DA goes for the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s head

Daily News - - NEWS - JA­SON FELIX

ROCKED by Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane’s find­ings against it’s for­mer leader, the DA will be de­mand­ing her head dur­ing a hear­ing in Par­lia­ment to­day.

In her find­ing against He­len Zille, Mkhwe­bane said that her con­tro­ver­sial tweet about “colo­nial­ism not be­ing only neg­a­tive” vi­o­lated the ex­ec­u­tive mem­bers’ ethics code and was in­con­sis­tent with the high of­fice Zille held. She di­rected the Speaker of the West­ern Cape Leg­is­la­ture, Sharna Fer­nan­dez, to take ac­tion against Zille within 30 days. Zille’s spokesper­son, Michael Mpofu, re­sponded that Zille would take the re­port on ju­di­cial review.

Par­lia­ment’s port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on jus­tice and cor­rec­tional ser­vices con­firmed a meet­ing with Mkhwe­bane on the pub­lic pro­tec­tor rules and pol­icy on the ap­point­ment of a spe­cial ad­viser to the ex­ec­u­tive au­thor­ity.

Chair­per­son Dr Mathole Mot­shekga said there would be a brief­ing by DA MP and party chief whip John Steen­huisen dur­ing this meet­ing.

Mkhwe­bane’s find­ings have again led le­gal ex­perts to ques­tion her un­der­stand­ing of the law and her job.

UCT con­sti­tu­tional law ex­pert Pierre de Vos said the con­sti­tu­tion did not be­stow pow­ers on the pub­lic pro­tec­tor to in­ves­ti­gate breaches of pro­vi­sions of the Bill of Rights.

“In the first in­stance, sec­tions 184 and 187 em­power other Chap­ter 9 in­sti­tu­tions (the SA Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion and the Com­mis­sion for Gen­der Equal­ity) to try and re­solve hu­man rights com­plaints.

“As a sec­ond line of de­fence, the courts – and ul­ti­mately the Con­sti­tu­tional Court – are em­pow­ered to ad­ju­di­cate on breaches of the var­i­ous pro­vi­sions of the Bill of Rights.

“By pur­port­ing to rule on hu­man rights abuses, the pub­lic pro­tec­tor is in breach of the sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers doc­trine, ar­ro­gat­ing to her­self a power ex­er­cised by the ju­di­ciary,” De Vos said in his blog.

He said the pub­lic pro­tec­tor did not have the power to make find­ings on whether any­one had in­fringed any of the rights pro­tected in the Bill of Rights.

“No pub­lic pro­tec­tor has ever at­tempted to rule that a mem­ber of the ex­ec­u­tive has breached a con­sti­tu­tional right and there is a good rea­son for this: the pub­lic pro­tec­tor does not have the power to make such a rul­ing as such in­ves­ti­ga­tions are beyond the ju­ris­dic­tion of her of­fice,” he said.

“She has fur­ther dam­aged her own cred­i­bil­ity and has again acted in a man­ner that sug­gests she lacks even ba­sic knowl­edge of the law,” De Vos said.

Act­ing ANC West­ern Cape chair­per­son Khaya Ma­gaxa, who laid the com­plaint, said Zille should re­sign as premier.

“As the ANC, we are vin­di­cated by the pub­lic pro­tec­tor’s re­me­dial ac­tion, which now forces the pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture, ac­cord­ing to its con­sti­tu­tional re­spon­si­bil­ity, to find ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures to dis­ci­pline Zille.

“We ini­tially brought this mat­ter be­fore the leg­is­la­ture and the DA mem­bers chose to be loyal to the party and Zille rather than to the coun­try’s con­sti­tu­tion and the peo­ple of this prov­ince. It did not have to take the pub­lic pro­tec­tor for this pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture to do the right thing.”

He also said they were con­sid­er­ing an­other mo­tion of no con­fi­dence in Zille.

Jabu Mahlangu, na­tional spokesper­son of the SA Na­tional Civic Or­gan­i­sa­tion, said Zille’s views ac­counted for the hous­ing back­log and non-de­liv­ery of ba­sic ser­vices for marginalised com­mu­ni­ties in the prov­ince.

BU­SISIWE MKHWE­BANE

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