Cape Town - Parliament is in a race against time to amend its rules ahead of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane appearing before the justice committee on a proposal by the official opposition to remove her from office.
This comes against the backdrop of former deputy director for public prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba successfully interdicting Parliament from going ahead with the process to remove her pending her review applications in the high court.
Jiba had challenged Parliament in the Western Cape High Court that it can begin the process to remove her while she was taking the Mokgoro report to court.
The report was the basis for Jiba’s axing by President Cyril Ramaphosa in April, together with special director Lawrence Mrwebi.
Members of the programming committee were concerned this week that any head of a chapter 9 institution may in future halt processes to remove them. The justice committee is due to sit next month to hear the matter on Mkhwebane.
But MPs said they need to tighten the rules of the national legislature to prevent any head of a Chapter 9 institution to interdict them before they launch proceedings against them.
The DA has since last year been trying to remove Mkhwebane from office.
It failed last November after the ANC members in the justice committee were divided. When the DA tried again in February their motion did not succeed when the ANC blocked it.
This is the third time that the official opposition is trying to get the public protector removed.
Speaker Thandi Modise told the programming committee they have been getting the rules committee to work on the matter.
Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said they must be able to get their ducks in a row to avoid anyone trying to stop Parliament from doing its work.
“We can’t assume anybody under attack for any reason can stop us. We must put our ducks in a row,” said Tsenoli.
The programming committee also indicated it was in consultation with the justice committee on this matter.
A process on the removal of a head of a chapter 9 institution was important, said DA chief whip John Steenhuisen.
Mkhwebane has in recent times come under fire over her reports and judgments. But she has defended herself saying she was doing her job.
The ball was now in the court of the rules committee to determine a process that will be followed in the removal of the public protector, said House chairperson Cedric Frolick.
Modise said they expected a report soon on the matter. She said they will not agree to be stopped by anyone when they know the process followed by Parliament was fair.