ANC's undue haste to finalise Public Protector interviews puts process at risk
12 August 2016
The mismanagement of the Public Protector interview process risks jeopardizing the selection of a fit and proper candidate to continue the fight against corruption. This is after 14 interviews, some of which were over an hour long, were jammed into a single day, with overflow into the early hours of the following morning. The last candidate was called in for his hour long interview at 01:45 in the morning, after the panel had already spent almost 19 hours in the Chamber.
This follows a shortlisting process which left a lot to be desired, with MPs having to make decisions on reams of documents hastily handed out to them during the shortlisting meeting.
Despite objections raised by the DA and the other opposition parties, the Chairperson pushed on with the process as the ANC’s chronic disregard for due process persists.
This was all because ANC MPs had been given marching orders to ensure the process is completed by the end of August. And indeed, though the Public Protector process is under tight time constraints, it is well established that proper process cannot be ignored simply due to urgency.
The irony is that should this be rushed through unprocedurally, the entire process is at risk of being set aside, creating further delay in the appointment of a new Public Protector.
The fact that this urgency was created by ANC negligence compounds the issue. The ANC has approached this process as if it were an emergency, even though this scheduled appointment of a new Public Protector has been coming for 7 years now.
Due process is not merely a set of technicalities, nor is it simply about being fair to each of the candidates (though it certainly has not been). It is about properly assessing which candidate is best qualified to hold the crucial office of Public Protector. It is almost impossible to do this when both the candidates and the Panel are utterly exhausted by the time the interviews are held.
It seems however that the ANC MPs are less interested in determining the best candidate than they are in hurrying the process along. This suggests that the ANC has already anointed their preferred candidate, a pliable lapdog who will not be a thorn in the side of corrupt ANC officials as Thuli Madonsela has been.
The ANC’s prejudice and self-serving motives were exposed during the interview of Ms Kaajal Ramjathan-Koegh, who played a key role in the application to arrest wanted international war criminal Omar Al-Bashir. Ms Ramjathan-Koegh’s organization was successful in the application, and the court was scathing of the ANC government’s disregard for the rule of law in allowing the fugitive to escape.
Ms Ramjathan-Koegh was comically accused of being a foreign agent out to effect regime change in South Africa. Though such accusations are utterly inappropriate and unfounded, Ms Ramjathan-Koegh should in fact consider this attack on her as a badge of honour and a mark of her integrity. This is an “honour” she now shares with current Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, who was similarly accused of being a foreign agent by the ANC when she revealed President Zuma’s corruption in the Nkandla saga.
The Chairperson rightly called on the ANC MP in question to withdraw the allegations but, shamefully, when the MP refused, the Chairperson sheepishly continued with the interview. This conduct was an embarrassment to the committee. Ms Ramjathan-Koegh’s courageous and intelligent defense of her organisation’s crucial litigation against government disregard for the law and for indifference to the victims of genocide indeed reveals that she would be an ideal candidate for Public Protector.
Though the ANC will no doubt block Ms Ramjathan-Koegh from being considered for appointment, the DA will not accept an ANC lapdog for the post. We will block any such appointment, as we blocked the ANC’s lapdog candidate for Inspector-General of intelligence, and we will carefully consider the impact of the ANC’s bungling of this process on its legality.
The Public Protector’s office is too important to South Africa for it too to be captured and corrupted by Zuma and his stooges.
Issued by Glynnis Breytenbach, DA Shadow Minister of Justice, 12 August 2016