Parliament is expected to present arguments at the Western Cape High Court today on behalf of the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Section 194 Committee chairperson, and the sponsors of the motion that spawned a process of inquiry into the fitness of public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office.
This after Mkhwebane filed an urgent application to stop the parliamentary impeachment proceedings against her after the Constitutional Court dismissed her rescission application last week. Mkhwebane also faces a suspension by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Her legal representative Dali Mpofu argued against such action during the court proceedings on Wednesday, stating that the public protector is being victimised and arguing that Ramaphosa is conflicted to suspend the public protector.
Mpofu further argued that suspending Mkhwebane while impeachment proceedings are under way would be punitive and damaging to her reputation.
According to Mpofu, the impeachment proceedings are already a punishment. “What I am arguing is namely within a punitive regime, we deal with another punitive measure which is suspension. The respondent can’t argue that because she is suspended with pay, it is not punitive.”
In response to the disputed conflict of interest arising out of the president’s part in the process as the suspending authority, Mpofu argued that Ramaphosa ought to be held to his own admission that he is, in fact, conflicted.
Said the public protector: “The president’s admission is contained in an affidavit he filed in proceedings before the same court in the earlier days of the case. He was referring to litigation that was pending between him and the PP [public protector] at the time pertaining to the Bosasa/CR17 case.
“The president had further indicated that he would rather defer the role of effecting the suspension to an untainted member of his cabinet. His admission aside, the president’s being the subject of multiple investigations by the PP renders him conflicted.
“These investigations relate to his utterances in the leaked audio recording of the statement he made during the ANC NEC [national executive committee] meeting, the alleged unlawful use of a state jet for a trip to Zimbabwe, and allegations of judicial capture.”