From 14 to five: Here are the shortlisted candidates for the public protector job

While the interview process of the 14 shortlisted candidates went on until past midnight, the ad hoc committee which is tasked with selecting the person who will fill public protector Thuli Madonsela’s shoes whittled the list down to five hopefuls in one quick afternoon session on Thursday.

The  committee met at Parliament with the chair, Dr Makhosi Khoza, who was as lively as ever. While MPs battled it out over some of the candidates, Khoza would interject and finalise the discussion when there was a clear majoirty opinion on whether a candidate should be shorlisted or “fall”.

The list of people to fall from the list were:

Advocate Michael Mthembu

Advocate Chris Mokoditwa

Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller

Advocate Mamika Goodman

Jill Oliphant

Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh

Advocate Nonkosi Cetywayo

Advocate Kevin Malunga

Advocate Willie Hofmeyr

The five who have been shortlisted are:

Judge Sharise Weiner

Judge Siraj Desai

Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane

Muvhango Lukhaimane

Professor Bongani Majola

Malunga, who is the deputy public protector, was cut from the list surprisingly fast, with little discussion from the MPs in the ad hoc committee.
Just before his interview for this round of shortlisting, the State Security Agency (SSA) released a letter claiming that Malunga could not serve as public protector because he does not have the security clearance required for the job.

Before Thursday’s session began, Parliament’s legal adviser said the Public Protector Act made no mention of a required security clearance for a candidate to take the job. Khoza said all 14 of the candidates interviewed met the necessary criteria to take the position.

But there were, of course, a few niggles.

Mokoditwa (77) defended his age, saying he is a “bodybuilder” and therefore fit for the job, but that didn’t manage to charm the committee enough to get him to the next round. Hofmeyr and Cetywayo, meanwhile, were summarily dimissed without much discussion, depite both being high profile candidates who were earlier rumoured to have an edge over their competitors.

From the shortlisted candidates’ list, Mkhwebane received unanimous backing from all the MPs, while Democratic Alliance spokesperson Phumzile van Damme had reservations about Desai’s temperament. The EFF’s deputy president, Floyd Shivambu, showed concern that Majola had been “acting neutral in the struggle”. Shivambu appeared angry, but it ignited some banter from the chair.

“You know, honourable Shivambu, you have such a fine brain but when you get angry, you lose it,” Khoza said.

“I am not getting angry,” Shivambu exclaimed.

The committee will meet again on August 24 and South Africa may finally know then who will take the reins from Madonsela. 

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