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All eyes on SA’s public protector selection

By Crystal Orderson in Cape Town
Posted on Wednesday, 10 August 2016 12:41

After an intensive participation process, interviews for the 14 shortlisted candidates vying for the Public Protector position will commence in parliament in Cape Town on Thursday morning.

The rationale behind this is to ensure that candidates do not have unfair advantage over others

The outgoing public protector, Madonsela made her mark on the South Africa’s political landscape after she said Zuma should pay back some of the money used in upgrades at his Nkandla home, drawing the ire of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), who at some point accused her of spying on behalf of America’s Central Intelligence Agency.

Zuma appointed Madonsela as the country’s public protector for a non-renewable seven-year term in October 2009, with unanimous support from the multi-party National Assembly.

The chairperson of an ad hoc committee established to nominate a person for the appointment as public protector, Makhosi Khoza, said they intend interviewing all the candidates in one day.

“The rationale behind this is to ensure that candidates do not have unfair advantage over others, as these interviews will be broadcast live,” he explained.

But civil society groups, including Corruption Watch, toldThe Africa Report they would have preferred if the interviews were done over two days.

Corruption Watch’s Kavisha Pillay said the amount of time set aside for the public interviews on 11 August will be taxing on the ad hoc committee members, and the candidates who will be interviewed towards the end of the day, with the last interviewee expected in at 11pm.

“How will you be able to apply your mind if it goes into midnight and it is tiring on both the candidates and members of parliament,” she said.

Pillay said her organisation was, however, very happy with the process so far and Khoza had ensured transparency. “There has never been this level of public participation in the appointment of the public protector before,” she said.

After the interviews, the ad hoc committee nominee would then need at least 60 per cent support in the National Assembly, before Zuma accedes.

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 the government, which hamper service-delivery and abuse taxpayers.

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