Parliament approves initiation of motion for Mkhwebane’s removal

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane during a press briefing at the Public Protector's House, 12 December 2019, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Mkhwebane had earlier written to Modise to complain there were no rules for the process to remove her and threatened court action.

Parliament has approved a motion to initiate proceedings for the removal of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

The National Assembly announced on Friday that it has adopted new rules concerning Mkhwebane’s removal.

“The new rules expand on the parameters in section 194 of the Constitution, which provide for the removal of heads of chapter 9 institutions,” said National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise in a statement.

Should Modise be satisfied that the motion meets all requirements, she must refer to the motion and supporting documentation for preliminary assessment to an independent panel.

Modise has written to political parties to propose nominees to serve on the panel made up of fit and proper South African citizens.

The panel must have the necessary legal competencies and experience to conduct the assessment. Parties have until February 7 to submit their recommended nominees after which a panel will be appointed.

“Within 30 days of its appointment, the panel must conduct and finalise preliminary assessment on the motion proposing a section 194 inquiry and make a recommendation to the speaker.”

Modise’s office received a letter from DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone last year stating that when parliament resumed in the new year, proceedings would be started for Mkhwebane’s removal.

Mkhwebane had earlier written to Modise to complain that there were no rules for the process to remove her and threatened court action.

After considering the case, the committee referred it to the rules committee, which drafted the rules.

The National Assembly then adopted the justice committee’s recommendation to appoint Kholeka Gcaleka as the deputy public protector.

Despite concerns raised against Gcaleka by the opposition, the ANC used its majority to push through the appointment of former minister Malusi Gigaba’s former legal adviser, with 203 votes to 103.

Gcaleka must still be appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The constitution empowers the president to suspend the head of a chapter 9 institution when he or she is under investigation. In that case, the deputy public protector would act as public protector. This will also be the case if the incumbent is removed until a new public protector is appointed.

(Compiled by Gopolang Moloko, background reporting: News24 Wire)

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