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South Africa begins search for new public protector

By Crystal Orderson in Cape Town
Posted on Tuesday, 12 July 2016 13:20

A parliamentary committee will meet on Wednesday to discuss the selection process for one of the most influential institutions in the country.

Corruption Watch and the Democratic Governance and Rights Unit submitted the list of vetted candidates to the parliamentary ad-hoc committee responsible for overseeing the selection of the next public protector.

When Parliament made public the CVs of candidates, we did background checks on the long list and this initiative is to assist Parliament

Parliament had earlier released a list of 59 candidates, which included high-ranking legal professionals, former politicians and civil society advocates.

Corruption Watch’s Kavisha Pillay told The Africa Report that submission of its list “was a very important process and was done to assist Parliament”.

“When Parliament made public the CVs of candidates, we did background checks on the long list and this initiative is to assist Parliament,” she said.

Pillay said they had taken a keen interest in the selection process and said the “objective of the vetting exercise was to determine whether or not the 62 nominated candidates meet the minimum statutory requirements for the position of public protector, as stipulated in the Public Protector Act”.

She said they examined the candidates’ work experience and educational qualifications.

They had also provided the parliamentary committee with “insight” into certain aspects of the candidates’ personal and professional lives, Pillay added.

South Africans would also have a chance to participate in the selection of the public protector after the initial selection.

According to law, the public protector’s office is tasked with strengthening constitutional democracy and good governance.

The office 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.

President Jacob Zuma appointed Madonsela the public protector on a non-renewable seven-year term in October 2009, with unanimous support from the multi-party National Assembly.

She became popular after she investigated Zuma for using public money to upgrade his rural home.

Madonsela ordered Zuma to pay part of the money and her decision was endorsed by the courts early this year, leading to calls for the president to resign.

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