Suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s legal representative, Dali Mpofu, told the Parliament impeachment inquiry into her fitness to hold office on Thursday that he would ask for President Cyril Ramaphosa and possibly other former presidents to come to give evidence into the inquiry.
This comes a day after the Presidency, in a statement, said Ramaphosa would not appear before the inquiry because he had not made any allegations against Mkhwebane. United Democratic Movement president Bantu Holomisa suggested on Tuesday during the inquiry that Ramaphosa might have to be called to testify about the CR17 campaign report by Mkhwebane. Holomisa said the public was still interested to know if public funds were used in Ramaphosa’s ANC presidential campaign.
In the statement, presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said claims that public funds might have been used in Ramaphosa’s campaign were “baseless, misdirected and vindictive”.
He added that the Constitutional Court had also ruled last year that Mkhwebane had no authority to investigate the CR17 campaign because it was not an organ of state, and, therefore, did not fall within Mkhwebane’s ambit.
General Holomisa is well-advised that the Constitutional Court remains the final arbiter of justice and its judgments must be accepted and respected. Parliament does not have the mandate to review Constitutional Court judgments in the separation of powers of the executive, legislative and the judiciary.
However, Mpofu told the Section194 committee that Mkhwebane’s legal representative intended on calling Ramaphosa as a witness to the CR17 charges. Mpofu said he had told the evidence leader, Nazreen Bawa, about the intention and her response was “well, you have to do what you have to do”.
“I just want to explain that we are going to call the president; we’re going to write him a letter today or tomorrow to ask him in line with the directives. If he’s willing to come voluntarily [that is fine], if not, then we will initiate the process for him to be summoned. And, it is not for the reasons of dealing with the issue of suspension, but just on the merits. On the fact that he has made certain accusations against the Public Protector, saying she’s guilty of perjury and all sorts of things, which would be impeachable if they’re true,” said Mpofu.
It looks like we might even have to call other former presidents. I don’t want to put their names at this stage. But, you’ll remember one of the charges has to do with a meeting with a president.
However, on Wednesday, in the statement, Magwenya said Ramaphosa had not made any allegations against Mkhwebane and could not be compelled to provide evidence providing or disproving accusations.
While Mpofu did not say who the former presidents he might call to testify were, the National Prosecuting Authority charged Mkhwebane for allegedly lying under oath when she said she had only met former president Jacob Zuma once to discuss the Absa-Bankcorp/CIEX report when she had met him twice.
‘Allegations of intoxication’
Meanwhile, at the beginning of the second day of testimony by former SA Revenue Service (Sars) executive director Johann van Loggerenberg, the EFF’s treasurer-general, Omphile Maotwe, accused him of drinking whiskey during the committee’s proceedings.
Maotwe said the committee was Parliament’s process and as such, rules of the house needed to be adhered to, even by those on a virtual platform.
“Chair, I was disturbed by a video of Mr Van Loggerenberg yesterday holding a glass of whiskey in his hands. And perhaps he can clarify whether he was drinking during a session of Parliament or not. If that is the case chair, then his testimony yesterday is null and void because if you are under the influence, I am sure the legal gurus will assist us on what happens when you are under the influence, and whether your testimony can be considered or not,” said Maotwe.
I want to give him an opportunity to clarify whether he was drinking during the session of Parliament or not because there is a video, if you do not have it chair, I can make it available to you and the committee, but that video suggests that Mr Van Loggerenberg was drinking.
The chairperson of the committee, Qubudile Dyantyi, said he had only seen Van Loggernerburg drinking coffee, but he might have missed him holding a whiskey glass. He then asked Van Loggerenberg to clarify. Van Loggerenberg explained that he was aware of the video that Maotwe was referring to.
“It is me standing at the end, I think, or just before we break for lunch and the camera is still on and I have a glass in my hand,” he said, picking up the glass and showing it to the committee, “this glass contains medicine. I am undergoing a series of medical…” he couldn’t detail his medical condition as he was abruptly interrupted by Dyantyi.
However, Van Loggerenberg said he would undergo a procedure on his jaws as the pain made it difficult for him to speak.