Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES

ANC MP Richard Dyantyi will chair the special parliamentary process to investigate public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office.

He was elected unopposed by colleagues on Tuesday after the ANC — which was expected to propose its deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude for the  position — nominated the veteran Western Cape politician.

Dlakude herself proposed Dyantyi and the nomination was seconded by another ANC MP‚ Mondli Gungubele.

Dyantyi was elected to the Western Cape provincial legislature in 2004 and served as a local government MEC under Ebrahim Rasool’s government between 2005 and 2008.

He has been an MP in the National Assembly since May 2019‚ where he serves on the justice and correctional services portfolio committee.

Dyantyi is known for his straight talking, and after his election he called on the committee to focus on due process to ensure an undisputed product.

“We are assembled not to rubber stamp. We are assembled to apply our minds‚ to do our constitutional duty and in executing our work‚ I want to urge you colleagues to stay focused on due process‚” he said. 

“We’ll pursue evidence and facts in front of us. We’ll adhere to procedural fairness that will become the abettors of facts. We will ensure that there is always a right to audi [the audi alteram partem principle] and we must always stand on rationality,” Dyantyi added.

“Such a focus will help us avoid being trapped into two extremes that are out there. One extreme being advanced is that the public protector is not fit to hold office‚ even before we start our inquiry. The other extreme is that the public protector is fit to hold office and therefore there is no need for this inquiry.”

Dyantyi urged colleagues to avoid those two extremes.

“Let us stay on facts and evidence and let the outcome be the undisputed product of adherence to facts. There are no predetermined outcomes. We are not assembled and coming here with outcomes in any of our briefcases‚” said Dyantyi.

An independent panel headed by retired judge Bess Nkabinde made adverse findings against Mkhwebane after establishing there was a prima facie case of misconduct and incompetence to answer for after a request National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise. The special committee will consider those counts established by the panel.

Modise in May expanded the composition of the committee to 36 members — the biggest parliamentary committee yet — with all political parties in the assembly represented. The ANC has 19 members, the DA four and the EFF two. The remaining parties each have representative, and all members will be allowed to vote in committee processes.

The previous composition of the committee‚ announced in April‚ had 26 members — 11 of whom had voting rights. Of those 11‚ only two were going to vote on behalf of the 11 smaller parties‚ in a matter they widely differ on.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa objected to this and called for “a weighted voting system” to promote fairness and democracy.

The National Assembly in March voted in favour of establishing a special committee‚ as provided for in section 194 of the constitution‚ to investigate Mkhwebane’s fitness for office on the recommendation of an independent panel of experts.

Parliamentary rules require the section 194 committee to conduct an inquiry‚ to establish whether the charges are sustainable and to report to the National Assembly.

The committee’s report is required to make findings‚ recommendations and provide reasons, and must be scheduled for consideration and debate with appropriate urgency.

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