Best choice to serve the na­tion?

This week the names of the 59 peo­ple vy­ing to fill Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela’s shoes were an­nounced. We look at our five favourites, the five we wish hadn’t de­clined nom­i­na­tions, and the five we are not sure about. JANET SMITH com­piled their pro­fil

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

THE MAV­ER­ICK: PIERRE DE VOS A well-loved so­cial me­dia com­men­ta­tor and blog­ger on mat­ters mostly le­gal, con­sti­tu­tional law ex­pert De Vos might be a pop­u­lar, if mav­er­ick choice among the in­tel­li­gentsia.

Quick-wit­ted and as­tute, he taught law at the Univer­sity of the West­ern Cape be­fore mov­ing to UCT, where he be­came deputy dean of the law fac­ulty in 2011.

With an LLM from Columbia, De Vos has con­sis­tently be­lied his roots, grow­ing up in what was then Pi­eters­burg.

An early ad­vo­cate for same-sex mar­riage and a pro­gres­sive thinker in the fields of HIV/Aids and anti-racism, he is chair­man of the board of the NGO the Aids Le­gal Net­work, and a board mem­ber of the Tri­an­gle Project, an LGBT ad­vo­cacy or­gan­i­sa­tion.

But De Vos hasn’t es­caped the ire of more re­ac­tionary forces. He and his part­ner won the first case con­sid­ered by the Equal­ity Court in 2004 when a gay bar’s own­ers had to ad­mit they had dis­crim­i­nated against his part­ner be­cause of his race.

He also had a pub­lic ar­gu­ment with for­mer DA leader He­len Zille four years later when he ac­cused the party of hypocrisy and Zille of be­ing “po­lit­i­cally stupid”.

Ac­cused of be­ing a racist in 2009 after a ra­dio de­bate with Paul Ngobeni, a pro­fessed sup­porter of con­tro­ver­sial Judge Pres­i­dent of the Cape John Hlophe, he nonethe­less main­tained his strong so­cial jus­tice call­ing by speak­ing out against evic­tions and Cape Town’s no­to­ri­ous open toi­lets, and stand­ing up for so­cial move­ment Abahlali baseMjon­dolo and Arch­bishop Emer­i­tus Des­mond Tutu’s call for a one-off wealth tax on those who ben­e­fited from apartheid.

More re­cently, he took sig­nif­i­cant flak from the Afrikaner com­mu­nity for com­ing out in favour of chang­ing the lan­guage pol­icy at Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity. THE PEACE­MAKER: NICK HAYSOM Now a re­spected in­ter­na­tional fig­ure for his work as the UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral’s Spe­cial Rep­re­sen­ta­tive and head of the UN As­sis­tance Mis­sion in Afghanistan, Haysom has built upon an im­pres­sive Strug­gle his­tory.

Nick­named “Fink”, he be­gan his in­ter­na­tional work back in 1999, when he was in­volved in the high-level Bu­rundi peace talks and held the po­si­tion as chair­man of the com­mit­tee ne­go­ti­at­ing con­sti­tu­tional is­sues. After that he worked on the la­bo­ri­ous and fraught Su­danese peace process, in Iraq and in the UN sec­re­tary-gen­eral’s of­fice.

But Haysom had come off a very high base, serv­ing as chief le­gal and con­sti­tu­tional ad­viser in the of­fice of then pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela, and help­ing to se­lect the TRC panel in 1995, be­fore mov­ing into a more prom­i­nent po­si­tion in world peace af­fairs once Thabo Mbeki be­came pres­i­dent.

One of the found­ing part­ners of top le­gal firm Chea­dle Thompson and Haysom, he might have been schooled within the priv­i­lege of Michael­house, but his so­cial con­science was quickly tested. Dur­ing the 1970s and 1980s he was de­tained three times by the apartheid gov­ern­ment, and served with a two-year ban­ning or­der.

One of Haysom’s per­haps lesser-known qual­i­ties is his artistry. He’s a pre­vi­ous win­ner of the Am­s­tel Play­wright of the Year Award.

When he was ad­dress­ing the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil leader as head of the UN As­sis­tance Mis­sion in Afghanistan last week, speak­ing about how to de­velop con­fi­dence in their gov­ern­ment for Afghans, he was speak­ing with the voice of a global leader. THE AC­TIVIST: WIL­LIE HOFMEYR With the back­drop of an il­lus­tri­ous his­tory within the ANC, Hofmeyr’s most im­por­tant job has been as a Spe­cial Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions, head­ing the As­set For­fei­ture Unit of the NPA. He’d been an ANC MP dur­ing Nel­son Man­dela’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, and that part of his ca­reer in ad­vanc­ing our democ­racy started with such prom­ise.

That tra­jec­tory should have con­tin­ued once the for­mer trade union­ist and West­ern Cape UDF leader was ap­pointed deputy na­tional di­rec­tor of pub­lic pros­e­cu­tions in 2001, and head of the Spe­cial In­ves­ti­gat­ing Unit. But his des­tiny was to be ul­ti­mately side-lined for his brave out­spo­ken­ness.

Few know and un­der­stand the con­sti­tu­tion like Hofmeyr does. It was an early dream. But in Fe­bru­ary, the ad­vo­cate – one of South Africa’s most se­nior pros­e­cu­tors – ef­fec­tively de­clared war on his new boss, Shaun Abra­hams, ac­cus­ing him of mis­lead­ing the court, sidelin­ing him (Hofmeyr), and align­ing him­self with a “sys­tem­atic pat­tern of im­prop­erly pro­tect­ing” con­tro­ver­sial col­league Nomg­cobo Jiba.

Hofmeyr said Abra­hams had launched an “un­war­ranted and un­founded at­tack” on his cred­i­bil­ity in an af­fi­davit Abra­hams filed op­pos­ing a High Court bid by the DA to get Jiba sus­pended pend­ing an of­fi­cial com­mis­sion of in­quiry into her con­duct.

Hofmeyr, who un­til last year headed the suc­cess­ful As­set For­fei­ture Unit, said in his own af­fi­davit that he had come across ef­forts by politi­cians to ma­nip­u­late the NPA for their fac­tional pur­poses – some­thing which he had strongly op­posed and ex­posed.

De­scribed as ded­i­cated to le­gal com­pli­ance, Hofmeyr has an im­pec­ca­ble record. THE CON­TENDER: KEVIN MALUNGA The deputy pub­lic pro­tec­tor was a well-liked and prodi­gious thinker, a lec­turer in law at Wits and pre­vi­ously at the Univer­sity of KwaZulu-Natal, when he was cho­sen to take up of­fice with Thuli Madon­sela.

Al­though not long after his ap­point­ment he dis­agreed with Madon­sela over her strate­gic plan and stated his con­cerns in a let­ter to Par­lia­ment. That ap­par­ent break­ing of ranks with South Africa’s most pow­er­ful woman did not have its feared fol­low-through – that he would de­velop into a po­lit­i­cal toady.

Since that in­ci­dent in 2013, it ap­pears Malunga and Madon­sela have in fact drawn closer, even as their work has pro­vided the of­fice of the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor with im­mea­sur­able po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion – and sig­nif­i­cant sup­port.

Malunga, who was pre­vi­ously a State law ad­viser in the Jus­tice De­part­ment, and who also acted briefly as a spokesman of the Marikana Ju­di­cial Com­mis­sion of In­quiry, has a con­sid­er­able aca­demic his­tory.

A can­di­date for Doc­tor of Juridi­cal Science at the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin-Madi­son Law School in the US, he is a mem­ber of sev­eral pro­fes­sional so­ci­eties, in­clud­ing the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of In­ter­na­tional Law. Malunga did his LLM in In­ter­na­tional Law at Ge­orge­town Univer­sity, hav­ing earned his first de­gree at the Univer­sity of KwaZulu-Natal in Dur­ban.

Per­haps tak­ing the ex­am­ple of his coura­geous boss, he has also be­come more pub­lic in his opin­ions . Ex­press­ing his views about cor­rup­tion in March, he re­ferred to Bri­tish jour­nal­ist Michela Wrong’s book, about cor­rup­tion in Kenya, in a quote: “Peo­ple have de­cided that it is our turn to eat, we are not go­ing to pro­vide value for money and who cares what you think, as long as we get paid. This is a cul­ture I call some­thing for noth­ing, which has taken root on a very ag­gres­sive scale.”

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