July 20, 2024

PUBLIC PROTECTOR: Ramaphosa Prefer Lukhaimane Over Ngceleka To Replace Mkhwebane

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While the committee seemed to be concluding its business, there were concerns raised about the process.

FILE PHOTO: Muvhango Lukhaimane is the Pension Funds Adjudicator who is tipped for Public Protector position. PICTURE: Mail & Guardian

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JOHANNESBURG: Xaba made it clear that the committee followed strict, predetermined criteria to shortlist candidates.

Advocate Muvhango Lukhaimane leads the race to become South Africa’s new public watchdog after being favoured by President Cyril Ramaphosa ahead of Adv Kholeka Ngceleka

Lukhaimane, currently employed as Pension Funds Adjudicator, is one of eight candidates who made the list for consideration for the position currently held by the suspended Public Protector, Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane, along with disgraced Ngceleka – who is currently acting in that position.

They are expected to be interviewed on Thursday with Ms Johannah Ledwaba and Prof Boitumelo Mmusinyane as other candidates who are vying for a similar position.

Tomorrow, the committee is expected to interview Adv Tseliso Thipanyane, Adv Kwena Tommy Ntsewa, Adv Oliver Josie and Adv Lynn Marais after being cleared in screening. While many appear to be convinced that Ngceleka is tipped for the same position, the Republic Mail has been reliably informed that Lukhaimane is preferred to take over from Mkhwebane.

According to our sources, the adjudicator is very close to the president, “Remember she was supposed to be appointed after Madonsela’s term had expired but Zuma wanted Mkhwebane while the buffalo preferred her – referring to Ramaphosa.

“The woman was part of the CR17 campaign and she frequent the man’s private residence,” the source said.

While the committee seemed to be concluding its business, there were concerns raised about the process. In a letter written to the committee, Mandla MacBeth Ncongwane expressed concern over what he labelled as an “unfair” shortlisting process, following his initial nomination for the position. Ncongwane questioned which criteria the committee used in shortlisting candidates.

Ncongwane told the committee he believed the process was not transparent, but acknowledged he was not entitled to be shortlisted. In his letter which has since been made public, Ncongwane said, “Rather I am concerned at the manner in which the whole process played out in the public platform.”

He said the committee had “a mammoth task” to find a suitable person for the Public Protector position before October but accused members of the committee of engaging in a “tick box exercise” to select the eight candidates.

“Parliament has an absolute duty to run a process that is scandal free, transparent and fair to all, at the end of the day the public must have faith in the process and no potential candidate was left out due to a process that appears to have been rushed,” the founder of MacBeth Attorneys Inc said.

However, the committee chairperson Cyril Xaba responded to Ncongwane’s claims. During the proceedings today, Xaba made it clear that the committee followed strict, predetermined criteria to shortlist candidates. Members of the committee were then granted an opportunity to indicate which of the candidates met the criteria they preferred for the shortlist.
 
“It was then on the basis of the amount of nominations that candidates received by Members in that committee meeting that the final eight candidates were selected and shortlisted. Those candidates that receive more nominations then made the shortlist for interviewing,” said Mr Xaba.

As the committee set to begin to interview potential candidates, an Independent Political Analyst, Molifi Tshabalala believes Kholeka will be Mr Ramaphosa’s preferred candidate. According to Tshabalala, “Undoubtedly, Ramaphosa prefers Gcaleka to avoid accountability.”

For Tshabalala, “Ramaphosa appears to have captured the law enforcement agencies as well. For example, the DPCI, which investigates matters and then sends dockets to the NPA to decide on whether to prosecute or not, is yet to update the nation on its progress regarding a Phala Phala matter over a year since former SSA director-general Arthur Fraser had laid a criminal complaint against him and Wally Rhoode, a head of Presidential Protection Service (PPS), among others, at Rosebank police station, situated in Johannesburg, Gauteng.”

However, our source disagrees with Tshabalala. “Ngceleka will soon learn not to bend her ethics in order to appease politicians. Ramaphosa has used the poor woman. She will remain the deputy because the president has promised Lukhaimane that position,” the source said.

Meanwhile, the Crime Intelligence division of the South African Police Service (Saps) concluded “no illicit activities” were found in the criminal record system on all the shortlisted candidates.

The eight candidates’ qualifications were also vetted. The committee will conduct interviews on 23 and 24 August. It is expected to make its recommendation on its preferred candidate to the National Assembly by 31 August.

The recommended candidate will have to be approved by at least 60% of the National Assembly. Thereafter, the selected name will be sent to Ramaphosa for appointment.

Attempts to get a comment from Lukhaimane were unsuccessful.

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