The Committee for Section 194 Enquiry into Public Protector Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office has concluded its deliberations and is set to draft a comprehensive report based on the evidence gathered during the investigation. The committee, established on 16 March 2021, was tasked with conducting a constitutional enquiry into the Public Protector’s fitness to serve.
Chairperson of the Committee, Mr Qubudile Dyantyi, stated that the draft report capturing the committee’s deliberations will be reviewed and adopted before being sent to Adv Mkhwebane for her input. Following this step, a final report will be forwarded to the National Assembly.
The committee’s focus during its recent sessions was on various charges of misconduct and incompetence leveled against Adv Mkhwebane. These charges include “intimidation,” “harassment,” and “victimization” of staff members, as well as the mismanagement of internal resources related to management staff and investigators.
One of the key charges examined by the committee related to whether Adv Mkhwebane incurred fruitless and wasteful and/or unauthorized public expenditure in legal costs. The ballooning costs of litigation and the auditing of the Public Protector South Africa (PPSA) were also scrutinized during the deliberations.
Regarding the SARS Investigating Unit charge, committee members agreed that there is evidence suggesting Adv Mkhwebane entered into the investigation with a predetermined outcome, showing a lack of impartiality. In connection with the Inspector-General of Intelligence (IGI) report, the committee recommended that the unlawful possession of the classified report be referred to the State Security Agency for further investigation, as it was received and perused unlawfully.
In the matter of CR17/Bosasa, the committee noted that Adv Mkhwebane’s investigation lacked impartiality and independence. Members expressed concerns about the appointment of individuals such as Mr Sibusio Nyembe as a ‘political’ adviser, Mr Paul Ngobeni as a consultant, and Kim Heller and Sipho Seepe as communications experts, which the committee believed impacted Adv Mkhwebane’s independence and impartiality.
Committee Chairperson, Mr Dyantyi, expressed his intention to hold a sign-off meeting either on the coming Friday or the following Monday. The draft report will be sent to Adv Mkhwebane for her comments before the final report is adopted.
Throughout the investigation process, the committee worked diligently, with Mr Dyantyi commending its members for their consistent hard work, particularly during the last two meetings. He acknowledged their dedication to maintaining a quorum even on weekends.
For more detailed information and committee documents related to the Section 194 Enquiry, interested parties can visit the Parliament of South Africa’s official webpage: Committee for Section 194 Enquiry – Parliament of South Africa.
As the process moves forward, the fate of Public Protector Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s tenure remains uncertain. The final report, once adopted by the committee and reviewed by Adv Mkhwebane, will play a crucial role in determining the future of the office and the nation’s faith in its public institutions.