DA says Parliament could move into 'Nkandla territory' if it doesn't probe Mkhwebane

2019-06-05 20:14
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (File, Daily Sun)

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (File, Daily Sun)

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DA chief whip John Steenhuisen claims the Sixth Parliament could move into "Nkandla territory", with the legislature at risk of being in dereliction of duty if they do not probe Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Steenhuisen was seated beside DA leader Mmusi Maimane on Wednesday afternoon as the party announced their "shadow cabinet", or spokespeople on key government portfolios.

He had recently request National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete to initiate and expedite removal proceedings against Mkhwebane - the third time the party has tried to kickstart removal proceedings.

Steenhuisen said if Parliament doesn't hold Mkhwebane to account this term, "we're heading into Nkandla territory", in reference to the Constitutional Court's scathing judgment in 2016 that Parliament failed in their constitutional mandate to hold former president Jacob Zuma to account.

"It has been an unfortunate few years," he said.

Modise 'giving request attention'

This most recent attempt to remove the public protector comes after the Gauteng High Court found her report on the Estina Dairy Farm Project to be unconstitutional and set it aside.

Steenhuisen acknowledged that the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, had received his request and said he was "encouraged" by her response.

In a statement issued by Parliament, Modise confirmed she is "giving the request attention".

The statement continued that in terms of Parliament's rules, "the Speaker is obligated to refer such a request to an appropriate structure of Parliament for its consideration".

"The Speaker said advice was being sought on the appropriate way of dealing with the DA's request, given the fact that certain structures of the sixth Parliament are not yet established."

These include committees like the justice and correctional services portfolio committee, which looked into the DA's first request to probe Mkhebane during the fifth Parliament.

Mkwhebane has been roundly criticised for a series of adverse court rulings against her.

She was ruled against by the High Court on four occasions, including the review of two reports, the Absa and the SA Reserve Bank and Estina dairy matters.

'Not enough to remove me'

In February, the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services considered the last of Steenhuisen's requests, but recommended that the National Assembly not support the request, saying it would be "premature".

The public protector has previously defended her right to occupy her office, saying the justice committee's displeasure with certain reports was not grounds for her to be removed.

READ: MPs' displeasure 'not enough to remove me' - Mkhwebane

The National Assembly had more than 60% majority voted for her election, and she intended seeing out her term.

"For this committee to start the removal process, there must be some serious misconduct or substantial incompetence and the onus of proving just cause rests with Mr Steenhuisen, who has dismally failed to discharge that onus or any of the objective standards listed above," she said in August last year during one of Steenhuisen's previous requests.

Read more on:    da  |  busisiwe mkhwebane
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