Judge Siraj Desai, who was yesterday shortlisted for the position of public protector, could turn out to be a divisive contender, being the only nomineeagainst whom an objection has been made.
The ad hoc committee formed to appoint a successor to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela yesterday met to draw up a shortlist of 14 candidates.
Committee chairman Makhosi Khoza said it had initially agreed on capping the number at 10, but did not want anyone to feel a submission had not been considered.
Desai was nominated by ANC MP Bongani Bongo, who cited his role as a judge, his human rights record and his “very sound” judgments.
The DA’s James Selfe strongly disagreed, saying Desai had been involved in a “highly controversial commission of inquiry” and had handed down “highly political judgments”, including in a 2014 case brought to the high court by the DA in an attempt to get the ANC barred from handing out food parcels during elections.
Selfe said he was “reliably” informed that Desai was not in good health, and should not be “burdened” by this “very exacting office”.
Bongo countered that Selfe was raising personal matters and, as Desai had accepted nomination, he should be considered well enough.
Khoza said that if there had been any impropriety on Desai’s part he would not be a sitting judge, and insisted illness could not be used to rule out a candidate.
Also shortlisted are deputy public protector Kevin Malunga, nominated by the ACDP’s Steve Swart, and former deputy public protector Mamiki Goodman [formerly Shai], who was nominated by Madopoane Mothapo, of the ANC.
Madibeng Mokoditwa, who was shortlisted for the position in 2002, reappears, so does Bongani Majola, a former UN assistant secretary-general who declined nomination in 2002.
The National Prosecuting Authority’s Willie Hofmeyr is listed, as are Judge Sharise Weiner and Nonkosi Cetywayo, former executive director in the office of the Speaker of Parliament.
The process got off to a slow start after some members complained that they had not received all the public submissions and questionnaires required to make their decisions.
Several MPs and Khoza highlighted the importance of the list striking a gender and race balance.
Khoza said she did not want the list to look like “an all-boys choir” – it features eight women.
All 14 will be subjected to the same interview process on August 11. The interviews will be broadcast live. Each will run for 45 minutes to an hour. Candidates will be given 15 minutes to talk about themselves and how they meet the four broad criteria set by the committee: knowledge, skills, character and experience.
The committee is looking for an independent thinker with legal and forensic investigative skills. The applicant should have integrity and strong managerial and communications skills.
AND THE NOMINEES ARE:
- Narnia Bohler-Muller
- Nonkosi Cetywayo
- Siraj Desai
- Mamiki Goodman
- Willie Hofmeyr
- Muvhango Lukhaimane
- Bongani Majola
- Kevin Malunga
- Busisiwe Mkhwebane
- Madibeng Mokoditwa
- Mhlaliseni Mthembu
- Jill Oliphant
- Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh
- Sharise Weiner