NewsSouthern AfricaSouth Africa: Tough search for public prosecutor, Thuli Madonsela's successor begins


Posted on Thursday, 02 June 2016 14:22

South Africa: Tough search for public prosecutor, Thuli Madonsela's successor begins

By Crystal Oderson in Cape Town

Thuli Madonsela. Photo/AP/SIPALove or hate her, South Africa's corruption watchdog, Thuli Madonsela has made her mark on the country's politics.

South Africa's corruption buster, Madonsela, the public protector, has earned the ire of those in power, investigating politicians such as President Jacob Zuma, whom she has almost brought to his knees. For many, the public protector has become the eyes and voices of a public weary of corruption.

Soliciting views from the public is in keeping with our constitutional obligation

Zuma appointed Madonsela the country's public protector for a non-renewable seven-year term in October 2009, with unanimous support from the multi-party legislature, with the term set to expire this year.

While announcing her appointment, Zuma said Madonsela "will need to ensure that this office continues to be accessible to ordinary citizens and undertakes its work without fear or favour".

Little did he know that Madonsela will hound him over his own dealings, particularly the Nkandla case, where Zuma was accused of benefitting illegally from public money to upgrade his rural home.

In the aftermath of her damning findings implicating Zuma, the ruling ANC labelled her a Central Intelligence Agent, while there were even reports of death threats targeted at her.

Now with her term ebbing to its end, the search for her successor has begun and many hope the new public protector will have Madonsela's tenacity.

Parliament has established an ad hoc committee to look into appointing Madonsela's successor and has agreed to publish the names of candidates that have applied and have been nominated to serve as public protector.

The committee chairperson, Makhosi Khoza, said publishing the names of nominees or applicants is critical for public involvement.

"Soliciting views from the public is in keeping with our constitutional obligation, hence, our unanimous decision to allow members of the public an opportunity to make their comments or objections on whether a particular name is fit and proper to be considered for the position of the public protector," he said.

Members of the public will get an opportunity to make their comments or objections on the names of nominees or applicants that will be made public once the process has begun.

Khoza said objections against a particular nominee or applicant would not mean automatic disqualification. "The committee will have to investigate any objection before making a determination on the suitability of a particular nominee or applicant," he said.

After the public participation process, the committee will convene for short-listing in mid-July, with interviews expected in August.

The ad hoc committee's nominee would then have to have the support of more than 60 per cent of the legislators before the President can act on it.

According to law, the public protector's office is tasked with strengthening constitutional democracy and good governance and is independent from the state and has the power to investigate and make recommendations on improper dealings within government, which hamper service-delivery and abuse taxpayers.

Asked by Corruption Watch how she feels about being labelled South Africa's one-woman anti-corruption crusader, Madonsela said while it is a "humbling label, it is also misleading. I do not act alone, but I am part of a dedicated and competent team".

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