The Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) attempt to get an inquiry established into public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office has been stopped in its tracks – for now.
The portfolio committee on justice and correctional services resolved to give Mkhwebane the opportunity to respond to the case made against her by the DA before Parliament can further the discussion of whether an inquiry should be held.
DA chief whip John Steenhuisen presented the party’s case to the committee on Wednesday using several reports released by Mkhwebane that have been placed under judicial review as well as critical court judgments.
During the presentation, Steenhuisen accused Mkhwebane of not understanding her mandate.
“The one example and the most staggering is the Bankorp findings, where it’s very clear from the judgment that the public protector behaved in a biased manner and she completely misunderstood her mandate,” he said.
This week, the party added Mkhwebane’s report on Western Cape premier Helen Zille to its list of reasons on why she should be removed from office.
The report released on Monday found Zille’s colonialism tweets to be unconstitutional and Mkhwebane described them as dividing “society on racial grounds” during a media briefing.
Steenhuisen said in a statement on Tuesday that: “It is on the basis of her fundamental misunderstanding of the basic principles of the Constitution and her own powers that her findings against the premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille, are now part of this growing list of abject findings by her.”
Committee chairperson, Mathole Motshekga, agreed with MP’s who asked for natural justice – a principle concerning the right to a fair hearing – to be followed in this case.
“There is a rule of natural justice that we must hear the other side and that other side is the Public Protector,” Motshekga said.
The committee will give Mkhwebane the DA’s presentation so she can respond but no deadline was given for the response.