S. African Parliament begins process to draft rules for removing anti-graft ombudsman

Source: Xinhua| 2019-09-20 22:43:50|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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CAPE TOWN, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- South Africa's Parliament on Friday began the process to draft rules for the removal of the Public Protector, an anti-graft ombudsman.

Parliament's Subcommittee on the Review of the National Assembly Rules met in earnest to discuss proposed rules for the removal from office of the Public Protector and other office bearers of Chapter 9 institutions, spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.

Chapter nine institutions refer to a group of organizations established in terms of Chapter 9 of the South African Constitution to guard democracy.

Friday's meeting dealt with proposed rules which provide at least four stages for the process in Parliament to remove the Public Protector, namely the initiation, the preliminary assessment of evidence, an inquiry by a committee and a decision by the House, according to Mothapo.

Concerning the first stage, the rules currently provide two mechanisms for a member to initiate the process - by way of a substantive motion in the National Assembly or by way of a written request to the Speaker.

In terms of the second stage, namely the preliminary assessment of evidence, it is anticipated that a determination of whether prima facie evidence exists for the National Assembly to proceed with an inquiry that would be fact-based and rely on legal considerations.

Concerning the third stage, options being considered include a special committee on the removal processes, an ad hoc committee or a portfolio committee of the National Assembly.

Ultimately, the decision regarding removal of the Public Protector and any other office bearers of Chapter 9 institutions would be taken by the National Assembly after due process.

The subcommittee has referred the principles discussed to the administration in order to develop draft rules for its consideration at the next meeting tentatively scheduled for October 2019, Mothapo said.

Last month, Parliament's Justice Committee requested that the National Assembly urgently draft rules which will serve as a guideline for the removal of the Public Protector.

This came amid growing calls from civil society organizations and political parties to remove current Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane from office.

Mkhwebane can only be removed by parliament. However, Parliament currently does not have rules in place to deal with the matter.

Recently there have been several damning court findings against Mkhwebane which have questioned her credibility and understanding of the law.