Protector responds to claims
Justice committee wants Mkhwebane to answer questions
PUBLIC Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane says she has been the victim of relentless attacks on her since her controversial report on Absa, while the DA’s move to axe her hit a snag.
The National Assembly committee on justice, yesterday decided she must be given an opportunity to respond to the DA’s submission, before a decision on whether to hold an inquiry into her fitness to hold office or not.
“I am applying the constitution as it is,” Mkhwebane said. “I think that I am also showing that as an independent Chapter 9 institution and doing my work without fear or favour no matter who is being investigated. So I think that perception that you cannot find against a certain person… I don’t think we should encourage that sort of behaviour as a country. I think we need to make sure that we respect the law if there is a complaint against them.”
“I was very shocked to hear the comments from some people. The public protector can investigate cases that fall under the executive ethics code.
“I am obliged to investigate this.
“There was a case where the premier of Limpopo said it was okay for politicians to lie. He was then dismissed. So it’s interesting now to see these issues being deliberated on. I am following the constitution.”
Meanwhile, DA chief whip John Steenhuisen made a presentation to the committee where he listed reasons that warranted the removal of Mkhwebane. One of the reasons is the scathing judgments against Mkhwebane in recent times.
In a statement earlier this week, Steenhuisen said her findings against Premier Helen Zille were now part of this growing list of abject findings.
He also cited the Absa matter and the Vrede Dairy Project matter in which she completely ignored pertinent questions, Steenhuisen said.
MPs said they needed to discuss the matter.
Steenhuisen said the evidence was out in the public that Mkhwebane failed to do some of her work.
However, committee chairman Mathole Motshekga, said he agreed with other MPs, who said the rules of natural justice must be followed in the matter.
“There is a rule of natural justice that we must hear the other side, and that other side is the public protector,” said Motshekga. He said they would give Steenhuisen’s presentation to Mkhwebane to respond.
But there was no deadline put for her to respond.
Before the meeting started though, Motshekga said it was unfair that Steenhuisen be given a chance to make representations while members of the public could not find time to make presentations to Parliament.
“We really need to consider what we are doing here today.
“Today it is the DA’s chief whip; tomorrow the ANC’s chief whip wants to come here, then the EFF, then the ACDP. We don’t even give members of the public a chance to speak at our meetings,” he said.
ACDP MP Steve Swart said: “with respect, I disagree with you”.
“The Speaker referred this matter to our committee and we have to discuss this.
“It is not the first time this issue comes up. It’s a matter of national importance.”
Busisiwe Mkhwebane in Parliament, where a request was made that the Justice Committee set up a formal inquiry to assess her fitness to hold office.