PARLIAMENT – Three of Parliament’s biggest opposition parties on Wednesday rejected a report by the legislature’s justice portfolio committee that an inquiry into the fitness of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane was not warranted.
The report was adopted earlier this month after the Democratic Alliance (DA) submitted to the National Assembly a request for an inquiry, saying Mkhwebane had “grossly over-reached her powers when she recommended, in her report No 8 of 2017/18 (the Absa/Bankorp Report), that the Constitution be amended to alter the mandate of the South African Reserve Bank”.
Mkhwebane was taken to court by the South African Reserve Bank, who have asked the high court in Pretoria to issue a declaratory order against her for abusing her office.
In August, the court dismissed Mkhwebane’s remedial action on her report on the SARB’s apartheid-era bailout of Absa/Bankorp.
The justice portfolio committee in its report said the DA’s request for an inquiry was politically motivated. Ruling African National Congress MP Makgathatso Pilane-Majake defended Mkhwebane, saying there was no basis for Parliament to institute removal proceedings against her.
“From the onset the DA was the only party that did not support the appointment of the public protector,” said Pilaje-Majake.
“The public protector had made a mistake she acknowledged, like it happens in all arms of state.”
But DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach slammed the ANC for its stance.
“They [ANC] want her because she consults with the president and amends her reports to accommodate him,” said Breytenbach, referring to Mkhwebane meeting with representatives of the presidency and the State Security Agency before finalising her Absa/Bankorp report
“She’s a public protector who hasn’t got the slightest grasp of what it is to be independent. She’s not independent. She’s not impartial and not fit to hold office and we reject this report.”
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) also rejected the committee not conducting an inquiry, saying Parliament has “absconded” in holding her to account.
“This is unbelievable circumventing of process that has become synonymous with [President] Zuma,” said EFF MP Thembinkosi Rawula.
“She [Mkhwebane] has a strange relationship with honesty.”
The Inkatha Freedom Party and African Christian Democratic Party also dismissed the decision of the justice committee.
The matter was later put to a vote, with the ANC using its majority to approve the report, essentially stopping an inquiry into Mkhwebane from taking place.