Cape Town - Parliament plans to start a process that will lead to the appointment of the new public protector to replace the incumbent Busisiwe Mkhwebane when her term comes to an end in October.
This emerged on Thursday when National Assembly chairperson Cedric Frolick briefed the programme committee about the presentation they made to the chief whips forum on the envisages on Wednesday.
Frolick said given the long constituency period that would start in June, it was important that the House decided soon on what should be done.
“The proposal on the table is an ad hoc committee consisting of 11 members . There is also a second proposal – 11 members and non-voting members,” he said.
Frolick said chief whips had asked for further consultation with their parties on the matter.
“I will implore the Speaker that this consultation process be concluded soon. The viable date for the House to consider the ad hoc committee will be May 25 and by then we must be clear on the route to be followed,” he said.
Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said the matter needed to be attended to urgently.
After some input from the MPs, Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said: “Parties will make their submissions and the decision stands.”
Meanwhile, Public Protector South Africa (PPSA) has made available R4 million for the legal fees of Mkhwebane in the inquiry into her fitness to hold office.
The inquiry was halted at the end of March after the PPSA stopped funding legal fees citing financial constraints.
PPSA chief executive Thandi Sibanyoni told the justice and correctional services portfolio committee on Wednesday that the National Treasury has given their office an approval to tap into surplus funds.
“We still have some left over money of approximately R4m that we can make available just to support the process because we don’t want anything that is going to disturb that process,” Sibanyoni said.
The MPs heard that it was initially estimated that Mkhwebane’s legal cost to the inquiry were to be R4.5m until last September, when the inquiry was envisaged to end.
“The costs have since escalated to such an extent that we have spent more than R25m and we still have commitments of another R4m plus, which takes us to R30m.
“We looked at the budget for the current financial year and realised this is not affordable. Once we paid for the Public Protector’s legal fees, we have to suspend the legal fees we have to pay. There are court orders issued against the office itself. We could not even settle those,” Sibanyoni said.
Acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka said they PPSA has written on Tuesday to Mkhwebane, Mapisa-Nqakula and Section 194 Committee chairperson Qubudile Dyantyi informing them that PPSA was seeking further assessment of the invoices even though they have paid some.
She insisted that the R4m, made available for Mkhwebane’s legal fees, was the last amount that would be paid in the matter.
“In the current budget, we do not have any amount really to allocate for these legal fees because we have our own operations that have been stagnated,” Gcaleka said.