Who should re­place Thuli Madon­sela?

CityPress - - News - SU­SAN COM­RIE su­san.com­rie@city­press.co.za

When Thuli Madon­sela’s name was put for­ward for the job of Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor, not a sin­gle mem­ber of Par­lia­ment voted against her. As a card-car­ry­ing ANC mem­ber who had helped draft the Con­sti­tu­tion, she was con­sid­ered a safe bet. But since her ap­point­ment, she has tack­led a num­ber of high­pro­file fig­ures, in­clud­ing Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers leader Julius Malema, SABC chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng and, of course, Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma him­self.

Madon­sela’s term of of­fice comes to an end on Oc­to­ber 19. She can­not serve a se­cond term and a new Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor has to be se­lected.

Speak­ing about her po­ten­tial re­place­ment last week, Madon­sela sug­gested some­one with a strong le­gal back­ground.

“I would say please em­ploy a pro­fes­sional and, prefer­ably, a lawyer. I know the [Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor] Act al­lows you not to have a lawyer … But I still think if you are not a lawyer, you would then be a pris­oner to your staff. You would just sign be­cause some of the le­gal is­sues would be dif­fi­cult for you,” she said.

“It should be a per­son who has a track record of ad­vanc­ing ad­min­is­tra­tive jus­tice … some­body who sees it as a call­ing just to help out, to deepen democ­racy, who cares about the Con­sti­tu­tion and who has demon­strated that record. A per­son who is also com­pas­sion­ate. A kind of lawyer who re­ally cares about jus­tice. And some­one who likes the truth and has in­tegrity.”

By law, there are cer­tain min­i­mum re­quire­ments the new Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor must meet ( see box), but con­sid­er­ing the po­lit­i­cally fraught en­vi­ron­ment the new Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor will be step­ping into, who­ever gets the job will need more than just aca­demic qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

This week, as part of Cor­rup­tion Watch’s Bua Mzansi cam­paign to get the pub­lic in­volved in choos­ing Madon­sela’s suc­ces­sor, the or­gan­i­sa­tion re­leased the re­sults of an in-depth sur­vey of 83 mem­bers of the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s staff, in which it asked them what their new boss should be like.

Most of them agreed with Madon­sela that the in­cum­bent should have a strong le­gal back­ground.

When asked what the most im­por­tant qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the new Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor was, staff over­whelm­ingly said their first choice would be a high court judge (47.46%), while the ma­jor­ity (69.49%) said a mem­ber of Par­lia­ment would be the least de­sir­able can­di­date.

Asked which qual­i­ties were most im­por­tant, 82.46% of Madon­sela’s staff said in­tegrity, fol­lowed by ac­count­abil­ity (64.91%) and trans­parency (54.39%).

Based on the sur­vey, staff don’t want to see a tame Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor, with pa­tri­o­tism (3.51%) and hu­mil­ity (7.02%) both ranked as the least im­por­tant.

While Madon­sela has had to face claims that she was a “CIA spy”, her staff think their new boss should not spend too much time fret­ting over his or her pub­lic im­age.

Asked what the burn­ing is­sues would be, staff said “preserving the in­de­pen­dence of the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s of­fice” and “build­ing ca­pac­ity of staff mem­bers to en­sure rig­or­ous and in­de­pen­dent find­ings” were most im­por­tant (66.67% and 64.91%, re­spec­tively), while “man­ag­ing the pub­lic rep­u­ta­tion of the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s of­fice” was only a mi­nor con­cern (8.77%).

Next week, Cor­rup­tion Watch will be send­ing a sim­i­lar sur­vey to MPs to com­plete.

Cor­rup­tion Watch launched its Bua Mzansi cam­paign this month

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