Parliament, Wednesday, 11 May 2022 – The Committee for Section 194 Enquiry today resolved to continue with its work, despite another request from the Public Protector (PP), Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to stop its proceedings, following another legal challenge set for next week. The majority of the committee members agreed that as there is no interdict before the courts barring it from continuing with its work, the PP’s latest request does not merit halting the committee’s work.

The committee today received several briefings from Parliament’s Constitutional and Legal Services regarding the PP’s “festival of correspondence” and court challenges to the committee’s work. Last week, the Constitutional Court dismissed Advocate Mkhwebane’s rescission application. The PP applied to the apex court to rescind its earlier judgment, which upheld separation of powers arguments regarding the appointment of a judge to the section 194 independent panel. In its order, the court dismissed the application on the basis that it did not establish any rescindable errors in the court’s judgment and that no exceptional circumstances existed to warrant a rescission of its decision. The court further dismissed the Public Protector’s application for direct access, stating that no case has been made for direct access.

Next week, the PP will return to the Western Cape Division of the High Court with an application scheduled to be heard on 18 and 19 May 2022, wherein she seeks to interdict the Speaker and the Section 194 Committee from proceeding with the enquiry into her fitness to hold office. Two days ago, Advocate Mkhwebane’s legal team wrote to Parliament to request a postponement of this work while she brings an application to have the Constitutional Court’s rescission decision rescinded, on the basis that the court erred in making a judgement when it is still busy investigating a leaked SMS. The committee resolved to continue with its work, as the SMS investigation no bearing on its work.

Regarding the process going forward, the committee heard from Parliament Legal Services that the PP was asked to provide a written response by 22 May 2022 to the charges in the motion, if she so wishes. The committee heard that Parliament Legal Services further requested the PP to indicate by 18 May 2022 whether she intends using a legal adviser or other expert to assist her during the hearings and, if so, to provide the committee with the details, as per a Constitutional Court ruling.

The committee noted that a public call for evidence will be advertised this week. In terms of this notice, the public is invited to furnish the committee with any evidence, both for and against, that will assist the committee to assess the motion.

Committee Chairperson Mr Qubudile Dyantyi noted the update and said in conclusion that the committee should not be diverted from its work. “We should solely focus on the evidence before us and not be distracted by any side issue.”


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