Letting politicians choose an official whose job is to watch over them is not a brilliant idea. The public protector’s findings on public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan will be settled in the same manner as many of her other findings on national figures — in the courts. Discussing the merits should wait until the courts have ruled.

However, what is already clear is that if the constitution makers believed the public protector’s office was going to be above partisan politics, they did not understand this country. Attitudes to this protector and her predecessor depend on where you stand on the ANC’s factional divide. Those who defended Thuli Madonsela denounce Busisiwe Mkhwebane and vice versa — using the same language and making the same points. For both sides, the protector’s job is not to protect the public but to support their favoured politicians.

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