South Africa Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) appointments: Final Recommendations

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Justice and Correctional Services

16 September 2009
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Meeting Summary

The following candidate, Mr Ralph Zulman, was interviewed for the position of Commissioner on the South Africa Human Rights Commission, before the Committee closed the meeting to public to consider their final recommendations. 

After deliberating, the Committee recommended that the National Assembly consider the following six persons to fill the position of Commissioners on the SAHRC:

Ms L Mokate (Full-time)

Adv B Malatji (Full-time)

Adv L Mushwana (Full-time)

Adv L Mpumlwana (Full-time)

Ms J Love (Part-time)

Dr D Titus (Part-time).

Meeting report

Candidates were asked the following questions:

They were asked to provide a short overview of their work experience and their specific experience with human rights. They were also asked to motivate why they should be appointed as a Commissioner and what impact they would have on the SAHRC.

They were asked how they would deal with internal dissent in the SAHRC.

They were asked how they would take the SAHRC forward.

They were asked how they would manage the relationship between the SAHRC and the Executive and Parliament.

They were asked how they would deal with the Executive in cases where they were unresponsive to complaints and if they would be willing to litigate.

The members referred to the candidates other responsibilities and asked them if they would be able to serve as a full-time Commissioner. Related to this they were asked to comment on any conflicts of interest with their other role and whether they would prefer to be full-time or part-time Commissioners.

They were asked to comment on:

The 'shoot to kill' controversy and the possible amendment of Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act

The Caster Semenya issue

The race debate in South Africa

the conflicts between cultural traditions and equality rights, with specific reference to virginity inspection, circumcision of young boys and ukuthwala.

They were asked what the role of the SAHRC was on contentious issues.

They were asked what their strengths and weaknesses were.

They were asked if they could work under pressure.

They were asked what to comment on the weaknesses of the SAHRC and how they would improve the SAHRC.

They were asked what should be done to ensure that the benefits of the legislation and protection provided for human rights accrued to the intended beneficiaries i.e. the poor and vulnerable, especially with reference to rural communities

They were asked how many indigenous languages they could communicate in.

They were asked to comment about the co-operation between Chapter 9 institutions and the possible amalgamation of the certain Chapter 9 institutions as proposed in the Asmal Report.

They were asked what the practical priorities of the SAHRC should be against the background of the human rights issues facing South Africa.

They were asked if the SAHRC took the initiative on certain issues or did they only respond to complaints.

Questions targeted at specific candidates:

They were asked if there was factionalism in the SAHRC

They were asked if they had training in criminology and penology

Members referred to comment on the need for independence of the SAHRC and that the executive should respect this independence and was asked if the candidate thought there had been interference in the past.

They were asked for examples of how the government violated human rights more than protecting them.

They were asked if there were lacunae regarding the executive authority over the SAHRC and specifically as it related to the requirement of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

The interviews were adjourned.

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