David Lewis.  Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
David Lewis. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

CORRUPTION Watch has launched a campaign in a bid to ensure that South Africans play an active role in the appointment of the new public protector.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s seven-year term will end in October this year.

Under the name Bua Mzansi, the campaign will develop and use technology such as crowd voting and social media to enable South Africans to nominate and engage with potential candidates.

Speaking at a media briefing in Johannesburg on Monday, Corruption Watch director David Lewis said many members of the public had no idea that they could have a say in the appointment of a public protector.

"We hope that this campaign will generate a public debate on the most effective and democratic method of appointing the leaders of all chapter nine institutions and other key posts that require independence," read the nongovernmental organisation’s statement.

He added that this year was very important because other critical positions needed to be filled.

These include a new head of the South African Human Rights Commission, a Constitutional Court judge, a Supreme Court of Appeal judge, and the role of Deputy Chief Justice.

"It’s interesting how many of SA’s woes begin with the appointments of inappropriate people," said Mr Lewis.

Corruption Watch will ask people to submit questions for the candidates

The public was entitled to nominate candidates for the position, members of parliament then shortlist and interview the people, Mr Lewis said

Parliament then makes recommendations to the National Assembly, which votes and sends its decision to the president who then makes the final decision.

All of this needs to happen a month before Ms Madonsela leaves the office.

When the call for applications comes in about April, Corruption Watch will inform the public about it through public service announcements.

Mr Lewis said Corruption Watch was looking into having the interviews streamed live so that the public could view them.

He said he did not believe the government and executive would want to appoint a candidate who did not meet the public’s criteria; however, because Ms Madonsela had "irritated the executive immensely", members would probably think harder than usual about who they would appoint.

Corruption Watch will also conduct a public campaign to educate people about the role of the public protector, its office and how the person is selected.