Rules to fire heads of Chapter 9 institutions: Parliamentary subcommittee flags lack of clear definitions

2019-09-20 23:13
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Netwerk24)

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Netwerk24)

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The parliamentary subcommittee tasked with the review of the National Assembly rules has raised concern over the lack of clear definitions relating to the ground upon which a Chapter 9 official can be removed.

The subcommittee met on Friday "to consider proposed rules concerning a section 194 enquiry", according to a statement released by Parliament.

Section 194 of the Constitution deals with the removal of the Public Protector, the Auditor-General or a member of a commission, established by Chapter 9 of the Constitution, from office.

According to the statement, the subcommittee agreed "it was imperative that the grounds be clearly defined to close the vacuum that exists".

"While the Constitution and the National Assembly rules do set out a broad framework for Parliament to exercise its functions in terms of section 194, the subcommittee agreed that to ensure clarity and uniformity, specific rules are required as mandated by the rules committee."

Proposals presented to the subcommittee in this regard provide four stages for a section 194 in Parliament.

This includes the initiation, the preliminary assessment of evidence, an inquiry by a committee and a decision by the House.

Currently, there are two ways for an MP to initiate the process - by a "substantive motion in the National Assembly" or by a written request to the speaker of Parliament.

Then, a decision on "whether prima facie evidence exists for the National Assembly to proceed with an inquiry that would be fact-based and rely on legal considerations".

"Concerning the third stage, options being considered include, a special committee on section 194 processes, an ad hoc committee or a portfolio committee of the National Assembly."

Then, a decision will be taken by the National Assembly following due process.

Following the meeting on Friday, the subcommittee referred the matters discussed to the administration to develop draft rules. It will consider this for the next meeting scheduled for October.

"In terms of the process map, when the subcommittee reaches an agreement on the guidelines, it will present its recommendations to the National Assembly rules committee, which in turn would submit its recommendations to a plenary sitting of the House for approval/adoption."

Last month, the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services agreed to approach the rules committee to draft rules on the removal of heads of Chapter 9 institutions before considering the removal proceedings against Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, News24 reported.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen laid a complaint against Mkhwebane with Parliament following a series of court findings against her, however, Parliament currently does not have clear rules to be followed.

Mkhwebane indicated at the time she would challenge this process.

Read more on:    public protector  |  busisi­we mkhwebane  |  parliament
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