The Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, has hit back at Public Protector, Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane, saying there’s nothing that legally stops Parliament from probing her fitness to hold office.
Modise was responding to Mkhwebane’s letter to the Office of the Speaker, in which she alleged that the rules of the House relating to the process of removing office-bearers of Chapter 9 institutions are unconstitutional and unlawful.
The motion to remove Mkhwebane was tabled by the Democratic Alliance Chief Whip and last week Modise announced that the motion would be referred to an independent panel of experts to conduct a preliminary assessment.
But Mkhwebane was not impressed and cried foul over what he called some people’s political intentions.
Modise disagreed: “The Assembly rules enjoins the Speaker to determine if a motion submitted in terms of section 194(1) of the Constitution (i.e., removal proceedings against office-bearers of ISDs) is compliant with the criteria set out in the rule (i.e., it is clearly formulated and well-substantiated) and if so to refer the motion and all supporting documentation to an independent panel.
The Speaker has confirmed that the substantive motion complied with the form requirements in the rules. The determination that the motion complies with the rules does not imply that a decision has been made as to the required prima facie assessment, as the independent panel of experts is yet to be established. Parties have until Friday, 7 February, to submit preferred nominees to constitute the panel,” she said.
The Speaker added that once the panel has concluded its business, it must submit its report of findings and recommendations to the National Assembly, which will decide whether or not to proceed with an inquiry through a special committee of MPs.
Modise also assure Mkhwebane that the process would be fair.
“The National Assembly and the rules of Parliament safeguard against any risk of abuse of power or unfairness, including the inquiry process outlined in the new rules. Parliament’s processes and the rules adhere to the rules of natural justice, including the audi alteram partem rule, and are informed by the relevant constitutional principles of fairness, transparency and accountability. Accordingly, there exists no legal impediment or grounds for the Assembly not to proceed with the implementation of the new rules,” said the Speaker.
Last week Mkhwebane told journalists in a media briefing that she would head to court if Parliament failed to find a lasting solution to her unhappiness.