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Public Protector to know on March 16 if process of her removal proceeds

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Busisiwe Mkhwebane will know in just two weeks time if the National Assembly will proceed with the parliamentary process to remove her from office.

Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane will know in just two weeks time if the National Assembly will proceed with the parliamentary process to remove her from office.

On Thursday, the National Assembly Programme Committee agreed on March 16 as the date to consider the report of the three-member panel that found that she has a case to answer on allegations of misconduct and incompetence.

Last week the panel submitted its report to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise, who made it public on Monday.

It was mandated to conduct a preliminary assessment of the allegation against Mkhwebane within 30 days, but it asked for an extension which was granted by Modise.

Briefing the programme committee, Secretary to the National Assembly Masibulele Xaso said the rules say the report should be placed before the House for consideration with due urgency.

“The next step is now for the House to consider the panel’s report. If the House agrees with the report, it will be referred to a committee of the National Assembly,” Xaso said.

ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina proposed March 16 for the tabling of the report before the House for noting, before it went into the constituency period.

Modise said the presiding officers did not have a problem with the proposed date.

But ACDP MP Steve Swart said his understanding was that the report should come first for consideration of whether or not they proceed with the appointment of the committee to conduct the inquiry into Mkhwebane.

“I would think that would be the logical step,” Swart said.

NFP MP Munzoor Shaik-Emam agreed that the report should come for debate and a decision whether it should be referred to a committee.

“I think that the size (of the committee) must be taken into consideration, particularly the representation of the small parties,” he said.

Majodina agreed that that the report be tabled for noting and then referred to a multiparty committee.

“Starting to debate without subjecting it to a committee that is going to do the inquiry might be dangerous for Parliament, because we will debating something that is not fully processed.”

EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi said Parliament needed to find its feet on how to deal with the matter.

“There is no need for us to rush the proposal from the ANC. Let us satisfy ourselves and get a report next week on process to be followed,” Mkhaliphi said.

She said once they received a report on the process followed, the date for consideration of the panel’s decision could be determined.

“Rushing things won’t help us. This matter is of public interest,” she said.

Gerhard Koornhof, a parliamentary counsellor to President Cyril Ramaphosa, came out in support of the March 16 date.

“I propose that we accept the date and that we get a legal interpretation how exactly we consider the consideration of the report,” he said.

DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone said it would be in Parliament’s interest to have a senior counsel to advise on the correct process to be followed.

“I would caution we use an incredible senior counsel that can never be questioned in terms of legal integrity and legal opinion,” she said.

Mazzone said they should act with haste and act responsibly.

“What it means is we do not allow a drag in the matter,” she said.

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Political Bureau