MPs recommend Kholeka Gcaleka for deputy public protector post

04 December 2019 - 12:52 By Andisiwe Makinana
Advocate Kholeka Gcaleka has been recommended by the National Assembly as the country's next deputy public protector.
Advocate Kholeka Gcaleka has been recommended by the National Assembly as the country's next deputy public protector.
Image: Frédéric Soltan/Corbis via Getty Images

The National Assembly has recommended advocate Kholeka Gcaleka as the country's next deputy public protector.

All that stands in Gcaleka's way is the approval of President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is the appointing authority.

A majority of the assembly's MPs (203) voted for Gcaleka, while 103 voted against her appointment on Wednesday afternoon.

The vote was scheduled for Wednesday morning but was deferred because the ANC did not have enough MPs in the house to ensure its preferred candidate's success.

The Public Protector Act requires a majority of 50% plus one - which is 201 MPs - to support the candidate for the recommendation to pass.

ANC MPs erupted in jubilation when house chair Cedric Frolick announced the outcome.

Along with the governing party, Gcaleka was supported by the IFP and the National Freedom Party.

Other opposition parties objected to her candidacy, raising concerns about her professional record, particularly regarding her role as former minister Malusi Gigaba's legal adviser.

DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach noted that Gcaleka met the criteria to be the deputy public protector but questioned her record as a senior deputy director of public prosecutions at the NPA, and again as legal adviser to former minister Malusi Gigaba, who was found to have lied under oath. Opposition parties questioned Gcaleka's role in the matter, saying she must have been involved in the lie or at least knew about it.

“The ethical ramifications of this position eluded her during the interview,” said Breytenbach, who concluded that Gcaleka was a person of “questionable ethics”, adding that her appointment would compound the problems of the office of the public protector.

The EFF's Noluvuyo Tafeni said by “imposing” Gcaleka, the ANC was making a mockery of the important role the office of the public protector is meant to play. “It shows no respect for capacity, ethical leadership and commitment to truth required of people who occupy that position,” she said.

Tafeni argued that Gcaleka was not the best candidate for the job. She continued working with Gigaba even after the court found him guilty of lying under oath. This, Tafeni said, “makes her ethically questionable”.

The ANC's Hishaam Mohamed rebutted the opposition's objections as “simply spurious, factually incorrect and with no substance”, saying there was no credible evidence to suggest that Gcaleka was not suitable for the position.

Mohamed said it was not surprising that the DA did not support a young black woman, but it was sad that the EFF supported the DA in this.

Mohamed said Gcaleka had performed “exceptionally well” during interviews. “She answered the questions confidently and as accurately as possible and she inspired the confidence of the majority of the portfolio committee,” he said.

Mohamed was confident that Gcaleka would excel in the position and would strengthen the office of the public protector.

“There should be no doubt that she is independent and she has the ability to perform functions without fear, favour or prejudice,” he added.

Earlier, an attempt by the assembly to adopt Zanele Hlatshwayo as a public service commissioner failed, as only 176 MPs voted for her and 91 voted against, meaning there were not enough ANC MPs in the house, or that they may have voted against her. The DA and the EFF do not support her candidacy.