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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist


No public protector yet: Vote postponed until mid-October

The nomination of Kholeka Gcaleka as the new Public Protector is delayed, pending a parliamentary vote.


As the much-awaited parliamentary nomination process of the public protector (PP), has been delayed, parliament is expected to vote on the matter when it reconvenes by mid-October from recess. This is according to Cyril Xaba, chair of the ad hoc committee to nominate a person for the appointment of the public protector. The nomination will clear the way for President Cyril Ramaphosa to appoint advocate Kholeka Gcaleka as the new PP, after advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane became the first to be impeached by parliament. While the removal of Mkhwebane required a two-thirds parliamentary majority, endorsed by the ANC and the Democratic…

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As the much-awaited parliamentary nomination process of the public protector (PP), has been delayed, parliament is expected to vote on the matter when it reconvenes by mid-October from recess.

This is according to Cyril Xaba, chair of the ad hoc committee to nominate a person for the appointment of the public protector.

The nomination will clear the way for President Cyril Ramaphosa to appoint advocate Kholeka Gcaleka as the new PP, after advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane became the first to be impeached by parliament.

While the removal of Mkhwebane required a two-thirds parliamentary majority, endorsed by the ANC and the Democratic Alliance (DA), Gcaleka’s nomination vote would require a 60% support from MPs – with the governing party enjoying a 57% and banking on the Inkatha Freedom Party’s (IFP) 3% support in garnering enough votes.

Commenting on the process, University of Pretoria senior law lecturer Dr Llewelyn Curlewis, said: “We are in the proverbial situation of being between the devil and the deep blue sea.

“If parliament does not show enough votes to support Gcaleka, she cannot be appointed. If Ramaphosa would attempt to appoint her regardless, his decision will be taken on review by several institutions.”

He said that would be perceived as “political suicide” for Ramaphosa, seeing the elections are next year.

“He will not do it without consent of the majority of parliament,” he said, adding none of the other possible candidates, were “suitable to make the cut – something of a serious concern”.

Curlewis said: “Are there not even a dozen or more suitable lawyers out there, with sufficient qualifications and qualities to be appointed in this extremely important job? It really sounds so embarrassing, even to imagine.

“Surely, if we regularly appoint judges, we should be able to find someone fit and proper to become a pubic protector. If all fails, we must rather start all over with the process of appointment.”

The DA and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – political foes during the Section 194 inquiry into Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office – are expected to forge unity against Gcaleka’s nomination. The EFF has already made its stance known on Gcaleka.

“The EFF rejects, with contempt, the decision of the ad hoc committee to recommend to the National Assembly the name of advocate Kholeka Gcaleka,” it said in a statement.

“The recommendation is irrational and nonsensical. The EFF remains steadfast in its commitment to a transparent and credible appointment process for the Office of the Public Protector.”

It said as one of South Africa’s pivotal Chapter 9 institutions, the office required a leader who can be both impartial and decisive.

“Our evaluation of various candidates throughout the interview process has led us to one conclusion: the candidate recommended by the committee falls significantly short of our expectations and requirements for this position. We must focus on the disconcerting irregularities and evident conflicts of interest surrounding the candidate recommended by the committee.

“This individual exhibited a serious lapse in ethical judgement in the performance of her official duties, particularly in the case involving Phala Phala (farm saga).”

The EFF found Gcaleka’s role “in an investigation that directly implicates Ramaphosa is questionable – given the potential for it to impact her future (as PP)”. “

The candidate’s public statements further erode our confidence in her suitability for the role.”

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