SA parliament. Picture: GCIS
SA parliament. Picture: GCIS

The National Assembly confirmed Kholeka Gcaleka for the position of deputy public protector on Wednesday and her name will be sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa for ratification.

While Gcaleka, an advocate, was endorsed by the National Assembly there  was no quorum in the house for the confirmation of Zanele Hlatshwayo as commissioner of the Public Service Commission (PSC).

The National Assembly has risen for its extended parliamentary recess and will reconvene only at the end of January 2020, so Hlatshwayo’s nomination can be put to the vote only next year. 

The position of the deputy public protector becomes vacant from next week following the departure of incumbent Kevin Malunga, whose term has ended.

The DA strongly opposed the choice of both Gcaleka and Hlatshwayo but the two candidates were pushed through by an ANC majority in both committees and in the National Assembly.

The EFF, ACDP and UDM also objected to the nomination of Gcaleka, who is the special adviser to public service & administration minister Senzo Mchunu. Previously she also served as special adviser to former home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba. 

However, ANC MP Hishaam Mohamed said Gcaleka’s extensive legal experience would be invaluable for the public protector’s office. 

Wednesday was the second time that voting on Hlatshwayo’s nomination was stopped in its tracks because of a lack of a quorum. The position of PSC commissioner has been vacant since April.

The DA said it does not believe that Hlatshwayo is fit and proper for the position of commissioner, saying that as an ANC cadre she will not be independent and impartial. DA public service & administration spokesperson Leon Schreiber said the DA preferred Malunga — who was one of the shortlisted candidates — for the post.

“Hlatshwayo destroyed the Msunduzi municipality during her time as mayor between 2007 and 2010. She allegedly spent millions of rands in taxpayer funds on her pet projects, including an extravagant trip to attend Barack Obama’s inauguration as president of the US,” Schreiber said. “After only three years, even the ANC had had enough and fired her. The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government was forced to place Msunduzi under administration.” 

ensorl@businesslive.co.za