Fear­less Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor

CityPress - - Voices -

As Par­lia­ment be­gins the process of ap­point­ing a new Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor, many are anx­ious about whether its mem­bers will be in­clined to select a lackey, one who will owe loy­alty to the MPs rather than to the of­fice the new can­di­date holds.

The in­cum­bent, Thuli Madonsela, has set the bar high. She has been fear­less, ju­di­cious and ex­em­plary in her seven years in of­fice.

United Demo­cratic Move­ment leader Bantu Holomisa is one of those who is con­cerned. He be­lieves that, be­cause of the ever-in­creas­ing lev­els of cor­rup­tion in the coun­try, the ma­jor­ity party will select a yes man or woman.

Civil so­ci­ety has en­cour­aged the pub­lic to be in­volved in every step of the process so they have a say in the out­come (see graphic in news).

The gov­ern­ing ANC has in­sisted that the se­lec­tion process be an open one and that there should be no con­cern about ma­nip­u­la­tion. But the party has the ma­jor­ity of MPs on the com­mit­tee and they could out­vote any ob­jec­tions to their choice.

In Par­lia­ment this week, at the first meet­ing of the ad hoc com­mit­tee tasked with se­lect­ing the suit­able can­di­date, all the po­lit­i­cal par­ties re­it­er­ated their com­mit­ment that the process be fair and trans­par­ent.

To al­lay fears, the com­mit­tee agreed to a num­ber of things, in­clud­ing live TV broad­casts of the pro­ceed­ings and that all ap­pli­cants’ CVs be made pub­lic.

These are pos­i­tive steps. But Par­lia­ment cor­ri­dor talk was all about why the ANC had de­ployed mostly ju­nior MPs, apart from Amos Masondo, to the com­mit­tee. Could it be that the more ju­nior they are, the eas­ier to con­trol them from the out­side? Will Luthuli House even­tu­ally choose the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor?

Madonsela has said in­cum­bents come and go, but the in­sti­tu­tion re­mained and had to be re­spected. Let’s hope the MPs run­ning this process will op­er­ate ac­cord­ing to the same spirit.

Any in­cli­na­tion to chal­lenge the in­de­pen­dence of the next Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor to prevent their be­ing “the next Thuli Madonsela” would be self­de­feat­ing. Around the world, gov­ern­ing par­ties of­ten fail to reckon they might one day lose power and will, in turn, need the very in­sti­tu­tions they may have un­der­mined. We can only hope our MPs are big­ger than that.

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