January 18, 2021

Decision on removing non-functioning Chapter 9 heads expected soon

Parliament’s rules committee is aiming to have a process to remove non-performing heads of Chapter Nine institutions in place by October, according to JAN-JAN JOUBERT, and it is expected that Public Protector Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane is likely to be first in line.

At a meeting of the rules committee in September, the committee’s subcommittee tasked with drawing up this process made good progress in filling the gaps that currently exist in the event of the legislature being required to consider the removal of the heads of such institutions. Chapter Nine institutions include the public protector, the auditor-general, the South African Human Rights Commission, the Commission on Gender Equality, the Independent Electoral Commission and the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities.

At a recent meeting, the subcommittee agreed that there are two ways to initiate an investigation into the fitness of a chairperson of a Chapter Nine institution to hold office. One is through the acceptance of a substantive motion by the National Assembly, and the second is by way of a written letter by an MP to the Speaker of the National Assembly.

It is possible that only one of these two methods will remain in the final rules, but it is not currently clear which one.

The Speaker must then direct the issue to a panel of experts, for example retired judges and specialists in related fields. The panel must then decide whether there is a prima facie case against the head of the Chapter Nine institution and communicate that decision to the Speaker of the National Assembly.

The next step would be for the National Assembly to decide whether to take the issue further. If it decides not to do so, that would be the end of the matter. However, if it decides to take it further, a multi-party committee would have to be appointed to deliberate on the matter and prepare a report which the National Assembly must either agree to and act upon, or dismiss.

The processes decided upon by the subcommittee would require the drawing up of parliamentary regulations. The subcommittee will meet on 7 October to attempt to agree on the process.

The rules committee is also currently considering amending the rules of parliament to allow members’ motions to be moved to earlier in the afternoon sittings of parliament so that more ministers can attend and respond to the motions put forward by MPs.

Additional Info

  • Author: Moira Levy
Last modified on Sunday, 22 September 2019 21:19

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