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All 14 parties in parliament will have a say in Mkhwebane impeachment vote

The previous committee had 26 members but only 11 had voting rights

25 May 2021 - 22:12 By andisiwe makinana
United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa called for a weighted voting system to promote fairness and democracy. File photo.
United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa called for a weighted voting system to promote fairness and democracy. File photo.
Image: Anton Scholtz

All political parties represented in parliament will have a vote on whether public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is fit for office.

National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise has expanded the composition of the special parliamentary committee to provide for all 14 political parties represented in parliament to have a vote.

The committee will now be made up of 36 members from all 14 parties, with the ANC enjoying overwhelming representation with 19 members, four from the DA, two from the EFF and one each representing the rest of the parties.

All 36 members will be allowed to vote in committee processes.

The previous composition of the committee, announced last month, had 26 members, with only 11 of them with voting rights. Of those 11, only two were going to vote on behalf of the 11 smaller parties, in a matter they widely differ on.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa objected to this and called for “a weighted voting system” to promote fairness and democracy.

Holomisa argued that it was wholly undemocratic and unconstitutional for parliament to take away the right of smaller parties to vote in a section 194 committee which he argued was different from portfolio committees, in that their raison d'être and subject matters were of equal importance to all political parties, and that they discuss and handle matters of national importance.

While the assembly's rules committee shot down his proposal two weeks ago, Modise acceded to his request on Tuesday.

She said this would entrench and strengthen democratic practices in parliament.

Modise said this would enable each and every party to have a direct voice and a direct vote “and so that we don't end up one day with litigation and things like that”.

National Assembly rules empower Modise with the concurrence of the rules committee to determine the composition of its committees. On ad hoc committees, they provide for the resolution of the house to specify the number of members on a committee.

The National Assembly in March voted in favour of establishing a special committee as provided for in section 194 of the constitution to probe Mkhwebane's fitness to hold office when it adopted the report of an independent panel of experts which recommended that such a committee be established.

Parliamentary rules require the section 194 committee to conduct an inquiry, to establish whether the charges are sustainable and to report to the National Assembly.

The committee’s report will have to contain findings, recommendations and reasons and must be scheduled for consideration and debate with appropriate urgency.