PUBLIC PROTECTOR IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY
Dali Mpofu rejects Section 194 committee’s decision, says Cyril Ramaphosa must be called
Advocate Dali Mpofu told the parliamentary committee that it had ‘misunderstood’ or had been ‘confused’ by his client Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s request to call Cyril Ramaphosa.
Back at the coalface of lawfare defending suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, Advocate Dali Mpofu informed Section 194 inquiry committee members on Wednesday, in not so many words, that they alone did not call the shots.
This is not unexpected. In Mpofu’s world, the courts do not either, as he has argued relentlessly that legal judgments are fluid or mere “opinions” during this historic hearing into his client’s fitness to hold office.
Legions of aspirant student lawyers and advocates watching Mpofu’s performance daily on various platforms might find themselves somewhat confused, but not so the “people’s advocate” who is deft at weaving his way in, around, through and out of statutory law like a committed knitter of a multicoloured silly jumper.
He told those gathered that, just as the committee had resolved not to call President Cyril Ramaphosa, so Mkhwebane had a right to her witness – Ramaphosa being the biggest fish the suspended PP hopes to reel in.
On Tuesday, after considering various opinions from Parliament’s legal services, the committee rejected Mkhwebane’s request for Ramaphosa to testify.
“We are simply here to indicate that we do not accept the majority decision of the committee,” Mpofu pronounced on Wednesday at the parliamentary impeachment inquiry.
In this instance, the personal turned out not to be political as Mpofu explained that the committee had “misunderstood” or had been “confused” that Mkhwebane was not calling Ramaphosa as the democratically elected President of the Republic of South Africa, but as an ordinary citizen.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “Section 194 committee rejects Mkhwebane’s bid to grill Ramaphosa”
That the two are virtually neighbours – Mkhwebane has lived rent- and expense-free in the luxury Bryntirion ministerial estate in Pretoria right next door to Ramaphosa – doesn’t count.
On Wednesday, Mpofu argued: “Viewed from the perspective of the Public Protector, he [Ramaphosa] has refused to come.”
Mpofu complained to the committee that Mkhwebane had only been informed of the decision to reject her request on Wednesday (although live proceedings were broadcast widely on Tuesday) and had “to first hear about it in the media”.
He called for another opportunity to argue issues of a “lack of clarity around the suspension issue”.
In his now trademark legal sleight of hand, Mpofu also told the committee that its majority decision had gone “against” the opinion of Parliament’s legal services. This is not the case. Legal services set out the legal options available and their implications. The committee voted.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “Mkhwebane ignored Treasury red flags, #Guptaleaks evidence verifying Vrede shakedown, inquiry hears”
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Mpofu complained that “the media” (as usual) had failed to report that the legal opinion had set out that there was no legal impediment to the committee summonsing the President. [Daily Maverick published exactly this].
Legal services, however, did set out the parameters of this course of action and gave reasons that Ramaphosa should not be called as a witness.
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In the event that the committee was of the view that Ramaphosa should be called, legal services advised that this be done in the “spirit of cooperative governance” and before any process to summons.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “Mkhwebane suffers third strike as court sets aside remedial action aimed at former SARS deputy Ivan Pillay”
Read more in Daily Maverick: “‘Be my eyes and ears’, former Public Protector Mkhwebane told her head of security”
Mpofu said on Wednesday that he would take the letter from the committee rejecting Mkhwebane’s request “at face value and the final word on the issue”.
However, Mkhwebane reserved the right to take whatever legal steps necessary to accomplish her catch of the decade.
As to Ramaphosa being called as an ordinary citizen, although Mkhwebane had addressed her letter to “his workplace”; “we are calling him as a witness, as a citizen, like any other witness. He is in no different position from Johan Loggerenberg or Tebogo Kekana,” Mpofu opined.
Ramaphosa had “implicated the PP in alleged conduct which would be impeachable”, and so had to be called, said Mpofu.
Gumbi Tyelela, senior manager, human resources in the Office of the Public Protector, gave evidence after Mpofu had hammered home his displeasure. DM