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President Ramaphosa's reshuffle of policy, security and intelligence posts is to be followed by wider changes in government and the ANC
President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to suspend Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane after parliamentary speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula called for her impeachment. Several high court judgements had criticised Mkhwebane's findings as politically biased and lacking legal foundation.
Appointed by President Jacob Zuma, Mkhwebane was accused of favouring him and his allies linked to state capture. Her impeachment could speed up the government's anti-corruption efforts.
On behalf of parliament, retired judge Bess Nkabinde led a panel which found there was enough prima facie evidence against Mkhwebane to merit an inquiry into her suitability to hold office.
The parliamentary enquiry committee is due to meet on 24 March to appoint a legal expert to manage the documents and liaise with MPs on the evidence. The impeachment hearings are expected to take several months with MPs and Mkhwebane allowed to question witnesses before a final report on the case is produced and submitted to parliament.
Impeaching Mkhwebane will require a two-thirds vote in parliament. Should it go through, it would be another sign that Ramaphosa is shoring up his control of the ANC ahead of leadership elections in December. Defence Minister Thoko Modise has been asked by the ANC national working committee to review the position of Bathabile Dlamini as leader of the party's Women's League. Dlamini, another close ally of ex-President Zuma, was convicted of perjury last week.
Ramaphosa has until 20 June to respond officially to the findings of the Zondo Commission on State Capture, whose three detailed reports excoriate many officials who served under President Zuma when Ramaphosa was his deputy (AC Vol 63 No 1, The ANC faces a reckoning on corruption).
How Ramaphosa manages the response could affect his relations with key ANC figures such as Treasurer General Paul Mashatile, former health minister Zweli Mkhize and Mines and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe, who was censured in the latest Zondo report.
Lawyers, anti-corruption campaigners and some opposition politicians lauded Ramaphosa's appointment of Judge Raymond Zondo as Chief Justice but are pushing for radical reform of the criminal justice system (AC Vol 63 No 6, Chief Justice Zondo takes centre stage). They say that the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) has tracked down some stolen public assets and the officials involved but has been unable to translate those cases into criminal prosecutions (AC Vol 63 No 4, Top police face sack amid rising crime).
Under the current rules, the SIU has no prosecutorial powers. Its reports submitted to the National Prosecuting Authority's Investigations Directorate often lack enough evidence for a successful case. Looted assets have been returned to the state under civil proceedings initiated by the SIU but very few of the officials linked to the cases have been prosecuted.
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