Home South African Conflict of interest issue returns to haunt Mkhwebane inquiry

Conflict of interest issue returns to haunt Mkhwebane inquiry

541

The fact that DA MP Kevin Mileham, a member of Parliament’s Committee for Section 194 Inquiry into suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office, is married to fellow DA MP Natasha Mazzone, who lodged a motion for Mkhwebane’s impeachment, has been labelled a ‘conflict of interest’ by Zambian Public Protector Caroline Zulu-Sokoni.

Natasha Mazzone and Kevin Mileham. File picture: Ayanda Ndamane, African News Agency (ANA)

THE FACT that DA MP Kevin Mileham, a member of Parliament’s Committee for Section 194 Inquiry into suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office, is married to fellow DA MP Natasha Mazzone, who lodged a motion for Mkhwebane’s impeachment, has been labelled a “conflict of interest”.

Zambian Public Protector Caroline Zulu-Sokoni, who on Monday was called as the first witness for the year by Mkhwebane’s legal team, made the remark while being taken through her testimony by the committee’s evidence leader, senior counsel Nazreen Bawa.

This is not the first time the issue has arisen at the committee.

In July last year, National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula wrote to committee chairperson Qubudile Dyantyi advising him to seek legal opinion on the matter after another committee member, Omphile Maotwe (EFF), brought it up during the hearings.

Senior Counsel Nazreen Bawa and Ncumisa Mayosi at the Mkhwebane inquiry. Picture: Phando Jikelo, African News Agency (ANA)

The committee’s legal adviser found there was no conflict of interest, but in October Mkhwebane’s team lodged a recusal application against Mileham which was also dismissed.

Earlier in the proceedings, Zulu-Sokoni told Mkhwebane’s lead counsel Dali Mpofu that Mkhwebane’s impeachment flouted the Venice Principle, which is regarded as the standard for ombudsman organisations by the UN.

Zulu-Sokoni said the issue of compliance with the OR Tambo Declaration on Minimum Standards for an Effective Ombudsman Institution was the reason she had come to testify.

“We had actually requested that we should be given a platform and we thank you (Mpofu) for that and thank you to this committee as well.”

At this point Mpofu asked her if there was a way she formally could pass her concerns and those of the African Ombudsman and Mediators Association (AOMA) about South Africa’s non-compliance with the OR Tambo Declaration to the country’s government.

Zambian Public Protector Caroline Zulu-Sokoni

Zulu-Sokoni said: “We are able to engage with the government directly. However, we believe that this opportunity that we have been given also allows us to address the government directly and we trust that it will start a process of discussion and engagement as well. Not only here in South Africa, but in other countries, as well.”

Answering questions from committee members, Zulu-Sokoni said South Africa was a leader in ombudsmanship, and that AOMA was happy that the hearings were being carried out in a transparent manner.

Previous articleTobacco bill likely to hurt small businesses already struggling to keep lights on
Next articleGovt plans R1 billion deal to sponsor Tottenham Hotspur in hope of attracting tourists to SA