IN DEVELOPMENT | Public Ombudsman hearings: Ramaphosa rejects calls to testify on CR17

President Cyril Ramaphosa has dismissed UDM MP Banti Holomisa’s suggestions that he should be called to testify at the Public Protector’s impeachment inquiry.

Here is the full statement:

The National Assembly opened an inquiry under Article 194 to investigate the motives of misconduct and incompetence against lawyer Busisiwe Mkhwebane who occupied the office of the Public Protector.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has made no allegation against lawyer Mkhwebane. Therefore, the President cannot be compelled to provide evidence proving or disproving these accusations.

President Ramaphosa had, pursuant to Section 194(3)(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, decided to suspend Barrister Mkhwebane from the Office of the Public Protector effective June 9, 2022. Section 194 (3)(a) of the Constitution provides that the President may suspend the Public Protector (or any member of a Chapter 9 institution) “at any time after the commencement of the deliberations of a committee of the National Assembly for [their] deletion”.

Accordingly, President Ramaphosa rejects the suggestion of Hon. General Bantu Holomisa that he is expected to testify about his party’s political campaign in 2017 during the investigation under Article 194.

General Holomisa’s speculation that the CR17 campaign “could have” used public funds is baseless, misdirected and vindictive. It is an abuse of parliamentary procedures and privilege. It has never been alleged that public funds were used by the CR17 campaign.

Last year’s Constitutional Court judgment ruled that the Public Protector did not have the power to investigate the CR17 campaign, given that it was not an organ of the State and therefore did not come under the jurisdiction of the Québec Ombudsman.

General Holomisa is well advised that the Constitutional Court remains the final arbiter of justice and that its judgments must be accepted and respected. Parliament does not have the mandate to review the judgments of the Constitutional Court on the separation of the powers of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.

The investigation under Section 194 into the fitness of Attorney Mkhwebane for office is not a platform to make unsubstantiated allegations that fall outside the scope of the investigation.

– Karyn Maughan

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