Mkhwebane out, Gcaleka in? – Parliament to decide future of Public Protector’s office on same day

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Joined: Aug 2019

The National Assembly will hold a physical sitting at the Cape Town City Hall on September 11.

Suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and her potential successor, Kholeka Gcaleka, will learn their fate on the same day in September.

Parliament’s third quarter commenced this week following an extended constituency period and will now seek to finalise the future of the Office of the Public Protector.

Gcaleka, who has been Acting Public Protector since Mkhwebane’s suspension in June last year, was identified as the suitable candidate to lead the Chapter 9 institution by Parliament’s ad hoc committee on Tuesday.

ALSO READ: Public Protector: Is Kholeka Gcaleka a Busi or a Thuli?

Her appointment was supported by the African National Congress (ANC) and Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), while the Democratic Alliance (DA), Freedom Front Plus (FF+) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) were opposed to Gcaleka’s nomination.

At the same time, Mkhwebane could be be impeached after the Section 194 Committee adopted a final report on the inquiry into her fitness to hold office last week.

The suspended public protector, whose seven-year non-renewable term ends in October, was found guilty on all four charges of misconduct and incompetence.

‘Late evening’

In a programming committee meeting on Thursday, Secretary to the National Assembly, Masibulele Xaso told MPs that 11 September has been selected as the day to debate and vote on both Mkhwebane’s impeachment  and Gcaleka’s confirmation.

Xaso said the Cape Town City Hall has been proposed as the venue to hold the in-person sitting.

ANC MP Pemmy Majodina indicated that both matters had been discussed in the chief whips’ forum on Wednesday and the majority of parties had agreed on the date.

“If we don’t deal with both items in September, it might take us up to November which is something we do not want to prolong,” she said.

Majodina said parties had also agreed that the votes on the day would be done through a roll call system like in previous sittings.

READ MORE: Mkhwebane: ‘I am one of the best ever, unfortunately they’re blinded by hatred’

National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said that Mkhwebane’s removal would be the first item on the agenda.

“Following that we will consider the report of the ad hoc committee which was mandated to select an incoming public protector. So, we want to deal with both matters on the same day,” Mapisa-Nqakula told members of the committee.

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) chief whip Narend Singh warned MPs to prepare for a long session.

“Because if we have to vote for both the debates and the voting, it’s going to be a late evening and we may have to bring that to the attention of our members.”

Watch the meeting below:

Gcaleka would have to be approved by 60% of the National Assembly. If this does not happen, the process may have to be started afresh.

However, if the votes threshold is met, her name will be sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa for appointment.

If appointed, Gcaleka will have to be replaced as the deputy public protector.

The recommendation for Mkhwebane’s removal will also require the support of almost two-thirds (66%) of the members in the National Assembly.

‘Hard-earned’ benefits

Meanwhile, Mkhwebane has signalled her intention to challenge the Section 194 report recommending her removal in court.

Speaking at a media briefing at the Premier Hotel in Midrand on Wednesday, Mkhwebane said she would “not entertain the report”.

The suspended public protector also claimed that she was entitled to a gratuity of around R10 million even if she was impeached.

She vowed to fight “dark forces” who want to take away her “hard-earned” benefits.

NOW READ: Section 194: Rushed or justified? Busisiwe Mkhwebane could lose millions

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