Modise agrees to move to possibly remove Public Protector

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National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise has heeded calls by the Democratic Alliance (DA) to start proceedings on whether or not Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane should be removed from office.

Last month, the official opposition called on Parliament to take action against Mkhwebane for what it called questionable reports, and labelling her inadequate for the job.

On Friday, Speaker Thandi Modise confirmed that the DA’s request will be referred to the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services for consideration.

MPs have not officially started their work as legislators yet.

That will only begin once parliamentary committees are formed after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address on June 20.

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Last week, the National Assembly’s rules committee confirmed committees will be convened from the June 2 to elect a chairperson and plan their programmes.

The ANC is yet to indicate who it will nominate to the important positions of chairpersons and whips.

It is believed internal wrangling within the party is seemingly stifling the appointments of key parliamentary positions which could determine if the proposal to remove Mkhwebane, among others, succeeds or not.

The DA’s chief whip, John Steenhuisen, welcomed Modise’s decision.

“We have long stated that Mkhwebane is not the right person to serve as the head of such a critical Chapter 9 body,” he said.

“She has demonstrated an appallingly poor understanding of both the law as well as of her own powers and has proven that she is not able to act independently.”

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It’s not the first attempt by opposition MPs to remove Mkhwebane from her job.

Last year, Steenhuisen raised a similar motion with former Speaker Baleka Mbete which was also referred to the Justice Committee.

At the time the committee was led by the ANC’s Mathole Motshkega and later Madipoane Mothapo seemingly had little appetite to go ahead with removal procedures.

The DA raised the issue with an initial report looking into the Vrede Dairy farm matter which made no findings against former Free State premier and now ANC secretary general Ace Magashule, as well as Former Minerals Minister Mosebenzi Zwane who was Free State Agriculture MEC at the time.

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After the May 8 polls, Zwane returned to parliament as an ordinary ANC National Assembly backbencer

In February, before MPs of the fifth Parliament completed their term, the previous justice committee finally turned down the DA’s request with a majority decision of MPs serving on the committee.

The DA has always been suspicious of Mkhwebane’s appointment.

After rigorous interviews to fill the vacant public protector position in 2016, only the DA did not vote to confirm her appointment.

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