She has not even been appointed to the job, but acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka has already brought out the claws of opposition parties vehemently opposed to her full appointment.
CAPE TOWN – She has not even been appointed to the job, but acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka has already brought out the claws of opposition parties vehemently opposed to her full appointment.
Gcaleka looks set to be the country’s new public protector after scoring the majority of votes from members of the ad hoc committee set up to nominate a replacement.
Seven MPs voted in favour of Gcaleka, who has served as deputy PP for the past three years, while four were against her nomination.
On party lines, Gcaleka’s name was supported by the ANC and the IFP, while the EFF, the DA and the Freedom Front Plus registered their objections to her being named for the job.
After the committee sat, the DA said in a statement that the post should be re-advertised to attract more suitable candidates.
Ad hoc committee member Glynnis Breytenbach (DA) said Gcaleka had too much “baggage” from her past that she was unable to shake off and had not demonstrated sufficient experience for the job.
In a statement, released after the committee adjourned, Breytenbach said: “We hold the view that none of the candidates interviewed are suitable for appointment, given the enormous responsibility this position holds.
“The candidates all showed an alarming lack of basic knowledge of the legal framework in which they would be required to operate. We further hold the view that an appointment should not be made simply due to a lack of any better alternatives.”
Breytenbach said the position was of far too great an importance to settle for an unsatisfactory candidate for the second time in a row.
She was referring to the DA’s position on suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane since she was first picked for the post in 2016.
During the committee meeting’s deliberations on Gcaleka’s candidacy, committee member Omphile Maotwe (EFF) alleged that Gcaleka had cleared President Cyril Ramaphosa in her Phala Phala report as a “quid pro quo” for her appointment as PP.
Maotwe said Gcaleka had a cloud hanging over her head and for a young democracy like South Africa to give her the post of Public Protector would be “suicidal.”
Freedom Front Plus MP Wouter Wessels said he would not support her candidacy as there were questions over her impartiality.
Manketsi Tlhape (ANC) said the acting PP displayed high confidence and bravery during her interview.
Committee member Qubudile Dyantyi (ANC), who also served as chairperson of Mkhwebane’s removal committee, said that until Gcaleka appeared for her interview, he had feared that the committee would end up without a candidate for the job.
“But she demonstrated character and capability throughout the interview and amazed me with her level of readiness for the job and outperforming all the other candidates.”
Gcaleka’s candidacy was the last to be reviewed by the committee. When the committee began deliberations on their interviews, the seven other shortlisted candidates never stood much chance as no members appeared to support them.
The reasons for elimination ranged from: being ill-prepared for the interview; showing a distinct lack of specific legal knowledge; being too academic; being unable to answer questions; being evasive; and having no new ideas to bring to the office.
All that remains now is for the committee to submit its report to Parliament by Wednesday, after which 60% of the House will have to approve her nomination for the job before it is sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa for appointment.
The term of the current Public Protector ends on October 14.