John Steenhuisen. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/RUVAN BOSHOFF
John Steenhuisen. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/RUVAN BOSHOFF

The DA has proposed draft rules for a parliamentary process to consider the removal of the head of a Chapter 9 institution, including the public protector, the auditor general and members of commissions.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen has sent National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise a copy of the draft rules as a contribution to the process the rules committee will undertake in drafting rules for the removal of the head of a Chapter 9 nine institution.

The absence of such parliamentary rules was highlighted when the DA submitted a proposal for the removal of public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. The party believes that Mkhwebane is incompetent, unfit to hold office and should be removed.

Business has also called for her removal, as her credibility was dented by various adverse judicial findings in key cases and she was ordered to personally pay a portion of the legal costs attached to her discredited SA Reserve Bank and Estina Dairy Project cases.

Her detractors have seized on her relentless efforts to pursue president Cyril Ramaphosa and public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan to argue that she is part of a fightback campaign pursued by elements in the ANC linked to former president Jacob Zuma.

Parliament's justice and correctional services committee has written to Modise asking her to mandate the rules and programming committee to draw up rules for the removal of the head of a chapter nine institution, like the public protector. The DA wants parliament to deal with the matter as a matter of urgency.

The DA draft rules were modelled on the rules adopted by parliament in terms of section 89 of the constitution for the removal of a president.

The draft rules propose the removal of a leader of a Chapter 9 institution on the grounds of physical or mental incapacity; incompetence — meaning the failure to perform duties efficiently and effectively; or misconduct — meaning unlawful conduct arising out of bad faith or gross negligence, dishonest conduct or improper conduct.

They propose that any MP can initiate proceedings for an inquiry into the removal of the head of a chapter nine institution by way of a substantive motion which must be supported by evidence.

In terms of the DA's draft rules the committee may require the speaker of the National Assembly to appoint an independent panel — possibly headed by a judge — to conduct a preliminary inquiry and to report to the committee. The committee will have to ensure that the inquiry is conducted in a reasonable and procedurally fair manner, within a reasonable time frame.

The DA recommends in its draft rules that if the committee recommends that the public protector, the auditor-general or the member of a commission removed from office, the question must be put to the National Assembly directly for a vote.

If the vote is supported by at least two-thirds of MPs, the president will be obliged to remove the head of the Chapter 9 institution with immediate effect in terms of the constitution.

ensorl@businesslive.co.za