Mbete and Muthambi: Sunday Times' report misleading - Parliament

Committee must process legal opinion first, would be unprocedural for Speaker to step in before they have done so

Misleading report about Speaker “sitting on” legal opinion about Minister of Communications

18 May 2015

A report in a Sunday newspaper yesterday that “National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete is sitting on an explosive legal opinion instructing Communications Minister Faith Muthambi to back off from SABC board matters,” is both inaccurate and disturbing.

The news report creates an incorrect impression that the Speaker is meant to take action, or express an opinion, about legal advice given to a chairperson of a committee before the relevant committee deals with the matter. This would be unprocedural.

Matters come before committees in various ways. Committees are empowered by the rules to determine their own procedures in dealing with matters before them. Once a committee has finalised its process, it reports to the National Assembly (NA). The Speaker then communicates decisions of the NA to the relevant structure. 

A legal opinion to a committee constitutes advice for consideration by the committee in the course of its work. It is privileged until it is tabled for discussion by the committee.

Statement issued by Parliament, May 18 2015