Mkhwebane now frontrunner for Public Protector job

The Democratic Alliance was the only party to object to Busisiwe Mkhwebane's nomination.

A screengrab of Busisiwe Mkhwebane being interviewed in Parliament.

CAPE TOWN - Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, an analyst at the State Security Agency, is now the front-runner to take over the reins from Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

The committee responsible for recommending Madonsela's replacement selected her name from its shortlist of five candidates yesterday.

Mkhwebane enjoyed the backing of all parties except the Democratic Alliance (DA), whose objection was noted.

There was hefty debate about some of the other candidates, most notably Judge Siraj Desai, whom the African National Congress (ANC) backed but who was rejected by all other parties.

Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane showed confidence during her interview two weeks ago.

"I'm the ideal person to be the Public Protector, with my expertise and my experience and being a public servant because I know how it is to serve."

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema was not put off by rumours that President Jacob Zuma favoured Mkhwebane, saying she'll head up a well-established institution, with independent investigators.

"And if she tries any shenanigans, the institution itself will expose her for who she is and that's what makes me to be comfortable to recommend her."

Mkhwebane's name will be put before the National Assembly before the end of this month.

If 60 percent of all Members of Parliament agree, her name will go to Zuma, who makes the final appointment.

While there was hefty debate for and against some of the candidates, including Judge Desai, Mkhwebane enjoyed the support of all parties except for the DA.

Committee chairperson Makhosi Khoza said: "I don't want to subject this process to a vote. To me, it's very clear that all the parties are in agreement with Advocate Mkhwebane, except for the DA."

The DA raised concerns about Mkhwebane's current post as an analyst with the State Security Agency and lack of legal experience and has reserved its position.

THE COMPETITION

The committee whittled down the candidates from 14 to just five names.

Mkhwebane was up against Judge Sharise Weiner, Judge Desai, Muvhango Lukhaimane and Professor Bongani Majola, who were also vying to replace Advocate Thuli Madonsela.

Madonsela's tenure as Public Protector comes to an end in October.

Judge Weiner's name was the first to fall from the list, leaving just four candidates in the run.

The DA was the only party to back Judge Weiner, with Glynnis Breytenbach insisting the South Gauteng High Court judge was by far the best candidate among the five being considered.

The ANC's Madipoane Mothapo countered that she had only served five years on the bench and had specialised in mainly corporate law.

The EFF's Floyd Shivambu questioned whether Judge Weiner had sufficient knowledge of government and public finance to be able to do so.

The Inkatha Freedom Party's Professor Christian Msimang argued that Judge Weiner was an excellent judge, and that she should thus remain on the bench.