Parliament to deal with Mkhwebane's removal proceedings later as focus remains on Covid-19

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Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Tebogo Letsie)
Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Tebogo Letsie)

While removal proceedings against Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is an important matter of public interest, Parliament's renewed focus under the lockdown will for now be on the Covid-19 pandemic, National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise said on Thursday.

She was addressing a virtual press briefing on Parliament's programme, while the country is under lockdown, with the other presiding officers when she was asked about the removal proceedings against Mkhwebane.

In December, DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone lodged an initial motion to institute her removal with Modise three days after the National Assembly adopted rules for the removal of the head of a Chapter 9 institution like the Public Protector.

Modise gave the green light for this motion, but Mazzone withdrew this motion and lodged another with more evidence. Modise also approved this motion, and asked parties in Parliament to nominate candidates for a panel of three independent persons to assess whether there is a prima facie case for Mkhwebane's removal, as the rules required.

Lockdown

But before Modise appointed the panel, Parliament rose for its constituency period and the country was placed on lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Modise said she knew the matter was of high public interest.

"But that matter has been put on hold because we had to deal with Covid-19. When we are back, that matter will be back for consideration. We will advise what will then happen."

Modise added the panel had not yet been appointed and she would look at the parties' recommendations anew.

"And yes, as soon as it is practical, we'll go back to that matter. But for now, we do think that South Africa must focus on the business of saving the lives of South Africans."

Mkhwebane, meanwhile, has approached the Western Cape High Court for an interdict against the removal proceedings, and to have the rules for the removal of the head of a Chapter 9 institution declared invalid.

The case was due to be heard in the last week of March, but the parties agreed to postpone it to a later date.

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