Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist

Mkhwebane impeachment: Section 194 inquiry chair dismisses recusal application

The parliamentary committee received a legal opinion on the recusal which was rejected by the opposition.

Section 194 Committee chairperson, Qubudile Dyantyi has denied Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s request to recuse himself.

Mkhwebane’s lawyer, Advocate Dali Mpofu, applied for Dyantyi’s recusal last month accusing the committee’s chairperson of showing “inherent bias” towards him and his client.

ALSO READ: Inquiry meant to persecute, harass and embarrass me, says Mkhwebane

The recusal application also included Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Kevin Mileham.

The Citizen previously reported Dyantyi was advised to seek a legal opinion on the alleged possible conflict of interest by Mileham, who is part of the Section 194 Committee.

Mileham is married to DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone, who tabled a motion for Mkhwebane’s removal from office in December 2019.

The committee received a legal opinion on the matter, but this document was rejected by the opposition.

As proceedings started on Monday, United Democratic Movement (UDM) president, Bantu Holomisa, raised a concern over conflict of interest.

Holomisa revealed that the legal opinion was obtained from Advocate Ismail Jamie, who has represented the DA in court cases against former president, Jacob Zuma.

RELATED: Here’s a recap of Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s impeachment proceedings so far

“We do not comment on the integrity of Jamie, but his appointment to this brief is clearly problematic because it is taint by a conflict of interest at two major levels.

“[Firstly], the DA is the complaint in the impeachment motion which gave raise to this inquiry. [Secondly], the recusal application involves an honourable member of the DA,” Holomisa said.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Omphile Maotwe and African Transformation Movement (ATM) leader Vuyolwethu Zungula also rejected the legal opinion.

‘No basis’

After points of order were raised, Dyantyi indicated that the committee will deal with Holomisa’s concerns at a later stage and decided to proceed with the recusal application.

“I have decided not to recuse myself,” the chair said on Monday.

Dyantyi said he was of the view that Mkhwebane has failed to provide basis that he is biased.

“There’s no basis for me to stop discharging the important public function with which I have been charged. I remain open-minded in my conduct of the proceeding and can say with certainty that I have not reached any firm conclusions in relation to any content of the motion,” he continued.

READ MORE: Disciplinary steps under Mkhwebane ‘were selective’, parly hears

The chair further highlighted the fact that Mkhwebane has not yet led her evidence.

“She has not had the opportunity to provide her oral evidence nor the Public Protector answered members’ questions as yet. There can be no doubt that the committee’s process must be fair, and that standards have been met,” Dyantyi added.

He later said: “At all times, It has been my intent that once the evidence leaders have completed the leading of oral evidence, I would place on record my position in relation to the litany of accusations, threats, comments and what would now be warnings”.

Regarding Mileham’s recusal, Dyantyi said the DA MP was entitled to be on the committee.

He also pointed out that he doesn’t have the power to remove him.

‘Unfair treatment’

Dyantyi also denied that he has shown negative bias against Mpofu and favouritsim towards evidence leaders.

“To the extent that there have been rulings made during the proceedings, these have occurred in circumstances predominantly where Advocate Mpofu has refused to heed the ruling of the chairperson, to allow other persons who were speaking to complete what they were saying and where he sought to interject without leave.

“These efforts to maintain order in the meeting do not constitute unfair treatment, nor can they be construed as bias. It is my duty to maintain the order and decorum of the proceedings,” he said.

WATCH: Dali Mpofu puts on a masterclass in disrespect at Mkhwebane inquiry

Mpofu previously indicated that Dyantyi’s refusal to call President Cyril Ramaphosa to come and testify before the committee was one of the grounds of the recusal application.

But Dyantyi on Monday denied this, saying the decision not to call Ramaphosa as a witness was the committee’s decision.

The committee, in August, decided against summoning Ramaphosa to testify following a recommendation by Parliament’s legal services.

Watching the proceedings below:

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