Parliament to oppose Public Protector’s recession application

Parliament says it will oppose Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s recession application as she faces impeachment.

Earlier this month, Mkhwebane filed her papers to the Constitutional Court (ConCourt), seeking an order for the apex court to rescind its own ruling.

The ConCourt in February gave Parliement’s  Ad Hoc Committee on the Section 194 Inquiry green-light to proceed the impeachment process against Mkhwebane.

Section 194 of the Constitution deals with the removal of a head of a Chapter 9 institution.

While Mkhwebane wants the impeachment process against her suspended until the rescission is finalised, the Section 194 committee has indicated that “there was no legal obligation” preventing them from continuing with their work.

‘Festival of letters’

During Tuesday’s virtual meeting, which the committee’s chairperson Qubudile Dyantyi described as a “festival of letters”, MPs were told that Parliament would be opposed because “we believe there is no merit in this matter”. 

 “We have [also] since written a letter to the registrar of the Constitutional Court wherein we place on record that the committee had made a decision to proceed [with the impeachment].

“If there are to be any directions from the court, those directions must be issued before the 4th of May so as to enable the committee to proceed with its programme today,” Parliament’s legal adviser Siviwe Njikela said.

Njikela said Mkhwebane may file an interdict application against the Section 194 committee proceeding with the impeachment after Tuesday’s meeting.

“From our reading of the correspondence that we have obtained, the Public Protector seems to be saying after today’s meeting, depending on what the committee decides to do-they may file an urgent application to interdict the inquiry that the committee intends to proceed with. And we have no difficulty with that,” he said.

ALSO READ: Another win for Ramaphosa as court dismisses Mkhwebane’s CR17 rescission application

“We recognised the right that the Public Protector has to exhaust whatever legal avenue is available but we have not received that application. We are hoping that in the next couple of days or hours that application would come.

“So as I am speaking to you chairperson, all we have in front of us is the application for rescission of the decision of the Constitutional Court. There is no interdict or application for an interdict,” Njikela added.

He also pointed that Parliament could oppose the interdict as well if Mkhwebane decides to file her papers.

“We suspect that we may have to do that same even in this instance,” the legal adviser said.

The impeachment process against the Public Protector could take seven months to complete.

Mkhwebane will be the first head of a Chapter 9 institution to face a parliamentary inquiry.


In Tuesday’s meeting, it was also revealed that Mkhwebane’s attorneys informed the committee via letter that President Cyril Ramaphosa and National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula reached an in-principle agreement that the Public Protector would not be suspended until her application to declare the president “conflicted” is heard later in April.

However, Parliament says otherwise.

“The prerogative to suspend, or not to suspend, the Public Protector resides with the president only. Parliament has no role in that.

READ MORE: EFF slams Ramaphosa’s intention to suspend Mkhwebane

“This is what we have officially communicated to the lawyers of the Public Protector to clear up any confusion,” Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo told Daily Maverick.

Ramaphosa on 17 March wrote to Mkhwebane  asked her to explain why he should not suspend her during the inquiry into her fitness to hold office, and gave her 10 days to respond, but the public protector has argued that the president is conflicted.

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