There can’t be any doubt the process that was followed in the appointment of the new public protector was robust, transparent and above board.
The screening process was broadcast live on television and the public given the chance to witness each of the candidates being grilled. Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s endorsement by parliament as Thuli Madonsela’s successor means the country virtually has a new public protector.
A total of 263 members of parliament voted for her. She only needed 240 votes (60%) of the National Assembly to be nominated. She is just waiting for President Jacob Zuma’s signature before stepping into the shoes of Madonsela, whose seven-year non-renewable term expires on October 19.
Some have questioned her suitability to hold such an important office. The DA did not endorse Mkhwebane, claiming she had worked as a spy for the state security agency. But the party did not substantiate its allegations with any concrete evidence. That Mkhwebane was given the nod by all but two political parties (Cope abstained) speaks volumes about her suitability for this crucial position.
Mkhwebane, who boasts a string of university degrees, made such an impressive presentation to the committee she convinced nearly all she was selected purely on merit and not for any other sinister motive. While her competence and qualifications are unquestionable, Mkhwebane’s final test lies in her ability to act independently and fearlessly in investigating improper conduct, maladministration and abuse of power in state affairs.
This is no easy task, as Madonsela can attest. Given rampant corruption, Mkhwebane will probably find herself on a collision course with the powerful and politically connected elite. For her to excel, she will need the support of all South Africans. We are confident Mkhwebane is the ideal candidate to for the job and hope she will emulate her predecessor’s fearlessness.
If she gets all the backing she needs and her office is properly resourced, there’s no reason she won’t deliver on her mandate.