National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise will consider the DA’s request and draft a substantive motion for the removal of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Parliament’s spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo, confirmed in a statement on Wednesday that Modise’s office had received a letter from DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone stating when parliament resumed in the new year, proceedings would be started for Mkhwebane’s removal.
Last Tuesday, the National Assembly adopted rules for the removal of the head of a Chapter 9 institution, such as the public protector.
“The DA’s request and draft substantive motion for the removal of the Public Protector, advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, will be considered in terms of these new rules,” said Mothapo.
Three days after the rules were adopted, Mazzone wrote to Modise with the request.
“The DA, from the onset, opposed the appointment of Mkhwebane as Public Protector and we consider her removal a matter of great urgency,” Mazzone said at the time.
“She has time and again proven that she is unfit to hold office, has consistently demonstrated an inability to conduct her work independently and has illustrated a poor understanding both of the law as well as of her mandate as Public Protector. Worse, Mkhwebane’s actions have caused immeasurable damage to the once-respected reputation of the Office of the Public Protector.”
The drafting of these rules came about as the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services considered Mazzone’s predecessor as chief whip, DA interim leader John Steenhuisen’s request to remove Mkhwebane.
On two occasions during the Fifth Parliament, Steenhuisen unsuccessfully attempted to have the committee institute removal proceedings against Mkhwebane.
As the Sixth Parliament got going, the DA again asked for such a process, which Modise referred to the committee.
Mkhwebane wrote to Modise to complain there were no rules for the process to remove her and threatened court action.
After considering the case, the committee referred it to the rules committee, which drafted the rules.
Last Wednesday, the National Assembly adopted the justice committee’s recommendation to appoint Kholeka Gcaleka as deputy public protector.
Despite concerns raised against Gcaleka by the opposition, the ANC used its majority to push through the appointment of former minister Malusi Gigaba’s former legal adviser with 203 votes to 103.
Gcaleka must still be appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The Constitution empowers the president to suspend the head of a Chapter 9 institution when he or she is under investigation. In that case, the deputy public protector would act as public protector. This will also be the case if the incumbent is removed, until a new public protector is appointed.