Finalisation of Nomination of Public Protector

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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

25 September 2002

Mr MJ Mahlangu (ANC)

The Committee selected a candidate for recommendation to the President for appointment as the Public Protector in terms of Section 193(4) of the Constitution. Four of the five parties present, namely, ANC, NNP, IFP, UCDP, unanimously nominated Mr L Mushwana from the fourteen candidates interviewed. The DP objected to this nomination and would call for a debate on the issue.

The Chair recommended the procedure to be used for the selection of a candidate. The procedure should allow the parties to state which candidate, from the fourteen interviewed, should be nominated. Once all parties had given their input they would discuss this and finalise the matter. He asked whether there were any other proposals from Members on how to conduct this.

Mr Durandt (NNP) suggested that the Chair asks for nominations and then allow them to motivate why the party had nominated that particular candidate. He proposed that they then break for a caucus and return to take the vote.

The Chair urged Members to co-operate so that they could finalise this.

Mr Mzizi (IFP) proposed the use of a process of elimination, and then propose who should be the candidate from those left.

The Chair stated that it would be easier to ask the parties to give their nominations.

The Chair then proposed they get the first nomination.

Mr Durandt (NNP) stated that he had been mandated by his caucus to make the final decision, as he had been present during the interviews. He nominated Mr L Mushwana. The motivation for his decision was that Mr Mushwana had a legal background: in practice as an attorney and also lectured he was therefore legally versed. He had also worked in the civil service and had experienced the structures. He was a member of the National Council of Provinces, and best qualified to deal with the problems that they had in as far as the civil service role was concerned. His oversight role in Parliament had been impressive. He had co-chaired the Ethics Committee and had managed to deal with Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Although a number of people might have a problem with where he came from, he was accessible and in tune with the public service.

Mr Mufundisi (UCDP) stated that he had only been able to participate in the interviews of five candidates. But he had been able to make his decision on one of those five who impressed him by his knowledge of the office of the Public Protector and his intention to make the office accessible to assist ordinary people. He was impressed by the fact that he knew in which provinces the office had satellite offices and by the candidate's disposition, which he viewed as not being excitable like that of the outgoing Public Protector. He nominated Mr L Mushwana.

Mr Mzizi (IFP) stated that they had interviewed all together fourteen candidates. They had interviewed people of high calibre and qualifications who had shown that they could handle the job. Initially he thought that Mr MD Stewart would be his nominee as he had spoken of changes, transformation and accessibility, but his level of independence fell short.

One person who had made in-roads was Adv D Singh, more so because they were worried about the women folk. He was impressed by her qualities and the fact that she was a good listener but she was the type of person who should remain within the judiciary as she is very good at what she did.

Thereafter he considered Mr F Ndaki whom he felt was also impressive and had excellent qualifications, but he also came out short when certain qualities did not come out.

When he first saw the name of Mr Mushwana his party immediately thought of him as an ANC person and had to consider whether, as a functionary, he was suitable, which it turned out he was. He had looked at how the candidate posed himself and commanded the chair and how honest he was, in coming forward and stating in his CV that he was a staunch member of the ANC, and is in the NCOP. He was impressed by the way in which he took the chair in full command and knew his subject. He nominated Mr L Mushwana as their candidate.

Adv Schmidt (DP) stated that his party had three people they felt would be suitable but it was subject to the caucus to approve or disapprove the candidate. It was only after the caucus that he could give the official view. Their three nominees were Prof M Gumbi, Mr MD Stewart and Dr V Jaichand. It was felt that all three would make good public protectors. Dr V Jaichand had an excellent record, he was not applying for the post because he lacked better opportunities. He seemed to genuinely want to render his services to the poor and he also had the technical ability. Dr V Jaichand was their main nominee.

Mr Masutha (ANC) put forward the name of the preferred candidate on behalf of the ANC. Having gone through the candidates who applied and were interviewed they were convinced without a doubt that Mr L Mushwana would be most suitable. The position of the Public Protector required the incumbent person to have the confidence, ability and integrity to perform the role and function bestowed on that office.

Among the qualities they thought such a person required were the appropriate skills, general accessibility to the public in terms of character and the ability to communicate. The ability of the nominated candidate to communicate in at least ten of the eleven languages puts him in a position to communicate with the people, which is important.

As Mr Durandt had indicated the candidate has towed the legal profession in its lengths and breadths. He emerged from being a clerk of the court, having experienced the challenges at that level and steadfastly rose through the ranks of the justice system and acquired the knowledge as a Magistrate. He not only acquired the skill and knowledge of law but the ability to be independent. He had therefore put to the test the ability to act without fear or favour, and as had been clearly shown he could discharge roles that were non-partisan as the Chair of the NCOP. It was therefore a combination of skill and personal qualities and the track record of the manner in which he had conducted matters of this nature that made the ANC feel that he emerged as the most outstanding candidate.

The Chair asked whether there were anymore names.

Mr Durandt proposed that the Committee put forward the name of Mr L Mushwana to Parliament on Thursday 25 September 2002.

Adv Schmidt (DP) stated that it would be upon his caucus to support Mr Mushwana's nomination. He indicated his objection, which could be overruled by his caucus. He was not saying that Mr Mushwana was not an able person but technically he felt that he may not be the better candidate inter alia he was an elected ANC member. He therefore, found it difficult to support such a nominee as it was supposed to be an independent body. If his caucus felt it was alright he would have no option but to go with their nomination.

The Chair put all these views to the Committee. Mr Durandt had proposed that they put forward the name of Mr L Mushwana to Parliament, Adv Schmidt had stated his objection, which, he stated, may be overruled by his caucus. He asked whether the rest of the Members accepted Mr Durandt's proposal.

There being an unanimous acceptance of this he stated that he would submit the report of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Appointment of the Public Protector to the National Assembly, recommending Mr L Mushwana to the President for appointment as the Public Protector.

Adv Schmidt indicated that he would call for a debate of this matter in Parliament.

The meeting was adjourned.


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