A detailed programme has been set out on how Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office will proceed.
On Wednesday afternoon, Parliament’s Ad Hoc Committee on the Section 194 Inquiry met to discuss Mkhwebane’s impeachment.
The committee resolved to proceed with the impeachment process after parliament’s legal services informed MPs that there was no legal action preventing them from continuing with their work.
“As we have been saying for months now, there is no legal impediment to the committee proceeding. I think our position has not changed that legally nothing prevents the committee [from continuing]. But the committee has an option to decide what it wants to do,” parliament’s legal advisor Siviwe Njikela said.
According to parliament’s provisional programme, Mkhwebane will start physically appearing before the inquiry in July as evidence leaders for the proceedings have since been appointed.
The public protector will be the first head of a Chapter 9 institution to face a parliamentary inquiry.
Here is a timeline of events in the impeachment process:
22 April – 22 May 2022
Mkhwebane was given a month to go through the evidence – which will be used in the impeachment proceedings – against her.
This was also to give the public protector time to respond to the documents, which will be submitted to parliament.
The 30-day period expires on 22 May.
Parliament has requested that Mkhwebane indicate whether she intends to use legal representation during the impeachment hearings by 18 May.
In February, the ConCourt ruled that Mkhwebane is allowed to be legally represented during the impeachment proceedings in the National Assembly.
2 June 2022
The public will be afforded the opportunity to make submissions on Mkhwebane’s impeachment.
The process for the public’s participation will open on Friday, 13 May and close on 2 June after all sworn statements and evidence have been submitted.
The Section 194 Committee’s secretary should be given notice of the intention to submit evidence by 23 May.
“We don’t want to open a Pandora’s box where people give their own personal views on the matter. What we are seeking to achieve here is for people who have actual evidence in support of or against the motion,” parliamentary legal advisor Fatima Ibrahim said.
3 June 2022
The committee will meet to discuss the procedural management of the impeachment hearings. The objective of this meeting is for the committee to receive a draft report of the procedural aspects.
The public protector’s responses to the evidence will then be tabled before the Section 194 committee.
7 June – 10 July 2022
Between these dates, the processing of evidence and preparation for the hearings will take place despite Parliament’s constituency period (20 June to 15 August).
11 – 29 July 2022
The impeachment hearings where testimonies will be heard against Mkhwebane will take place for five consecutive days from 11 to 15 July.
Additional provisional dates from 26 July until 29 July have been made available if necessary.
17 – 19 August 2022
Deliberations will take three days, on the 17th, 18th and 19th of August, in which the Section 194 committee will discuss what action they will take following the hearings.
22 August – 2 September 2022
A report of the inquiry’s hearings will be drafted in this period.
7 – 8 September 2022
The draft report will be presented to the committee for consideration on 7 September and will carry on until the next day for adoption.
MPs will be taken through the draft report by the evidence leaders.
9 – 23 September 2022
Mkhwebane will be afforded time to go through the draft report.
28 September 2022
The public protector’s responses to the report will then be tabled before the Section 194 committee on this day.