Deputy public protector's term ends soon - but he could serve another seven years

Deputy public protector Kevin Malunga's seven-year term ends in December. File photo.
Deputy public protector Kevin Malunga's seven-year term ends in December. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images / Cornel van Heerden

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane may soon have a new deputy.

This is if MPs do not retain the incumbent Kevin Malunga, whose term of office comes to an end in four months' time.

National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise has set the ball rolling by informing President Cyril Ramaphosa that the assembly will start a process to fill the upcoming deputy public protector vacancy.

Malunga's seven-year term expires in December but the Public Protector Act makes a provision for a deputy public protector to serve two terms of office.

Malunga was appointed on December 10 2012 by former president Jacob Zuma after the assembly agreed unanimously to adopt a report of the portfolio committee on justice and constitutional development, which recommended his appointment.

In a courtesy letter dated June 12, Modise told Ramaphosa that Malunga's term of office expired on December 9.

Citing the Public Protector Act, Modise outlined to Ramaphosa the process of recruiting a new deputy public protector – that the National Assembly must recommend to the president, for the appointment as deputy public protector, a person nominated by a committee and approved by the assembly.

The nominated candidate has to be supported by a resolution of the house adopted with a supporting vote of a majority of the members.

“It is with this in mind that I hereby wish to inform Mr President that the National Assembly will commence the process of filling the upcoming vacancy of the deputy public protector,” said Modise.

According to parliament's internal communications, the matter has been referred to the assembly's justice and correctional services portfolio committee for consideration. This leaves the committee with four months to find the country's third deputy public protector after Mamiki Shai and Malunga if Malunga is not reappointed.

Last month, the public protector's office requested the justice committee to approve a R5,375,330 gratuity for Malunga, saying his term was ending soon.

“The amount is an estimate. The conditions of service do not cover it but the committee is requested to consider it,” said the public protector's CFO, Yalekile Lusibane.

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