Inquiry into fitness of public protector to hold office gets under way
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PARLIAMENT is pushing ahead with the inquiry into the fitness of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to hold public office.
On Wednesday, the multiparty Section 194 Committee met to receive a briefing on legal aspects on the removal of Mkhwebane from the parliamentary legal services and considered a draft programme of action.
The meeting took place as judgment is awaited from the Western Cape High Court on her application to have the rules of Parliament declared unconstitutional after her failed interdict to stop the process.
After questions from the EFF and NFP, parliamentary legal adviser Fatima Ebrahim said the legal position was that the removal rules of heads of chapter nine institutions were constitutional until determined by a competent court of law.
Ebrahim said the attempt to interdict the removal process had been unsuccessful.
“The rules are drafted in a prescriptive manner. The rules make it mandatory for the Speaker and the committee to follow the process,” she said.
“There is no option but for the committee to continue. Of course, if rules are set aside it would mean the committee cannot continue the process,” Fatima added.
The MPs were taken through the removal process they will undertake.
They were told that the removal rules required a two-thirds majority for Mkhwebane to be removed and that they were drafted to particularly deal with the motion submitted by the DA.
“The same rules of removal will apply to any other Chapter 9 head when a motion is brought,” parliamentary legal adviser Fatima Ebrahim said.
Ebrahim also said the Section 194 Committee would not be conducting a criminal inquiry nor should it be seen to be such.
“This is not a judicial process and it is not a litigious process,” she said.
The presentation covered a public participation process and the need to afford Mkhwebane to be given sufficient opportunity to respond to the evidence backing the misconduct and incompetence charges, among others.
The MPs were also given options on the format they should follow in leading evidence and the need to come up with terms of reference.
A draft programme for the committee showed that the MPs would meet next week to adopt the terms of reference and adopt the final programme of action to be followed in the coming months.
It showed that there would be hearings, a public participation process and Mkhwebane would be afforded sufficient time to respond to the evidence against her.
A final report would be adopted in January 2022 for submission to the National Assembly after Mkhwebane has been afforded a month-long opportunity to respond to a draft that would have been approved in December. | Political Bureau