By Mbono Mdluli and Zwelethu Dlamini | 2018-04-16
The parliamentary probe into operations of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has issued summons to Justice Minister Edgar Hillary and Principal Secretary Lorraine Hlophe.
The Manzini North MP Jan Sithole-led probe team exploited its powers, rights and privileges of the High Court provided by Section 129 of the Constitution and the Privileges Act.
This effectively means anyone who would defy the summons would be charged with contempt and thrown into jail.
Legislators deliberated on the matter last week after both the minister and PS suspiciously reported ill when they were expected to appear and give evidence before the probe team
MPs felt Hillary and the PS were taking them for a ride, hence the summonses were issued to force them to appear before the probe.
The legislators are of the view that the summonses will force all stakeholders to appear before the MPs probing ACC.
Last Thursday, it transpired that the committee had only issued invitations earlier to the stakeholders that were supposed to appear before it that included the minister and PS.
Seasoned Lobamba Lomdzala MP Marwick Khumalo advised the ACC probe committee to use summonses going forward so that the stakeholders could see that the MPs meant business.
He said one day, they issued summons to one politician who was busy taking what they were doing for granted and he hastily appeared before MPs to be probed.
At that time, the constitution was still not there.
Khumalo mentioned that MPs had the power to issue summonses in terms of the Parliament Privileges Act of 1967. If the stakeholders failed to heed to the summonses, they would face being arrested at any time.
He said if they did not know how to issue summons, they were free to consult with the Parliament legal advisor, who would show them how they are issued. He said as MPs, they could not afford to be taken for a ride by people like Minister Hillary, who were growing old and expiring.
“Angeke sicashatwe bo Hillary, emakhehla lasaphelelwe sikhatsi,” Khumalo said.
Attorney General (AG) Sifiso Khumalo said there was a difference between an invitation and summons. The difference was that a summons was a court process in terms of the Parliament Privileges Act, which gave power to parliament to issue and would bind the stakeholders to appear before the probe committee.
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