Suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s legal team has not taken kindly to responses from MPs bemoaning their application for the removal of evidence leaders Nazreen Bawa and Ncumisa Mayosi.
Mkhwebane’s legal representative Dali Mpofu told the Section 194 Inquiry into the fitness of Mkhwebane to hold an office that they would go to court if they have to, to ensure the Public Protector’s rights are observed.
“If we were to go court, we will go to court make no mistake from that. We will not shake from those responsibilities. So nobody must think that we can be easily intimidated by these repetitive statements that this is the fourth or fifth, or the sixth or hundred application.”
The inquiry was told that removing the two evidence leaders at this stage would mean the process would have to start from scratch.
“Removing the evidence leaders at this juncture will no doubt have a severe on the budget and the timeline of the committee and it’s almost certain the committee won’t be able to complete its task by October 2023,” says Legal advisor, Parliament Fatima Ebrahim.
The majority of the committee rejected the removal application saying this is the sixth time the inquiry was being stalled through postponement applications or interdicts.
“I think it’s in the public interest to ensure accountability that the process should be completed within a reasonable time with due regard to procedural fairness and therefore I think chair this request from the public protector should not be acceded to,” says ANC MP Bekizwe Nkosi.
“We cannot be consistently delayed in what is our work. It is not the evidence leaders that are before us, it is for the public of South Africa and this committee and myself as a member that needs to hear the public protector,” says ACDP MP Marie Sukers.
“This application much like preceding applications is another veiled attempt to stall and delay the committee from reaching its conclusion. And holding advocate Mkhwebane accountable,” says DA MP Dr Mimmy Gondwe.
“In my view based on the papers I cannot find that the evidence leaders need to be removed and that would be my proposition and I don’t think there a case is made out for the evidence leaders to be removed,” says Good Party MP Brett Herron.
“It’s shocking actually that advocate Bawa is voluntarily stepping down but we should remove her and proceed with our work. She has entangled herself in a mess, there is no need for us to keep her here, let’s remove her,” says EFF MP Omphile Maotwe.
The Committee Chairperson Qubudile Dyantyi announces the verdict. “Basically ten members of that twelve, there was unanimity on the issue of this application of the public protector not meeting any threshold, bears no relevance to the work that we are doing and that there is no way we can accede to it and therefore this application must be dismissed and rejected.”
Bawa and Mayosi argued that attempts to get rid of them were nothing short of delaying tactics. Mkhwebane’s counsel said they would lodge any application, no matter how many times, to protect their rights.
“We find it very objectionable, to say the least, that the alleged deliberations could take place without us having a proper opportunity to respond to the 66-page document that was presented, and this time it’s quite clear that everyone is intent on rushing to stage the chopping of the head,” says Mkhwebane’s counsel, Adv Dali Mpofu.
Meanwhile, the inquiry is also mindful that Mkhwebane’s term of office ends in October next year. The inquiry envisages finalising the investigation by March.