Sipho Mabena

By Sipho Mabena

Premium Journalist

Deputy public protector appointment sharply criticised

Gcaleka’s appointment is the final nail in the public protector office’s coffin, an analyst said, while another stated 'we've been here before with Mkhwebane'.

The newly-appointed deputy public protector’s alignment with controversial figures, such as former home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba and the erstwhile National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Menzi Simelane, is set to haunt the Chapter 9 institution whose current head is herself grappling questions about her integrity.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Advocate Nompilo Kholeka Gcaleka, currently the legal adviser for Minister of Public Service and Administration Senzo Mchunu, as the new deputy public protector, effective yesterday.

But her appointment has riled Glynnis Breytenbach, the former NPA prosecutor and Democratic Alliance member of parliament, who charged that she had hoped the president would apply his own mind, act rationally, and go against his party’s choice for the position.

Breytenbach said there was a sense of déjà vu with Gcaleka’s appointment, saying “we have been here before with [Public Protector Busisiwe] Mkhwebane”.

“Not only did she keep quiet or did nothing when Gigaba was found to have lied under oath, she followed him to another department [Treasury] and also did a good job in decimating the NPA by not supporting the rule of law.”

Breytenbach said in the NPA, Gcaleka had actively supported Simelane when he wanted to dismantle the specialist units of the body.

“What we now know as state capture started, and the decimation of the NPA capacity started, she was right there. She has not covered herself in glory, though she has the prerequisite experience and qualifications,” she said.

Breytenbach said it would seem the ANC had not learnt from the Mkhwebane debacle.

Professor Andre Duvenhage from North-West University’s political science department echoed Breytenbach’s sentiments, saying worrisome was the fact that Gcaleka was linked to individuals aligned to former president Jacob Zuma, during whose tenure state capture had festered.

“Based on that, she was not the right choice. Ramaphosa could have done better in this case. Look at Mkhwebane, who they pushed despite all the opposition. Look at what she has done to that office. What we needed was a person with absolute integrity,” he said.

He cited German philosopher Friedrich Hegel’s remarks that “the only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history”, adding that Gcaleka’s appointment was the final nail in the public protector office’s coffin.

Ramaphosa, however, said he was confident that Gcaleka would execute the responsibilities before her with diligence and commitment.

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