Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane suffers double blow
Cape Town - Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane will face an inquiry into her fitness to hold office after a majority of MPs backed a motion to establish a committee to assess her competency.
However, the EFF threatened to take legal action against Parliament, saying the process was unconstitutional.
A panel of experts, comprising retired Justice Bess Nkabinde and advocates Johan de Waal SC and Dumisa Ntsebeza, found there was a prima facie case against Mkhwebane.
After parties wrangled in the House yesterday, DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone called for a vote, and the majority of MPs voted in favour of an inquiry.
The voting came after the ANC caucus held an urgent meeting to discuss the issue.
This followed some of its MPs, including Kebby Maphatsoe and Supra Mahumapelo, saying that they would not back a motion proposed by the DA.
It was a double blow for Mkhwebane yesterday, after the Constitutional Court had earlier ruled against her direct access application to challenge the decision of the Western Cape High Court not to grant her an interdict to stop a parliamentary inquiry.
ANC deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude said they would back the inquiry into Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office.
She said Parliament had done everything by the book to set the process in motion. “It’s a pity though that in the fifth term of Parliament, Parliament was directed by the Constitutional Court in the case of the EFF, DA and others to establish the rules in line with the Constitution.
“The due process was followed where the speaker consulted all parties represented in Parliament for the appointment of the panel,” said Dlakude.
“The ANC supports the motion to establish the multi-party committee.”
She added that it would not be correct for Mkhwebane to have a cloud hanging over her head, and the inquiry would “help her”.
Mkhwebane’s spokesperson Oupa Segalwe had not responded to requests for comment by deadline .
Mazzone said they fully supported the panel’s report, and wanted the public protector to face the inquiry.
She called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to suspend Mkhwebane as was required by the law.
“The DA now calls on President Cyril Ramaphosa to suspend Mkhwebane pending the ad hoc committee inquiry into her fitness to hold office. The rules governing these removal proceedings state expressly that the president:
“(a) may suspend a person from office at any time after the start of the proceedings of a committee of the National Assembly for the removal of that person, and
“(b) must remove a person from office upon adoption by the Assembly of the resolution calling for that person’s removal,” said Mazzone.
EFF leader Julius Malema and his deputy Floyd Shivambu said the process was unconstitutional.
Earlier, EFF MP Natasha Ntlangwini said they would challenge the process in court.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said the rules were drafted in order to remove Mkhwebane from office. He said they did not agree with this.
Other parties, including the ACDP and IFP, said they wanted the inquiry to go ahead.