The DA is of the opinion that not a single candidate who was interviewed for the position of Public Protector (OB) is suitable for the office.
The process to nominate a new OB to replace the suspended Public Protector, adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to be replaced, is currently underway. After two days during which eight shortlisted candidates were interviewed, the parliamentary ad hoc committee deliberated on each candidate and his or her suitability for the position.
Mkhwebane’s tenure officially ends in October.
According to Glynnis Breytenbach, a former state prosecutor and current DA MP, it is worrying that the candidates consistently show a lack of basic knowledge of the legal framework within which they must work.
“We maintain the view that an appointment should not be made simply because of a lack of better candidates,” says Breytenbach.
“The OB is a cardinal chapter 9 institution tasked with strengthening constitutional democracy in South Africa. The importance of a strong, independent candidate cannot be overemphasized.”
The DA did not name any of the candidates for the short list, simply because they were all unknown and none stood out as a suitable candidate, says Breytenbach.
“It is unfortunate that the pool of applicants and nominated candidates was disappointing compared to the group that was available during the last interviews – however, this may be an indication of the damage done to the institution under the leadership of Mkhwebane.”
The acting public protector, adv. Kholeka Gcaleka, is the elected candidate of the ad hoc committee.
According to Breytenbach, Gcaleka has an obvious advantage in that she has acted as OB since Mkhwebane’s suspension.
According to Breytenbach, Mkhwebane’s prolonged suspension caused great damage to the office of the OB.
“This was confirmed in the final report of the section 194 committee which recommended that Mkhwebane be removed from office on grounds of misconduct and incompetence, as established by evidence before the committee. Reversing this damage to the institution and its reputation will require a concerted effort from any newly appointed OB.
“The OB often stands as a last line of defense against state capture and corruption. It is therefore of the utmost importance that the newly appointed OB restores respect for and credibility in respect of the office, and possesses impeccable integrity.”
Breytenbach says the DA will not support any of the short-listed candidates for an appointment.
“The DA further strongly recommends that the post should be advertised again in an attempt to attract more suitable candidates. The position is far too important to appoint an unsatisfactory candidate for the second consecutive time.
“Parliament must reopen the application process to find a candidate who is really worth the effort to be the new Public Protector of South Africa.”