Trans­parency promised in se­lect­ing Thuli’s re­place­ment

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

courage, in­tegrity and trans­parency, among others.

“Pub­lic pro­tec­tor or pup­pet,” is how Khoza said she had heard the ques­tion phrased.

It was also in the na­ture of a multi-party process – es­pe­cially on the eve of elec­tions – for politi­cians to want to “flex our po­lit­i­cal mus­cles”, Khoza said.

But it was the loss of faith in po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship that con­cerned her most.

“As lead­ers we can no longer lie about the lead­er­ship cred­i­bil­ity cri­sis that we have in this coun­try,” she said. “The fact that we are now be­gin­ning to see mem­bers of the pub­lic be­ing en­raged to the ex­tent that they would de­mol­ish the very things they are sup­posed to be ben­e­fit­ing from, the fact that we’ve seen how the sit­u­a­tion has un­folded in Tsh­wane, how the sit­u­a­tion has un­folded else­where, in Lim­popo, where over 21 schools were burnt down – some­thing says to me, as lead­ers we have to do some in­tro­spec­tion and say, what is it that we are not do­ing right?”

This is a re­fresh­ing de­par­ture from the ex­clu­sively con­dem­na­tory re­sponse of much of the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship, who have been, per­haps un­der­stand­ably, re­luc­tant to ac­knowl­edge their own fail­ings as a con­tribut­ing fac­tor to the law­less­ness.

As Khoza put it, the se­lec­tion of a new pub­lic pro­tec­tor of­fered “an op­por­tu­nity to en­gage on is­sues of moral­ity ver­sus le­gal­ity”.

“The re­al­ity is that you may be do­ing some­thing that may be legally jus­ti­fi­able, but may be morally ques­tion­able.

“And if the pub­lic pro­tec­tor does not have cred­i­bil­ity, it would be a sad day for South Africa, be­cause right now, more than ever, we need a pub­lic pro­tec­tor who is go­ing to en­joy the con­fi­dence of South Africans,” Khoza said.

Nor did she dodge some of the awk­ward ques­tions put to her by the au­di­ence, in­clud­ing whether the pub­lic could be ex­pected to have faith in a process over which the ANC would have the fi­nal say (the Na­tional Assem­bly must ap­prove the can­di­date cho­sen by the com­mit­tee by a 60 per­cent ma­jor­ity, which the gov­ern­ing party can muster on its own), when its MPs, es­pe­cially those serv­ing on the jus­tice com­mit­tee, had taken such a dim view of Madon­sela’s ef­forts.

She said in re­sponse her en­gage­ments with the pub­lic since be­ing asked to chair the com­mit­tee had opened her eyes to the fact that “as lead­ers we have to ac­cept that the pub­lic no longer trust us as much as when they put us into power”.

“And it’s im­por­tant that we lis­ten.”

To try to make the process more trans­par­ent and to “sub­ject our­selves to the kind of ac­count­abil­ity and checks and bal­ances that are there”, there would, for the first time, be a close­out re­port ex­plain­ing the rea­sons for the com­mit­tee’s choice and, as far as pos­si­ble, a stan­dard­ised process so MPs could an­swer ques­tions about how they had scored each can­di­date, and why.

Khoza wel­comed the par­tic­i­pa­tion of civil so­ci­ety, promis­ing to con­sider ques­tions pro­posed by the pub­lic for the in­ter­views and im­me­di­ately tak­ing on board some of the qual­i­ties con­sid­ered to be im­por­tant for the job emerg­ing from a sur­vey done by Cor­rup­tion Watch.

Within an hour of be­ing asked to make the ID num­bers of can­di­dates avail­able so their qual­i­fi­ca­tions and busi­ness in­ter­ests could be ver­i­fied, she had con­sulted par­lia­men­tary staff and agreed this would be done.

All of this seems to con­firm Khoza’s con­vic­tion that “the process is as im­por­tant as the out­come” – an ac­cep­tance that any whiff of ex­pe­di­ency on the part of the com­mit­tee will strip the suc­cess­ful can­di­date of all cred­i­bil­ity in the pub­lic mind, re­gard­less of his or her per­sonal mer­its.

It is an ex­cel­lent start and a quite dif­fer­ent face of the ANC to the one it wore in re­sponse to Madon­sela’s Nkandla re­port.

Ques­tions re­main, how­ever. For one thing, these are just the pre­lim­i­nary steps in the process. The real test will come when in­ter­views start – after the Au­gust 3 elec­tions.

For an­other, as Khoza em­pha­sised, she is merely steer­ing pro­ceed­ings, and MPs on the com­mit­tee will be do­ing the ac­tual scor­ing.

Her com­mit­ment to trans­parency will go a long way in sup­port­ing the in­tegrity of the process, but it doesn’t pre­clude the pos­si­bil­ity of a pre­de­ter­mined out­come.

Nev­er­the­less, the pub­lic don’t have to ac­cept this as in­evitable. The in­ter­views will be open to the pub­lic and broad­cast live and, in the mean­time, com­ments and ob­jec­tions to the 59 can­di­dates can be sent to the com­mit­tee sec­re­tary at: Vra­maano@par­lia­

As Khoza put it, “I think we need to lo­cate our moral com­pass as a coun­try, and this process is giv­ing us that op­por­tu­nity”.

She went on to thank civil so­ci­ety groups for “be­ing so in­ter­ested in this process and for keep­ing me on my toes, and mak­ing sure it cul­mi­nates in a re­sult that will not be dis­ap­point­ing”. It sounded like an in­vi­ta­tion.

Makhosi Khoza

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