Parliament’s Section 194 committee that looks into the fitness to hold office of the suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is busy compiling its draft report. The committee is a result of an adoption of a motion to probe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office by the National Assembly, following several negative court findings against her.
Her term of office comes to an end on 15 October.
The committee has been characterised by many delays, including two recusal applications for the chairperson, Qubudile Dyantyi, as well as court challenges against the parliamentary process.
The Section 194 committee was initially set down to sit for six months. It has been sitting for a year, due to various delays caused by the suspended public protector. Now, the committee is at the stage of drafting its report.
Among others, MPs considered the charge of misconduct and/or incompetence of Mkhwebane, based on whether she harassed and victimised staff in her office.
One such employee was Sphelo Samuel who had written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, calling for a probe into Mkhwebane in 2020. MPs like ANC Deputy Chief Whip, Doris Dlakude and DA’s Annelie Lotriet say a disciplinary charge by Mkhwebane against Samuel soon after that could be seen as harassment.
Management of resources
On the matter of the efficient management of the resources and staff, Dlakude and DA MP, Benedicta van Minnen added that Mkhwebane failed.
“There was so much dysfunctionality in this office, working environment not conducive for any employee to perform to optimal level, limited resources within Public Protector South Africa, redirect from staff to perform duties to funding litigation and traveling expenses. It is a cause for concern chair,” said Dlakude.
Minnen said, “It is very clear that the way she has been running that office and its resources has been appalling.”
SARS rogue unit investigation
When considering the matter of Mkhwebane’s SARS rogue unit investigation – in which she implicated Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and former revenue service official, Ivan Pillay, of wrongdoing, most members noted that the Public Protector failed to be impartial and ignored evidence before her.
However, Al Jamah leader, Ganief Hendricks, disagreed.
“Under the circumstances, my view that the final decision by the Public Protector does not merit consideration for her to be impeached because she was guided by decisions by best legal eagles in country.”
The committee is expected to conclude its report early this week. The report must be handed over to Mkhwebane for her reply.
She has been absent from the committee, citing a lack of legal representation.
Mkhwebane briefs media on Section 194 committee and other matters: