The new Public Protector, one year on 3 November 2017
There were two speakers: Mr Lawson Naidoo, Executive Director of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC); and Dr Makhosi Khoza, former ANC Member of Parliament and chairperson of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Appointment of the Public Protector.
Mr Naidoo noted that the Public Protector was not primarily a corruption-fighting institution, but rather one that promotes good governance and assists members of the public to assert their rights against the might of the state. Its work was all the more vital since the police and the National Prosecuting Authority were not doing their job properly when it came to uncovering and prosecuting mismanagement and bad governance. Since her appointment, Adv Mkhwebane had succeeded in reducing a backlog of cases, and had completed various outstanding investigations. She had also cut down on the use of outside consultants, thereby saving a lot of money. On the other hand, she had made some serious mistakes, especially in relation to her report on the SA Reserve Bank, where she had tried to overreach herself. According to Mr Naidoo, Adv Mkhwebane might turn out to be a good Public Protector, or she might not; it was too early to tell.
Dr Khoza began by defending the process whereby Adv Mkhwebane had been chosen. It had been open and transparent, but unfortunately the Committee had been misled; they thought they had chosen the best candidate, but the facts had proved this to be wrong. Rumours that Adv Mkhwebane had been colluding with President Zuma, as well as her absurd findings regarding the Reserve Bank, were consistent with the ‘radical economic transformation’ narrative, and were not just the result of her inexperience and relatively junior status. For Dr Khoza, the actions of the Public Protector were part of a wider problem of ‘Machiavellian Deceit’ that the country was facing.
L-R: Mr Lawson Naidoo, Dr Makhosi Khoza, and Fr Peter-John Pearson (Director, CPLO)