Mkhwebane's comments on removal proceedings show 'exceptionally poor understanding of the law' - DA

2020-01-28 18:10
DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone (Jan Gerber/News24)

DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone (Jan Gerber/News24)

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The DA says it is "unsurprised" by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's statement on Tuesday in which she labelled the parliamentary process to consider her removal "unconstitutional".

Mkhwebane on Tuesday said aside from not being informed of the decision to begin proceedings against her, the rules did not allow her to give her side of the story before a decision to begin proceedings was made.

In response, DA Chief Whip Natasha Mazzone said Mkhwebane's comments "demonstrates once again that she has an exceptionally poor understanding of the law".

Mazzone lodged the motion to remove Mkhwebane with National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise last year.

Earlier this month, Modise approved the motion. The rules governing the removal of the head of a Chapter 9 institution were adopted last year.

At a press briefing on Tuesday, Mkhwebane said the now approved parliamentary process to remove her, was "unconstitutional" and "unlawful", News24 reported earlier.

"I am advised that the rules are unconstitutional and unlawful in that they amount to a violation of the constitutionally prescribed duty imposed on organs of state to protect the independence of Chapter 9 institutions," Mkhwebane said.

She said the rules do not accommodate both sides of the story and do not provide for the recusal of conflicted parties including, she said, the DA.

"The DA is itself involved in litigation against me. I took the party to court to substantiate its allegations that I am a spy. This was a false claim and an insult aimed at undermining my office, in violation of section 181 of the Constitution.

'Not fit and proper person'

"The complaint by the DA has to do with matters that allegedly occurred long before the adoption of the rules. The purported retrospective application of the rules is at odds with constitutional values and principles of natural justice," Mkhwebane said.

She added that she had written to the speaker earlier that day to inform her of these "deficiencies" in the rules.

But Mazzone said the DA believed Mkhwebane was "not a fit and proper person to occupy the Office of the Public Protector".

"[O]ur motion, submitted and accepted in terms of the rules of the National Assembly, clearly sets out why Mkhwebane is not a fit and proper person to occupy the Office of the Public Protector, on the basis of misconduct, incapacity or incompetence.

"The reality is that Mkhwebane has never enjoyed having her conduct scrutinised, and will fight tooth and nail to avoid being held accountable," Mazzone said.

She explained the Constitution provided for the removal of a head of a Chapter 9 institution in cases of misconduct, incapacity or incompetence.

"[The Public Protector] seems to be under the impression that Parliament's duty to ensure that her office functions independently prohibits this institution from criticising her conduct or exercising its own constitutional powers to remove her."

"Parliament cannot and must not waiver in its commitment to proceed with the process it has set in motion. On our part, the DA certainly will not back down," Mazzone said.

Read more on:    public protector  |  da  |  busisiwe mkhewebane  |  natasha mazzone  |  parliament
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