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Parliament, Monday, 5 June 2023 - The Speaker of the National Assembly is concerned by the ongoing allegations of corruption being made in the media against certain members of the Section 194 Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into suspended Public Protector Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane's fitness to hold office. Serious allegations have also been made by Adv Mkhwebane that the Speaker "dismissed" her when she asked to meet her on confidential basis to seek guidance on these allegations. Adv Mkhwebane has further accused the Speaker of exposing her as a whistle-blower regarding her allegations.

It is blatantly false and malicious that the Speaker has dismissed Adv Mkhwebane's serious claims or her request for a meeting. The Speaker is not in a position to either investigate, make findings or "dismiss" allegations made against Members of Parliament. It is for this reason that when Adv Mkhwebane asked her for guidance or "way-forward" on how to deal with her allegations, as per her letter, she immediately advised her on the appropriate procedure - which was to lodge a complaint with the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members' Interests. The Members' code of conduct emphasises strict confidentiality of all documents, evidence, and information in the possession of the Registrar of Members’ Interests. The committee governs the ethical behaviour of Members of Parliament in line with Parliament’s code of conduct and investigates alleged breaches.

The Speaker is mindful that Adv Mkhwebane's allegations pertain to the matters of the Section 194 Committee - a constitutional process that the Assembly rules states must be conducted "in a reasonable and procedurally fair manner, within a reasonable time frame." It is therefore important that she does not involve herself in a situation that might create perceptions of prejudice or bias, conflict of interest or influence by conducting parallel and secret discussions with a key participant in the Committee process that is underway.

Further, Adv Mkhwebane's claim that the Speaker exposed her as a whistle-blower is without foundation and seems to be designed to mislead the public. The Speaker had kept the details of her email exchange with Adv Mkhwebane confidential and only issued a public statement after the matter was made public through the media. The media story included the contents of a letter, which appear to have been leaked to the journalist as it was exclusively sent to Adv Mkhwebane by the Speaker in response to her request for a meeting. The media story also published the comments of Adv Mkhwebane on the letter she received from the Speaker, thereby making it obvious herself that she is a complainant, or a "whistle-blower", in the matter.

Now that Adv Mkhwebane has filed a complaint with the committee, as per the Speaker's advise, she is implored to afford the committee an opportunity to conduct its investigation and desist from continuing to vilify the Speaker and others through the media.

Enquiries: Moloto Mothapo