DA to begin removal proceedings against Public Protector

The revelations that Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, first consulted President Jacob Zuma’s legal advisors and discussed further recommendations not included in her initial report into the ABSA/Bankorp bailout, casts serious doubt as to her independence.
This information has been revealed in annexures to the supplementary affidavit filed by the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) and clearly demonstrates that Mkhwebane does not operate in an impartial manner but rather seems to take her orders from the Union Buildings.
The DA will, therefore, write to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to request that this matter is dealt with by the relevant Portfolio Committee, in terms of Rule 337 and 338 of the National Assembly Rules.
Specifically, the DA in the Committee will call for removal proceedings to be initiated urgently. In terms of Section 194 of the Constitution, the Portfolio Committee has the power to make a finding of “misconduct, incapacity, or incompetence” against the Public Protector. Thereafter, the National Assembly must adopt a resolution calling for removal, which requires a two-thirds majority.
The DA has, from the get go, had serious doubts as to Mkhwebane’s suitability for the vital role of Public Protector. She has confirmed these doubts numerous times, including:

  • When she failed to act when President Jacob Zuma was trying to interdict the release of the State Capture report last year, which gave the first inkling of her bias;
  • When she jumped to the defence of the President by laying criminal charges against former Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, for releasing the transcript of her interview with the President;
  • When she has been sitting on key Gupta-related investigations for months; and
  • When she admitted to stepping outside of her mandate by recommending changing the Constitution regarding the mandate of the SARB, showing that she has very poor understanding of her own powers and the limits thereof.

The Public Protector is Constitutionally mandated to investigate misconduct by government departments and entities and to protect the public’s interest. Clearly, Mkhwebane is acting in the interest of the already captured Number 1 and must be removed before she is allowed to compromise the once proud office any further.

Baleka Mbete must now lay criminal charges against SABC liars

Now that the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, has finally tabled the report from Parliament’s Legal Services Unit identifying those who mislead or lied to the SABC Ad Hoc committee, she must ensure that criminal charges are laid against them.
The recommendation in the report of the Ad Hoc committee on the SABC inquiry was that Parliament itself lay charges against the individuals who misled the committee.
As Speaker, Mbete is the Constitutional Head of the National Assembly and must ensure that a recommendation of a report adopted by the National Assembly, including the ANC, is duly implemented.
The recommendation read: “Parliament’s Legal Services Unit, with the assistance of the Evidence Leader, should within 60 days from the adoption of this report by the National Assembly, identify the persons who misled the inquiry or provided false information or false testimony with the aim of criminal charges being laid”.
The report identified the following individuals as giving misleading or contradictory evidence and they are liable to a fine or imprisonment, or both:

  • Former Communications Minister, Faith Muthambi – whose testimony “could be seen as an attempt to mislead the Inquiry”.
  • Former Company Secretary, Theressa Geldenguys – for her “failure to inform the Committee that she was no longer the company secretary […] which could be considered as an attempt to mislead the Inquiry”.
  • Former SABC CEO, James Aguma – who might have provided the Inquiry with an email which “purports to lack authenticity as being that generated by the [Companies and Intellectual Property Commission] CIPC”. The report states that “in order to establish this fact conclusively further investigation needs to be undertaken to ascertain whether the email was generated by the CIPC”.
  • Former SABC Board Chair, Prof. Mbulaheni Maguvhe – Prof. Maguve and Minister Muthambi provided contradictory testimonies regarding the labour dispute between the SABC 8 and the SABC, which“could be indicative of Prof. Maguvhe misleading the Inquiry”.
  • Former SABC Board Chair, Dr Ben Ngubane – “[the] testimony offered by Dr Ngubane could be seen as an attempt to mislead the inquiry and that false information was presented to the Inquiry”.

Although the DA welcomes the tabling of this report, the reality is that it is almost 12 weeks overdue and has been sitting on the Speaker’s desk since the 5th of June.
Mbete must now ensure that she fully complies with the full recommendation of the report and lay criminal charges.
Misleading Parliament is a serious offense and the DA will ensure that this report will not stay just another report.
A clear message must be sent to those who think they can lie, under oath, to Parliament – lying will not be tolerated. It is now up to the Speaker to ensure that this message is sent otherwise the DA will ensure it is heard loud and clear.

One month later, report on those who lied in SABC Inquiry still sitting on Speaker’s desk

It has been a month since the report from Parliament’s Legal Services Unit identifying witnesses who gave false or misleading testimonies during the SABC Inquiry, was handed to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete.
The SABC Inquiry Report recommended that Parliament’s Legal Services Unit “identify the persons who misled the inquiry or provided false information or false testimony with the aim of criminal charges being laid”. The Legal Services Unit compiled this report and submitted to the Speaker, as required on 5 June 2017.
Unsurprisingly, the Speaker has refused to table the report before Parliament for scrutiny – as its contents no doubt implicate a number of her ANC comrades.
Mbete must remember that her duty to Parliament is above her role as Chairperson of the ANC. Lying before Parliament is a serious offence and those found guilty must be held accountable, irrespective of their political affiliation or position.
Mbete doesn’t have any legal basis for withholding the report and her explanation, offered in National Assembly Programme Committee, that the implicated persons were being consulted doesn’t hold water. Parliament doesn’t have an obligation to consult with those who lied to it.
This seems like a last ditch attempt by the Speaker to protect her ANC comrades, like former Communications Minister, Faith Muthambi, from being held accountable for possibly lying during the SABC Inquiry.
Including Muthambi, it would appear that the following individuals gave contradictory evidence or may have misled Parliament during the SABC Inquiry:

  • Former Company Secretary, Theresa Geldenhuys, who may have submitted doctored Board minutes to Parliament;
  • Former SABC Board Chair, Ellen Tshabalala, who testified that there was political interference at the SABC and failed to provide evidence in that regard, when requested;
  • Former SABC Board Chair, Prof Mbulaheni Maguvhe, who testified that he did not brief his lawyers to launch an interdict against the SABC inquiry in his personal capacity, despite his lawyers clearly stating in court that Maguvhe submitted the application for the interdict in his personal capacity; and
  • Former SABC Board Chair, Dr Ben Ngubane, who testified that there was no political interference at the SABC, despite evidence to the contrary. He also insisted that The New Age arrangement made good business sense and that there was no cost to the SABC, despite evidence to the contrary.

On 6 June 2017, the DA wrote to the Speaker urging her to table the report in Parliament and on 20 June 2017, the DA submitted an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to access the report. Nevertheless, the report has still not seen the light of day. It is shocking that Members of Parliament have to go to such lengths to gain access to reports emanating from their committee work.
Mbete has an obligation to table this report via the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports (ATC) to ensure that Parliament performs its oversight and ensure that those who lied face the full consequences of their actions.
The DA will not allow for those who lied before Parliament to escape accountability and we will continue to put pressure on the Speaker to make this report public.
We strongly encourage Mbete to table this report before Parliament.

#NoConfidence: DA to meet with Speaker to push for a date for the debate

It is has now been a week since I wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, calling for the DA-sponsored Motion of No Confidence in President Jacob Zuma to be scheduled at the earliest available opportunity.
This followed the 22 June Constitutional Court’s ruling on the matter of the secret ballot.
South Africans have, however, been treated to a deafening silence by Mbete save for a statement by Parliament noting that the Speaker “will … ensure the judgment is given effect”.
I have thus requested an urgent meeting with the Speaker to discuss the scheduling of the Motion of No Confidence. Parliament’s Third Term is scheduled to commence on 31 July and the Motion of No Confidence can and should take place on the very next day, 1 August 2017.
It appears that Mbete is prioritising the ANC policy conference, and her role as ANC Chairperson, instead of her Constitutional role as Speaker of the National Assembly, for which she is paid R2 716 798 per annum.
NA Rule 129 is clear that the Speaker alone has the responsibility to schedule the motion and in doing so she must accord it urgent priority. She cannot drag her feet on this any longer.
Mbete must now prioritise her role as Speaker and act in the interest of the country by scheduling the DA’s motion of no confidence without delay.

National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete refuses “snap debate” on the economic crisis in SA

Note to Editors: Copies of the correspondence between David Maynier MP, DA Shadow Minister of Finance, and the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, can be found [here].
We should be debating the fact that we are in deep economic trouble in South Africa.
However, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, has refused my request for a debate on an urgent matter of national public importance, in terms of National Assembly Rule 130, to debate measures to deal with the economic crisis in South Africa.
The reason my request for a “snap debate” on measures to deal with the economic crisis was refused is absurd. The Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, believes “the matter can be considered by some other means in the near future”. However, she must know:

  • the debate on the Appropriations Bill [B5-2017] was an opportunity to debate a R767 billion appropriation, to fund 40 national departments in 2017/18, and provided no opportunity to properly debate the economic crisis; and
  • the next opportunity for Members Statements is 22 August 2017; the next opportunity for oral questions is 23 August 2017; and if a written question was submitted today it would, at best, be replied to on 14 July 2017.

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, knows there is absolutely no prospect of this matter being dealt with by other means in the near future and is simply protecting President Jacob Zuma and Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba, from a tough debate on measures to deal with the economic crisis in South Africa.
We are not going to take this lying down and will continue to fight to schedule a national debate on the economic crisis in South Africa.

#NoConfidence: Parliament must reconvene as crisis intensifies

Yesterday’s decision by Standard and Poors Global Ratings Services to downgrade South Africa’s sovereign credit rating to “junk status” only emphasises the need for the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to reconvene Parliament immediately.
President Zuma’s midnight Cabinet cull has precipitated a crisis and S&P has responded with a resounding vote of no confidence in the president and his new cabinet of lackeys. Other ratings agencies are sure to follow suit.
One of Parliament’s key Constitutional functions is “scrutinising and overseeing executive action” and holding the Executive to account. It is therefore incumbent on Mbete to call an urgent sitting of the House to debate the Motion of No Confidence proposed by the DA on 30 March. It is inconceivable that in a time of national crisis the lights remain off in the People’s Parliament.
Mbete committed to consulting with the Leader of Government Business and the Chief Whip on 2 April, and has surely done so by now. All that remains is for her to schedule a sitting.
The time has arrived for Mbete to put the institution of Parliament before the president she slavishly shielded from accountability during previous crises. She cannot be seen to be dithering – Zuma’s recklessness is already costing South Africa dearly.

The Speaker is very poorly “informed”

In today’s meeting of the National Assembly Programming Committee (NAPC), I repeated the DA’s call for the establishment of a parliamentary committee to receive and process reports completed by Chapter 9 institutions.
On 21 February the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, responded to my question, posed during NAPC the week before, as to whether any reports of Chapter 9 Institutions had not yet been tabled. In her letter, she said: “I am informed that all reports from Chapter 9 Institutions that were submitted to my office were tabled and referred to the relevant parliamentary structures, including reports of the South African Human Rights Commission.”
Less than one week later, no fewer than three SAHRC reports were tabled on 27 February. One of these, a report on Investigative Hearing into Safety and Security Challenges in Farming Communities in South Africa, was released in October 2014! The other two reports, into the Impact of Protest-related Action on the Right to a Basic Education in South Africa and on Transformation at Public Universities in South Africa, were released in September and December 2016, respectively.
All three reports pertain to very pertinent issues.
It is disturbing that these reports were only tabled after the DA enquired about them. It is even more disturbing that the Speaker misled Parliament and myself. Increasingly, Parliament is failing to do its job and increasingly it quietly ‘self-corrects’ once the opposition points out their failings. This is a worrisome trend.
This latest mishandling of reports shows once again the urgency of establishing a parliamentary committee to receive and process reports completed by Chapter 9 institutions, including reports completed by the Public Protector and the SAHRC.