Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka has described as unfortunate, the remarks by Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Glynnis Breytenbach during the debate on her appointment as the head of the institution. Breytenbach alleged that Gcaleka had an intimate relationship with former Director of Public Prosecutions Menzi Simelane, which allegedly propelled her career as a prosecutor.
Breytenbach’s remarks were described in some quarters as sexist, derogatory and racist. She was thrown out of the House after refusing to retract the comments, and her DA colleagues rushed to her defence, calling the decision by Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula unjust. Addressing the Cape Town Press Club on Tuesday, Gcaleka says she decided to remove her personal feelings from the matter.
“Yes, her comments were unfortunate they were very unfortunate, and I found them very unfortunate, especially at this stage of our democracy. But again, I had to remind myself that we operate in a very complex environment and truth be told that I am the Public Protector of the Republic of South Africa now and what are my priorities?”
Gcaleka is the first former deputy to be appointed a Public Protector. Before assuming the role permanently, she acted in the position after her predecessor Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s suspension. She says, at the time, the institution was vulnerable.
“I’m not going to lie; I think the institution was quite vulnerable and so there’s a lot of rebuilding that we had to do and continue to do as an institution. I’m not going to lie and say the institution is in a 100% state of functionality, we are an institution of growing progress. On the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to take SA Reserve Bank’s Phala Phala report on judicial review, the Office says it did its work.
Chief Operations Officer Adv Nelisiwe Nkabinde says, “We’ve done the work, I suppose we stand to be tested and it’s the position as the Public Protector, the public want to know, to judge us, we will then hear from the courts what the outcome will be.”
Gcaleka says they are also working on reforms including criminalization for failing to implement the PP’s remedial actions.
The Public Protector says her office wants to formulate a clear policy in order to make it a criminal offense if government entities and departments do not implement her remedial actions. She says only 2% of the remedial actions from her office have been implemented so far.
“We really have been found a little bit wanting when it comes to the implementation of the government reforms. Now most of these remedial actions that we take as the Public Protector are actual government reforms that should be implemented and are not being implemented. And in January when we did our analysis we found that the implementation of our remedial actions is sitting at 2%. Now it tells you besides the normal agreements that we enter into but our forma report on the implementation of the remedial action is sitting at two percent.
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