SECTION 194 INQUIRY
Mkhwebane misses inquiry deadlines while lawyer bounces back after sudden hospitalisation
Suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has missed two Section 194 impeachment inquiry deadlines as her self-created legal quagmire continues. In the meantime, the inquiry is continuing its work ‘irrespective’ of Mkhwebane’s stance.
Section 194 Inquiry chair Qubudile Dyantyi announced on Friday, 23 June that Busiswiwe Mkhwebane had missed the revised process deadlines, which means that the inquiry hums along, but all in writing.
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“Adv Mkhwebane was due to notify the committee by Monday, 19 June 2023 whether she would be responding to questions in writing or orally,” said Dyanti. The following deadline of 22 June was also missed, he said.
All about the money
Behind the scenes Mkhwebane, through her “attorneys of record”, Hope Chaane – who seems to have recovered after sudden hospitalisation in early June – has been negotiating terms of engagement.
Dyanti noted that Mkhwebane had written that the R4-million set aside for her legal fees was “insufficient” and that her attorneys also needed time to come to grips with the behemoth of a case. This was after the hospital spell and all.
The chair noted that “their [Chaane’s] services were terminated by the Office of the Public Protector South Africa (PPSA) after a sick note which indicated that Mr Hope Chaane was booked off sick indefinitely”.
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The services of the State Attorneys were then obtained for Mkhwebane, at no cost, but were rejected on the basis of a “patent conflict of interest”, said Dyantyi.
Mkhwebane had complained that the timelines set by Dyantyi were “unrealistic” and Chaane Attorneys, too, had written to the committee to point out that “Mkhwebane was never requested to make an input on the substance of the deadlines and the deadlines”.
These were therefore “not enforceable”.
Everything but the kitchen sink
There are a variety of government departments which have been drawn into the drama, said Dyantyi, but in spite of efforts by these – the PPSA, the Solicitor-General, the State Attorney and the committee – to secure legal assistance, the process was in limbo at her end of the swamp.
“Neither her [Mkhwebane] nor Chaane Attorneys appear to be willing to take the necessary steps to brief the counsel to deal with the outstanding merits of the impeachment inquiry,” said Dyantyi.
It was “mischievous” and “egregious” to complain that R4-million was not enough, said Dyantyi, “when no efforts have been made to reduce expenditure and, quite to the contrary, it appears that wasteful costs are incurred in the form of perusal fees in circumstances where such is unnecessary as her counsel is steeped in the matter”.
There was no evidence that the money would not be sufficient, said Dyantyi and despite “all the obstacles which sometimes have the effect of side-tracking the committee, at the heart of this process is that the committee is duty-bound to hold your client to account vis-à-vis the serious charges in the motion”, he said.
This was not a task to be taken lightly, he said, adding that, “I refuse to conduct the proceedings in a manner which ignores that Parliament has a constitutional function that it must perform in relation to the motion.”
The committee’s programme would continue, he said, and Mkhwebane was to receive her written questions by 25 June.
“She is once again urged to ensure that she avails the necessary resources at her disposal to assist her.” DM