Cape Town - The DA has called for the prompt tabling of the Section 194 Committee’s final report in Parliament in a bid to prevent suspended public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane from receiving a R10 million gratuity when her term ends on October 14.
If Mkhwebane is still in office on that date, then she will be deemed to have completed her seven-year term of office and be entitled to the gratuity.
The committee, which started its work in July last year, has recommended Mkhwebane be removed from her position as public protector.
Her fate is now in the hands of Parliament.
Once the matter is tabled, it will require at least 267 of the 400 MPs to vote in favour of her impeachment before President Cyril Ramaphosa is compelled to remove her from office.
DA deputy chief whip Annelie Lotriet said: “It’s scandalous that from the start of the process, Mkhwebane has employed various delaying tactics to avoid impeachment before her term ends in mid-October.
“Her aim is to secure a gratuity of about R10m that she will receive when she completes her term by ensuring she is not impeached before then.”
Lotriet, a member of the Section 194 committee, alleged Mkhwebane employed delaying tactics throughout the inquiry, and said these included launching court challenges, seeking recusals, changing lawyers, and filibustering during committee proceedings.
Responding to the DA, Mkhwebane said in a post on X (formerly Twitter) the issue of the gratuity did not feature in her impeachment proceedings, and in any case she had never finished her testimony.
“(This is) racism at its best against African professionals, you should have said same with (former Eskom chief executive André) de Ruyter.”
The clock began ticking for Mkhwebane’s impeachment in 2020 when former DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone initiated proceedings to assess whether Mkhwebane should be ousted as the public protector.
Non-profit civil action organisation Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) has also called for a speedy resolution to the Mkhwebane matter by Parliament.
Outa’s legal spokesperson, Stefanie Fick, said the group wanted Parliament to “prioritise the interests of citizens” and take swift action to remove Mkhwebane from office.
Fick said: “Even though she is nearing the end of her term, she cannot be allowed to stay in the position any longer. We need a firm and swift decision to bring an end to this matter.”
The committee’s hearings began on July 11, 2022, and during that first committee meeting, Mkhwebane made it clear she was participating in the proceedings under protest.
The committee heard oral evidence from 24 witnesses, of whom 22 submitted statements and Mkhwebane gave oral evidence with respect to Part A of her two-part statement.
Meanwhile, the Ad Hoc Committee to Nominate a Person for Appointment as Public Protector chairperson Cyril Xaba said the committee would deliberate on Tuesday on the eight candidates shortlisted to succeed Mkhwebane.
The committee must submit its report to Parliament by Thursday, August 31.