Citizen Reporter
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2 minute read
23 Mar 2020
10:57 am

Mkhwebane temporarily saved from impeachment due to coronavirus outbreak

Citizen Reporter

This comes after National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise moved forward with an inquiry into the public protector’s fitness to hold office.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane during a press briefing at the Public Protector's House, 12 December 2019, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s impeachment hearing has been postponed due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak across the country, TimesSelect reported.

This comes after Mkhwebane and her lawyers were planning to stop National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise from moving forward with an inquiry into the public protector’s fitness to hold office by getting an interdict.

Mkhwebane’s pending application to challenge the inquiry process was due to be heard on Thursday and Friday, which is being opposed by Modise and the Democratic Alliance (DA).

It was reported that Theo Seanego, Mkhwebane’s lawyer, submitted a letter to Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe on Friday, asking that the case be indefinitely postponed due to the virus outbreak.

He also suggested the “suspension of the business of the National Assembly until further notice, including the processing of the motion for the impeachment of Mkhwebane”.

Seanego said both Mkhwebane and Modise had come to an agreement to postpone the case, which has seen them seek personal costs orders against each other.

Earlier this year, Modise granted a motion by DA’s acting chief whip Natasha Mazzone which initiated a process that could lead to Mkhwebane facing an inquiry to hold office.

The motion led to Mkhwebane taking legal action in her defence.

The DA argued Mkhwebane was not fit to be the country’s public protector due to the court rulings given against her in the Reserve Bank and Estina Dairy Farm cases.

However, Mkhwebane also argued that the court rulings were not strong enough for her to be removed from office and said that the rulings were the “opinions” of the judges involved in the case.

The public protector’s position in office is in limbo after having lost a court battle against President Cyril Ramaphosa regarding her findings into his election campaign’s funding.

Another of Mkhwebane’s cases was postponed due to the coronavirus after the Pretoria High Court was set to give a ruling on Monday on South African Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Edward Kieswetter’s legal bid to block her from subpoenaing former president Jacob Zuma’s tax records.

The commissioner suggested that the court rule that Mkhwebane did not have the power to subpoena Zuma’s tax records, also further saying that Mkhwebane would have to go to court to get access to the information.

Mkhwebane said Sars denying her access to the tax records was a violation of the constitution as her “constitutional powers” overrode the provisions of the Tax Administration Act.

She argued that Zuma’s tax records were part of an investigation into allegations that he received a R1-million salary from a private security company run by his associate, Roy Moodley, in the first months of his presidency.

Mkhwebane’s lawyers were understood to have requested that the ruling be e-mailed to all the parties involved, although it was uncertain that the matter would be carried out.

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