Kholeka Gcaleka gets committee’s nod for Public Protector role
The committee's recommendation of Acting Public Protector Gcaleka, was not supported by the DA and EFF.
Acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka at the State of the Nation Address (Sona) on 9 February 2023. Photo: Gallo Images/Jeffrey Abrahams
The parliamentary ad hoc committee tasked with nominating a candidate to replace suspended public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane met on Tuesday to consider its preferred candidate to lead the Chapter 9 Institution.
The meeting comes after the eight candidates were interviewed by members of the committee last week.
DA, EFF rejects Gcaleka
During deliberations on Tuesday, the committee had cut down the list to three final candidates, including Gcaleka, Office of the Chief Justice coordinator Tseliso Thipanyane and pension funds adjudicator Muvhango Lukhaimane.
In the end, however, the committee recommended Gcaleka for the position.
According to the committee’s chairperson Cyril Xaba, seven MPs voted in favour of the acting public protector, while four were against her recommendation.
The Democratic Alliance (DA), Freedom Front Plus (FF+) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) did not support Gcaleka’s nomination.
DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach said she believed Gcaleka was “wholly unsuitable” because she had some “political baggage”.
“I don’t think she has demonstrated, in her position as acting public protector, that she has sufficient experienced to take over the top job,” Breytenbach said.
EFF MP Omphile Maotwe said it was “disturbing” Gcaleka accepted to act as Public Protector despite knowing that she had ambitions to take over the office.
She said she believed Gcaleka was not an honest person.
“Even worse, she takes responsibility of overseeing the investigation into the Phala Phala farm [scandal] when she knows that the primary person of interest in that case is the president of the Republic. There is something called quid pro quo… a favour for a favour,” Maotwe said.
‘Youngest of all candidates’
Furthermore, FF+ MP Wouter Wessels told the committee that that he was not convinced the acting public protector can “restore that confidence”.
Only the African National Congress (ANC) and Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) backed Gcaleka.
ANC MP Qubudile Dyantyi argued that Gcaleka was fit and proper for the position, saying he was “amazed” that as a “young woman”, she outperformed the other candidates during her interview.
“She’s the youngest of all those that came in front of us… I was really amazed by the level of readiness to take over the mettle of being the Public Protector of South Africa,” Dyantyi said.
Gcaleka will now have to be approved by at least 60% of the National Assembly.
Thereafter, her name will be sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa for appointment.
The committee started its process of finding Mkhwebane’s replacement in June this year since her seven-year term in office ends in October.
Watch the proceedings below:
Last week, Gcaleka faced tough questions from the committee members, including some about her past affiliation with the ANC.
The acting public protector was a member of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL), as well as legal adviser to former Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.
“I possess no membership of the ANC or of any other political party for about a decade now,” she told the committee.
She also defended her office’s report on the Phala Phala investigation, which exonerated Ramaphosa from any wrongdoing.