Cape Town - As Parliament’s inquiry into suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office prepares to resume this week, committee chairperson Qubudile Dyantyi has issued amended directives governing the committee’s work in a bid to beat its deadline.
The amended directives, which Mkhwebane has dismissed as illegal, were agreed to at the committee’s last meeting 10 days ago.
In a letter to Mkhwebane dated June 15, Dyantyi said the amended directives contain the details of the process that the committee will now have to follow due to ongoing challenges that impede it as it fulfils its Constitutional obligations.
The amendments provide for a process whereby the questions of members of the committee and evidence leaders will be put to Mkhwebane in writing.
Mkhwebane has been given the choice to answer some questions orally or in writing under oath.
Dyantyi said he recognised Mkhwebane did not amplify her Part B statement to the committee after it was forced to pause proceedings abruptly on March 31.
He said the amendments allow her to submit any additional affidavits or documentation under oath in support of Part B of her written statement or in answer to the evidence leaders’ presentations to the committee which occurred in April.
Those presentations were in respect of Part A of her statement which she was led by her lawyer Dali Mpofu, SC, prior to the adjournment of hearings.
Dyantyi said if Mkhwebane fails to answer the questions orally and/or in writing, to provide a written and/ or oral closing argument or to provide comments to the draft report, it will be presumed she has elected not to avail herself to do so.
He said: “The committee will therefore not be precluded from proceeding to deliberations and making its findings based on the evidence before it.”
According to the committee’s programme, it has until Friday to finish hearing Mkhwebane’s evidence.
Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court has rejected her urgent application for direct access to argue for unlimited impeachment legal costs.
Mkhwebane had filed the application urgently, seeking various outcomes, including a declaration that Parliament’s Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and Dyantyi were in violation of a previous Constitutional Court order from February last year.
That order stated that the State has a legal obligation to provide Mkhwebane with legal representation during the Section 194 inquiry.
The application also aimed to review and overturn Dyantyi’s decision to continue the inquiry beyond March 31 under the “pre-text of a committee meeting”. It also targeted the president’s refusal to reverse or lift Mkhwebane’s suspension.
The Constitutional Court said it had found no grounds for exclusive jurisdiction and direct access.
Consequently, the court dismissed the application but the ruling did not require Mkhwebane to cover any costs.