National Lotteries Board: Chairperson and member appointments deliberations

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Trade and Industry

03 November 2009
Chairperson: Ms J Fubbs (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to consider its nominations for six positions on the National Lotteries Board. The Chairperson noted that the Committee had participated in the screening, interview and shortlisting of candidates, after establishing a task team that developed guidelines and criteria. It had taken legal advice to check that the processes were within the parameters of the law. There had been openness and transparency in the process. The legislation governing appointment of the National Lotteries Board members specified that one board member must be a qualified Chartered Accountant (CA) and another must be a practising lawyer with a right of appearance in court. The Minister of Trade and Industry was responsible for appointing the seventh member of the board.

Members agreed that only those who had been present at the interviews of the candidates could make comments on those particular candidates. There was general agreement on the candidates to be nominated as Chairperson, lawyer and chartered accountant, and, although alternative nominations were discussed, the majority view prevailed. However, a Member raised his concerns, firstly during the nomination for the chartered accountant, and again during the three later nominations, that Members were raising issues that were essentially peripheral to the criteria already agreed upon by the Committee and were not giving sufficient weight to the performance of candidates at the interviews. These included gender balance issues, geographic profiling, understanding of Board issues, and did not give sufficient weight to business skills and performance under interview. The Chairperson cut short the meeting when members reached disagreement, saying that there were some legal and other issues still to be discussed, including the eligibility of the preferred lawyer candidate to serve another term, and the points raised. It was agreed that the matter would be finalised on the following Friday.

Meeting report

National Lotteries Board (NLB): Appointment of Chairperson and Members: Further deliberations
The Chairperson noted that the Committee was meeting to consider its shortlisting and nominations for the positions on the National Lotteries Board. This process was finally nearing its end. She thanked all the Committee Members for participating in the screening, interviewing and short listing of candidates. She said it was encouraging that the Committee was able to do its work without any hindrances. She announced that the procedure followed was in line with the set criteria and legislation governing nomination of Board members. The Committee had established a task team that had developed guidelines to be followed. Legal advice was also sought to ensure that everything was within the parameters of the law. One of the key elements of the process was openness and transparency, and the public was welcome to attend the interviews and Portfolio Committee sessions, with the exception of the screening process conducted by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), which was held during a closed session.

The Chairperson asked the Committee to proceed with the nomination of the seven board members, six of whom the Portfolio Committee would choose from the pool of 22 short listed individuals. The legislation governing appointment of the National Lotteries Board members made it clear that out of the seven, one must be a qualified Chartered Accountant (CA), and one must be a practising lawyer with a right of appearance in Court. The Minister of Trade and Industry was responsible for appointing the seventh member of the board.
Mr S Radebe (ANC) suggested the Committee should nominate the Board chairperson first, followed by the chartered accountant, then the lawyer before nominating the other three members who would be recommended by the Committee for appointment to the Board.

Mr S Marais (DA) wanted to know the logic behind Mr Radebe’s proposal. He said the initial discussion of the Portfolio Committee, in which Mr Radebe had not participated, had suggested the nomination of the entire six member board first, and then the nomination of the Chairperson of the Board from the six.

The Chairperson said one of the proposals of the established task team was that the Portfolio Committee should strive towards making the board as representative as possible and that included also striking a balance in terms of geographical location of individuals, and also accommodating the disabled.

Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA) wanted to know how much weight should be attached to the interviewing process when it came to the choosing of the final six. He said if he remembered correctly, the Committee and the task team were unanimous that interviews would play a critical role in the selection process and he wanted to know what would happen to those members of the Portfolio Committee who failed to attend some of the interviews, asking whether or not they should be allowed to make an input regarding candidates whom they had not assessed in the interviews.

The Chairperson noted Mr van der Westhuizen’s comment and said she was aware, for instance, that Mr L Mphahlele (PAC) did not go through the entire process, and had made it known to the Committee that he could not take any part in the process going forward. However, she said that Mr Mphahlele had submitted a report containing his work and the score card of individuals whom he had observed in the interviews. She said it would be fair if the Committee used such contributions on those members whom Mr Mphahlele interviewed. She said she was not aware of the reasons why Mr S Njikelana (ANC) had been absent from the Portfolio Committee.

Mr Radebe said Mr Njikelana, being a member of the Pan African Parliament, was unable to attend the meeting, due to his prior commitments to the Pan African Parliament.

The Chairperson then made a ruling that individual Portfolio Committee Members should disclose and recuse themselves from participating in the nominations of board members if they had not been present during those candidates’ interviews. She urged Members to be honest with the Committee in declaring whether they were present or not.

Mr X Mabaso (ANC) said the inputs and contributions which Members of the Portfolio Committee were bringing were very important and were taking the Committee forward. He agreed with the Chairperson’s proposal.

Nominations for the Chairperson of the Board
Mr Mabaso nominated his choice of candidate as Chairperson of the Board, nominee A. He said in the motivation for the nomination that he had been the first of his short listed candidates. He further said the candidate displayed a deeper understanding of the operations of the lotteries board. In addition, his experience gained from working in the public sector meant he was in a better position to understand the challenges ahead. The province from which he came contributed to the desire to get a good geographic spread on the Board. Lastly, his academic achievements showed he was someone who had worked hard in life and was disciplined and focused.

Mr Radebe seconded this and said he too was impressed by his eloquence in articulating his vision. This candidate’s business acumen and qualifications meant the Committee would never regret nominating him for the position of Chairperson.

Mr van der Westhuizen noted that nominee A scored high on his scoresheet, but that he preferred another named candidate (nominee B). He had been concerned that the first nominee was a member of the distribution agency who had not done a good job at all, and that tainted his record.

Ms P Lebenya (IFP) supported the nomination for the first nominee, saying he showed an understanding of the workings of the National Lottery Board and his involvement in charity projects meant the poorest of the poor could now expect to benefit from the initiatives of a board if he were to be a part of that Board.

The Committee Chairperson said the first candidate displayed a satisfactory understanding of financial management, and that would help the board in monitoring how funds were used to change the lives of the needy in society. She noted that the second nominee also had displayed sound financial know-how and admirable team player and leadership skills. However, she would be inclined to support the first nominee as Chairperson.

The Committee agreed to nominate nominee A as the Chair of the national lotteries board.

Legal Professional
Moving on to the nomination of a legal practitioner, the Chairperson noted that out of the 22 short listed candidates, there were only four candidates who met the criteria. Although some others may have had an LLB degree, this was not sufficient as the legislation required a practising member of the legal profession, with right of appearance in court.

Mr Radebe nominated his preferred candidate (nominee C) to be the legal representative member of the board. Apart from the fact that he scored high in his list, this candidate was very articulate on board issues, knew the system well, and would be an asset to the Board.

Mr van der Westhuizen said nominee C was well suited to be nominated, but he had reservations regarding eligibility, since this nominee had served on the Board before and he thought might not be eligible, having served at least two terms. If this was so, then he nominated a second nominee (nominee D)
The Chairperson noted that the Committee was in the process of seeking a legal opinion as to the eligibility of nominee C, and any decision on this would have to be dependent upon whether this nominee was deemed to be eligible to stand for nomination.

Mr Mabaso also supported the nomination of nominee D, saying the previous experience and institutional memory of the organisation made this nominee stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Ms Lebenya said she had only managed to attend the interviews of three legal practitioners, but that nominee C was the top on her scoresheet out of those three.

The Chairperson said she agreed. However, this nomination was subject to a favourable legal opinion regarding eligibility.

Chartered Accountant
There were three candidates shortlisted who complied with the requirements set for a chartered accountant. However, Members suggested some dissatisfaction with the quality of candidates, and suggested that only in the absence of anyone else, would they suffice.

Ms Lebenya said although it was a difficult choice to make, she had a proposed nomination (nominee E). This candidate was very knowledgeable on issues of financial management, had been exposed to various fields in the past career, and in the process had interacted with many very influential people, and that was not a bad attribute to bring to the board.

Ms F Khumalo (ANC) supported the nomination of nominee E, saying she had been involved with high management responsibilities and further her age meant that the youth would be represented on the board.

Mr Radebe, also supporting this nomination, commented that this nominee had worked extremely hard to break the ceiling into a previously white and male dominated profession, which seemed to indicate that she had much energy that would benefit the board. The Committee would also meet its goals to empower women and address gender-balance issues.

Mr van der Westhuizen said that some of the reasons given in motivating for this nominee were not only irrelevant, but did not match the criteria that the Portfolio Committee had previously set. The Committee had agreed that the performance of the candidates during the interview had been agreed as the key criterion for choosing the best candidates, not other peripheral matters. This candidate had scored low in his score sheet, and he was unable to support her nomination. He instead nominated another candidate (nominee F).

The Chairperson said she was unable to make a contribution as she had worked with nominee E in the past, and had decided to recuse herself to avoid a conflict of interest on this candidature.

Mr Mabaso supported nominee E, by reason of her age and gender.

Ms Lebenya said that the task team had previously noted that over and above the interviews, issues of gender and transformation remained of critical importance. She did not feel that they should be treated as peripheral.

Finally Members conceded to nominate nominee E as the chartered accountant member of the Board.

Nomination of remaining members
Mr Mabaso then suggested the name of nominee B to fill one of the three positions left. He said this candidate had scored very high in his score card and his experience was most needed in the board.
All other Portfolio Committee members unanimously agreed to nominate nominee B as the fourth member of the board.

For the fifth member, Ms Lebenya nominated nominee F. This candidate came from one of the poorest provinces and had showed an understanding of the plight of the poor. She also suggested that this would take care of issues of geographical profiling, which was one of the priorities when choosing candidates.

Mr H Line (ANC) nominated nominee G, and indicated that although he was not particularly well educated, he had been able to show, during the interview, that education was not necessarily all that mattered. His understanding of the issues concerning the board, and how it could work hand in hand with non government organisations (NGOs) made him, in her view, a suitable candidate.

Mr Van der Westhuizen said that although he was generally not impressed with the showing of either of the two nominated candidates, of the two he would prefer nominee F, since nominee G had scored the lowest on his scoresheet. He emphasised that nominee G did not have attributes specified in the legislation, including in-depth knowledge on matters of the board and strong business acumen.

Mr Radebe said while he admired nominee F’s display in the interviews, he had reservations concerning his suitability for nomination especially when looking at his previous employment. He noted that people who had held similar positions often tended to undermine their colleagues and held views that they were superior.

Mr Mabaso warned that the Committee should not make decisions that could be contrary to the Constitution of the country, and especially said that the provisions regarding the right to work could be violated if a candidate was discounted on the basis of previous service.

Mr van der Westhuizen proposed the nomination of nominee H, who was disabled and had a strong business background that met the requirements set in the legislation, as well as the priorities of the  task team.

Ms Khumalo nominated nominee I, who was also disabled, could give support to another member already nominated to the Board, and who had showed knowledge in the field during the interviews.

Ms Lebenya noted that she had attended only the interview of one nominee and hence could not make comparisons as to which of the two candidates was better.

Mr Radebe supported the nomination of nominee I, saying that besides the profession this nominee followed, there was proof of numerous involvements in community work, and of the nominee’s hard work and expertise in starting matters from the ground, and developing matters through guidance. This nominee also had experience in small venture businesses, which he believed would be of advantage to the board.

Mr van der Westhuizen again warned that now Members were again veering away from what they had previously established should guide the nominations. Much of what was being said in motivation of this candidate was off the mark, as well as contrary to what the rules said on the attributes of individuals. He reminded the members of the 16 criteria guidelines that should be used and said any deviations from the guidelines made him very uncomfortable.

The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee decided to end the meeting without the finalisation of the names. Some of the issues and objections raised were very important. As a result, she wished to have time to consult with the Speaker of the National Assembly and opposition parties. She asked Members to take some more time to ponder their nominations, and noted that the process would be finalised in the next portfolio Committee meeting scheduled for the next Friday.

Members, after discussion, when to meet, agreed that the process would be finalised on Friday.

The meeting was adjourned.


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