Members of Parliament in the justice portfolio committee were left fuming after Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane requested the late postponement of a planned meeting on Wednesday due to a “family emergency”.
Mkhwebane was due to appear on Wednesday to explain to MPs the policy around the appointment of a special adviser to her office.
However, committee chairperson Mathole Motshekga read out a letter sent at 5pm on Tuesday stating that Mkhwebane could not attend due to a “family emergency” and was requesting a postponement to June 21.
Motshekga said it was “by chance” they received the letter in time, given that it was acknowledged after hours.
Emergency aside, Motshekga said it was protocol for a delegation to be set up and a list of the names of those in the delegation to be sent to the committee. Mkhwebane’s report was also supposed have been sent well in advance.
Neither the list of names nor the report had been sent by 5pm on Tuesday, he said. Her deputy Kevin Malunga was also not in a position to attend.
MPs demanded a full explanation.
ANC MP Madipoane Mothapo said Mkhwebane’s absence could be justified if the emergency was a death in the family. However, a delegation could still have been sent in her place to show more “respect” to the committee.
‘Clear intention not to appear’
Democratic Alliance MP Glynnis Breytenbach said the unexplained excuse was outrageous and “flimsy” as the meeting had been scheduled weeks ago. Mkhwebane should have organised a delegation well in advance, even before her family emergency arose.
“A delegation does not get organised between 5pm and 9am this morning. This is a clear intention not to appear,” she said.
ACDP MP Steve Swart agreed with Breytenbach. He asked why Malunga, who has apparently been sent to “training” by Mkhwebane’s office, could not deputise on her behalf.
ANC MP Moloko Maila, however, said that the committee should first ascertain the facts around the emergency before judging Mkhwebane.
Motshekga said in the interests of natural justice, the committee would ask for a full explanation from Mkhwebane.
The June 21 date was also “not acceptable” and she would be asked to reappear next week Wednesday along with Malunga.
MPs were also due to discuss a request by DA chief whip John Steenhuisen to conduct an inquiry into Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office later on Wednesday. — News24