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PUBLIC PROTECTOR IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY

Tick-tock — did they or didn’t they walk out? Mkhwebane and Seanego Attorneys play for more time and lose

Tick-tock — did they or didn’t they walk out? Mkhwebane and Seanego Attorneys play for more time and lose
Suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane speaks to advocate Dali Mpofu over a tea break during the parliamentary inquiry into her fitness to hold office in Parliament, Cape Town, South Africa on 25 August 2022. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

That hill there yonder is October 2023, the month Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s disastrous tenure officially comes to an end. If the Section 194 Inquiry can be held up until then — she walks free — unimpeachable.

Whether she faces her fate on Impeachment Hill will depend on the resolve of the inquiry as Mkhwebane clutches onto a metaphorical legal door frame in an attempt to resist the grip of accountability.

The questions on everyone’s minds at the resumption on Tuesday of the much-stalled Section 19 impeachment inquiry into Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office were: 1) would the inquiry be stalled 2) has Mkhwebane been left marooned by her lawyers and legal representative, advocate Dali Mpofu.

To put you out of your misery, in the end, and after at least two hours arguing about the nature of reality itself, Qubudile Dyantyi, committee chair, resolved to continue hearing evidence from PPSA legal services manager Neels Van Der Merwe.

Dyantyi on Tuesday ordered Seanego to remain at the inquiry until 1pm when it ended early due to other parliamentary business. Mkhwebane’s request to leave the inquiry was also refused.

Earlier Mkhwebane, addressing the committee, said that “it was never the case that any of my legal representatives ‘withdrew’ from representing me.”

This was an “incorrect allegation” by committee members and “some sections of the media who are hostile to me”, she added.

Prior to the eventual swearing-in of Van Der Merwe, what in fact took place on Thursday 27 October was filleted beyond recognition.

On that day, after a failed bid for yet another adjournment, Mpofu announced publicly “so, that’s it…we are not able to take part in further illegal activities”.

How an individual has internalised this spectacle depends on which pill you have taken, like in the movie The Matrix.

Swallow the blue pill and you’re in the bullpen with Mkhwebane, Mpofu, her legal team Seanego, the EFF, the UDM and the ATM. 

In this instance, you will be of the firm belief that the Section 194 Inquiry into Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office is entirely “illegal” in the first place (with no basis for this) and that she is only there as a result of a political “witch hunt”.

You will also be unshakeable on the issue that Mkhwebane’s legal team and Mpofu did not “walk out” and did not abandon her mid-impeachment probe and that they were always going to be covering her back.


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Swallow the red pill and you are with the rest of us who watched with our own eyes as Mpofu breezily exited the inquiry with “Good luck, we’ll see you again, maybe. Or maybe not”.

Mkhwebane on Tuesday said that while Mpofu and Seanego were still representing her they were not, however, available and would only be able to return to the inquiry the week of 7 November. 

It became clear that this is because Mkhwebane’s team is being kept busy with various other legal challenges, including that of her suspension, she has currently jamming up the justice system.

Democratic Alliance deputy chief whip, Annelie Lotriet, said the committee needed clarity on what had happened with Mpofu as what Mkhwebane had said had taken place on Thursday differed from what she said on Friday “and today”.

“There are three different versions,” she said.

ANC MP, Bheki Nkosi, said “I mean, I physically saw people walk out…so it is not something we are dreaming about”.

The ANC’s Violet Siwela added that while she appreciated Mkhwebane’s attempt at an explanation for the drama and confusion, the events were not something “the committee had fabricated.”

Doris Dlakude, ANC deputy chief whip, spoke for many when she quipped “what I don’t understand is why did they walk out of this committee last week?”

The show will go on — dirty tricks and playground insults aside — as Mkhwebane faces the heat

The inquiry will resume at 10am on Wednesday with evidence leader advocate Nazreen Bawa leading Van Jaarsveld’s testimony. 

He is expected to reveal who was on Mkhwebane’s R147-million legal shopping list (apart from Seanego themselves who have benefitted around R49-million). DM

 

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