Deregistered political party Black First Land First (BLF), perennial opponents of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), have questioned the latter’s absence from Tuesday’s parliamentary portfolio committee on justice and correctional services meeting that discussed the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) request to have Busisiwe Mkhwebane removed as public protector.
There seemed to be no red overall in sight at the proceedings and their absence irked the BLF, which said the details of the meeting and its agenda had been published well in advance.
It said in a statement: “Before the revelations emerged that the EFF had taken money from President Ramaphosa, it presented itself as a defender of the Public Protector. However, when an important opportunity arose to defend the Public Protector, this party, with more than 40 members of parliament (MPs), was nowhere to be found. As a result it took less than five minutes for the anti-Public Protector parliamentary committee to decide to remove Advocate Mkhwebane from her office.”
The committee had, however, only taken the first of such steps, which is to draw up rules and procedures for how the incumbents of chapter 9 institutions can be removed.
In a statement explaining their decision to request Mkhwebane’s removal, the DA said they “strongly” believed Mkhwebane was not fit to be public protector.
“The Constitutional Court itself has found that the Public Protector acted in bad faith and was not honest with the High Court regarding her investigation process in the Reserve Bank matter. That the Constitutional Court upheld an order that Advocate Mkhwebane, the incumbent head of a Chapter 9 institution, personally pay the legal costs in proceedings instituted against her office, is no small matter and it deserves the full and undivided attention of Parliament. There are moreover numerous further instances in which the Public Protector has acted improperly, which should not fall by the wayside.
“Section 194 of the Constitution is quite clear that Parliament is the correct body to consider and decide upon the removal of the Public Protector. Section 194(3) states that the President must remove a person from office upon the adoption by the Assembly of a resolution calling for that person’s removal. The DA does not believe Advocate Mkhwebane is up to the job, and we will not rest in our efforts to ensure that South Africans are given the Public Protector they deserve.”
The portfolio committee referred the matter back to the Speaker of the National Assembly in order for the Rules Committee to consider the adoption of rules governing the process.
Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise is understood to be taking the matter of removing the public protector seriously, particularly in light of the fact that she has made damning findings against the president of the ANC and the country, Cyril Ramaphosa, and already lost the first part of an ongoing legal battle against him.