Political analyst, Dr Sam Koma says it remains to be seen whether advocate Kholeka Gcaleka will be able to uphold her constitutional mandate without fear or prejudice.
Gcaleka is well on her way to becoming the youngest public protector in the country’s history after 244 Members of Parliament (MPs) endorsed her for the position, while 12 of them voted against the motion.
Gcaleka, who awaits the appointment of President Cyril Ramaphosa, is set to head the Chapter 9 institution for the next seven years.
She was touted as the country’s next Public Protector following the historical impeachment of advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Koma says the Office of the Public Protector will have to rely on Gcaleka’s institutional memory and ensure proper transition.
“She previously served as the deputy Public Protector and recently as the acting Public Protector this means that the institution will rely on her institutional memory.”
Gcaleka’s endorsement by Parliament has been met with criticism from some opposition parties.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called for the process to appoint a Public Protector to be re-opened.
They believe that all the shortlisted candidates were not suitable and that Gcaleka is not fit for the position.
The DA’s Glynnis Breytenbach says the Office of the Public Protector has suffered immense damage under advocate Mkhwebane and no longer meets its envisioned integrity.
“Advocate Gcaleka has demonstrated her political biases, as well as her inexperience in litigation and prosecution. She is unfit for the battles that will be before her, as those that captured our State will seek to do so again.”
The EFF shared the DA’s sentiments that they will keep a close eye on Gcaleka’s tenure.
The red berets say the country cannot have a compromised figure at the helm of the Public Protector’s office.
They are accusing Gcaleka of shielding the interests of the ANC over protecting and upholding the law.
The EFF’s Mzwanele Manyi says the office of the Public Protector is not a political football.
“To make matters worse, she went and accepted the responsibility to oversee an investigation on the Phala Phala scandal surrounding Ramaphosa.
“She was aware that had she made an adverse finding against Ramaphosa, she was not going to be considered for the position by the ANC’s dominated caucus.”
Manyi has labelled Gcaleka a liar, manipulator and unethical person.
Leader of Build One South Africa, Mmusi Miamane, says Gcaleka’s appointment is extremely partisan and a reward for protecting Ramaphosa in the Phala Phala matter.
“Her appointment will undermine the long-term credibility of the office at a time when trust in public institutions is at an all-time low.”
Maimane says South Africa is quickly moving away from public protectors to president protectors.
“South Africa deserves a public protector without any appearance of bias and impropriety. A Public Protector who has multiparty support.”
This appointment is extremely partisan and smacks of rewarding her for protecting the president in the Phala Phala matter.
South Africa deserves a public protector… pic.twitter.com/alhgwQ2J2P
— Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane) October 19, 2023
Written by: Lindiwe Mpanza