Parliament welcomes Constitutional Court ruling on Mkhwebane’s hearing into whether she is fit to hold office

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Parliament has welcomed the Constitutional Court ruling that has cleared the way for its hearing into whether Busisiwe Mkhwebane is fit to hold office to go ahead.

The Concourt has, among others set aside the Western Cape High Court ruling, that judges should not be appointed to an independent panel to determine whether there is a prima facie cases against holders of these offices.

It has, however, dismissed parliament’s appeal against a high court ruling that Mkhwebane is entitled to full legal representations during her impeachment hearing.

Parliament Spokesperson Moloto Mothapo says, however, they welcome the clarification the ruling gives.

“The court made it clear that this does not imply that the Section 194 Committee cannot ask the Public Protector to personally respond to questions put to her. This was contrary to the Public Protector’s contention for the rules to be declared unlawful. We agree completely with the judgment that this was a clear tactic to delay the proceedings of the committee.”

Earlier, the Constitutional Court ruled that the National Assembly’s impeachment proceedings against Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane can proceed.

The court handed down a unanimous judgment in the case in which National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and the Democratic Alliance appealed to the court to overturn a ruling of the High Court in the Western Cape last year.

This after the High Court found faults with two rules for the removal of a head of a Chapter Nine institution.

More details in the video below:

Mkhwebane’s challenge

The Public Protector has questioned the constitutionality of the rules.

Among the grounds for this is that the rules seek to amend the Constitution ‘via the back door’ by adding gross misconduct as one of the grounds for her removal.

She has also said the rules cannot be applied retrospectively because they had not been adopted at the time of her alleged misconduct.

Mkhwebane has also questioned why the rules do not allow her to be represented by her lawyer in the proceeding of the ad-hoc committee that will investigate her suitability to hold office.

Legal counsel for Parliament argued that the National Assembly has a right to institute an inquiry into the Public Protector’s fitness to hold office.