Advocate Kholeka Gcaleka is the likely candidate to succeed outgoing deputy public protector Kevin Malunga next month.
Parliament’s portfolio committee on justice met on Tuesday afternoon to deliberate on the seven candidates who threw their names in the hat for the job.
The two names to top the list were Gcaleka and Advocate Moshoeshoe Moshoeshoe.
A political line was immediately drawn in the sand with ANC MPs on the committee throwing their full weight behind Gcaleka while the EFF and DA chose to support Moshoeshoe and vehemently opposed Gcaleka.
Hisamodien Mohamed of the ANC was the first to give his input, saying that Gcaleka was a cut above the rest in terms of the interviews.
The DA’s Glynnis Breytenbach began by expressing disappointment in the overall calibre of the candidates.
“I was disappointed with all of the candidates; were it not for pressures of time I would suggest that we re-advertise. I found their legal knowledge to be lacking. None of them could describe the rule of law or what due process is which I found concerning considering the job they are going to do. It is a big job; it is an important job,” she said.
Slamming Mohamed’s assessment of the Gcaleka interview, Breytenbach says she found her “defensive and emotional”.
The EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi stuck to his guns, having rejected Gcaleka’s name even before the interview process.
Both the EFF and DA took issue with Gcaleka’s role as legal advisor to former minister Malusi Gigaba. Gcaleka served in that role when the courts ruled that Gigaba had essentially lied under oath.
Both Breytenbach and Ndlozi opted to support Moshoeshoe, with Breytenbach describing him as having the necessary “demeanor” needed for the Office of the Public Protector.
Ndlozi said not only was Moshoeshoe the best in terms of the interviews but that his experience at Sars would be invaluable to the Chapter 9 institution.
The committee also deliberated briefly on two cases flagged by the State Security Agency vetting process regarding two of the candidates – Noxolo Mbangeni and Puleng Matshelo – who did not make the disclosure for a civil judgment and a “pending criminal record” respectively.
The DA and EFF both stated their “objection” and “rejection” to Gcaleka’s appointment.
The committee will reconvene on Wednesday to sign off on the final report giving the recommendation as to who should be the next deputy Public Protector.