The ACDP today notes the sudden discharge of the Chairperson of the Justice and Correctional Services Portfolio Committee, Dr Mathole Motshekga, and his replacement, Mr Vincent Smith.

This step caught all committee members by surprise. Even ANC members of the committee seemed unaware of this decision.

This decision resulted in the business of the day, namely the consideration of an inquiry into the fitness to hold office of the Public Protector being postponed yet again. This was understandable given that Mr Smith required time to acquaint himself with the documentation surrounding this issue.

It is, however, necessary to speedily finalise this issue given the important role that the Public Protector plays in our constitutional democracy.

The decision to redeploy Dr Motshekga may also have been prompted by the apparent impasse regarding the Traditional Courts Bill, where Dr Motshekga and ANC members of the committee were adamant that various crucial clauses, such as the opt-out clause, be removed from the draft Bill. This was against legal advice from the Justice Department as well as from the Parliamentary legal advisors and would have, in our view, rendered the Bill unconstitutional.

It also appears that the ANC may be preparing the ground for a constitutional amendment to permit the expropriation of land without compensation, given that Mr Smith is also the co-chairperson of the Joint Constitutional Review Committee as well as the ANC’s recent announcement on land expropriation.

The ACDP is, however, concerned that Mr Smith may struggle with the heavy workload given the burden of legislation and oversight that the Justice and Correctional Services committee has, as well as his present responsibilities with the Constitutional Review Committee and the Parliamentary Committee on the Auditor-General.  We, however, wish Mr Smith well in his new appointment.


ISSUED BY: STEVE SWART MP

29 August 2018