Backing for committee to probe public protector’s fitness to hold office
Cape Town - Some political parties have backed the special committee that will probe Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office.
This comes after parties deployed their heavyweights to serve on the committee, which is soon to elect its chairperson.
The ANC has a majority of members in the committee, with opposition parties also represented.
DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone said the DA needed a mechanism to remove the head of a Chapter 9 Institution.
“The courts instructed us to create the rule, which is 194. We did that, and then the DA brought forward a motion of no confidence against the public protector. That motion was supported by the ANC and some other political parties.
“We have experts in law, public administration and the rules of Parliament. We expect our members to act in a fair and impartial manner, listening only to fact and not getting involved in petty politics.”
Mazonne said the public protector must be beyond reproach.
“It’s so important to the DA because it’s important to South Africa. The committee will set its own timeline, but it must be reasonable as the matter is urgent given that it is an office of such importance.”
IFP chief whip Narend Singh said the establishment of the committee would set a good precedent in ensuring that the appointment of a public protector was based on merit and fitness for purpose.
Singh said the IFP would base their interaction and participation in the committee on fairness.
“Furthermore, our participation will be based on the Audi alteram partem rule and we will ensure that we interrogate prima facie findings by the legal team that was established by the Speaker in consultation with political parties.”
Freedom Front Plus MP Cornelius Mulder said this was a historic moment for the country as this was the first committee established to conduct this business.
“The findings in this matter are going to be vital. It’s important for members to go into it with an open mind and only seek truth. The committee is very senior and can be described as an A-team.”
Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said that the committee’s chairperson would be elected during the first meeting.
Mothapo said Parliament’s rules required the committee to conduct the inquiry, to establish whether the charges were sustainable and to report to the National Assembly.
“The committee’s report must contain findings, recommendations and reasons and must be scheduled for consideration and debate with appropriate urgency.”
Last month MPs voted in favour of establishing the committee after adopting the report of an independent panel of experts – including retired Constitutional Court Judge Bess Nkabinde, who chaired the panel, advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza and advocate Johan de Waal – which recommended that such a committee be established.
The panel found that there was a prima facie case against Mkhwebane.