Applicants must prove they are 'fit and proper' to fill Madonsela's shoes

2016-06-01 21:05
Thuli Madonsela (Lerato Maduna, Netwerk24)

Thuli Madonsela (Lerato Maduna, Netwerk24)

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Cape Town – According to the Public Protector Act, the public protector must be a South African citizen who is "fit and proper" to hold such an office. But who decides what is "fit and proper"? 

MPs tasked with finding Thuli Madonsela's replacement would have to make a value judgment on whether a candidate fits the criteria, they were told. 

Parliament legal advisor Nathi Mjenxane said the candidate being "fit and proper" was a stringent requirement in the Constitution and the Public Protector Act.

He was presenting to the ad hoc committee on Wednesday which has been tasked with finding a new public protector.

He was asked for the legal interpretation of the term "fit and proper".

Mjenxane said the phrase was neither defined nor described in any legislation.

Descriptions such as honesty, integrity and reliability were commonly known as traits of a fit and proper person, he said.

"The burden of proof that a person is fit and proper to hold office is vested on the applicant," he said.

Need for public participation

He used several court cases as examples, including a case between the Democratic Alliance and President Jacob Zuma on the appointment of the National Director of Public Prosecutions.

He said deciding if an applicant was fit or proper involved character screening.

The committee would be called upon to make an objective value judgment on the various applicants.

Some of the requirements for the post include that the candidate be a person who is a judge of a High Court, or is admitted as an advocate or an attorney and has, for 10 years, practiced.

It could also be someone qualified to be admitted as an advocate or an attorney and has, for 10 years after qualifying, lectured in law at a university, or has specialised knowledge of or experience, of at least 10 years, in the administration of justice, public administration or public finance.

Someone who has been a member of Parliament for 10 years also qualifies.

MPs on Wednesday stressed the need for public participation in the process of selecting a new public protector.

Committee chairperson Dr Makhosi Khoza assured MPs that the process would be completely transparent.

Read more on:    public protector  |  thuli madonsela  |  parliament 2016

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