11 August 2016
A report on Thursday in Cape Town disclosed that the South African parliament has begun interviewing candidates to replace Thuli Madonsela.
Madonsela is the Head of the anti-corruption watchdog, whose findings undermined support for President Jacob Zuma and his administration and worried investors.
Appointed by Zuma in 2009 for a seven-year, non-renewable term, Madonsela investigated several scandals involving Zuma which contributed to a sharp loss in support for the ruling party African National Congress in local elections last week.
The report said that the 14 candidates shortlisted to replace Madonsela in the role of Public Protector include two judges, several lawyers, as well as the current deputy national director of public prosecutions.
The report said that they were all due to be grilled by lawmakers on Thursday, but it was not clear when a new candidate to replace Madonsela would be named as her term ends in October.
“The Public Protector has a constitutional mandate to probe misconduct and abuse in state affairs,’’ an official at the treasury house said on condition of anonymity.
He said that the scandals investigated by Madonsela have worried investors in the country, and they feared it could lead to instability.
He pointed out that in one of her most high-impact investigations in 2014, Madonsela found Zuma had included in a 16 million dollars “security upgrade’’ to his rural Nkandla home, a raft of non-security items including a swimming pool and amphitheatre.
“She said Zuma should pay back the cost of those items, and her view was supported in March by South Africa’s highest court, which said Zuma had broken the law by ignoring Madonsela’s order.
“Zuma, who survived an impeachment vote in April after the court ruling, has since said he will repay some of the money, as ordered by the court,’’ said the source.
The official also disclosed that Madonsela has said she is investigating whether Zuma allowed a wealthy business family, the Gupta family, to decide on cabinet appointments.
He, however, said that both Zuma and the Guptas had denied the accusations made by the opposition.
South Africa ranked 61st out of 168 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2015, which measures public sector corruption.