The Section 194 Committee looking into the fitness of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to hold office has declined her request to subpoena President Cyril Ramaphosa to appear before it.
The committee has concluded that, based on a legal opinion from the Parliamentary legal services, the Public Protector has not provided reasons why the President should be subpoenaed. The majority of members decided that, given the time frame of the hearings, there is no relevance for President Ramaphosa to appear.
Advocate Fatima Ebrahim from the Parliamentary legal services office told members that the Public Protector is misplaced in so far as she wants to question the President on matters that have been concluded in the courts. She says the President has no role in the committee as he is neither a complainant nor the subject of the inquiry. In so far as his challenge to the findings of the Public Protector, with regard to the CR17 funding matter, his submissions are publicly available and have been adjudicated by the courts.
“The President, as the subject matter of that CR17 report, would not have been involved in the investigation, drafting or issuing of that report. That is the process that this committee is ultimately scrutinising. The President’s version in relation that led to the events that led to the complaints and his challenges to the report form part of the court record,” said Adv. Ebrahim.
She added that the President may well have to answer questions on various issues in relation to CR17 in other Parliamentary forums, but not in this committee.
Video below elaborates on the issue:
The majority of the members of the committee felt that, given the legal advice, it would not be necessary to subpoena the President as requested by the Public Protector.
Members of the Committee, across party lines, said that a number of issues which are being raised in respect to why the President should appear before them will not assist the actual mandate of the Committee is seated with. As such they raised the issue of relevance for refusing to subpoena the President because his testimony in respect of what has been raised will not assist the proceedings of the Committee.
The only dissenting voice in the Committee on the matter was that of Bret Heron from the GOOD Party.
Committee chairperson, Qubudile Dyantyi, in the end, summarised and went with the view of the majority of members who spoke.