PARLIAMENT will no longer help suspended Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane find money for her impeachment legal fees.
Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told Members of Parliament on Thursday, 11 May that she has done enough to help Mkhwebane.
She said she went as far as writing to President Cyril Ramaphosa, asking for funds so that Mkhwebane could be represented at Parliament’s Committee for Section 194, which is probing her fitness to hold office.
”I'm not prepared to get into that kind of exercise anymore. I have tried my best and I'm not doing it again,” she said.
Mapisa-Nqakula said she was not aware that the committee did not continue on Monday, 8 May because Mkhwebane didn't have legal representation despite the Office of Public Protector giving her R4 million for legal fees.
She said the committee will have to finish its work by the end of May as agreed.
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”I'm raising this honourable members, not out of being insensitive to the work that's being done by the committee, but it's because of the difficulties we have been having of finding money for the continuation of the work of that committee,” she said.
The Chapter 9 institution has already spent R34 million on Mkhwebane’s legal fees.
Freedom Front Plus MP, Corné Mulder, who is also a member of the Section 194 committee, said the legal issue impasse was Mkhwebane’s strategy to keep them busy for months.
“When the court said we should assess the legal costs, it said it should be reasonable. We are paying now for the Rolls-Royce, but we are driving Volkswagen. My suggestion would be that we advise the public protector to appeal and go to the Legal Aid Board. That is what normal people necessarily do,” he said.
DA MP Annelie Loriet agreed with Mulder, saying the court ruling that the public protector was entitled to legal counsel or representation did not imply the most expensive legal services that can be found.
“I do propose and I say this even though I am a member of the committee. Parliament must now decide ‘this is it’, finish the process and come to a conclusion’. The legal costs are going to extremes,” she said.
Mapisa-Nqakula said looking at the legal cost of the Mkhwebane issue, maybe it was time Parliament discussed whether when the end of term would be for someone who was charged, whether it was necessary to institute an inquiry and spend lots of money on legal fees or negotiate the package and let the person leave.
Members were unanimous that the ongoing inquiry cannot be allowed to collapse and let Mkhwebane walk free because that would be fruitless and wasteful expenditure.