SECTION 194 INQUIRY
The impeachment show goes on: With the chair staying put, now the intense slog work begins
Now that members of Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s Section 194 Inquiry have resolved that committee chair, Qubudile Dyantyi, will remain in the hot seat, their next task is to go through the evidence to determine the veracity of the allegations of misconduct and incompetence against the suspended Public Protector.
The impeachment inquiry committee investigating suspended Public Protector (PP) Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office met on Friday, sans members of the Economic Freedom Fighters, the United Democratic Movement and the African Transformation Movement, to confirm committee chair Qubudile Dyantyi’s earlier decision not to recuse himself.
Read more in Daily Maverick: No full recordings, no recusal – Mkhwebane fails in bid to remove Dyantyi as chair
Mkhwebane had sought Dyantyi’s recusal in light of claims of attempted bribery made public against him by the suspended PP’s husband, David Skosana.
The “Joemat-Pettersson tapes” lie at the centre of the storm that has threatened to derail the historic inquiry now creeping up the last long hill to its draft report.
Mkhwebane and Skosana have claimed the late ANC MP, Joemat-Pettersson, had sought a R600,000 bribe that would be split between herself, Dyantyi and ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina to “rig” the vote. This, the duo claimed, was enough for Dyantyi to be removed as the chair as he was “tainted”.
Dyantyi on Friday explained that he had gone through Mkhwebane’s recusal application, had asked for further information, including recordings, and was told that nothing further was available.
“I found the recusal application without any merit and have therefore declined, as you know by now,” the chair said. The ANC’s Doris Dlakude said that the issues raised by Mkhwebane “do not belong to this committee”.
The criminal justice system should be left to deal with the allegations while the committee’s task was to determine Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office, she said.
Dyantyi said committee members are now all in possession of summations from evidence leaders, advocates Nazreen Bawa and Ncumisa Majosi, and it is up to them to “make the call”. It is the MPs who will be drafting their report, and no one else.
The task ahead
Section 194 legal adviser, Fatima Ebrahim, took committee members through the various charges of misconduct and incompetence faced by Mkhwbane.
Count one is of misconduct, related to the South African Reserve Bank and CIEX matter; the second misconduct count relates to the Vrede Dairy Farm matter; and the third relates to incompetence in both matters.
The fourth charge is “broad” and linked to misconduct and incompetence related to staffing issues at the Public Protector South Africa, including the alleged intimidation and victimisation of staff as well as a failure to conduct investigations independently.
The independent panel (IP) appointed by Parliament found Mkhwebane guilty of all the charges, apart from those related to employees.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Independent panel named for next step in inquiry into Public Protector’s fitness for office
“In determining the veracity of the charges, the committee should have due regard to the evidence before it which includes witness statements, court records, oral evidence, the statements of the PP, evidence before the IP and evidence tendered as part of the record,” Ebrahim said.
The summations provided by evidence leaders to committee members should be utilised in their deliberations, but the legal team could not make findings on behalf of the committee “and have not sought to do so”.
Should the committee find that Mkhwebane has indulged in misconduct and has been incompetent such a finding “must be rational”.
Mkhwebane’s current legal representatives, Chaane Attorneys, had still not briefed counsel, Ebrahim told members.
“As things currently stand, the PP maintains that she is not legally represented,” Ebrahim said, adding that the committee had not prevented her from finding representation.
The committee, Dyantyi said, was now entering a phase of intense slog work, which was not going to be “quick and nice work”. DM