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ANC uses its majority to give Gcaleka nod for public protector post

Parliament endorses Kholeka Gcaleka as new public protector. Picture: Facebook

Parliament endorses Kholeka Gcaleka as new public protector. Picture: Facebook

Published Oct 20, 2023


Parliament on Thursday resolved to recommend Deputy Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka as the new public protector for the next seven years.

This, while the DA, EFF and ATM had strongly opposed Gcaleka’s recommendation, but were absent during the voting.

The ANC, with backing from smaller parties, easily secured 244 votes against 12 from the ACDP and Freedom Front Party on Thursday.

“The question is agreed to and advocate Kholeka Gcaleka is accordingly recommended for the appointment as public protector,” said National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

The debate on motion was marred by the denigration of Gcaleka, and insults were thrown at Mapisa-Nqakula by the DA, while those who voted in favour of her were labelled as thugs.

Introducing the debate, ANC MP Cyril Xaba said all of the 38 candidates interviewed for the position had shown varying strengths and capabilities.

“Advocate Gcaleka was outstanding.

You may have issues with her but don’t take away that she demonstrated a clear vision for the office and she is a capable and competent person,” Xaba said.

His plea that Gcaleka not be subjected to a court of public opinion, paraded as innuendos and sustaining false allegations, was ignored.

DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach tore into the past experience of Gcaleka at the National Prosecuting Authority and cast doubt about her competence to take the position.

The ANC MPs raised points of order and called on Breytenbach to withdraw her remarks.

When she refused to withdraw her statement, Mapisa-Nqakula ordered her to leave the House, a move that drew the ire of DA leader John Steenhuisen who launched a stinging attack on Mapisa-Nqakula calling her a liar, disgrace and dishonest peons who did not understand and follow the parliamentary rules.

While Mapisa-Nqakula noted the insults thrown at her and the ANC complaining about her treatment, she said she would not allow for the House to collapse and indicated that she would take action against Steenhuisen.

After DA chief whip Siviwe Gwarube expressed unhappiness with the way Mapisa-Nqakula handled the matter, the official opposition walked out.

When EFF MP Mzwanele Manyi took the podium to debate, he said none of the interviewed candidates ticked all the boxes for the position.

Manyi took a swipe at Gcaleka for having accepted the acting public protector position when she had ambitions to assume and accepted nomination for the top position.

He also accused Gcaleka of white-washing President Cyril Ramaphosa in her Phala Phala investigation.

“We reject the appointment of Kholeka Gcaleka with the contempt it deserves.

“If the ANC uses its majority to appoint a president’s protector instead of a public protector, that is on them.”

He was ejected from the House when he refused to withdraw a reference to MPs as thugs.

The IFP, NFP, Al-Jama-ah and AIC came out in support of Mapisa-Nqakula and Gcaleka, with the ACDP and FF+ voicing their unhappiness at Gcaleka as the next public protector citing, among other things, impartiality in her handling of the Phala-Phala.

GOOD Party MP Brett Herron said the DA statements that Gcaleka’s career was built on intimate relationships were disgraceful, sexist and racist.

“This House owes advocate Gcaleka an apology and unequivocal rejection of those insinuations,” Herron said.

Policy analyst, Nkosikhulule Nyembezi, said that the way proceedings unfolded was a reflection of the House.

“The abdication of responsibility to participate in the debate and vote on the appointment of the new public protector by several opposition parties is a reflection of the carelessness and undermining of the mandate of the electorate.

“It is a continuation of the insertion of toxic and decisive narrow politics in the public protector’s independence and impartiality.

“The electorate expects MPs to represent the people and make decisions that are justified in the debates and recorded in the hansard. Instead they get walkouts and stay aways.

“We can hope that the inclusion of independent MPs after the next elections will correct this problem and restore confidence in the decisions of Parliament,” Nyembezi said.

Cape Times