in 1988. She furthered her academic pursuits by obtaining a BProc and an LLB from the University of the North (now the University of Limpopo). Subsequently, she pursued a diploma in corporate law and a higher diploma in tax at the Rand Afrikaans University (now the University of Johannesburg). In 2010, she successfully completed her Masters in Business Leadership at the University of South Africa.
Busisiwe Mkhwebane Career Path
Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s career was marked by a series of notable roles and positions. She commenced her professional journey as a Public Prosecutor in the Department of Justice in 1994. In 1996, she transitioned to the role of Legal Administrative Officer in the International Affairs Directorate. Later, in 1998, she joined the South African Human Rights Commission as a senior researcher and subsequently served as a senior investigator and acting provincial representative at the Public Protector’s office the following year.
Her career continued to flourish as she held various roles at the Department of Home Affairs, including directorships related to refugee affairs and asylum seekers management. Between 2010 and 2014, she served as a Counselor in Immigration and Civic Services at South Africa’s embassy in China, during which her financial activities raised questions, including a US$ 5,000 payment from the Gupta family, allegedly related to a controversial railway contract with China South Rail. Mkhwebane vehemently denied these allegations.
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Returning to South Africa in 2014, she became a director at the Department of Home Affairs, specifically in the area of country information and cooperation management. Following this, she briefly worked as an analyst for the State Security Agency from July 2016 to October 2016 before her appointment as Public Protector in October 2016. It was revealed during her appointment that she had a close relationship with then-President Jacob Zuma.
Furthermore, Mkhwebane also served as a board member for the Refugee Fund and as the Director of Business Development at Iyanilla Bricks.
Controversies as Public Protector
Busisiwe Mkhwebane‘s tenure as the Public Protector of South Africa was marred by a series of controversies that drew significant criticism from various quarters, including political parties, civil society organizations, and the courts. Some of the most prominent controversies included:
- Ramaphosa Report: Her report into the alleged improper acceptance of a R500,000 donation to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC presidential campaign from BOSASA was widely criticized. The court later set aside the report with allegations of factual inaccuracies, legal errors, and exceeding her powers.
- South African Reserve Bank: Mkhwebane attempted to draft changes to the Constitution to nationalize and remove the independence of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) without consulting government economists or legal scholars. This move led to a loss of confidence in South Africa’s governmental