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MPs to decide Mkhwebane's future

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Apr 10, 2021


Cape Town – The parliamentary process to impeach Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is a step closer to starting.

This became evident earlier this week when the National Assembly announced the special committee to conduct the inquiry to establish whether the charges were sustainable and to report to the House.

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Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said in a statement the 26-member committee was constituted by all 14 political parties represented in the National Assembly.

“Eleven will be voting members of the committee and another 15 will be non-voting members,” Mothapo said.

The ANC deployed, among others, deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude, Qubudile Dyantyi, committee chairpersons Tina Joemat-Pettersson, Mondli Gungubele and Philly Mapulane (Alternate) as well as Judy Hermans, Bekizwe Simon Nkosi and Teiliswa Mgweba (Alternate)

The official opposition sent Annelie Lotriet and Leon Schreiber.

The EFF deployed its leader Julius Malema, the IFP Zandile Majozi and Freedom Front Plus its leader Piet Groenewald.

Other MPs on the committee, who will not enjoy voting rights, include UDM’s Bantu Holomisa, NFP’s Munzoor Shaik-Emam, PAC leader Mzwanele Nyhontso, Al Jama-ah’s Mogamad Hendricks and Thandiswa Marawu of the ATM, which has been backing Mkhwebane.

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The recent vote on whether the committee should be formed might indicate how things will unfold when the committee completes its tasks.

The setting up the committee easily attained the majority vote when a total of 275 MPs backed the motion and 40 objecting.

The EFF, UDM and ATM did not support the motion and the DA voting in favour along with the ANC and other small parties.

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This is so as Malema has threatened to take the matter to court because he deemed the process followed by Parliament was flawed.

President Cyril Ramaphosa may likely suspend Mkhwebane who has been on sabbatical leave in recent months.

This will mean her deputy Kholeka Gcaleka will hold the fort as she did over the past few months.

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The impeachment of Mkhwebane has long been coming with the DA’s former chief whip John Steenhuisen asking as far back as in 2017 wrote to then-Speaker Baleka Mbete to institute an inquiry.

The matter was referred to the justice and correctional services portfolio committee for consideration after the ANC pushed for a resolution on the probe to be conducted by the committee as opposed to an ad hoc committee, which was preferred by chairman Mathole Motshekga.

In 2019, Steenhuisen again asked for the newly constituted national legislature to institute the removal proceedings against Mkhwebane after the North Gauteng High Court set aside her report into the Vrede Dairy Project.

When Modise set the processes into motion, Mkhwebane threatened legal action if Parliament went ahead with the process to remove her from office.

She had argued that the national legislature has no rules on the procedure to follow to effect her removal like it has for judicial officers or the president.

But that did not stop Modise from referring the proposal to remove Mkhwebane from office to the justice and correctional services portfolio committee.

Processes that subsequently followed include formulating rules for removal of the head of Chapter Nine intuitions, Mkhwebane’s attempt to interdict Parliament and the appointment of a three-member panel chaired by Justice Bess Nkabinde after current DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone submitted another motion with a litany of allegations in February last year.

The panel that conducted an assessment on incompetence and misconduct found Mkhwebane has a case to answer.

The Public Protector may be removed from office on a finding of “misconduct, incapacity or incompetence” by a portfolio committee, followed by the adoption of a resolution by two-thirds of the National Assembly.

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Political Bureau