SECTION 194 INQUIRY
No full recordings, no recusal – Mkhwebane fails in bid to remove Dyantyi as chair
The impeachment inquiry into the fitness to hold office of public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane will continue its work, it has been announced.
On Monday, committee chair, Qubudile Dyantyi, said the suspended PP had forwarded only nine minutes of a one-hour conversation recorded during a “sting” to “trap” ANC MP, Tina Joemat-Petterson on bribery charges.
And while he had made a “full disclosure” including screenshots of WhatsApp communications between himself and Joemat-Pettersson, the PP had failed to do the same.
In a statement, the committee thus announced that Dyantyi “would not be recusing himself” as chair of the section 194 inquiry, as demanded by the suspended public protector for the second time.
After Joemat-Pettersson’s sudden death on 5 July, David Skosana, Mkhwebane’s husband, entered the ongoing fray with regard to the suspended PP’s appearance at her impeachment inquiry.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Tina Joemat-Pettersson, a life of controversy and commitment to the ANC, never mind the rollercoaster ride
At a press conference, Skosana claimed the late former cabinet minister had sought a bribe of R600,000 to be split three ways between herself, Dyantyi and ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina to “throw the vote”.
He had “played along” said Skosana to expose the ANC officials. This was one of the reasons Mkhwebane sought Dyantyi’s recusal.
All those “implicated” have denied the claims.
Read more in Daily Maverick: At Sandton ‘press conference’, Mkhwebane’s reality distortion field acquires even more warped dimensions
Dyantyi, said the statement, “after carefully considering the second recusal application by the PP decided not to recuse himself as the chairperson or as a member of the committee”.
Read in full Dyanti’s response to the public protector’s recusal application here:
Where’s the rest?
Dyantyi noted that after contacting Mkhwebane’s legal representatives, Chaane Attorneys, about only receiving four of an alleged 37 messages between Joemat-Pettersson and Skosana, they had responded that this was all they had.
Dyantyi said he considered this “suspicious” as the “full context of the alleged discussions is not known”.
He “categorically” denied having sought or solicited a bribe from Joemat-Pettersson “or any third party from the PP or any other person or that he had any motive to do so.”
He added that evidence tendered “does not support that there is any prima facie proof of the allegations”.
The enquiry’s job, he said, was not to focus on the death of Joemat-Pettersson as opposed to the motion “which deals with the sole question of whether the PP is incompetent or has misconducted herself as alleged.
“The committee is not seized with an enquiry into Ms Joemat-Pettersson’s passing nor is it appropriate for members of Parliament to speculate in respect thereof especially whilst the matter is receiving attention from appropriate state authorities”.
It was “deeply disrespectful” to Joemat-Pettersson’s family and “to this extent the PP has misdirected herself in understanding the powers and functions of the committee.”
What took you so long?
The chair said that he had noted that in the alleged WhatsApp communication, Skosana had threatened to call an “urgent press conference” to “expose this Chairperson”. Joemat-Pettersson had replied “about what?” at the time. The full evidence was not supplied by either Skosana or the PP with regard to this comment.
The husband and wife media conference was indeed called “but inexplicably only much later,” noted Dyantyi.
He questioned the delay in Skosana’s bringing of the matter to the attention of the SAPS as well as the PP’s delay in lodging the application for his recusal and the “piecemeal approach in which the alleged evidence is being released”.
A family affair
Oral representations by Skosana as well as Mkhwebane’s sister would not be permitted, said Dyantyi. The recordings they intended to play were already in the public domain, he added.
Neither the NA nor directives empowered the committee to investigate and reach “conclusions on the allegations in a matter akin to an enquiry within the enquiry”.
The mandate of the committee was “narrow and is restricted” and members would be hard at work during the week preparing a draft report for consideration, said the embattled chair.
Dyantyi said he could not deny that “I have found the allegations against me to be hurtful and deeply offensive given my dedication and commitment to conducting a fair process”.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Busisiwe Mkhwebane impeachment inquiry
The parliamentary process to select a new public protector is currently underway, with the suspended public protector’s term due to end on 12 October. DM