Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist

Parliament accused of ‘ticking boxes’ for Public Protector shortlist

The Ad Hoc Committee will conduct interviews on 23 and 24 August.

The parliamentary committee tasked with finding Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s successor has been accused of a lack of transparency in looking for a new Public Protector.

The Ad Hoc Committee met on Tuesday after shortlisting eight suitable candidates from a list of 38 names for the Public Protector position.

Those shortlisted include Acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka, Pension Funds Adjudicator Muvhango Lukhaimane and Advocate Tseliso Thipanyane.

‘Scandal free’ process

In a letter written to the committee, Mandla MacBeth Ncongwane expressed concern over what he labelled as an “unfair” shortlisting process, following his initial nomination for the position.

Ncongwane told the committee he believed the process was not transparent, but acknowledged he was not entitled to be shortlisted.

“Rather I am concerned at the manner in which the whole process played out in the public platform,” his letter, dated 1 August, reads.

He said the committee had “a mammoth task” to find a suitable person for the Public Protector position before October but accused members of the committee of engaging in a “tick box exercise” to select the eight candidates.

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“Parliament has an absolute duty to run a process that is scandal free, transparent and fair to all, at the end of the day the public must have faith in the process and no potential candidate was left out due to a process that appears to have been rushed,” the founder of MacBeth Attorneys Inc said.

Ncongwane questioned which criteria the committee used in shortlisting candidates.

He also questioned why nominated candidates were not given the opportunity to make representations on any adverse comments made during deliberations before a final decision was made by the committee.

“I, therefore, challenge the process because of the obvious lack of transparency and rationality and I, therefore, propose the process of shortlisting must start [from the beginning].”

Watch the meeting below:

The committee’s chairperson Cyril Xaba indicated on Tuesday the committee would write to Ncongwane to answer his questions following deliberations on the matter.

“There were no adverse comments made on any candidate in the meeting we had. The process was transparent as colleagues are saying,” Xaba said.

In addition, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) MP Elphas Buthelezi said: “The candidates that made the top eight were the ones that received the most recommendations from members having considered their CVs and all that. It’s important to say because, over and above the criteria, they scored more than others.”

Screening process, interviews

The committee continued to go through the results of the screening process, which was conducted by the State Security Agency (SSA), of the candidates.

The SSA found there were no security concerns and there were no defaults registered against any of the candidates.

“Please note, the investigation results are deemed personnel suitability checks and, once a fortunate candidate is appointed, the SSA will fulfil its statutory counter intelligence mandate to conduct a full security vetting,” SSA Western Cape domestic branch manager CM Mavata said in a letter to the committee.

READ MORE: Kholeka Gcaleka gets most nominations for public protector position

The Crime Intelligence division of the South African Police Service (Saps) concluded “no illicit activities” were found in the criminal record system on all the shortlisted candidates.

The eight candidates’ qualifications were also vetted.

The committee will conduct interviews on 23 and 24 August. It is expected to make its recommendation on its preferred candidate to the National Assembly by 31 August.

The recommended candidate will have to be approved by at least 60% of the National Assembly. Thereafter, the selected name will be sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa for appointment.

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