MPs push for rules to remove Public Protector
The National Assembly's Justice Committee has unanimously agreed that the Rules Committee should establish rules for the process of removing the Public Protector.
News24 says the committee, which met to discuss DA chief whip John Steenhuisen's request that Parliament initiate proceedings to remove Busisiwe Mkhwebane as the Public Protector, agreed to refer the matter to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise.
She, in turn, will refer it the Rules Committee to establish the rules for the process that must be followed.
The EFF, which came out as staunch Mkhwebane supporters in recent months, did not have a representative at the meeting.
ANC MP Xola Nqola said it was a responsible approach which would prevent the committee from 'presiding over a highly litigious matter'.
Committee chairperson Bulelani Magwanishe said he would write to Modise and impress on her the urgency of the matter.
In a statement released shortly after the committee's decision, Steenhuisen said: 'The DA has since obtained a legal opinion which recommends that Parliament should first adopt rules governing how removal proceedings in terms of section 194 (of the Constitution) should be conducted, in order to ensure that all parties enjoy legal and procedural certainty.'
According to section 193 of the Constitution, the Public Protector must be a 'fit and proper' person.
'That the Constitutional Court upheld an order that Advocate Mkhwebane, the incumbent head of a Chapter Nine 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,' said the ANC's Pemmy Majodina.
MPs noted their concern about litigation if the matter were not handled correctly, BusinessLIVE reports.
The same situation of an absence of rules emerged during the process to impeach former President Jacob Zuma, as Parliament said rules had to be developed on the procedures to be followed in such a case.
The Justice Committee also dealt with the process of appointing a Deputy Public Protector when the term of office of the incumbent, Kevin Malunga, comes to an end at the beginning of December.
In a letter to Modise, Mkhwebane highlighted the fact that Parliament did not have any rules for the removal of the Public Protector and accused Modise of violating the Constitution by failing to protect her from attacks by MPs.
She threatened to take Modise's unwillingness to assist her to the courts, to seek a declaratory order and interdict her to force her to protect the Office of the Public Protector. She asked Modise to rescind the 'unlawful' referral of her fitness to hold office to the Justice Committee.
As reported in Legalbrief Today, Modise was unfazed by these threats, which she believed were 'out of order', and during a meeting of the Parliamentary Programming Committee last week urged the Justice Committee to fast track the process to set up an inquiry into Mkhwebane's fitness to hold office.
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