Public Protector`s decision on Minister Cwele

23 December 2011

The decision by the Public Protector not to investigate statements made by the Minister of State Security during the National Assembly debate on the Protection of State Information Bill should be commended. By turning down the request and instead urging the complainants to raise their concerns on the Bill with the NCOP, the Public Protector has reaffirmed the centrality of the constitution and the importance of Parliament in our country`s democracy.

She indeed continues to inspire our confidence in this important chapter 9 institution.

It has been our view that the request for such an investigation was unfair to, if not an abuse of, the Office of the Public Protector, as it has no jurisdiction over the conduct of Members of Parliament in the Houses of Parliament.

Freedom of speech in the Assembly is the most important privilege or right of Cabinet members, Deputy Ministers and members of the Assembly pursuant to performing their duties in the Assembly and its committees.

Section 58 of the Constitution provides that Cabinet members, Deputy Ministers and members of the National Assembly -

(a) have freedom of speech in the Assembly and in its committees, subject to its rules and orders; and

(b) are not liable to civil or criminal proceedings, arrest, imprisonment or damages for -

    (i) anything that they have said in, produced before or submitted to the Assembly or any of its committees; or
    (ii) anything revealed as a result of anything that they have said in, produced before or submitted to the Assembly or any of its committees.

The Office of the Chief Whip commends the Public Protector for refusing to be used to advance narrow sectoral interests.

We once again urge all formations and individuals who wish to make submissions on the draft legislation to take advantage of the broad public consultation process that the NCOP`s Ad Hoc Committee will conduct in the new year.

Issued by
The Office of the ANC Chief Whip, Parliament

Enquiries:
Moloto Mothapo 082 370 6930