DA abandons shambolic Public Protector vote

Issued by Siviwe Gwarube MP – Chief Whip of the Official Opposition
19 Oct 2023 in News

Please find attached a soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP.

This afternoon the Democratic Alliance (DA) walked out of the National Assembly’s vote to elect a new Public Protector in terms of Section 193 (4) of the Constitution, due to the National Assembly Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula’s inability to apply the rules fairly to all members, correctly interpret the rules of the House, and thus stifling the necessary debate and scrutiny afforded to all members during this crucial vote to elect a senior Chapter 9 Institution office-bearer.

In the Speaker’s incorrect interpretation and application of Rule 88, she suppressed dissenting voices from the opposition and unjustly removed the Honourable Breytenbach from the House (relying on the incorrect rule) preventing her from fulfilling her constitutional obligation to interrogate the candidate up for election. As a candidate and not a sitting office bearer of the Office of the Public Protector, Adv. Gcaleka is not protected by Rule 88 for the purposes of today’s debate, and the Speaker’s incorrect application of the rule marred this crucial vote and collapsed the sitting.

When multiple points of order were raised, pointing out the misapplication of Rule 88, she suppressed the opposition which undermined the constitutional right of all members to appoint a suitable candidate for Public Protector. Furthermore, this behaviour by the Speaker is in contravention of Rule 26 (4) of the National Assembly rules which stipulates that the Speaker must act fairly and impartially, and apply the rules with due regard, to ensuring the participation of members of all parties in a manner consistent with democracy.

This is not the first time that the Speaker’s conduct has undermined the integrity of the House. The DA will be making an announcement within the next 24 hours to address the shambolic means by which Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula chairs the National Legislature which has been warped to accommodate the wishes of the ruling party.

The importance of this multi-party debate is underlined by the costly removal of former Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, whose appointment was made in a vacuum of due diligence and interrogation on behalf of all members. This error not only flouted democratic process in the House, but cost the South African taxpayer in excess of R100 million. South Africa simply cannot afford to have a defunct National Legislature which does not operate in a way that serves the people of the Republic.

The DA will not tolerate this abuse of power by the Speaker.

We note the appointment of Adv Kholeka Gcaleka by 244 of Members of the House. While we opposed this appointment, we will continue to hold the Public Protector to account and ensure that this office serves the people of South Africa diligently.

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