The independent panel appointed to determine whether there is a prima facie case for Public Protector Busisiwe Mkwhebane’s removal, has been granted an extension to do its work.
The panel – comprised of Justice Bess Nkabinde, advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza SC and advocate Johan De Waal SC – held its first meeting earlier this week, on Wednesday. It then made a submission to the National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise, asking that the 30-day period prescribed in the rules for it to conduct the inquiry be extended to 90 days – effective from 25 November.
“This is premised on the fact that the evidence to be assessed is voluminous and the need to provide the Public Protector with a reasonable period, among other things,” Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said in a statement on Saturday.
Mothapo said Modise had considered the request and was of the view that, given the circumstances, it was reasonable.
“It is imperative that the panel is afforded the necessary time required to carefully study the motion and evidence and, as part of its deliberation, also afford the Public Protector a reasonable period to make submissions.”
Mothapo said Modise had noted that rule which prescribed the 30-day period, Rule 129X of the Assembly Rules, did not provide for an extension and decided to invoke Rule 6, which enabled the Speaker to frame a temporary rule to deal with the gap in current rules, such as “unforeseen eventualities”.
The rule allowing the extension would be published in Parliament’s official papers, Mothapo added.
The panel’s meeting comes after the Western Cape High Court found there was no prospect of success in Mkhwebane’s application for leave to appeal the court’s decision for not halting the National Assembly’s removal proceedings against her on Wednesday.
Mkhwebane had brought a two-part application after the removal proceedings got underway in the National Assembly earlier this year, lodged by the DA.
In her two-part court application, Mkhwebane had first asked the court for an interdict to stop the removal proceedings. And secondly, asked it to declare the rules the National Assembly adopted for removal proceedings in December last year as unconstitutional and invalid.