Mkhwebane explains why she didn't send delegation to Parliament

2018-06-06 18:29
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Netwerk24)

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Netwerk24)

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Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has attempted to clarify her reasons for not sending a delegation to Parliament on Wednesday in her stead, after she requested a late postponement due to a "family emergency".

Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Justice was due to hear from Mkhwebane on her office's policy around appointing special advisors, as Mkhwebane had done recently, as well as to consider a renewed request to institute an inquiry into her fitness to hold office.

MPs were left fuming after Mkhwebane requested a postponement of their meeting to June 21 or July 5, in a letter sent at 17:00 on Tuesday.

MPs were especially upset that a delegation was not arranged beforehand, nor a soft copy of her presentation sent, as those processes were usually confirmed a few days in advance.

READ: MPs fume as Mkhwebane requests late postponement of meeting

Mkhwebane - while not explaining the details of her family emergency - has explained why she did not set up a delegation to attend upon receiving the invitation on Friday.

'Agenda items required personal attendance'

She was of the view that the agenda items required her personal attendance, a statement said on Wednesday.

"Reluctant to send a delegation of officials without executive authority, Advocate Mkhwebane opted to humbly request the committee to defer the meeting to a later date."

Despite the "short notice" of the invitation, Mkhwebane had planned to attend the committee’s meeting, and travel arrangements to that effect had ensued, it continued.

"However, due to the unforeseen family emergency, she was forced to make a late cancellation of her intended attendance and rendered an apology to the committee.

"This apology was dispatched on Tuesday afternoon. Advocate Mkhwebane wishes to indicate that this was the first occasion she missed the attendance of the committee meetings."

She had hoped the committee could postpone to June 21 or July 5. Parliament will be in recess for both those proposed dates. Recess begins on June 18.

"Advocate Mkhwebane hereby assures all concerned about her recognition of and the respect she accords the National Assembly as the authority to which she is accountable in terms of Section 181(5) of the Constitution," the statement finished.

'Clear intention not to appear'

During the meeting, ANC MP Madipoane Mothapo said Mkhwebane's absence could be justified if the emergency was a death in the family. However, a delegation could still have been sent in her place to show more "respect" to the committee.

DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach said the unexplained excuse was outrageous and "flimsy", as the meeting had been scheduled in advance. Mkhwebane should have organised a delegation well in advance, even before her family emergency arose.

"A delegation does not get organised between 17:00 and 09:00 this morning. This is a clear intention not to appear," she said.

ACDP MP Steve Swart agreed with Breytenbach. He asked why Deputy Public Protector Kevin Malunga could not deputise on her behalf.

ANC MP Moloko Maila, however, said that the committee should first ascertain the facts around the emergency before judging Mkhwebane.

Committee chairperson Mathole Motshekga said, in the interests of natural justice, the committee would ask for a full explanation from Mkhwebane in writing and in person.

It would also ask her to prepare for a meeting next week Wednesday, where she will be expected to give answers on both the issues of her special adviser, and why the committee should or should not consider holding an inquiry into her competence.

READ: Renewed Public Protector inquiry discussions delayed after Mkhwebane no-show

Read more on:    busisiwe mkhewebane

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