The Western Cape High Court on Tuesday reserved judgment in Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s application to overturn President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to suspend her.
THE WESTERN Cape High Court on Tuesday reserved judgment in Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s application to overturn President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to suspend her.
On Monday, her legal representative, advocate Dali Mpofu, told the court that Ramaphosa’s decision to suspend Mkhwebane was unconstitutional.
He said Mkhwebane’s suspension was triggered by a letter written by National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in March this year.
The letter from the Speaker informed the president that the committee on the Section 194 inquiry to consider her removal would be resuming its proceedings.
After hearing from the Speaker, Ramaphosa issued Mkhwebane with a 10-day notice in which to explain why he should not suspend her in terms of Section 194 of the Constitution.
Mkhwebane made the submissions as to why she should not be suspended. However, Ramaphosa suspended her on June 9, saying she should remain suspended until the National Assembly (Section 194 committee) made a decision on her impeachment.
On June 10, the Western Cape High Court dismissed Mkhwebane’s application for urgent interim relief to interdict the Section 194 committee processes.
On Monday and Tuesday, Mpofu argued before a full bench comprising Judges Lister Nuku, Matthew Francis and James Lekhuleni that the Speaker had no constitutional authority to write the letter to Ramaphosa and that the letter had led to huge consequences, including the current court action.
He said Ramaphosa suspended Mkhwebane “out of revenge” because of her report on the CR17 presidential campaign and the 2020 burglary at his Phala Phala farm.
Mpofu said the suspension came one day after Mkhwebane posed 31 questions about the Phala Phala farm burglary to Ramaphosa, which triggered her suspension.
He also said Ramaphosa was aware that Mkhwebane was preparing to challenge impeachment proceedings against her when he suspended her and that the suspension was unconstitutional because it took place ahead of the process in Parliament to remove her from office.
Mpofu argued that the Constitution provides for possible suspension only after the commencement of the removal committee.
The inquiry by Parliament, which was adjourned to allow Mkhwebane to argue the matter in court, was set up as a constitutional process to establish on the basis of evidence presented whether she was incompetent or guilty of misconduct, as alleged.
Mpofu argued that even if the parliamentary committee was a properly constituted removal committee, the suspension was still unconstitutional because it was not completely clear when the proceedings actually began, as a number of different commencement dates had been announced.
The impeachment hearings on Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office will resume on Wednesday.