Speech by Hon Richard Dyantyi during the debate on the Appointment of the Public Protector
19 October 2023
The Office of the Public Protector is very important. It is a Chapter 9 institution engraved in the Constitution. These institutions need individuals with ethical credibility whose ethical history is unquestionable. When the Committee assesses candidates and arrive to a reccomendation for the House, there should be no doubt over the ethical standing.
The institution of Public Protector South Africa is one of the pillars of our Constitution precisely because it is there to facilitate interaction between ordinary people to resolve injustices from the exercise of government authority which instills in ordinary people confidence in the state.
We believe the candidate recommended to this house is most appropriate to fulfill this responsibility and bring back the pride that the people of South Africa had in the office of the Public Protector.
Adv Gcaleka was the most prepared and demonstrated confidence and qualities that display that she is able to be independent and able to apply the law to the facts.She has introduced creative measures to improve the functioning of the office of the Public Protector, through amongst other things improving the case management of the office, reintroducing a culture of debate and learning in the institution and improving the synergy and collegial relationship between the employees of the office, the institution, and the Public Protector. This we believe will restore the dignity of the office and uphold its independence and strengthen its ability to contribute constructively to our developing constitutional democracy.
This is the calibre of candidate that we are retold to forgo by the opposition for no other reason except for political reasons.
The objection by some members of this house is informed by the fact that they expected Adv Gcaleka to make findings or do her work in a manner that suited their political narratives. Thefact of the matter is that the law requires that the Public Protector does her investigations with an open and enquiring mind. The Constitutional Court held that a state of mind “……is open to all possibilities and reflects upon whether the truth has been told. It is not one that is unduly suspicious but it is also not one that is unduly believing”. The Public Protector is also required to not only discover the truth but also to inspire public confidence that in each investigation, the truth has been discovered. Where the evidence is inconclusive or incongruent, the Public Protector is obliged to carefully evaluate it to determine the truth.
Unlike them, Adv Gcaleka, as an investigator, is expected to assess the facts objectively and make findings based on facts and evidence provided to her, she is being objected to because she observed the facts and did her work diligently
The honourable Glennis Bretenbrach cannot musk her personal gripe with Adv Gcaleka stemming from her tenure at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), she could not hide her bias in the interviews, she proceeded to raise the exact same questions she raised when we interviewed Adv Gcaleka for the position of Deputy Public Protector in 2019 and objected to the exact same reasons that she objected to in 2019.
The DA prefers that we forego the most suitable candidate because of the personal preference of one individual who cannot get over her personal experience at the NPA, they want us to sacrifice the constitution at the altar of expediency.
We should not allow personal differences to be brought into critical processes such as the appointment of a chapter nine head, it could have dire consequences for our constitutionadispensation, let us demonstrate maturity and fairness.
We should be able to put our personal preferences aside and look objectively at the credibility, skills, expertise and competencies of the candidate, the question we have to ask is, will she act in a manner that stretches our democracy and protects the people of South Africa from abuses in the administration. That is what is expected of members of parliament who took a sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution.
The EFFs objections are mainly about whether the candidate is more pliable to enable them to exert influence and control of the office of the Public Protector to fight political differences as they did with the previous Public Protector, they are threatened by the independence and legal astuteness of Adv Gcaleka, it is not informed by principle but by politics.
They allege that Adv Gcaleka is beholden to the President of the Republic and is not impartial without articulating a truthful and factual basis for this allegation. They fail to substantiate how and in what manner is Adv Gcaleka beholden to the President. The fact of the matter is that there is no court or constitutional body that has made factual findings of her impartiality, it is all conjecture and supposition that is devoid of any truth and fact.
As Parliament, we should support this critical institution and rid it of political interference and influence. Let us all restore the dignity of the office by voting in favour of the recommended candidate.
I thank you