What's next for the Public Protector committee?

2016-08-12 16:59
Parliament. (News24)

Parliament. (News24)

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Cape Town - With the interview process complete and the prospective candidates having been put through their paces, the committee in charge of finding a fit and proper person to fill the Public Protector position has less than 20 days to come up with a name.

The committee has until August 31 to recommend a candidate to the National Assembly.

Following a marathon interview session in which 14 candidates were interviewed for the position, the committee mandated chairperson Makhosi Khoza to propose dates for its next meeting.

READ: 7 'skeletons' that came out of the Public Protector interview closet

The committee will then deliberate on the candidates' suitability for the position, before settling on a name to recommend to the National Assembly.

Part of the deliberations, the committee resolved, would be on deputy Public Protector Kevin Malunga's security clearance issues raised during the interview process.

All 14 candidates were vetted before the interviews started, and their dirty laundry aired out for all to see.

READ: Public Protector candidates in the hot seat

The State Security Agency (SSA) raised concerns about Malunga's security clearance, as he was only cleared for confidential and not top secret level matters.

Khoza said they would have to get clarity from the SSA regarding their report.

Time constraints

On Friday, Democratic Alliance MP Advocate Glynnis Breytenbach said they would not accept an African National Congress lapdog for the position.

She raised concerns about the 20-hour interview session, calling it hasty.

"This was all because ANC MPs had been given marching orders to ensure the process is completed by the end of August. And indeed, though the Public Protector process is under tight time constraints, it is well established that proper process cannot be ignored simply due to urgency."

ALL you need to know about the Public Protector hearings here

Because of the rush, she said, the entire process ran the risk of being set aside.

She accused the ANC of not looking for the best candidate in their hurry through the process.

"This suggests that the ANC has already anointed their preferred candidate, a pliable lapdog who will not be a thorn in the side of corrupt ANC officials as Thuli Madonsela has been," he said.

Tough questions

Some of the 14 candidates were grilled and interrogated over skeletons in their professional and personal lives.

Candidates who faced tough questioning included Malunga, Judge Seraj Desai, Professor Bongani Majola and Kaajal Ramjathan-Koegh, whose organisation was in charge of the application to have Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arrested.

Ramjathan-Koegh was questioned on the funding behind the court case, with the questions from the ANC raising the ire of some of the opposition MPs.

The candidates' politics and ideologies were put to the test as MPs tried to determine their party allegiances.

Advocate Nonkosi Princess Cetywayo, the Sheriff of the Bellville High Court, couldn't seem to find the right answer to the question of her political affiliation.

Cetywayo, whose interview was moved up because she still had to drive to the "other side of Cape Town" in the dark, eventually admitted to being a fully paid up member of the ANC.

This was not a crime, chairperson Khoza finally interjected, after MPs then questioned Cetywayo on impartiality.

Appointment needs 60% approval

While the questions to candidates varied, their purpose was the same.

The committee wanted to know the candidates' position on the Public Protector's independence, corruption, dealing with financial constraints and the Nkandla scandal.

The final candidate's name will be presented to the National Assembly once the committee makes a decision.

In terms of Chapter 9 of the Constitution, the Public Protector needs to be approved by at least 60% of the National Assembly, not just simple majority.

The candidate would then have to be approved by President Jacob Zuma.

Read more on:    public protector  |  judiciary

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