Justice committee to look at new request to review public protector's fitness to hold office

The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services will look at the latest request for the review of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's fitness to hold office.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen recently requested that the office of the Speaker of the National Assembly initiate and expedite removal proceedings against Mkhwebane. It is the third time the party has tried to kickstart removal proceedings since her appointment in 2016.

This comes after the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria found Mkhwebane's report on the Estina dairy farm project unconstitutional and set it aside on the grounds that she failed in her duties to investigate and report on the controversial project.

It is the latest high-profile court rulings slamming one of Mkhwebane's reports.

In a responding letter to the DA, new Speaker Thandi Modise, referred the matter to the justice committee, which previously denied requests for Mkhwebane to be probed on two other occasions.

READ: South Africa no longer has a Public Protector

Steenhuisen told journalists last week that the Sixth Parliament was at risk of moving into "Nkandla territory" if the legislature did not pursue Mkhwebane's performance in office.

It was at risk of being in dereliction of duty, he said, because it had been in the Constitutional Court's scathing 2016 judgment that Parliament failed in its constitutional mandate to hold former president Jacob Zuma to account.

Parliament meanwhile said Parliamentary committees will begin its work in July after chairpersons are elected.

"The National Assembly Rules Committee last week established the Assembly’s committee system for the new parliamentary term, and these committees will start convening their meetings from 2 to 9 July to elect their chairpersons and determine their programmes," said Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo.

"Once established, the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services will give attention to the request."

In February 2019, the Public Protector survived removal from office following a majority vote by the portfolio committee.

And in October 2017, ANC MPs pulled the plug on the first proposed review of Mkhwebane's fitness to hold office, in a bizarre u-turn, after initially agreeing a week earlier that it would probe the matter.

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