Former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene is among potential candidates to succeed the official leading an investigation into allegations of presidential influence-peddling, according to the Johannesburg-based newspaper Sunday Times.
The 72 nominees to replace Public Protector Thuli Madonsela also include Gerrie Nel, the prosecutor in the Oscar Pistorius murder case, the newspaper reported. Madonsela reaches the end of her seven-year term in October.
Her successor will take over the investigation into allegations that President Jacob Zuma has allowed the Gupta family to wield undue influence over state business, including offering Nene’s job to deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas.
Zuma fired Nene in December and replaced him with little-known politician Desmond van Rooyen, sending the rand into freefall. A few days later Zuma replaced Van Rooyen by Pravin Gordhan, Nene’s predecessor. Jonas later said the Guptas, who are friends with the president, offered him Nene’s job.
Nene has not yet agreed to be considered for the position, while Nel has confirmed his candidacy, according to the newspaper. Candidates can be nominated by a member of public or apply for the position.
“The level of public interest in this position has been magnificent,” the Sunday Times quoted Makhosi Khoza, chairperson of the team tasked with finding a replacement, as saying. “Members of the public understand the importance of the office and its role in strengthening democracy and dealing with corruption.”
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki and the widow of the late President Nelson Mandela, Graça Machel, were also among the nominations but have already said they would not be available for the job, according to the newspaper.