ANC's Richard Dyantyi elected chair of Mkhwebane impeachment committee

20 July 2021 - 12:01 By andisiwe makinana
An independent panel headed by retired justice Bess Nkabinde made adverse findings against public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane after establishing she had a prima facie case of misconduct and incompetence to answer for. File photo.
An independent panel headed by retired justice Bess Nkabinde made adverse findings against public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane after establishing she had a prima facie case of misconduct and incompetence to answer for. File photo.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

ANC MP Richard Dyantyi will chair the special parliamentary process to probe public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's fitness to hold office.

He was elected unopposed by his colleagues on Tuesday.

In a twist, the ANC — which was expected to field its deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude for the chairperson position — nominated the veteran Western Cape politician.

In fact, it was Dlakude herself who nominated Dyantyi and the nomination was seconded by another ANC MP, Mondli Gungubele.

Dyantyi was elected to the Western Cape provincial legislature in 2004 and served as a local government MEC under Ebrahim Rasool's government between 2005 and 2008.

He has been an MP in the National Assembly since May 2019, where he serves in the justice and correctional services portfolio committee.

Dyantyi is known for not mincing his words and cutting to the chase.

After his election, he called on the committee to focus on due process to ensure an undisputed product.

We are assembled not to rubber stamp. We are assembled to apply our minds, to do our constitutional duty and in executing our work, I want to urge you colleagues to stay focused on due process,” he said.

We'll pursue evidence and facts in front of us. We'll adhere to procedural fairness that will become the abettors of facts. We will ensure that there is always a right to audi [the audi alteram parterm principle] and we must always stand on rationality.

Such a focus will help us avoid being trapped into two extremes that are out there. One extreme being advanced is that the public protector is not fit to hold office, even before we start our inquiry. The other extreme is that the public protector is fit to hold office and therefore there is no need for this inquiry.”

These are the two extremes that he urged his colleagues to avoid.

Let us stay on facts and evidence and let the outcome be the undisputed product of adherence to facts. There are no predetermined outcomes. We are not assembled and coming here with outcomes in any of our briefcases,” said Dyantyi.

An independent panel headed by retired justice Bess Nkabinde made adverse findings against Mkhwebane after establishing she had a prima facie case of misconduct and incompetence to answer for after a request for such a determination by National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise. The special committee will consider those counts established by the panel. 

Modise in May expanded the composition of the committee to 36 members — the biggest parliamentary committee yet — with all political parties represented in parliament represented in the committee.

The ANC enjoys overwhelming representation, with 19 members. There are 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.

We are not assembled and coming here with outcomes in any of our briefcases.
Richard Dyantyi

The previous composition of the committee, announced in April, had 26 members — 11 of whom had 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.

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.

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