State capture in the spotlight in rights commission interviews

2016-10-13 22:31
(SAHRC, News24)

(SAHRC, News24)

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Cape Town – State capture and the capture of individuals by "wrong elements" were in the spotlight during some of the interviews for appointments at the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

This follows President Jacob Zuma's decision to serve Public Protector Thuli Madonsela with a notice to interdict, preventing her from releasing the much-anticipated state capture probe report.

Parliament's justice committee interviewed 10 candidates on Thursday in a bid to find seven commissioners for the SAHRC.

Former Centre for Gender Equality commissioner Janine Hicks, currently working on contract at the Public Protector's office, was grilled on the "sensationalism of the reports of the Public Protector".

Hicks works in quality assurance at the Public Protector's office, she told the committee, and this included report-writing and quality management.

ANC MP Bongani Bongo wanted to know why it was that when reports where named at the Public Protector's office, they were given titles that created alarm among South Africans.

Problematic headings

"Now you say you are investigating state capture and only to find out you are investigating an executing conduct from the member of the executive."

As a lawyer, he said, she should know that a state was composed of the judiciary, the executive and the legislature.

"But when you do those reports you name them as state capture, creating an impression to the people of the republic that the state in its entirety is captured. That creates a problem. There are a lot of other reports where the headings just create problems in that office. They are creating sensationalism," he said.

This was echoed by committee chair Mathole Motshekga, who questioned whether lawyers were allowed to use sensationalism.

"And as a quality controller, why would you allow sensational things to go through?"

Hicks said she understood the concerns raised about the "catchy headings".

"And I think that is a deliberate and personal style of our outgoing Public Protector, to catch the attention of the public. And I hear what the member is saying, the concern that this might be sensationalist or create alarm. I believe it's a personal touch, the short titles," she said.

Views on fees protests

Motshekga asked if using the term "state" did not bring democracy into disrepute and if it would not be advisable to name individuals instead.

The Public Protector's office did not come up with the state capture terminology, she replied, saying it was in the public discourse.

During the interviews candidate Krish Govender mentioned that he had previously differed with his own organisation, the National Association of Democratic Lawyers, and used the word "captured".

Asked captured by whom, Govender made a reference to "wrong elements in the ANC".

All the candidates were asked to put their views at the table about the ongoing fees protests across the country.

One of the last candidates to be interviewed, Lindiwe Mokate, faced a barrage of questions on the objections raised by members of the public on her stint at the commission, while former ANC MP Andre Gaum was queried on objectivity and whether he was still a member of the ruling party.

"I don't think I will fail tests for impartiality and working with independence," he said.

Read more on:    sahrc  |  jacob zuma  |  thuli madonsela  |  state capture

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