The Western Cape High Court has dismissed Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s application to declare Chapter 9 impeachment rules unconstitutional.
The court has, however, ruled that the rules should be amended to allow her legal representative to participate in the Section 194 committee hearings. It has also found that the appointment of a judge to the panel of experts that advises the National Assembly Speaker on whether there is prima facie evidence against a head of a chapter nine institution, offends the principle of separation of powers.
Mkhwebane has welcomed the ruling and called on parliament to halt the investigation into whether she is fit to hold office.
“The present process has to be halted with immediate effect. To continue on the basis of the old un-amended and partly unconstitutional rules as if nothing has happened would constitute an attack on the authority of the courts rule of law in the constitutional rights of the Public Protector. A call is accordingly made to the National assembly to do the right thing and allow for the inevitable process of amending the rules before their lawful implementation,” says Mkhwebane’s spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe.
Parliament has welcomed the dismissal of the public protector’s application.
National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise says, however, she will seek legal advice on how to proceed with the investigation into whether Mkhwebane is fit to hold office.
“Parliament is currently consulting its legal team who are still studying the judgment fully and will make a determination on the implication of this judgment on the independence and the manner in which it determines its internal processes. So the manner in which the section 194 committee will proceed will be based on this legal advice,” says parliament’s spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo.
Mkhwebane has been under fire for years now with some quarters questioning her competency for the job.
She, however, maintains she is the right woman for the job amid an inquiry into her fitness to hold office.
A report into Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office expected to be finalised in 2021: