Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has lost her bid to stop Parliament’s inquiry into her fitness to hold office.
The Western Cape high court dismissed Mkhwebane’s bid on Friday with costs, which should be paid for the National Assembly and Democratic Alliance’s (DA) counsels.
‘Impeachment shouldn’t be taken lightly’
Judge Vincent Saldanha ruled that an impeachment process against a head of a chapter 9 institution should not be taken lightly.
A court of law should therefore not intervene in such a process unless an applicant has demonstrated “exceptional circumstances” for it to do so, Saldanha said.
Reading the judgement on behalf of three judges, Saldanha said Mkhwebane had failed to put forward a case for exceptional circumstances.
“I am satisfied that it is just and equitable that the process for the removal of the applicant in terms of the new rules not be suspended and that the applicant [Mkhwebane] has likewise not made out a case for relief in terms of section 172 (1)(b) of constitution,” Saldanha ruled.
The Public Protector had similarly failed to make out a clear case why Parliament’s impeachment process and rules should be declared unconstitutional, he added.
Mkhwebane had argued that the DA, which initiated the process for her possible removal, had a “vendetta” against her.
She further argued that some members of Parliament (MPs) were conflicted in the process because they had already publicly stated their views regarding her fitness for office.
Therefore, she argued, the court should interdict such MPs from participating in the process.
However, Judge Saldanha said such an order would be “patently unfair,” adding that Parliament has sufficient mechanisms to prevent such MPs from participating.
Parliament, DA and Mkhwebane have not immediately reacted to the ruling. Their comments will be added as soon as they are available.