The Ad Hoc Committee met to discuss the process and advertisement for the on the appointment of the Auditor-General. Members agreed that an administrative apparatus would be responsible for processing applications, but that the Committee would oversee and guide the selection each step of the way. The Committee agreed that the minimum qualification should read as 'chartered accountant or equivalent' to allow for a wide pool of candidates, but the successful candidate must have extensive experience in public administration and public expenditures. The Committee also decided to change the language in documentation provided from may to must to ensure the President will consider their candidate.
The closing date for applications was set for Friday, 2 August 2013 at 12:00.
Election of Chairperson
Mr Johnny Ramrock, Committee Secretary, opened the meeting by calling for nominations for the Chairperson. An ANC member nominated Mr T Mufamadi (ANC). Prof L Ndabandaba (ANC) seconded that motion and Mr Mufamadi was elected as chairperson.
The Chairperson explained that the Committee could not take the task before it for granted, however it was up to the task of selecting the nation's next 'watchdog' of public expenditures.
Mr N Singh (IFP) raised the question of how applications would be processed; at which point the committee would be directly involved, and separating those duties from the more administrative process. He also expressed the need for transparency.
Dr D George (DA) voiced concern about the process. In the documents circulated to Members, Mr Mufamadi was already referred to as Chairperson, prior to his election. This was an irregularity even though he did not have a problem with the outcome. The Committee had to be very vigilant and extremely transparent during the entire selection process. There could potentially be problems if the Chairperson was appointed before having been selected.
Ms J Moloi-Moropa (ANC) said that the listing may just be a coincidence or and error, but that it would be noted and the documents would be corrected.
Discussion on Process and Advertisement
The Chairperson asked Mr Singh how he proposed the selection process be handled.
Mr Singh suggested that there be an administrative apparatus to receive the high volume of applications and eliminate those who were not qualified. The process would be transparent and the Committee would have access to the applications at any time. He also noted that the current advertisement did not detail the specific qualifications the successful candidate must have, such as a Master's degree.
An ANC member said that given importance of the position, the Committee should go through the administrative process itself. He added that determining specific, minimum qualifications would be difficult, and that the advert already stated candidates must have specialised knowledge and experience in auditing, state finances, and public administration. Going a step further to specify that the candidate should be a chartered accountant or internal auditor would pose additional challenges. He then offered that there could be an administrative apparatus in place that could dismiss unqualified applicants, but that they must justify each dismissed application.
Mr Singh agreed with the latter suggestion.
Ms S Sithole (ANC) argued that the successful candidate should in fact be a chartered accountant, because it was recognized as the highest qualification in a court of law (when considering financial issues) in South Africa. She added that the Auditor General would oversee the work of many chartered accountants.
Mr Singh said that Ms Sithole's statement raised the question whether the minimum qualifications in the advert should state “chartered accountant or equivalent”. The Committee should seek advisement on this point.
An ANC member agreed that the minimum qualifications should include being a chartered accountant, but that the Committee's decision should be guided by legal advice. He reiterated that the advert already stated clearly that the candidate should have specialised experience, and that the broader definition allowed for more flexibility.
The Chairperson suggested deferring the matter for a later time, considering the time constraints on the day's meeting. He suggested everyone agree on the minimum qualifications underpinned by what was already in the advert, that the candidate be a 'chartered accountant or equivalent'.
The Committee agreed with this suggestion.
The Chairperson said that Members would guide and oversee the process and have access at every step, but the applications would be dealt with by an administrative apparatus. He further emphasised that the advert should be published by the weekend.
Mr Singh added that where the advertisement was published was also very important, as the Committee needed as many applicants as possible, so the advert should also go out to the public broadcasters. He also pointed out that the advert said it was issued by the former chairperson of the Ad Hoc Committee, so it must be amended. Furthermore, he asked if for legal purposes, the official title of the position should read 'Auditor General of South Africa'.
Ms Moloi-Moropa said that was a simple correction to make and 'South Africa' would be added to the title.
Mr Singh pointed out the line that read that 'according to the provisions of the Public Audit Act 2004 and the Constitution, the National Assembly may recommend a person for appointment by the President for a renewable term...', when it should actually read as must. He also pointed out that the closing date for the position needed to be updated since it still read 1 July 2013.
An ANC member reiterated that the language should be changed to must, and that he found discomfort that the advert also allowed for nominations. Individual applicants should apply in their own capacity, and the Committee should not take recommendations from any lobby groups or stakeholders.
The Chairperson said that 'nominations' would be removed from the advert.
Mr Singh said the advert should also explain that the applicant should only expect to hear back from the Committee if they were found to be a qualified candidate.
The Committee agreed to this suggestion.
Mr Singh said that once all adjustments were done, the advert should come back to the Chairperson as quickly as possibly, for final approval.
Dr George said that he wanted to make clear for the record that the advert was not finalised, and it would have to come back to the Chairperson before it was finalised and approved. He also pointed out the need for a new closing date.
Mr Singh suggested that the advert be published the coming Friday (19 July 2013), give a two week window for applicants, and set the closing date for Friday, 2 August 2013 at 12:00.
The Committee agreed to this suggestion.
The Chairperson reiterated that though the administrative apparatus would deal with the bulk of the applications, the Committee was ultimately responsible and would oversee the process each step of the way.
The meeting was adjourned.
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