Legal threat if Ginwala chairs Pikoli inquiry

Helen Zille. Pic. Ambrose Peters. 05/12/2005. © Sunday Times.
Helen Zille. Pic. Ambrose Peters. 05/12/2005. © Sunday Times.

Former speaker Frene Ginwala has been asked to recuse herself from chairing the Pikoli inquiry, and threatened with legal action if she does not.

Former speaker Frene Ginwala has been asked to recuse herself from chairing the Pikoli inquiry, and threatened with legal action if she does not.

Ginwala was appointed by President Thabo Mbeki to investigate whether suspended NPA head Vusi Pikoli is fit to hold office. This after he suspended Pikoli on September 24.

In a letter to Ginwala yesterday, DA leader Helen Zille said: "Our reflections on the position in which you find yourself suggest most strongly that it would be legally untenable for you to chair the proposed inquiry.

"Please understand that we do not suggest that you will actually be biased in your deliberations as this is not the legal test; but a mere reasonable perception of bias would in law disqualify you from sitting on the inquiry.

"The facts that you are a long-standing member of the national executive committee of the ANC and close to President Mbeki, who is a key player in the events, objectively disqualify you from fulfilling the functions required in the inquiry," Zille wrote.

"The issues arising out of the investigation are the constitutional separation of powers debate fundamental to the circumstances leading to Pikoli's suspension. It is essential that the investigation be clearly and incontrovertibly separate from the ruling party.

"You will understand that it will be highly invidious for you to sit in judgment of the interaction between Advocate Pikoli and the president as you know the latter so well and have loyally served him as president of the party, as you must, in terms of the ANC's constitution.

"For the record, please be advised that should you not acquiesce to this request and attempt to continue as chair of the inquiry, we will brief counsel to appear at the first sitting and move for your recusal based upon the facts above.

"Should you then persist in refusing to recuse yourself, a postponement will be sought to take your decision on review.

"Should you refuse the postponement, an urgent high court interdict will be sought to prevent you acting as chair of the inquiry pending the review and you will be held liable for the legal costs," Zille wrote. - Sapa

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