- National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise has responded to UDM leader Bantu Holomisa's concerns about the committee handling Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's impeachment.
- Holomisa said it is unconstitutional and undemocratic for smaller parties not to have voting members on the committee and has proposed a weighted voting system.
- Modise referred the matter to the National Assembly Rules Committee.
National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise has referred UDM leader Bantu Holomisa's concerns about the committee that will handle Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's impeachment to the National Assembly Rules Committee.
Last week, Holomisa wrote to Modise to complain about the committee's structure, and proposed a weighted voting system that would allow every party a vote in the committee.
On 16 March, the National Assembly voted to impeach Mkhwebane on the recommendation of an independent panel that found sufficient prima facie evidence of incompetence and misconduct on her part to institute an inquiry.
The vote in favour of the inquiry carried, with 275 in favour versus 40 against. Holomisa and his UDM colleague Nqabayomzi Kwankwa were among those who voted against impeachment.
Two weeks ago, Parliament announced which MPs will serve on the committee that will conduct the inquiry.
The committee's 26 members come from each of the 14 political parties represented in the National Assembly. But only 11 MPs will be voting members of the committee, and the remaining 15 will be non-voting members. Holomisa is among the non-voting members, while the ANC, DA, EFF, IFP and FF Plus have voting members.
Holomisa argued that it is undemocratic and unconstitutional for smaller parties not to have voting rights on a committee dealing with a matter of national importance.
In a statement on Tuesday, Parliament said that Modise had responded to Holomisa about his concerns and informed him that she would refer them to the Rules Committee to consider the implications of adapting the current approach.
Section 57 of the Constitution provides that the National Assembly may determine its own internal arrangements with due regard to representative democracy.
National Assembly rules must also provide for the participation of minority parties in a manner consistent with democracy.
Furthermore, the National Assembly's rule 154 provides that "parties are entitled to be represented in committees in substantially the same proportion as they are represented in the House, except where the rules prescribe the composition of the committee, or the number of members in the committee does not allow for all parties to be represented".
Modise informed Holomisa that, due to the nature of party proportional representation and practical necessities, the practice had been to limit the composition of committees, while at the same time allowing that any member can attend any committee.
"However, she agreed that some committees, given their mandates, should/could be structured differently. She noted that some ad hoc committees had had different compositions to that of portfolio committees – for example, the Ad Hoc Committee on Amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution, which was created with a voting and non-voting membership composition," reads Parliament's statement.