Cape Town - Suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has dismissed Parliament’s inquiry into her fitness to hold office as “a deliberate waste of taxpayers’ money” that should be terminated with immediate effect.
Mkhwebane was speaking at a media briefing she had called to spill the beans on the alleged attempt to extort her by the late ANC MP Tina Joemat-Petterson, section 194 inquiry chairperson Qubudile Dyantyi and ANC Chief Whip Pemmy Majodina.
At the live-streamed media briefing, Mkhwebane played audio recordings made by her husband, David Skosana, of Joemat-Pettersson allegedly soliciting a R600 000 bribe from him to “to make the inquiry disappear”.
Mkhwebane said Skosana accepted an invitation from Joemat-Petterson to meet at Ocean Basket, OR Tambo Airport, regarding the alleged extortion attempt.
Mkhwebane quoted what she said were Joemat-Petterson’s words to Skosana: “The courts are with Ramaphosa; the courts are with Ramaphosa.”
Mkhwebane said there were two recordings and 90 WhatsApp messages which she had shared with the police and the Hawks who have launched an investigation into the matter.
She said that in at least 10 of the WhatsApp messages from Joemat-Pettersson, the late MP had said there was a predetermined outcome for the inquiry.
Mkhwebane said as a result of these disclosures, the inquiry was “irretrievably and incurably tainted, poisoned and clearly driven by a predetermined outcome”.
As well as the termination of the inquiry, Mkhwebane repeated a list of demands she has made at various times, including that Dyantyi be removed pending the outcomes of the criminal investigation and the probe that was launched by Parliament’s
She also wants Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to be suspended for refusing her request to arrange a meeting about the allegations of corruption.
Mkhwebane also wants the president to be called to account for abuse of power in implementing what she termed her illegal suspension and for the acting Public Protector to release the Phala Phala report by July 7.
She said that date would mark a year since the statutory deadline set in the Executive Members Ethics Act.
Reacting to Mkhwebane’s media briefing, Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula said that neither she nor Parliament would engage in public mudslinging “particularly when it involves ongoing investigations by various institutions, including Parliament”.
Mapisa-Nqakula said engaging in such would be “fruitless, counter-productive, and undermine the truth-seeking efforts of these institutions”.
She said it would also be showing lack of sensitivity and respect to Joemat-Pettersson’s bereaved family, who are still coming to terms with her death.
Meanwhile, as Mkhwebane was addressing the media, Dyantyi released the latest batch of correspondence between the committee and Mkhwebane’s lawyers following Friday’s committee meeting.
This includes a letter from RMT Attorneys, Mkhwebane’s personal lawyers (who are not on record in the Section 194 proceedings), requesting that Dyantyi voluntarily recuse himself from the committee proceedings.
Dyantyi has said he would not voluntarily recuse himself, as such a request asks him to abdicate his “parliamentary and constitutional obligations on the basis of no more than media reports and WhatsApp messages”.
Meanwhile, the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests met late on Monday and received a briefing from the Acting Registrar of Members’ Interests, advocate Anthea Gordon, on the complaints laid by Mkhwebane against Joemat-Pettersson, Dyantyi, Majodina and Mapisa-Nqakula.
In a statement, the committee said: “The matter is on the ongoing agenda of the committee.”
The ethics committee also announced that four of its members who also serve on the inquiry committee had been recused to ensure that the process before it was fair, ethical, and conducted with integrity.