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'There is evidence to support inquiry into Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office'

The Democratic Alliance wants Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane removed as Public Protector, saying she’s not cut out for the job.

FILE: Democratic Alliance's Chief Whip John Steenhuisen. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Democratic Alliance (DA) has told Members of Parliament (MPs) there is prima facie evidence to support an inquiry into Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen briefed Parliament’s Justice Committee on the issue on Wednesday afternoon.

His party wants Mkhwebane removed as Public Protector, saying she’s not cut out for the job.

Steenhuisen’s submission came soon after Mkhwebane’s own presentation to the committee on the rules and policies in her office, which include the appointment of a special advisor.

Steenhuisen focussed his submission on what he termed her “incompetence”.

He quoted a North Gauteng High Court judgment that said Mkhwebane overreached her powers in making findings on the ABSA Bank Corp matter when she called for a constitutional amendment to change SA Reserve Bank’s mandate.

Steenhuisen also referred to Speaker Baleka Mbete’s affidavit submitted in the same case where she challenged the findings.

“These are very serious findings, chairperson, and I think they speak to the competence of the Public Protector; both her interpretation of her mandate and even the most basic grasp of the law.”

The committee will submit the DA’s complaint to Mkhwebane to allow her a chance to respond before it agrees on an inquiry.

ANC MPS QUESTION NEED FOR AN INQUIRY

Parliament is still undecided on whether an inquiry into Mkhwebane is necessary.

The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services has resolved to reserve its decision on whether to hold an inquiry into the fitness of the Public Protector to hold office until Mkhwebane has had an opportunity to respond to the complaints against her.

African National Congress MPs have questioned the need for an inquiry after the DA’s submission calling for the justice committee to move ahead with an inquiry.

Committee chairperson Mathole Motshekga says the power of Parliament is exclusive and not dependent on any court finding.

“There are South Africans, some of them are leaders in political parties, who have accused the judiciary of judicial overreach; should we hold an inquiry into the fitness or otherwise of the judges?”

The committee has resolved to take a decision on this matter at a later stage as several processes, including decisions by other institutions, are still outstanding.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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