The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development proposed the name of Advocate Kevin Malunga as its preferred candidate for the position of Deputy Public Protector for the Office of the Public Protector.
The Committee also discussed the meeting it was due to hold the following week with the outgoing Deputy Public Protector regarding the complaints from the Office of the Public Protector. The Committee was of the opinion that it would not stop Advocate Thuli Madonsela if she came to the meeting. The Committee was also of the view that the matter was not to be over hyped as it would just be an inquiry that sought clarity on a few issues raised in the compliant from the outgoing Deputy Public Protector. The Committee was also of the view that it could finalise the matter on the same day should it need clarity from Advocate Madonsela should she be present.
Nomination for the position of Deputy Public Protector (DPP)
The Chairperson said that the Committee would now decide on its preferred candidate for the position of DPP.
Ms M Smuts (DA) said that her party was happy to support Adv Kevin Malunga as the new DPP.
Mr J Jeffery (ANC) said that the ANC also supported Adv Malunga.
Mr N Koornhof (COPE) said that COPE also supported the nominee.
Ms D Schäfer (DA) said that Adv Malunga did not appear to be politically aligned and also seemed to be independent.
The Chairperson asked if anybody was opposed.
No opposition was raised.
Complaints received from the Public Protector’s Office
The Chairperson stated that the meeting with the current DPP was an open meeting and if the Public Protector (PP) wanted to attend then the Committee would not be able to prevent her from coming to the meeting. The meeting on Tuesday meeting was merely a preliminary meeting to clarify certain issues.
Ms Smuts said that the Committee should consider re-assessing this entire issue. The Committee could pause at this point and take advice from the Parliamentary Legal Services Office (PLSO). Advocate Thuli Madonsela as the PP now argued the use of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA) for the Committee’s proceedings; this was why legal advice had to be sought. If possible the meeting on Tuesday should be postponed until next year.
Mr Jeffery said that he was worried about deferring the matter until next year because the Committee had to make a start; next year was in two months time. The current DPP was leaving at the end of this month and the meeting with her would be useful as a sort of exit report. The basic issue with PAJA was fairness and the PP may be using it as she might think that she would be excluded. The Committee would suggest that she did not come and send someone to listen in for her. This was neither a tribunal nor an inquiry and if the PP insisted on coming then she could. There seemed to be a certain amount of hysteria, the Mail and Guardian article may have contributed as somebody certainly leaked information to them. This was not a witch hunt. The Committee has been asked by the PP to conduct an inquiry, the Committee did not want to cause strife. The Committee merely wanted to ensure that there was an effective and functioning PP. Hopefully the PP would see this if she came on Tuesday. This was not a drama or trauma.
Adv S Holomisa (ANC) asked what the plan was for the Committee in order to deal with this matter. There would be no harm in the Committee not meeting as it could summon anybody. The Committee should also not worry itself about whether or not the PP attended. The Committee was not that pressed on this matter and the meeting could be for it to just listen to the DPP.
The Chairperson said that most of the stuff had been discarded and there were only two or three issues that it needed clarity on. The meeting on Tuesday was just an inquiry for clarity.
Ms Smuts said that she would join the Committee late on that day.
Ms L Smuts (COPE) said that the PP had used the word “investigate” in her letter to the Speaker One way or the other, informally or formally, the Committee would have to deal with this matter and if the PP showed up on Tuesday then so be it. This matter could be finalised on Tuesday with the PP there. There were issues that the Committee may want to get clarity from the PP herself. There was no need why this whole issue could not be finalised on Tuesday.
Ms Smuts said that even if the PP did not say anything, as soon as she left the meeting the press would ask her questions on what the DPP had said and she would respond.
The meeting was adjourned.
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