Motion of censure against Tina presented in Parliament

A motion of censure accusing Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Tina Joemat-Pettersson of a criminal offence, based on Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela’s findings in a report last year, has been presented to the National Assembly in parliament.

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DA MP and member of the portfolio committee for agriculture, forestry and fisheries Pieter van Dalen brought the motion against the minister after she was found to be in violation of section 11(1) of the Public Protector Act for trying to interfere in an investigation into her conduct.

“In terms of this section, read together with section 181 (4) of the Constitution, anyone found to be interfering in the Public Protector’s investigations is liable to a fine not exceeding R40 000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months or both,” said Van Dalen.

He said in a statement that according to Madonsela’s ‘Docked Vessels’ report, she received a letter from the Justice Minister, attaching a letter from Joemat-Pettersson requesting the minister to intervene in the investigation, which Joemat-Pettersson labelled unnecessary.

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The report by the Public Protector stated: “I consider Minister Joemat-Pettersson’s action as conduct constituting interference with my investigation and an attempt to incite the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development to undermine the independence of two constitutional bodies. Such conduct, in my considered view is at odds with section 181(4) of the Constitution which states that ‘no person or organ of state may interfere with the functioning of these institutions (this refers to Chapter 9 institutions).”

Van Dalen said this clearly warrants serious action, not only by the president, who should relieve Joemat-Pettersson of her duties, but by parliament, as the body with a constitutional mandate to hold the executive to account.

The motion filed by Van Dalen asked that Joemat-Pettersson’s actions be “condemned” and that she be censured by “calling upon the Minister to apologise unreservedly for her actions.”

“What is so significant about this is that this motion was accepted as procedurally correct and now becomes part of the Official Hansard and documents of parliament,” said Van Dalen.

He said he hoped the matter would be debated in parliament before the house rises mid-March for the national general election.