Public Protector: and then there were five

Cape Town – Five candidates will now be vying for the Public Protector position after a swift cutting down of the candidate list on Thursday.

In a relatively short meeting, the multi-party committee whittled down the number of candidates from 14 to five. 

Most of the 9 other candidates were swiftly dispatched with, including current Deputy Public Protector Kevin Malunga. 

MPs did not even debate his candidacy, and merely said he must fall off the list.

The five candidates who made the list are judges Sharise Weiner and Siraj Desai, and advocates Busisiwe Mkhwebane, Muvhango Lukhaimane and Professor Bongani Majola.

While three candidates - Weiner, Mkhwebane and Lukhaimane - made the list without any objections, fierce debates were held over Desai and Majola's candidacy.

Concerns over temper

The DA vehemently objected to Desai's candidacy, while the EFF's Floyd Shivambu refused to endorse Majola for the shortlist.

This, Shivambu said, was because Majola had been neutral during the struggle for freedom in South Africa.

DA MPs Glynnis Breytenbach and Phumzile van Damme raised concerns over Desai's temper, and his ability to be objective. 

Breytenbach compared his interview to Judge Weiner's, and said he had failed.

"He had a poor interview, lost his temper and was abusive to MPs who were questioning him," she said.

EFF's Shivambu said while he was a fit and proper judge, he was not for the Public Protector position. 

Ramjathan-Keogh 'extremely dangerous'

Candidates including Advocate MT Goodman (nee Shai) and director of the South African Litigation Centre Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh were knocked off the list, not so quietly.

Shivambu said Goodman, who was found to have lied to the committee about her job at the Gambling Board, was not stable. 

She brought too much conflict, he said.

Ramjathan-Keogh, who was grilled during her interview for her role in the Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir's case, was knocked off the list after both the ANC and EFF objected to her making the final cut.

Shivambu said she should not be considered for the second round. 

"Her lacklustre approach to the question of peace is extremely dangerous. She is extremely dangerous because you must have the social conscience to appreciate that in the pursuit of legalistic issues, there are other matters of political and public interest to consider," he said. 

Questions over funding

He said her attitude was not correct for any lawyer.

"She must focus on that beautiful organisation she is working for," he said.

He also raised concerns over the funding of her organisation.

The DA's Glynnis Breytenbach said she met the requirements of the job.

The ANC labelled her as arrogant. 

ANC MP Bongani Bongo supported Shivambu, while DA MPs made kissing noises while he was speaking.

He said she was very evasive in answering other questions.

"Of particular importance I think she was very arrogant when MP Amos Masondo asked her about funding," he said.

Other ANC MPs agreed.

The committee will now meet on Wednesday to make the final selection.

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