Shortlist of Candidates for Appointment to the South Africa National Space Agency

Science and Technology

20 February 2013
Chairperson: Mr N Ngcobo (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) briefed the Committee on the shortlist of candidates for appointment to the South African National Space Agency Board (SANSA). The Department would be content with five recommendations from the Committee, but urged it to recommend additional members in the event that vacancies transpired in the future. Moreover, the Department yearned for recommendations that were representative of the different departments, and, specifically, sought a Board Member with financial expertise.

The Department entertained questions about the criterion for candidates, vacancies and general questions regarding the appointment process. The Chairperson instructed the Committee Members to individually reflect and absorb on the shortlist over the weekend in order to foster for more efficient deliberations that would allow the Committee to astutely draft a list of recommendations the following week.

Meeting report

Welcome and Introductions
The Chairperson and Members introduced themselves

The Chairperson stressed that the Department’s insight was significant because it would enlighten Members on why the Department shorlisted the people they have.

Presentation on Shortlist of Candidates for Appointment to the South African National Space Agency (SANSA)
Mr Thulani Mavuso, Chief Operations Officer, DST, appreciated the opportunity to brief the Committee. He began the presentation with a brief background on SANSA and discussed the Boards’ appointment process, composition and causes for vacancies. The Board consisted of 10 to 15 Members, including the Chairperson and the Chief Executive Officer (as an ex officio member). The Minister appointed a Panel of Experts to compile a shortlist of candidates from the nominees, which would then be sent to the National Assembly. Parliament would recommend names from that list and send it back to the Minister for approval. Vacancies were attributable to a minimal number of members appointed, the Minister’s inability to locate a suitable candidate with financial expertise (Section 7(4)(c) of the SANSA Act), and a conflict of interest where a member was an employee of the Hermanus Magnetic Observatory, which had since migrated to the SANSA.

Mr Thulani Mavuso stated that SANSA currently operated with eight members and the Department wished to add five more by 20 July, 2013. He also stressed that the Department wanted the new Board Members to be representative of various departments (e.g. Communication, Environmental Affairs etc), and particularly someone with a financial background. The recommended candidates were Ms Khambule Esther, Ms Malefane Evodia, Ms Mnqeta Nokulunga, Ms Mokoka Mathukana, Mr Rezelman Marius, Ms Selane Kenosi and Professor Walker. The government departments nominated Mr Linden Petzer (Department of Communications), Dr Jonas Mphepya (Department of Environmental Affairs), Mr Ashley Naidoo (Department of Environmental Affairs), Dr Daphney Mayindi (Department of Land Reform and Rural Development), Mr Mbangiseni Nepfumbada (Department of Water Affairs), and Ms Carey Rajah (Department of Water Affairs), noting that there was no nomination from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF).

The Chairperson asked how many recommendations the Department wanted.

Mr Thulani Mavuso replied that the Department was looking for a minimum of five recommendations, but would be pleased with more than five so, in the event of future vacancies, the Department would not have to repeat the long and cumbersome selection process.

The Chairperson asked why the Department of Communication’s nominee, Rosey Sekese, withdrew her name from the recommendation list.

Mr Thulani Mavuso replied that she was in the process of being appointed Director General of the Communication Department and was, therefore, ineligible to be recommended.

Mr M Nonkonyana (ANC) sought clarity on the Hermanus Magnetic Observatory’s (HMO) relationship with the SANSA, and explained his discontent in concerns to the appointed member’s inability to assume a position on the Board because of SANSA’s affiliation with HMO.

Mr Thulani Mavuso said that there were a lot of linkages between SANSA and HMO, which was previously controlled by the National Research Foundation (NRF). The Board eventually deemed that the HMO should migrate to SANSA, which, consequently, created a conflict of interest for the Board Member.

Ms M Dunjwa (ANC) asked whether the Board had considered people with disabilities.

Mr Thulani Mavuso replied that there was currently one Board Member with a disability.

Ms J Kloppers-Lourens (DA) enquired why the representative of the DAFF did not take up her Board appointment and expressed concern that the SANSA was not comprised of any members from that Department. She also asked what the criterion was for candidates.

Mr Thulani Mavuso replied that no clarity was provided on why the representative of DAFF did not assume her Board appointment. With regards to candidate’s qualification criteria, the Board sought candidates that had a legal background and demonstrated a “space and technology” expertise, two areas which are currently catered for on the board. The Board was lacking members with financial expertise and is, therefore, seeking a member to accommodate this deficiency.
Ms P Mocumi (ANC) indicated her overall satisfaction with the candidates but wanted to ascertain whether the Committee should deliberate on its own, and subsequently send its recommendations to the Department, or whether it should, alternatively, collaborate with the Department on the matter.

The Chairperson replied that the Committee should compile a list of recommendations and submit them to the Department.

Ms J Terblanche (DA) asked the Chairperson if he wished to conclude with the recommendation process today and, if not, when he would like to do so.

The Chairperson responded that the Committee had to finalise the recommendations by next week.

Mr Nonkonyana suggested that the Committee should submit more than five names in the event that some selections were challenged or protested by the Minister.

Ms H Line (ANC) said that the Committee must be certain that each candidate’s information, (with regards to CV’s), was accurate.

Ms Kloppers-Lourens asked if the candidates were listed by precedence (referring to Section 8 and 9 of the SANSA Act).
Mr Thulani Mavuso replied that they were listed alphabetically.

The Chairperson instructed the Committee to study the shortlist of candidates, and formulate their own prioritised list, and to return the following week with questions, concerns and comments in order for the Committee to collectively and intelligently, adopt the report. He also expressed disappointment that “culture and society,” which encompassed anthropology, history, and inspiration, was not a criterion for the candidate selection process and hoped the Board would consider this important component in the future.

The meeting was adjourned.


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