The Committee met to interview candidates who would serve as Commissioners at the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE). The Committee had short-listed 15 candidates but one candidate had withdrawn from the interview process. In the first day of interviews the Committee interviewed 7 short-listed candidates. The Chairperson started the meeting by briefly explaining the procedure to be followed and informing Members about the submissions that had been made to the Committee. The Chairperson stated that the input undermined the Committee because it suggested that Parliament did not have the capacity to ask relevant questions to the candidates.
The following short-listed candidates were interviewed by the Ad Hoc Committee:
- Ms Janine Hicks
- Ms Thoko Mpulwana
- Dr Yvette Abrahams
- Mr Mbuyiselo Botha
- Ms Lorraine Landrew
- Ms Nomvuyo Stofile
- Ms Lulama Nare
The Chairperson informed the Committee that the purpose of the meeting was to interview candidates that would serve as commissioners at the Commission for Gender Equality. She noted that 15 candidates had been previously earmarked to be interviewed by the Committee but one of those candidates had withdrawn from that process. The Committee had received apologies from Mr V Smith (ANC), Adv. J Sibanyoni (ANC), Ms C Dudley (ACDP), Ms N Zikalala (IFP) and Ms P Duncan (DA). All those Members that were not present on the first the day of interviews could not be part of that process of interviews on its second day.
She noted that the Committee had set aside two days for the process of interviews- 25 and 26 of January 2012. On the first day the Committee would interview 7 candidates that were short-listed and another 7 the following day. The process of short-listing was open and transparent, and all the Members of the Ad Hoc Committee had an opportunity to express their views. The process of short-listing gave the Committee enough time to engage in that exercise because they’ve received all the CV’s of candidates in December 2011 which gave Members enough time to consult with their respective political parties as well as members of the community since some of the candidates came from those communities.
The Chairperson also informed the Committee that after the short-listing process she had received a number of letters from different organisations. One of the letters and phone call she had received was from the Chairperson of the Gender Commission who wanted a particular candidate that had not been chosen to be included in the shortlist and was not happy with the serving Commissioners that were short-listed by the Committee, and the reasons for that were contained in the report that the Committee had no mandate to deal with. It was something the Committee had discussed in the beginning and had come to the conclusion that it was not mandated to deal with that report, it was another process.
The Committee’s mandate was to fill the vacancies at the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE). Any allegation or information contained in that report would be dealt with by those who were charged with the responsibility of dealing with that report. Therefore, the Committee could not exclude any candidate on the basis of what was in that report inasmuch the Committee could not include any candidate on the basis of what was in that report. And also the Committee was guided by a principle that said “any person who was alleged to have done anything could not be excluded in any process until that person had been found guilty by a court of law”. And in that situation there was no candidate who had served in the CGE that had been found guilty by a court of law.
But also it would be improper for the Committee to delegate its responsibility of short-listing candidates to outside bodies and neglect its mandate. Therefore, the submission by the Chairperson for CGE was not in order, it created an impression of bias towards a particular candidate. The CGE was not mandated to appoint Commissioners and that responsibility was of Parliament discharged by that Ad Hoc Committee.
The Chairperson noted that other submissions that were sent to her office were from a cluster of Non-Governmental Organisations which called themselves “civil society”. The submissions were in support of the work of the Ad Hoc Committee as well as interest in having a CGE that would be able to execute its mandate effectively and efficiently, and able to effect change in the country. The Committee shared the views expressed in those submissions, however, it would not expect that support would go as far as suggesting the questions that the Committee needed to ask to candidates. And some of the organisations listed as members of the civil society group were candidates short-listed for interviews who were currently working for those organisations. She noted that the fact that those organisations suggested questions to be asked by the Committee to candidates worried her because it suggested that there was no capacity in Parliament to ask relevant questions and it also violated the principle of equal opportunity and equal competition. She appealed to the civil society organisations to play a role of monitoring instead of taking over the responsibility of Parliament.
The third submission came from some civil society groups and universities which were based on meeting the Ad Hoc Committee which had a better understanding of what the CGE was all about. The Chairperson noted that that submission also undermined the intellectual capacity which existed in Parliament because to suggest that the very same institution that gave birth to the CGE and was tasked with the responsibility of transforming the country would be comprised of Members who could not ask relevant questions and did not understand the role of the CGE, the mandate of CGE and how to relate to the entire transformation process and the agenda of the entire country. She emphasised that interviews were not public hearings and processes of Parliament did allow public inputs in terms of processing bills and policies. The Committee had been put under an unnecessary pressure and was expected to act in a way that was beyond its mandate.
In terms of the procedure to be followed by the Committee when interviewing candidates she informed Members that they’ve prepared 8 questions and they were 7 Members of the Ad Hoc Committee present including the Chairperson. Each Member would ask one question and then she would ask 2 questions. Follow-up questions would be allowed in terms of the responses received from candidates. Each candidate would be allowed 45 minutes to respond to the 8 questions. There was also a score sheet that had been prepared for Members which had the name of the candidate with score numbers between 1 and 10. There were also a space for general comments and at the end there was a total score which would lead to the average score. The general comments would be based on what each Member had observed in terms of the strength and value from each candidate.
Ms D Robinson (DA) asked for clarity in terms of the score sheet which did not indicate what could fall in the category of being “good, average, or poor” when scoring for candidates. She thought that they should have a system that scored candidates in terms of being “good, average, or poor”, otherwise results could be distorted.
The Chairperson responded that the numerical scoring made it easier to add up the score to the average total than “good, average or poor” system that Ms Robinson was suggesting.
Ms B Dlulane (ANC) stated that she was covered by the general comments after they’ve scored so that they could assist and accommodate what Ms Robinson was suggesting.
The Chairperson noted that the amendment that they needed to adhere to was to number the questions because the candidate would not get the same mark for all the questions. It was therefore necessary to number questions from 1-8 so that they would be able to measure were the strength of a candidate lies. They should therefore a score out 10 so that they knew how much the candidate score from question 1-8, and then they would have a total. Then they would use that total to arrive at an average and below that they would have general comments. The general comments would then refer to what Ms Robinson and Ms Dlulane suggested because they would find a candidate to be strong in a particular area and they could comment on that which would give them a fair assessment of the candidate.
Candidates were asked the following questions:
Candidates were asked if about their understanding and role of the CGE.
They were asked how they saw the role of the CGE in relation to the newly established Ministry of Women, Children and People with disabilities.
They were asked what changes that needed to be made in order for the CGE to effectively execute its mandate.
They were asked what their understanding was of the challenges in society that the CGE needed to respond to.
Candidates were asked if there were any duplication in the mandate of the CGE and those of the other chapter 9 institutions, and if yes, they should elaborate.
They were asked to explain whether the perceptions that the CGE was an organisation that had failed to carryout its mandate and also an organisation that was based on feminism. What their perception was for the CGE and what the CGE should do to change those perceptions so that society could perceive it for what it was established for.
They were asked what personal value they would add to the CGE so that they could enhance its work in improving inequality in society.
They were asked if CGE’s role to recommend and review legislation had been performed in the past.
They were asked how they saw the link between the value they brought to the CGE and community participation in a country that was striving to be a developmental state.
Candidates were asked if they intended to become fulltime or part-time Commissioners.
The Chairperson thanked the Candidates for availing themselves for interviews.
The meeting was adjourned.
Please refer to audio recording for responses.
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