The moment that South Africans have been anticipating is almost here – next week the selection and appointment of a new public protector will officially begin with the establishment of an ad hoc committee to oversee the process.

The National Assembly is responsible for the process, which must be open to public participation in terms of the Constitution. This includes committees’ meeting sessions. With regard to the appointment of the public protector, chapter 9 states the following in section 193, points 5 and 6:

5. The National Assembly must recommend persons ­

a. nominated by a committee of the Assembly proportionally composed of members of all parties represented in the Assembly; and

b. approved by the Assembly by a resolution adopted with a supporting vote ­

i. of at least 60% of the members of the Assembly, if the recommendation concerns the appointment of the Public Protector or the Auditor-General; or
ii. of a majority of the members of the Assembly, if the recommendation concerns the appointment of a member of a Commission.

6. The involvement of civil society in the recommendation process may be provided for as envisaged in section 59(1)(a).

Section 59, which is found in chapter 4 and deals with public access to and involvement in the National Assembly, further states:

  1. The National Assembly must ­

a. facilitate public involvement in the legislative and other processes of the Assembly and its committees; and
conduct its business in an open manner, and hold its sittings, and those of its committees, in public, but reasonable measures may be taken ­

i. to regulate public access, including access of the media, to the Assembly and its committees; and
to provide for the searching of any person and, where appropriate, the refusal of entry to, or the removal of, any person.

2. The National Assembly may not exclude the public, including the media, from a sitting of a committee unless it is reasonable and justifiable to do so in an open and democratic society.

Here’s more information, as reported today by Janet Heard in City Press:

The process to find a successor to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has started in Parliament. Madonsela’s term of office ends in October.

Reading out a draft resolution to the parliamentary programming committee this morning, House chairperson Cedric Frolick said that an ad hoc committee needed to be established to select a suitable candidate.

This would take place next week.

The committee would consist of 11 members – six from the ANC, two from the DA, one from the EFF and two from the smaller parties.

Parties have been urged to forward the names of members who will sit on the committee “as soon as possible”, even though the committee can only be established after the resolution is put to the National Assembly for adoption next Tuesday.

The committee would report back to Parliament by 31 August.

“After next week, there is a lengthy constituency break,” said Frolick. “We want the chair to be elected next week to start the process of advertising.”

In order to complete its work in time, the committee would need to convene during the break, he said.

Parliament is due to rise at the end of next week for an extraordinary two-month constituency period to enable political parties to campaign in the build-up to the local government elections on 3 August.

Members are due to return on 16 August.

In terms of Chapter 9 of the Constitution, the public protector needs to be approved by at least 60% of the National Assembly, not just simple majority.