If her first week in the office is any indication, SA is in for a very long seven years. Busisiwe Mkhwebane, the public protector, walked in on her first day as the replacement for Thuli Madonsela, and immediately flicked the television channel to the Gupta-owned ANN7, from the independent eNCA.
Mkhwebane then pronounced that there will be no more "sensational titles" for her reports; that she hates the term "state capture" and that the entire office has low morale. After that, she did away with consultants before moving Madonsela’s former chief-of-staff into a new, nonexistent position.
Then she dropped two bombshells — first, she will not oppose President Jacob Zuma’s interdict on the "state capture" report, and second, there would be "no more donor funding" for her office.
Mkhwebane went on to highlight "the dangers" of donor funding, which she said would leave it vulnerable to foreign influence (read: the hidden hand of the CIA and the West’s "regime change agenda").
Problem is, there was no donor funding to begin with. Rather, her office gets its funding from the department of justice.
But the most unsettling item is her declining to oppose Zuma’s bid to interdict the report into whether his friends the Guptas abused state apparatus.
Those who bought the (unproven) claim that she worked as a spy for government have seized on this as evidence that Zuma has installed a lackey.
There is no evidence yet for this. She may, it is hoped, even end up upholding Madonsela’s legacy. But the signs this week are certainly ominous. To begin earning respect, Mkhwebane should show she is dealing decisively with claims of corruption in the state-capture probe.