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All Chapter 9 institutions accountable to National Assembly, Modise tells court

Advocate Andrew Breitenbach, representing Speaker Thandi Modise, said that being accountable to Parliament was not only limited to reporting to it once a year.

FILE: The Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise on 11 June 2019. Picture: @ParliamentofRSA/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - All Chapter Nine institutions, including the Public Protector, are accountable to the National Assembly and are subject to its rules.

That’s according to a submission by National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise in the Western Cape High Court on Thursday.

It was in response to an application by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to have a parliamentary inquiry into her competence halted.

The greater part of Wednesday was spent listening to arguments from Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s advocate on why her impeachment hearing should be stopped in its tracks.

She told the court that the new rules should be scrutinised and also questioned the impartiality of some MPs.

But Advocate Andrew Breitenbach, representing Speaker Thandi Modise, said that being accountable to Parliament was not only limited to reporting to it once a year.

"That accountability is not limited to the reporting referred to, it is a general obligation and a power duty on the part of the National Assembly that correlates to hold them to account. Secondly, Section 194 of the Constitution which empowers the National Assembly to decide to remove Chapter 9 office bearers."

He said that an independent panel would merely recommend to the National Assembly and wouldn’t take any decisions on Mkhwebane's guilt.

"It's not simply a question of 'you are removed' if the committee finds that you are incompetent, incapable or have misconducted yourself, one has to take the question to the premier legislative body in our country, the National Assembly."

The matter will continue this afternoon, with the Democratic Alliance (DA) making submissions.

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