Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. File Photo: Oupa Mokoena
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. File Photo: Oupa Mokoena

Deputy public protector on her way out

By Shanti Aboobaker. Time of article published Oct 21, 2012

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The internal battles between Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and her deputy, Mamiki Shai, may be over by next month.

Shai’s contract is due to expire at the end of November and Parliament is under pressure to fill the post by then.

Tensions between the two have been simmering for a long time, according to sources in the justice committee. Madonsela inherited Shai from her predecessor, Lawrence Mushwana. On Friday, Parliament published notice of a letter from Justice Minister Jeff Radebe requesting the National Assembly to recommend a suitable candidate for the appointment of a deputy public protector, as Shai’s seven-year term would end on November 30.

The justice committee has been delegated the task of overseeing the process. Last week, the Sunday Times reported that Shai was the author of a document submitted to the justice portfolio committee which alleged that Madonsela was biased against the ANC in the way she carried out her job.

The report suggested, among others, that Madonsela had deliberately withheld findings of a report on the DA-led Midvaal municipality until after the local government elections of last year.

Madonsela said the delay was because she had ordered a more thorough investigation after a draft report had dismissed all the allegations. This had led to “many allegations” involving the party being substantiated, she said.

She has also said she has support from within the ANC, as well as the government, despite the tough line some of her reports have taken, leading to the sacking of cabinet ministers Sicelo Shiceka, Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde and former police commissioner Bheki Cele.

ANC MP on the committee, John Jeffery, expressed dismay at the short notice given by Radebe for the position to be filled, but committee chairman Luwellyn Landers was confident all processes would be complete by the time Parliament goes into recess at the end of November.

Landers said the committee had hoped the advertisement for the position could have been published in this weekend’s papers, but that this would not be possible. Instead adverts would go out on Wednesday. He said the committee would probably set a deadline for accepting public nominations for the position of two weeks from Wednesday, but that the vetting process of nominated candidates would take place as they came in. This would expedite the shortlisting process so that interviews could take place “almost immediately” after nominations closed.

In terms of the Public Protector Act, Shai could reapply – albeit from scratch – for the deputy’s position, allowing her to serve one additional term of a maximum of five years. Her contract could not, however, be automatically renewed, Landers said.

It is unclear whether Shai will reapply for the position, or if she has loftier ambitions. She did not answer calls or respond to requests to return them. - The Sunday Independent

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