Parliament, Thursday, 19 October 2023 – The National Assembly (NA) at a physical plenary sitting today recommended that President Cyril Ramaphosa appoint Advocate Kholeka Gcaleka as the next Public Protector (PP).

The term of office of the former Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane - who was removed from office by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 13 September in accordance with Section 194(3)(b) of the Constitution following a parliamentary investigation into her fitness to hold office, would have ended on 14 October 2023.

In May this year when the NA noted that the now former Public Protector, Adv Mkhwebane’s term of office was coming to an end the House established an Ad Hoc Committee to nominate a person for appointment as the next Public Protector - in accordance with section 193(5) of the Constitution.

The Public Protector is appointed by the President, on the recommendation of the NA, for a non-renewable term of seven years. The Ad Hoc Committee to Nominate a Person for Appointment as Public Protector met for the first time on 6 June this year, and elected Mr Cyril Xaba as its Chairperson.

Section 59(1) of the Constitution provides for public access to and involvement in the processes of the NA. Broadly, the provision states that the NA must facilitate public involvement in its legislative and other processes and conduct its business in an open manner and hold its sittings, and those of its committees, in public. The Committee accordingly conducted its business in an open and transparent manner.

The Committee issued a call for nominations or applications for the position of Public Protector from members of the public in major newspapers, in all official languages throughout the country. The advert was also placed on Parliament’s website. A total of 53 nominations and 17 applications were received. Of the 53 nominations, 32 did not meet the nomination requirements as set out in the advertisement and two candidates subsequently withdrew from the process. Eight candidates were shortlisted for interviews and underwent referencechecks and verification of qualifications. Following the rigorous interview process the Committee met on 29 August to deliberate and agreed to recommend to the NA that it nominate Adv. Gcaleka for appointment as Public Protector. Adv Gcaleka has served as Deputy Public Protector since 1 February 2020 and has acted as Public Protector since the suspension by the President of Adv Mkwhebane in June 2022. During today’s sitting the majority of Members of the NA agreed to the recommendation of the Committee.

The Public Protector is a state institution supporting constitutional democracy, established in terms of Chapter 9 of the Constitution. The institution has the power to investigate any conduct in state affairs, or in the public administration in any sphere of government, that is alleged or suspected to be improper or to result in any impropriety or prejudice, to report on that conduct and take appropriate remedial action. In addition, the Public Protector has other powers and functions prescribed by national legislation.

For a person to be eligible to be recommended for appointment as Public Protector: the person must be a South African citizen, who is fit and proper to hold such office, and who, is a Judge of a High Court; or is admitted as an advocate or an attorney and has, for a cumulative period of at least 10 years after having been so admitted, practiced as an advocate or an attorney; or is qualified to be admitted as an advocate or an attorney and has, for a cumulative period of at least 10 years after having so qualified, lectured in law at a university. Or has specialised knowledge of or experience, for a cumulative period of at least 10 years, in the administration of justice, public administration or public finance.

Enquiries: Moloto Mothapo