Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane found that Western Cape Premier Helen Zille's tweets about colonialism violated the Constitution because it amounted to an incitement of imminent violence.
In the full report, Advocate Mkhwebane draws a comparison between Zille’s colonialism remarks and an academic who was recently criticised for writing about the benefits of colonialism.
Eusebius McKaiser, spoke to Public Protector's spokesperson Oupa Segwale to explain the Zille finding.
Segwale said the is a piece of legislation called the Executive Members Ethics Act which flows from Section 96 of The Constitution which provides amongst others that members of the executive may not act in a way that is inconsistent with their office.
Or expose themselves to any situation involving the risk of a conflict between their official responsibilities and private interests. That Act gave birth to what is known as the executive code of ethics which is pretty much a code of conduct for the executives.— Oupa Segwale, Public Protector's Spokesperson
He adds that in terms of the Act the Public Protector is the only institution in the country that has the powers to investigate alleged breaches of the executive code. And they have noted that the premier does not agree with the findings and intends to take it to court.
We have no qualms with that, she is well within her rights to do so if she thinks that the court can arrive at a different conclusion.— Oupa Segwale, Public Protector's Spokesperson
Eusebius also spoke to Associate Professor in Public Law at the University of Cape Town, Cathleen Powell who said that she thinks that the Public Protector can investigate conflicts of interest under the Executive Members Ethics Act.
It could include a private tweet or private act...that conflicts with their State Act.— Cathleen Powell, Associate Professor in Public Law at the University of Cape Town
What is significant is that the conflict of interest is about material interests, because that is the Public protector's area of investigation - and I think your point there of it being a human rights issue rather than a Public Protector issue is that her remit is to investigate any set prejudice.— Cathleen Powell, Associate Professor in Public Law at the University of Cape Town
But she says it can go too far.
Is the Public protector claiming jurisdiction over absolutely everything that an official might do in a private capacity that reflects badly on that official? Because that's not what the Public Protector Act is about.— Cathleen Powell, Associate Professor in Public Law at the University of Cape Town
She says she does not believe the Public Protector has got anything to do with speech acts.
And I think this is an extravagant misstepping of her powers.— Cathleen Powell, Associate Professor in Public Law at the University of Cape Town
Listen below to the full interview: