Former Chief Operations Officer Basani Baloyi is expected to take the stand in the Section 194 Inquiry into suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office which resumes on Monday morning.
Baloyi is the tenth witness who has worked with Mkhwebane, who will testify. She is expected to give clarity about an SMS Mkhwebane sent to her soon after she was appointed.
When Senior Manager for Executive Support in the Office of the Public Protector Futana Tebele testified recently, he was taken by surprise by a text message revealing that Mkhwebane may not have trusted him.
Evidence leader Advocate Ncumisa Mayosi read the SMS during the hearing. It will form part of Baloyi’s testimony.
Baloyi is also expected to testify why she believes that Mkhwebane and former CEO Vusi Mahlangu terminated her contract.
Calls for her removal from office started in 2017
Less than a year in office, calls for Mkhwebane’s removal from office started with her fitness to hold office being questioned. One of her remedial actions related to the CIEX report. She had recommended that the mandate of the Reserve Bank be amended by Parliament.
In June 2017, DA Member of the Justice and Correctional Services Committee Glynnis Breytenbach said in a statement, “The DA expresses serious disquiet at the ‘remedial action’ proposed by the Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, in which she instructed Parliament’s Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development to amend the Constitution in relation to the powers of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB). Clearly, her recommendation goes beyond what she is legally empowered to do and is indicative of her long-term plan to render the Public Protectors office ineffective.”
The report on the Reserve Bank was taken on review in the North Gauteng High Court.
Breytenbach welcomed the court decision: “The DA welcomes the decision by the North Gauteng High Court to set aside Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s, remedial action which called for the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) to amend its constitutional mandate. Despite initially defending her recommendations, Mkhwebane later admitted that she had overstepped the boundaries of her power as Public Protector and withdrew her application against SARB.”
“We have long held that Mkhwebane may not be the best candidate for Public Protector, and she has already shown she does not understand her mandate,” Breytenbach added.
One of the DA’s requests for an investigation into Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office first landed on the table of former National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete in October 2017.
The request was referred to the Justice and Correctional Services Committee which was chaired by Dr Mathole Motshekga at the time. Motshekga had suggested that an Ad Hoc Committee be established instead of the Justice and Correctional Service Committee looking into the issue. His proposal for Ad Hoc Committee was supported by Werner Horn from the DA and Steve Swart from the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) during the committee meeting. Motshekga faced an open revolt from his party members in the committee.
“I decided that I would table this matter for your consideration that we request the Speaker to establish an Ad Hoc Committee to deal with the matter on two grounds, firstly that our programme is full we have to finalise legislation and also that I don’t think we have the capacity as this committee to deal with the complex matters that would arise,” said Motshekga.
Swart agreed: “Chair I still believe your course of action that an ad-hoc committee deals with the matter is better. Let us also remember the basis of the way that you as the chairperson have to amend the Constitution.”
“Your guidance in terms of the precedent of Ad-Hoc committees dealing with the matter is also valid,” Horn added.
Motshekga’s attempts to use his chairperson powers to make the final call failed, as ANC members of the committee requested to have a short caucus where Motshekga was not even invited. When they returned, the majority decision of the ANC members prevailed as then ANC Whip in the Committee Makgathatso Pilane-Majake outlined their position.
“ The(ANC) members, therefore, have decided that the committee should rather look at the matter as tabled today instead of looking into matters of capacity. We do believe when there is a problem the committee needs to meet on additional days Fridays or Saturdays so that we can be in a position to look into the two matters of importance” Pilane-Majeke said.
AUDIO: Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane a step away from becoming the new Public Protector