Corruption Watch launches a mass public awareness campaign in a bid to ensure that the Office of the Public Protector remains a safely guarded cornerstone of South Africa’s democracy
Corruption Watch today launched a mass public awareness and mobilisation campaign, Bua Mzansi, in a bid to ensure that the Office of the Public Protector remains a safely guarded cornerstone of South Africa’s democracy when the new public protector takes office later this year.
The current public protector, Thuli Madonsela, ends her term on 19 October 2016. Madonsela has earned widespread respect for her commitment to tackling corruption, and to holding government accountable for the quality and performance of its administration, without fear or favour.
Bua Mzansi, Sesotho for Speak up South Africa, is a nationwide public awareness and participation campaign to highlight and monitor the appointment process and ensure that it is conducted in a transparent manner and is influenced by public opinion. This campaign encourages the public to take an active part in nominating and voting for suitable candidates, creating avenues for vigorous public engagement and dialogue about the role of the public protector, while also exploring new ways of engaging and amplifying the public voice.
The campaign will develop and utilise technology to enable the public to nominate and engage with potential candidates and ensure that they are properly scrutinised. It will also make participation in the process easier through the use of a crowd-voting application that will seek to influence the president’s decision on the selection of the new public protector.
The timing of this campaign is opportune, as there are other critical appointments due to be made during 2016. A new head of the South African Human Rights Commission will be appointed to take over from Lawrence Mushwana, and three very senior judges will leave the bench this year, namely Constitutional Court judge Johann van der Westhuizen, Supreme Court of Appeal president Lex Mpati, who is retiring in May and Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, who retires in November.
We hope that this campaign will generate a public debate on the most effective and democratic method of appointing the leaders of all Chapter 9 institutions and other key posts that require independence, for example judicial appointments and appointments to leading law enforcement and prosecutorial bodies.
The public protector plays a critical role in the fight against corruption in South Africa, and this crucial position is therefore open to the danger of political interference, and vulnerable to executive influence. For this reason, Bua Mzansi aims to ensure that every step of the appointment process takes place in the public spotlight to safeguard the independence and integrity of the Office of the Public Protector and that public voice is influential in making the appointment of the leader of an institution precisely charged with protecting and advancing the interests of the public.
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