South Africa: Modise Pleased With Court Decision On Mkhwebane's CR17 Report

Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane (file photo).

National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise is "pleased" with the decision of a full Bench of the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to set aside Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's report into President Cyril Ramaphosa's relationship with Bosasa.

According to Parliament's spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo, Modise was pleased as the ruling "clarifies the powers of the Public Protector as they relate to Parliament and further reinforces the principles of separation of powers upon which our constitutional democracy is based".

Judgment was delivered on Tuesday morning, setting aside the July 2019 report, including its remedial actions.

This included a remedial action directing Modise to refer Ramaphosa's non-disclosure of donations to the joint committee on ethics as well as directing him to declare all donations to the CR17 campaign.

Modise was the second applicant in the case.

"She [Modise] limited her application to the remedial actions and monitoring mechanisms directed at the speaker of the National Assembly," Mothapo said.

"The speaker had asked the court to review, declare invalid and set aside these remedial actions and monitoring measures on the basis that they were unlawful.

"In setting aside the Public Protector's remedial actions and monitoring mechanism, the court found that they were inappropriate, ineffective, encroached on Parliament's constitutional functions and responsibilities, and were contrary to the doctrine of separation of powers.

"The remedial actions were founded on an erroneous comprehension of the Ethical Code of Conduct and Disclosure of Members' Interests and its scope of application and, thus, made their implementation impractical."

According to Mothapo, the court agreed Modise did not have the powers to instruct Ramaphosa to disclose in the Register of Members' Interests the donations received by the CR17 campaign as the code primarily applied to serving MPs.

Ramaphosa ceased to be one when he was elected president in May 2019.

The court also found the Public Protector's directive that Parliament implement her observations, including possible amendment of the rules dealing with questions and answers in the House, was inappropriate and an "unwarranted encroachment in the speaker's discretionary powers".

The report followed an investigation by Mkhwebane after two complaints from opposition party leaders - former DA leader Mmusi Maimane and EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu.

During a question session in the National Assembly on 8 November 2018, Maimane asked Ramaphosa about a R500 000 payment that was believed to have made to his son, Andile, by corruption-accused company Bosasa.

Ramaphosa responded he was aware of Andile's contract with Bosasa and he had been assured it was above board.

A week later, Ramaphosa addressed a letter to Modise when he was alerted the bank account in question, named by Maimane and contained in an affidavit by former Bosasa auditor Peet Venter, belonged to the CR17 campaign.

Proceedings for Mkhwebane's removal is currently before Parliament.

Last month, Modise, for the second time, gave the green light to a substantive motion by DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone to institute removal proceedings. This after Mazzone withdrew her initial motion and lodged another, with more than 7 000 pages of what the DA considers evidence of Mkhwebane's unsuitability for her post.

Modise will appoint a three-person panel soon to determine whether there is a prima facie case for Mkhwebane's removal.

Source: News24

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