CAPE TOWN - Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has described the decision by MPs to forge ahead with her impeachment proceeding as totally unacceptable.
Mkhwebane has been served with a 30-day notice to make a written representation, MPs were told on Wednesday.
She has to also indicate whether she would need the services of a legal practitioner by next week, the day her other application seeking to halt the process that will resume in the Western Cape High Court.
The window will be opened this Friday for members of the public to submit written evidence that disputes or supports the action.
This emerged after the parliamentary committee tasked to conduct the inquiry met to consider an update on litigation and make a decision on its way forward.
Briefing MPs, legal adviser Siviwe Njikela said since they informed the committee that there was an application for rescission of the Concourt decision and application to interdict the inquiry, there was some development related to a text message received by Parliament’s legal counsel.
“The SMS resulted in an agreement reached between the parties when the matter was to be heard on April 26. It was agreed to be postponed to May 18 and 19 to allow the parties to report to the Chief Justice and the Chief Justice to investigate the matter,” Njikela said.
He also said Parliament has since received correspondence from Mkhwebane requesting that next week’s court proceedings be postponed pending the determination or the investigation by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
ANC deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude said there was nothing stopping the committee from proceeding with its work.
“I did not hear it (Njikela’s presentation) say there was an interdict for the committee from proceeding with its work.”
She said the SMS issue was unfortunate to have happened but it was not their baby.
“Those who are responsible to deal with it must deal with it,” Dlakude said.
GOOD MP Brett Herron said it seemed the correspondence from Mkhwebane attempted to conflate the SMS with work of the inquiry.
But ATM leader Vuyo Zungula said the SMS could not be treated as a non-issue.
“It brings another dimension that can’t be brushed aside. There is an investigation the chief justice committed to do. We don’t know what the investigations could unearth,” Zungula said.
Responding to questions about implications of proceeding with the inquiry, Njikela said there was no legal impediment.
Committee chairperson Qubudile Dyantyi said: “In their numbers members are clear that none of the issues, including investigation of a leaked SMS, prohibits proceedings and we agree that we proceed with our work we were set to do.”
Mkhwebane appeared unmoved about this, saying: “The decision to start an enquiry in the present atmosphere, which is littered with allegations of conflicts of interest, illegality and even alleged corruption and other criminal conduct, is totally unacceptable.”
Her office said Mkhwebane was on record as having said any lawful inquiry should proceed as soon as possible.
“She is confident that no legitimate inquiry will find her guilty of the charges brought by the DA. The outcome of Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s investigation into allegations of corruption implicating Mr Ismail Abramjee and one or more persons within the Constitutional Court, which will have a huge bearing on all the related processes, should be awaited by all reasonable people and institutions. No legitimate court or parliamentary step ought to be taken until the outcome of the pending investigation is known.”
Mkhwebane will “leave no stone unturned” in the quest for justice, the vindication of the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law, said her office, adding that it was her duty to protect the public from alleged wrongdoing and/or criminality by any person or public institution.