/ 8 April 2021

RET loyalists lose out on seats in committee on Mkhwebane’s removal

In her report
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (David Harrison/M&G)

The ANC has fielded senior MPs with loyalties firmly opposed to the governing party’s radical economic transformation (RET) faction to serve on the Section 194 committee due to consider the impeachment of Public Protector Busisiswe Mkhwebane.

The eight ANC members with voting rights on the committee include deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude, NEC member and former minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson, former deputy finance minister Mondli Gungubele as well as Richard Dyantyi and Bekizwe Nkosi, according to a list released by the office of the speaker.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will be represented by Annelie Lotriet and Leon Schreiber, while Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema is his party’s sole representative on the committee.

The initial motion that sparked the parliamentary process to interrogate Mkhwebane’s fitness for office came from the DA. The EFF has in recent years backed Mkhwebane to the hilt as she delivered a raft of reports with damning findings against President Cyril Ramaphosa and his political allies.

Luthuli House had to quell a mutiny in the ANC caucus by members loyal to secretary-general Ace Magashule’s faction ahead of the National Assembly vote last month on a report recommending the legislature initiate a section 194 inquiry that could lead to her removal.

A simple majority of 201 votes was needed for the adoption of the 119-page report by a high-level panel that found prima facie evidence of misconduct and incompetence on Mkhwebane’s part, detailed in a number of damning court judgments that overturned her findings on review.

These included the Pretoria high court and the Constitutional Court findings on her 2017 Bankorp-Absa report, the court judgments relating to her report on the Vrede dairy farm scandal, and the legal review of her Financial Sector Conduct Authority report.  

The panel noted that the remedy for misconduct or sustained incompetence was removal. 

In the end, the chamber adopted the report by 275 votes, but 62 ANC MPs did not cast their ballots. 

Magashule publicly called on MPs not to support a process initiated by the DA, and it is notable that his loyalists are now absent from the committee.

Only the ANC, DA, EFF, Inkatha Freedom Party and the Freedom Front Plus have voting rights on the committee. The last two are represented by Zandile Majozi and Corné Mulder, respectively.

The committee will also include another 15 non-voting MPs, such as United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa and representatives from the African Transformation Movement, the African Christian Democratic Party, Cope and Good. 

The committee is yet to meet and it is expected that when it does, it will elect Dlakude as chairperson.