Parliament to discuss Protector’s fitness to hold office

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Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Pic: Netwerk24)
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Pic: Netwerk24)

Parliament will discuss Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office, an unprecedented move which comes barely a year after she took up the post on October 15 last year.

Chairperson of the National Assembly’s portfolio committee on justice Mathole Motshekga told City Press that his committee would this week deal with the DA’s request to institute proceedings intended to remove her from office.

The matter was referred to that committee by National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete and was published in Parliament’s official papers on September 28.

The DA is not only taking aim at Mkhwebane. It wants her deputy Kevin Malunga probed for alleged misconduct.

City Press understands that this week’s meeting will deal with the matter and also whether there is substance to the DA’s complaint.

“The committee will look at it next week and see how we address that in light of the matters that are already before the committee,” said Motshekga.

He said the committee’s programme for the rest of the year was full and included dealing with urgent pieces of legislation.

“Monday, I will go to Parliament, Tuesday do all the necessary consultation and also put the matter before the committee for consideration,” he said.

The DA wrote to Mbete last month, asking for the institution of a process to remove Mkhwe-bane.

It cited section 194 of the Constit-ution, which makes provision for the removal of a Public Prot-ector from office on the basis of “misconduct, incapacity or incompetence”.

Such a decision would however require the support of two-thirds of the National Assembly.

“It is our submission that the conduct of the Public Protector over the past 10 months has amply demonstrated that she is not fit to hold the office she currently occupies,” the DA said.

This included her “grossly over-reaching her powers” when she recommended that the Constitution be amended to alter the mandate of the SA Reserve Bank (Sarb), in her report on the Absa/Bankorp matter released on June 19.

The party cited Mkhwebane’s attempt to dictate to Parliament to whom she is accountable and how and when legislation should be amended.

In doing so she had displayed poor understanding both of the law and her own powers.

The party claimed Mkhwebane sacrificed her independence and impartiality when she consulted with the Presidency and the State Security Agency on remedial action to be recommended in the Absa/Bankorp report.

This was revealed in a supplementary affidavit which the Sarb filed in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

Mkhwebane has denied any wrongdoing.

The DA wants an inquiry into allegations that Malunga unlawfully terminated an investigation into fraud and irregular expenditure allegedly committed by Mondli Gungubele, the former mayor, and Khaya Ngema, former municipal manager, of the Ekurhuleni municipality.

The Public Protector’s office has previously said an internal inquiry was conducted after the complaint against Malunga was received.

“After considering all sides and verifying the evidence, the Public Protector decided not to refer the matter to the National Assembly for further action,” the Public Protector’s spokesperson, Cleo Mosana, said in July.

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