Vote for preferred deputy public protector candidate delayed as ANC MPs fail to pitch

There were not enough MPs in the house to ensure the success of the party's preferred candidate.
There were not enough MPs in the house to ensure the success of the party's preferred candidate.
Image: Frédéric Soltan/Corbis via Getty Images

The National Assembly has deferred voting for the ANC's preferred deputy public protector candidate because the party did not have enough MPs in the house to ensure its candidate's success.

With the exception of the ANC, only two opposition parties, the IFP and the National Freedom Party, supported the move for advocate Kholeka Gcaleka to become the deputy public protector. When the matter was about to go to a vote, house chairperson Cedric Frolick announced that voting would be deferred to later in the session.

The ANC had issued a three-line whip, parliamentary jargon for compulsory attendance to all its MPs before a parliamentary vote, but its benches were sparsely occupied on Wednesday morning.

An earlier attempt by the assembly to adopt the name of Zanele Hlatshwayo as a Public Service Commissioner failed, as only 176 MPs voted for and 91 voted against it, meaning there were not enough ANC MPs in the house, or that they may have voted against her name. The DA and the EFF do not support her candidacy.

For the name to be adopted, at least 201 MPs should vote in support.

A similar situation played out with Gcaleka's candidacy, as most opposition parties rejected her name.

DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach noted that Gcaleka meets the criteria to be the deputy public protector, but questioned her record as a senior deputy director of public prosecutions at the NPA, and again as legal adviser to former minister Malusi Gigaba, who was found to have lied under oath. Opposition parties have questioned her role in the matter, saying she must have been involved in the lie or at least knew about it.

“The ethical ramifications of this position eluded her during the interview,” said Breytenbach, who concluded that Gcaleka was a person of “questionable ethics”, adding that her appointment would compound the problems of the office of the public protector.

The EFF's Noluvuyo Tafeni said by “imposing” Gcaleka, the ANC was making a mockery of the important role the Office of the Public Protector is meant to play. “It shows no respect for capacity, ethical leadership and commitment to truth required of people who must occupy that position,” she said.

Tafeni argued that Gcaleka was not the best candidate for the job. She continued working with Gigaba even after the court found him guilty of lying under oath. This, Tafeni said, “makes her ethically questionable”.

The ANC's Hishaam Mohamed rebutted the opposition's objections as “simply spurious, factually incorrect and with no substance”, saying there was no credible evidence to suggest that Gcaleka was not suitable for the position.

Mohamed said it was not surprising that the DA did not support a young black woman, but it was sad that the EFF supported the DA in this.

Mohamed said Gcaleka had performed “exceptionally well” during interviews. “She answered the questions confidently, and as accurately as possible and she inspired the confidence of the majority of the portfolio committee,” he said.

Mohamed was confident that Gcaleka would excel in the position and would strengthen the office of the public protector./

“There should be no doubt that she is independent and she has the ability to perform functions without fear, favour or prejudice,” he added.

This is a developing story.

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