The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the decision taken today by the portfolio committee on Justice and Correctional Services to refer the issue regarding the removal of the Public Protector back to the Speaker of the National Assembly in order for the Rules Committee to consider the adoption of rules governing the process.
The DA wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Thandi Modise, on 23 May 2019 requesting that Parliament institute removal proceedings against the Public Protector in terms of section 194 of the Constitution. We directed further correspondence to the Speaker’s office on 22 July 2019 requesting that the matter be expedited. This followed upon the Constitutional Court ruling that upheld, with some scathing commentary, a personal costs order against the Public Protector in the infamous Reserve Bank matter.
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 should be conducted, in order to ensure that all parties enjoy legal and procedural certainty.
We therefore fully support the decision taken by today’s meeting of the portfolio committee, and are hopeful that it signifies that Parliament is approaching the matter with the care and attention it deserves.
The DA strongly believes that Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane is not a fit and proper person to occupy the office of the 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.