Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to defend herself in Parliament
Johannesburg - Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane will be allowed to make representations to Parliament once the process to remove her from office begins.
The subcommittee on rules agreed that it would be important to allow Mkhwebane to comment. The committee wanted to map out its programme in dealing with the matter.
This followed its earlier decision to ask Speaker Thandi Modise to set up a panel of experts to determine whether there was a prima facie case against Mkhwebane. The committee has said this process would not only affect the public protector, but all heads of Chapter 9 institutions.
At the moment there are no mechanisms to deal with the removal of the public protector.
DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said once the panel had been set up and had made recommendations on a committee to hear the matter, the affected member of the Chapter 9 institution must be heard.
“That committee must embark on a transparent process and offer the member of the Chapter 9 institution an opportunity to defend himself or herself,” he said.
The ANC’s Richard Dyantyi said they fully supported the decision that the Speaker must set up a panel to investigate if there was evidence to remove the public protector.
However, he said there must be deadlines for this process.
“We don’t want an open-ended process,” said Dyantyi.
He said they wanted an inquiry to summons the affected person to make representations on why they should not be removed.
Chairperson of the subcommittee Doris Dlakude, who is also the deputy chief whip of the ANC, said the parliamentary legal services would look at the definitions for the grounds of the removal of the head of a Chapter 9 institution.
“We are not proceeding with this item because the National Assembly table and legal services will look at the definitions,” said Dlakude.
Masibulele Xaso, secretary to the National Assembly, told the committee the definitions must be clear.
“We agree these grounds must be defined, what incapacity is, what incompetence is and what misconduct is,” he said.
The national legislature was forced to craft the rules on the removal of Mkhwebane after it expressed concern about being taken to court to block the process.
Former National Prosecuting Authority deputy director of public prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba has challenged the decision of President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire her from her position.
She wants to be reinstated, but Parliament cannot proceed until the court has made a finding.
Jiba and special director Lawrence Mrwebi were fired by Ramaphosa in April after the report of the Mokgoro Inquiry.
Judge Robert Henney of the Western Cape High Court has reserved judgment on the first part of the application by Jiba that she must be reinstated into her position in the NPA.
The application was heard on Thursday.
The subcommittee on rules will meet again next month.
This would be to look at the definitions and some other issues that surfaced with respect to the removal of the public protector.
But members of the committee said they did not want the process to drag on for a long time.
They wanted this done soon, but needed to ensure that there were no loopholes in the process.