7 things you need to know about today's gruelling Public Protector interviews

By Gabisile Ngcobo
11 August 2016

Rape accusations, reckless driving allegations and disciplinary hearings – the candidates’ past has come back to haunt them in today's gruelling 16-hour interview.

It’s no secret that the person replacing Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has big shoes to fill.

And the process of finding a suitable candidate out of 14 interviewees started this morning and will probably end at midnight.

Advocate Madonsela, whose term wraps up in October, is known for no-nonsense approach and tackling controversial cases.

Read more: Thuli Madonsela’s morning routine will make you feel like you’re really underachieving

“Holding people accountable is not an act of hatred but an act of love because you want to make sure people keep doing what they signed up to do,” Madonsela once said on eNCA.

And South Africans need a person who has the same strength and moral standing that Madonsela possesses.

The 16-hour marathon interview that’s still underway has been described as gruelling but many have lauded it for being transparent because ordinary citizens have an opportunity to watch it live.

The candidates are given 10 minutes to deliver their presentation and gloat about their achievements before they’re asked questions.

If you haven’t been following, here’s what you need to know:

1. The interview panel is chaired by Dr Makhosi Khoza

Khoza is a Parliament’s public protector ad hoc committee chairperson and has been tasked to look for the new Madonsela.

“Obviously, I am a member of the ANC. But in as far as this process is concerned; Luthuli House has not contacted me. Or directed me to speak to anybody whatsoever,” she told M&G.

She said her job was to preside over the process and would not make the final decision.

“Investigate me… I am not a pushover,” she said.

Khoza is also a former chairperson of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and Finance (SCOPA) in KwaZulu-Natal and has over 20 years of collective experience at both public and private sector institutions.

2. The proceedings were delayed for about 20 minutes

This after opposition parties objected for candidates to be interviewed back to back.

According to BusinessLive, EFF deputy leader Floyd Shivambu said the committee’s decision would face a possible legal challenge to its processes if it went ahead‚ which would “nullify” any decision.

“He said he had concerns about the shortlisting process‚ and later added that the taxing schedule was inherently unfair,” BusinessLive reported.

Shivambu's other gripe was that EFF member Dali Mpofu wasn’t shortlisted.

The DA wasn’t impressed either with the schedule describing it as “impractical”.

And as a result, the programme is currently running behind schedule.

3. Some folks were caught sleeping during the proceedings

“There is an MP already sleeping in this committee to interview candidates for the #PublicProtector It's only 10am,” City Press journalist Andisiwe Makinana tweeted.

4. The panel includes members of the different political parties

Dr Makhosi Khoza (ANC - chairperson); Thomas Bongo (ANC); Amos Masondo (ANC); Nic Koornhof (ANC); Grace Tseke (ANC); Refilwe Mothapo (ANC); Patric Maesela (serving as an alternate member of the ANC);  Glynnis Breytenbach (DA); Phumzile van Damme (DA); James Selfe (DA - alternate); Werner Horn (DA – alternate); Floyd Shibambu (EFF); Steve Swart (ACDP);  Sibusiso Mncwabe (NFP - alternate); Professor Themba Msimang (IFP).

5. The list of candidates includes professors, advocates and judges

Advocate MM Mthembu; Judge Sharise Erica Weiner; Advocate Chris Madibeng Mokoditwa; Judge Serajudien Desai; Adjunct Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller; Advocate Mamiki Thabitha Goodman; Busisiwe Mkhwebane; Jill Claudelle Oliphant; Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh; Advocate Kevin Sifiso Malunga; Willam Andrew Hofmeyr; Muvhango Antoinette Lukhaimane; Professor Bongani Majola; and Advocate Nonkosi Princess Cetywayo.

6. The panel scrutinises every detail

The candidates are asked everything from their temper to their communication skills.

7. The candidates’ past has come to haunt them

DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach asked Judge Siraj Desai about the 2004 rape allegations in India. But he said the allegation was withdrawn under oath.

Former deputy Public Protector Advocate Mamiki Goodman was quizzed the time she accused Madonsela of being biased. She was once quoted saying Madonsela is someone who she wouldn’t want to work with or friends with.

It also came up during the interview that it was revealed that she currently suspended from her job as the executive manager of the National Gambling Board.

Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller, currently executive director of the Africa Institute of South Africa and the Human Sciences Research Council, was asked about the alleged failure to disclose details about a disciplinary case against her at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

“It involved her agreeing to edit a student’s doctoral thesis. She later withdrew that agreement and the student reported her for unethical conduct,” EWN reported.

Advocate Chris Mokoditwa was asked about his age and he revealed that he is 77 years old. Adding: "I am fit. I am a bodybuilder!"

Jill Oliphant was questioned about a reckless driving charge and a cellphone theft accusation.

Oliphant said she had gone gambling at Sun City a few years ago when she found a phone next to a machine. She gave it to her husband to hold and hand in later. Before the end of the evening, a security guard approached her and accused her of stealing. “As a result of that, I got very angry. They then wanted me to sign some piece of paper and I refused because I had not done anything wrong at all,” she said.

The high court attorney said the incident did not go any further.

She was asked to explain a reckless driving charge, which was withdrawn. While changing lanes at an intersection she almost hit another car.

A police reservist who saw what happened said she was driving recklessly. Oliphant said she employed an expert to prove the intersection was dangerous and the matter was not pursued.

  • The last candidate is scheduled to be interviewed by 11 pm.

Additional sources: M&G; eNCA; BusinessLive; News24; Twitter; EWN; TimesLive.

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