Cape Town - The shortlist for the new public protector hasn’t even been released and controversy is already dogging the candidates ahead of their interviews for the highly contested job.
The EFF fired the first shots, insisting Acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka must withdraw her nomination as it accused her of not being a credible candidate for the post.
The party’s representative on Parliament’s ad hoc committee to nominate a person for appointment as public protector, Omphile Maotwe, made the demand as the committee heard that all eight nominees passed the vetting process and would proceed to the interviews, which begin today.
Maotwe used a point of order during a discussion on the technicalities of the interviews to make her point against Gcaleka.
At the time, the committee was discussing today’s interviews of the first four of the eight nominees. Gcaleka will be among the four interviewed tomorrow.
Maotwe said: “With these interviews coming up tomorrow (Wednesday), we have the chance to appoint someone who can rejuvenate the institution, giving it a fresh start.
“Because of this, we question the suitability of the current deputy public protector, advocate Gcaleka, who has been acting as PP for some time.”
At this point, ANC member on the committee Cyril Xaba interjected and cut her off.
“You are completely out of order. I thought you wanted to comment on the technical aspects of the screening process.”
There was more drama when a letter of complaint from one of the candidates who did not make it to the short-list was read to the committee.
Macbeth Ncongwane said the nomination and selection process had appeared to be a “box-ticking” exercise and lacked transparency.
However, Xaba and the committee dismissed the complaint and said they had followed a strict, predetermined criteria to shortlist candidates.
Apart from Gcaleka, the other nominees were pension fund adjudicator Muvhango Lukhaimane, former South African Human Rights Commission chief executive Tseliso Thipanyane, advocates Lynn Marais, Olivier Josie, Tommy Ntsewa, magistrate Kwenadi Ledwaba, and Professor Boitumelo Mmusinyane.
The eight were vetted and cleared by the State Security Agency, which said no security concerns or default judgments had been picked up for all eight candidates and that all candidates were South African citizens.
Before joining the PPSA, Gcaleka worked as a state advocate and senior deputy director for the National Prosecuting Authority.
Gcaleka later worked as a special adviser to a number of ministers in both the Zuma and Ramaphosa administrations.
Most famously, she was former finance minister Malusi Gigaba’s legal adviser during the time in 2017 when senior Treasury officials alleged that the Treasury had been “captured”.
Muvhango Lukhaimane previously held a number of executive management roles within the SA Domestic Intelligence Services.
When Thipanyane’s time at the commission ended last year, the commission took the step of posting a message on its website saying he was no longer employed there.
In October last year he lodged a dispute over the non-renewal of his five-year contract with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) on the basis that an expectation was created that the contract would be extended.
Josie has previously worked in executive level legal positions in the NPA, the SAPS, the Standard Bank Group, the City and the provincial department of economic development.
Prof Mmusinyane is currently the deputy director for undergraduate studies at the NWU’s Faculty of Law, he also served as investigator in the office of the public protector and as acting commissioner of integrity at the Madibeng local municipality.
Ledwaba is currently a magistrate. Before becoming a magistrate, Ledwaba worked primarily as a prosecutor and state advocate for the NPA, and also with the Asset Forfeiture Unit.