Independent Electoral Commission (IEC): recommendation for Commissioner vacancy

Home Affairs

24 February 2015
Chairperson: Mr B Mashile (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee discussed the candidates to fill the IEC Commissioner vacancy which had been vacant since the resignation of IEC Chairperson, Ms Pansy Tlakula. Members had been given a shortlist of eight candidates (recommended by the Chief Justice) together with their curriculum vitaes to peruse and consider before the meeting. The process was such that Members proposed which candidates they felt was best to fill the post. The ANC’s choice of candidate was Mr Vuma Glenton Mashinini. The reasoning by the ANC in choosing Mr Mashinini was his vast experience in dealing with elections. This included having a company which assisted with hosting elections in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Swaziland and Angola and he had been previously employed at the IEC). The DA, the IFP and the EFF’s choice of candidate was Ms Janet Love. They considered Ms Love to be a capable candidate and wished for greater female representativity on the IEC Board. At present there was only one female on the Board. There were thus two candidates who the Committee had to decide between to fill the post: Mr Mashinini and Ms Love. The discussions went to and fro on the merits of each candidate. The DA, IFP and the EFF expressed reservations about appointing Mr Mashinini to the post, given that he had been an adviser to President Zuma. It was felt that persons sitting on the IEC Board had to be free from political affiliation and influence. The ANC maintained that Mr Mashinini was the best qualified person for the position and that the ANC was not averse to gender representativity. In the end the matter was put to a vote and the ANC succeeded with five votes to four from the DA, IFP and the EFF. The Committee would therefore recommend to the House that Mr Mashinini be considered to fill the post of Commissioner.

Meeting report

Consideration of candidates for filling vacancy of IEC Commissioner
The Chairperson said that after the resignation of IEC Chairwoman, Ms Pansy Tlakula, in terms of the IEC Act, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng had to lead a panel to interview and shortlist candidates for the vacant position. The shortlist would be recommended to Parliament and this Committee was tasked with recommending a suitable candidate from the shortlist. Once the Committee had made a choice the chosen candidate’s name would be recommended to the House.

He noted that Members were given the shortlist of eight candidates together with their curriculum vitaes to peruse and consider before the meeting. It was now up to the Committee to choose a candidate to fill the vacant post. The vacancy had to be filled given that the local government elections were to take place in 2016. The IEC had to be at full capacity at the time of the elections. He asked Members to make proposals based on the eight candidates that they had.    

Mr D Gumede (ANC) thanked Chief Justice Mogoeng for recommending eight capable candidates.  Having capable candidates made the task of selection so much more difficult. He proposed that the Committee choose a candidate that could hit the road running. There was no time for delays. On behalf of the ANC, from the list of eight candidates he recommended Mr Vuma Glenton Mashinini. Mr Mashinini was a good candidate as he had been previously employed by the IEC. He had been a deputy chief electoral officer and had played a part in the establishment of key systems in the IEC. He listed some of Mr Mashinini’s accomplishments which included having a company which assisted with hosting elections in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Swaziland and Angola. If there was someone that could handle elections, he felt it to be Mr Mashinini. Mr Mashinini had also been an adviser to the President and was available fulltime to fill the post.

The Chairperson asked if there were any other proposals or support for the proposal by Mr Gumede.

Mr M Hoosen (DA) did not support Mr Mashinini’s nomination due to his closeness with President Zuma. The IEC should be isolated from any form of political manipulation. There had to be genuine trust and no link to a political party. He informed the Committee that he had heard that there had been another resignation at the IEC. If there was in fact another resignation and it was a female then there were no female representatives on the IEC Board. Given these facts, it would be prudent for the Committee to recommend a female to fill the post.

The Chairperson stated that the Committee was not formally aware of another resignation at the IEC. This being said the Committee could not take into consideration the impact of it in its current discussion. It would be premature of the Committee to take the possible additional vacancy into consideration.

Mr M Ndlozi (EFF) also felt that a female candidate should fill the vacancy. He pointed out that from all the capable persons on the list, the ANC had to nominate someone who had a direct link to President Jacob Zuma. The Committee needed to restore credibility in the institution that was the IEC. The 2014 elections already had a shadow of doubt attached to it. What was better than to replace one woman with another. He suggested that a woman candidate be chosen to fill the post.

The Chairperson said that he heard the arguments that Mr Hoosen and Mr Ndlozi had made for a female candidate. The only problem was that both Members had not proposed a female candidate from the list of eight. The Committee should focus on filling the vacancy and Members should therefore not be too mechanical. The idea was to ensure that the IEC was functional. He needed to be assisted by Members as at present there was only one proposed candidate on the table.

Ms S Nkomo (IFP) was surprised that a candidate to fill the post at the IEC had worked with the President. She proposed Ms Hlaleni Kathleen Dlepu as a candidate from the list of eight. She read out the list of Ms Dlepu’s qualifications and achievements.

Ms D Raphuti (ANC) stated that having gone through the curriculum vitaes of the candidates, she felt Mr Mashinini to be the best candidate.  There was no need for concern that the IEC did not employ females as there was a female on the IEC Board. She supported the proposal made by Mr Gumede.

Mr Hoosen had a problem with the nomination of Ms Dlepu as she was politically affiliated to the ANC. He cited that she had publicly tweeted about her support for the ANC on Twitter. The IEC needed to be free from political motivations. He proposed that Ms Janet Love be chosen to fill the vacant post.

Mr B Nesi (ANC) said that the integrity and qualifications of candidates needed to be taken into consideration in choosing a candidate. Mr Mashinini had an employment history with the IEC. He had experience. The focus should be on the job at hand that the candidate had to perform. He stated that he knew Ms Janet Love and she could also be linked to the ANC. It had to be expected that persons would have political affiliations.  He also supported the nomination of Mr Mashinini.    

Mr Ndlozi pointed out that it was Mr Mashinini’s link to the President that was the problem and not his link to the ANC. The bigger argument was that the IEC needed to have a gender mix. Was it acceptable that the IEC Board have five men and one woman? All eight candidates were highly regarded. The EFF supported the nomination of Ms Janet Love. He wished to hear what the ANC’s argument against a gender mix was. There was always a call by the ANC that male and female representation needed to be equal at 50/50. This was however not the case at the present meeting. One woman on the IEC Board was not sufficient.

The Chairperson noted some of the requirements from the IEC Act that the candidate had to meet. Being a South African citizen was one of them.

Mr A Figlan (DA) supported the nomination of Ms Janet Love as well. She had left politics fifteen years ago.

Ms T Kenye (ANC) was concerned that the Committee was having an argument about gender equality at present. The ANC was the champion of gender equality. The issue at hand was IEC experience and Mr Mashinini had such experience. He even had election experience elsewhere in Africa. She emphasised that nobody in SA was apolitical. She supported the nomination of Mr Mashinini.

The Chairperson said that Members could withdraw nominations if they so wished.

Ms H Maxon (EFF) suggested that Mr Gumede withdraw his nomination of Mr Mashinini to fill the IEC post if indeed the ANC was the champion of gender equality as it claimed.
  
The Chairperson said that there was support for two candidates, that is, Mr Mashinini and Ms Love. He suggested that the Committee take a short break and return to vote on the matter.

The Committee was adjourned for a short while.

When the Committee reconvened the Chairperson commented that he hoped Members had engaged fruitfully over the matter. He asked Members to make inputs.

Mr Nesi stated that the ANC had an engendered approach. The ANC did not speak about numbers. The nomination of Mr Mashinini was not about numbers but rather on what was in the national interest. It was mostly his experience that counted in his favour. The issue of gender was not about numbers.  

Mr Hoosen asked how the ANC could claim to have an engendered approach when the IEC Board was male dominated. If the ANC did not believe in having sufficient women on the IEC Board then it must state that that was their stance. National interest was the very reason why there should be no political interference in the IEC. Mr Mashinini having close linkages with the President was a problem. He reiterated the DA’s support for Ms Love.

Mr Ndlozi pointed out that it did not make sense to say that gender representativity was not about numbers. It was all about numbers. It was in national interest to move away from patriarchy. Gender empowerment was very important. He felt that using the term “experience” was just an excuse. The ANC had no argument against the gender equality principle. The issue was neither about capabilities as all eight candidates were capable. He suggested that a female candidate be recommended for the post. For the moment let us not mention Mr Mashinini’s link with the President and focus solely on gender representativity. Ms Love was a capable candidate and could gain experience at the IEC.

Ms Nkomo officially withdrew the IFP’s nomination of Ms Dlepu and nominated Ms Janet Love instead. She was not comfortable with the nomination of Mr Mashinini given the fact that he had been an adviser to the President. On gender representativity, at times certain statements were made to suit the circumstances. People should state what the 50/50 principle of gender representativity was. All eight candidates were qualified persons.

The Chairperson said that it was up to the Committee to decide on what it wished to see in the IEC. Local government elections were to take place in 2016 and nobody wished to see the IEC fail. Members needed to apply their minds correctly and not be too mechanical. The Committee should not decapacitate the IEC in preparations for the local government elections in 2016.

Ms Maxon stated that Mr Ndlozi had articulated the EFF’s points already. The former commissioner had been a woman so what was the problem in appointing Ms Janet Love? There was only one other woman on the IEC Board.  Women needed to be advanced by the Committee.

Ms Kenye stated that she had been a stalwart for women’s’ rights for many years. She pointed out that there were political parties in SA that had one woman for every 20 men represented in their parties.

Mr Raphuti noted that the issue was not about patriarchy and gender. It was about having a capable person to do the job at the IEC.

Mr Hoosen said that the reality in the current instance was that the ANC was not supporting a woman candidate. He appealed to the Chairperson and the ANC to ensure that the IEC was kept free from political manipulation and the public perception thereof. Mr Mashinini had been a personal adviser to the President and he therefore appealed to the ANC to withdraw Mr Mashinini’s nomination.

The Chairperson said that Members needed to respect one another’s views. Everybody had the right to make their own choices. Members as politicians had to be careful when making statements as it was made in the public arena. Facts needed to be stated within their context.

Mr Gumede responded that Mr Mashinini had a professional relationship with the Office of the Presidency and not with the president in his personal capacity. He had relationships with other countries in Africa as well with regards to elections. He once again formally proposed Mr Mashinini as the candidate from the ANC.

The Chairperson pointed out that the Committee would have to put the issue to a vote as there were two nominations. The two candidates were Ms Janet Love and Mr Vuma Glenton Mashinini.

The ANC voted in favour of Mr Mashinini. In total there were five votes in favour of Mr Mashinini.
The DA voted in favour of Ms Love with two votes.
The EFF voted in favour of Ms Love with one vote.
The IFP voted in favour of Ms Love with one vote.

The tally of votes was that Mr Mashinini had five votes with Ms Love having four. The end result was that Mr Mashinini was successful as the Committee’s recommended candidate for the filling of the Commissioner post. The Committee would recommend his appointment to the House.

Mr Hoosen wished it to be stated on record in Committee Minutes and in the Committee Report to the House that the DA did not support Mr Mashinini’s appointment.

Ms Nkomo wished it to be recorded in the Committee Report to the House those political parties that had not been in favour of Mr Mashinini’s appointment. The Committee Minutes should also reflect the voting that had taken place.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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