Robust debate over Public Protector candidates

2016-08-24 15:17

Cape Town – Political parties are, so far, divided on who should be the next Public Protector.

While committee chairperson Makhosi Khoza has expressed hopes that the committee would be able to reach a consensus without having to vote for a specific candidate, it didn’t seem likely.

The committee has so far discussed Judges Sharise Weiner and Siraj Desai, with the DA going to bat for the former, while the ANC called for Desai to be considered.

However, EFF leader Julius Malema objected to both candidates, saying it would be a disservice to the bench to take away Weiner, as there were not enough women judges.

He also said it would be reversing the gains of post-apartheid South Africa to replace a black woman with a white woman.

When it came time to discuss Desai, Malema was clear on his stance.

"He should not be appointed," he said, even before the committee started deliberating.

He objected to the judge because he had refused to give his opinion on the anti-rape protest which took place at the IEC. 

"Women should be extremely worried that you are going to have a Public Protector who has no opinion on rape. The issue of rape is a very difficult issue in our society," he said.

'He has said he is not popular'

He said Desai also had a dark cloud hanging over him and had a chance to show society how he felt about rape culture.

Desai's temper was also a sore point with the committee.

The DA said he had been rude to MPs.

Malema questioned if the judge would be able to speak for the poor, and to the poor, if he lost his temper with MPs.

"And with such a man who is impatient, who just speaks the way he so wishes and disrespects MPs to a point where he had to apologise? Imagine if he had to deal with a poor person and there are no cameras? If a person can behave in such a way in front of nation, imagine what he does in private?" he asked.

Malema said Desai had treated MPs like his subjects. He also said a woman should not be replaced with a man, as that was also going backwards.

The ACDP’s Steve Swart also raised concerns about Desai's inability to answer a question on rape, and said he would not be the right candidate.

"He has said he is not popular. Do we want that legacy," he said.

The committee is meeting to select the person who will replace Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, whose term ends in mid-October.

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