PANSALB Board: shortlisting

Arts and Culture

06 November 2018
Chairperson: Ms X Tom (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to deliberate and decide on a shortlist of candidates to interview for the Pan South African Language Board (PANSALB).

The Committee reviewed the lists of names submitted to the Committee, against language skills, gender, provincial and race diversity considerations, the qualifications requirements as per the call for nominations as well as the requirements per the Act.  The Committee approved the list of 20 names appearing on the A list as well as five candidates from the second B list and the shortlist of candidates to be called to interview. 

The Committee deliberated on the need to have candidates which provided a fair representation of languages and provinces as well as having gender parity. The Committee also sought to have a mix of candidates with language qualifications along with legal and financial experience – this would be the most beneficial for the optimal functioning of the Board when it discharges it mandate. Members also implored that there be representation of people with disabilities.

Once the Members decided on the shortlist, screening of criminal records and qualifications would proceed. Interviews would take place over three or four days. 

Meeting report

Committee deliberations on its process
The Chairperson noted the agenda for the meeting was the shortlisting of nominees for the Pan South African Language Board (PANSALB). She highlighted the importance of this meeting as this was the legacy the Committee would make. The Committee needed to apply its mind when looking at this matter. She mentioned the Committee has the experience of the previous Board and how it did its work. In looking at the names sent to the Committee, Members needed to ensure the Board that will be put in place will do what it is supposed to. She said the Committee has legacy experience in the entities in the Department, of what Board members are supposed to do and of Board members having their own agenda rather than the agenda of the Department and the PANSALB at heart.

The Chairperson said that accompanying the CVs should be copies of certificates to prove qualifications. There were cases where the copies of certificates were not attached to the CVs. The Committee had to write back to the Department to say this was the case. How was the Committee supposed to look at the nominees if it did not have proof of the qualifications the nominees claimed to have? The Committee will obtain a report, or will need to obtain one, on the chronology of events when the Committee started the process of writing to the Department and what happened thereafter. The Chairperson requested management give the Committee that chronology in order to be aware of what transpired before going to the actual shortlisting.

The Committee was informed that adverts were placed in the newspapers on 1 October – the adverts ran until 21 October.  On 24 October, the CVs were looked at and sent to Parliament. There were 64 CVs and a breakdown of the applications of the nominees. The A list was a list of nominees that qualified with language qualifications. The B list was a set of nominees that had legal and financial expertise. There were 33 outstanding accompanying documents to submit to the Committee. Management wrote to the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) last Thursday, 1 November, and requested all accompanying documents be submitted by Monday, 5 November. Management only received 24 accompanying documents. The Committee could however proceed with the shortlisting. Verification of qualifications and criminal records of the shortlisted candidates will be done.

To do the screening the Committee would have to submit the names of candidates who are shortlisted today. Screening of criminal records and qualifications will then proceed. The process would take about two weeks to verify. There was a catch 22 situation – if the names are submitted today, by the time they are ready in two weeks, the Committee would already have commenced with the interviews. The question is whether the Committee proceeds before it gets feedback from the screening process or whether it waits for all information. It would also depend on how many names the Committee shortlists. The interviews might take between three to four days.

The Chairperson asked for counsel from the Office of the Institutions Supporting Democracy (OISD).

Mr Kaya Zweni, Head of OISD, Parliament, advised that the process not be delayed as time was short. He suggested the names of candidates be forwarded by tomorrow and that it be pressed that priority be given to the matter in order to get verification of qualifications.

The Chairperson said the Committee must ensure it submits the list of names by end of business today.  She urged that anything that has to be done should start off tomorrow with Mr Zweni’s assistance to prioritise this as the Committee did not have much time. The Committee would like to complete the process before Parliament rises.

A Member declared that she has a relative on the list of candidates.

Ms N Bilankulu (ANC) shared the same name and surname as a nominee but did not know the nominee.

Mr Zweni said that it was good that Members declared such information. If the names made the shortlist it would be proper that the Committee deliberate when a Member mentioned a co-incidence of names and surnames. His thinking was that in the case of Ms Bilankulu, the nominee was not a relative or somebody of interest.  In the other instance, Members should deliberate whether, in terms of fairness, it would be proper to request the Member to recuse himself/herself when conducting the interviews.

The Chairperson agreed the Member must recuse him or herself at the point where the applicant is going to be interviewed.

The Committee was informed the Act requires that Board members are skilled in languages which include translation, lexicography, policy, and language planning, amongst other areas. There is also a need for diversity in the Board according to gender, language skills etc. Looking at gender, it was observed there are fewer females generally on the list.

When choosing the 35 people from the list, the decision was to have 20 people with language skills and five with legal and financial skills. All languages were looked at. All provinces were represented except the Northern Cape. The one candidate from the Northern Cape withdrew his application. Of the 20 candidates with language skills, there were seven females and 13 males. Of the five candidates with legal and financial skills, one was female and four were male. Languages represented amongst the candidates were Xhosa, English, Setswana, Afrikaans, Sesotho, Sepedi, Venda, isiZulu and sign language – there was one candidate skilled in sign language and this was pleasing.

The Chairperson said Members could consider the list in front of them.

Mr G Grootboom (DA) said there was one thing that had not been mentioned in relation to diversity – there is geographic and gender diversity but racial diversity also needs to be taken into consideration.

The Chairperson mentioned earlier that the Committee needed to look at that. The Committee must attend to this dimension.

The Committee was informed that the racial breakdown was looked at and details were provided.

The Chairperson said there should be a summary which tells the Committee at a glance the number of nominations, number which qualified, number which qualified partially, number which did not meet the requirements etc. This way the Committee would be able to know from the outset what it is dealing with. This was a suggestion which the Chairperson made since the outset of the process. The information could even be presented in the form of a graph.

Mr Grootboom queried and said in the A list there was no English. On the B list there were one or two English with language in their studies. There were eight languages in the A list and sign language was the ninth language. There was however no English only isiZulu, Tsonga, Sepedi, Tswana, Sesotho, IsiXhosa, Afrikaans and Venda.

The Chairperson said there was someone on the A list with English. The names were however not numbered.

Mr Grootboom said the qualification in languages was the main criteria hence he thought it would be on the A list. However having it on the B list is not too concerning.

Mr Grootboom mentioned that not all South African languages were reflected on the A list - his question was against this background.

The Chairperson said there was an earlier call - people responded and so the call was done away with. This process is now the second call and people who had been nominated in the first round did not bother to reapply. The Committee is now working with fewer applicants than in the first call. The Committee must work within the framework of the law, the Act and what the call for nominations said.

The Chairperson said the consultation now was that Members agree on the 25 final candidates to be put forward by the end of the day.

Mr Grootboom queried whether it was a list of 25 as he had a list of 69 – was the Committee going to work on that 25?

The Chairperson referred to lists A and B - list A had 30 people and 19 on the B list. The Committee had to come up with 25 names to interview. It was important to first agree on how many candidates the Committee would interview as there were three to four days for the interviews. There should not be less than 11 candidates interviewed but no more than 15. She queried how many candidates the Committee needed to interview.

Mr T Makondo (ANC) proposed a shortlist of 25 candidates for the Committee to interview.

Mr Grootboom agreed with a shortlist of 25. He had looked again at the 30 candidates presented and was trying to make the case for English. He enquired that if one is presenting nationally and internationally, as a writer, author and poet, how much practical experience is required.

The Chairperson said that in regard to the 30 nominees, the Committee needed to go back and look at the CVs. As said earlier, the Committee’s interest is that the process be conducted within the legal framework and that no candidate be sidelined or excluded. While looking at the CVs, the Committee needs to look at the 25 candidates it would interview. There were 30 names on the A list.

It was said there are ticks on the A list for the candidates identified – there were eight. These would be the candidates to be shortlisted

The Chairperson appealed to Members to look at the names which had double ticks – these candidates met the requirements in the advert. From these names, Members must decide on the candidates to be interviewed.

A Member referred to the A list. Referring to the ticks, there were 20 but he could not see how many of these candidates were female. Of the 30 names, there were 10 females and 20 males.

The Chairperson clarified that the names which were accompanied a double tick indicated candidates who met requirements in the advert and in the Act. There was a column on gender which indicated whether the candidate was male or female.

A Member indicated from the A list that there were 10 people who did not have any tick - what was the problem with the candidates who had no tick alongside his/her names?

Mr Grootboom noted that one candidate had an asterisk on the left side of his name – what did this indicate?  He emphasised the need to be consistent. He would have preferred a review of the A list with respect to languages the candidates offered. In the A list there was only one candidate with Afrikaans, no candidate with English. There were also only one or two candidates from the Western Cape and Free State. There is a need to agree on the A list in terms of language, gender and race distribution. If that was correct, one had also to understand the ratio would be 70/30. That was understood. He did not want to delay the process but would have liked to amend the A list in terms of English and Afrikaans. Of the languages represented in the A list, there was only one candidate with Afrikaans. He suggested the Committee get two or three candidates for Afrikaans and another two for English as these languages were currently not represented.

The Chairperson stated that English was on the A list.

Mr Grootboom disagreed.

The Chairperson asked whether the Member was saying English is a home language.

Mr Grootboom replied that this was English in a home language and in studies.

The Chairperson said there was a candidate with a BA in English and a Diploma in translation. There was however no candidate from the Western Cape but there were candidates with English in the A list. 

Mr Grootboom added also in a home language. This list did not recognise English.

The Chairperson asked which list does not recognise English. The list she was looking at also has information on the qualifications of the candidates.

Ms Bilankulu queried when talking about English, whether the discussion was concentrating on the home language or specialisation of a nominee. If the Committee was talking about specialisation then there are nominees who specialised in English. However if one was talking about home language, this was another matter. With regard to qualifications, the candidate which specialises in English can represent English-speaking people. She urged that the Committee proceed with the process. On the matter of gender, there were seven females and 13 males in the list.

A Member proposed the Committee make room for candidates with disabilities.

The Chairperson said there was one candidate with sign language as reported earlier – sign language is one of the languages being referred to when talking about PANSALB. She said the matter was taken cognisance of.

A Member noted that if problems were picked up, for example with English as a home language, it did not mean the Committee could not add a candidate to the list – this could be done if needed. She suggested that if Members felt a candidate may qualify they should add the name to the list. She urged the Committee to proceed without delay and make those suggestions.  With regard to applications, indicating English as a home language did not mean one is an expert in one’s home language.

A Member proposed that if the Committee did not have a problem with the A list, Members should agree on the names as presented. In addition, because Members have agreed to a shortlist of 25 candidates, he proposed the Committee goes to the B list or main list to identify the five considering requirements of language of specialisation. If there was a feeling that English was not fully, the Committee could even go to the main list and look at requirements of the candidates from the files. This file could be incorporated into the file with the 20 candidates already identified. This would push the list up to 25 candidates.

The Chairperson, referring to her point earlier, emphasised the importance of the process being within the legal framework to speak to the Act and advert put out – the Committee could be challenged on this.

Mr Grootboom supported the proposal and idea put forward by Ms S Tsoleli (ANC).

Ms Fiona Clayton, Researcher, Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture, answered Mr Grootboom on the asterisks on the left-hand pages – the asterisks indicated the candidates which were nominated but did not  submit certified copies of qualifications.

The Chairperson acknowledged entities have challenges and legal issues. Legal and financial expertise was required to guide the Board on financial and legal matters. This comes from the experience that entities were not doing well in terms of legal and financial matters.  PANSALB is a very important institution for the South African society. It always finds itself in a position of not being able to discharge its mandate. She requested the 20 names so that the Committee could agree that these were the people to be interviewed.

The candidates on the A list were read out.

Mr Grootboom asked if the Committee accepted what a Member suggested regarding adding to the names – is there agreement on this?

The Chairperson confirmed and said this was to create balance on languages. It was important to create that balance. The Committee could add names to the list if it so wishes.

The Chairperson asked how many ticks there were.

The Committee was informed that with regard to ticks on the right-hand side, there were 20.

A Member noted that when speaking about ticks on the right-hand side, there were single and double ticks.

The Committee was told that candidates with double ticks were the most qualified.

The list of 20 candidates were read out.

Mr Grootboom wished to add three candidates to the list for Afrikaans and English.

The Chairperson asked if Members agreed. She asked that the Committee staff give Members an idea of the provincial spread of the candidates selected.

 A Member wanted to include two candidates from the B list. He queried whether it was the possible for the administration to take the Committee through the qualifications of the candidates so that Members could check if they meet the requirements.

The Chairperson suggested that it was important to look at female representation.

Members proceeded to look at the list.

The Committee was informed that the list was not doing very well in terms of gender – from the original list of 20 candidates, seven were female and the remaining 13 were male. The additional candidates only included one female so there were four males and one female. It was suggested a candidate with a legal background be included from the B list. There was a female candidate on the B list. That would mean the list of five would comprise two females and three males.

Ms Tsoleli said the Committee needed to be fair. There was already a problem on the A list with males. The Committee could not have more males than females in the list. Of the list of five candidates, there is a need to have 60% female and 40% male. There were currently two females and three males – one male should fall away and another female added as a replacement.

Mr Grootboom proposed one female and two males.

Ms Clayton mentioned the overall problem with the regional nominations. There was a concern that males were dominating the nominations so it was suggested the Committee look at the females on the A list. Females were included as far as possible in the list of 20 candidates.

Ms Tsoleli referred to the problem of the shortage of females and proposed a greater number of females than males be included. She also proposed the inclusion of another candidate. The Committee should let one male candidate fall away. She proposed the inclusion of the two women already mentioned who also had legal expertise. She did not know which male was to fall away.

A Member noted that the one female candidate proposed by Ms Tsoleli was already on the list so the candidate would not be an addition. There is an additional female candidate who can be included – this was the other female candidate Ms Tsoleli referred to. There was then one additional female candidate which can be included.

The Chairperson confirmed the Committee was taking candidates from the B list and adding them to the list to be interviewed. She confirmed the name of the additional female candidate was included in the list of candidates to be interviewed.

The Members added additional candidates to the list.

The Chairperson asked that Members focus on those candidates not on the list of 20 i.e. mainly the five.  

The names were read out.

There was more conferring.

The Chairperson summed up by saying the Committee had the 25 candidates it would interview. The 20 names had been read out and all agreed those were the candidates to be interviewed. The names of the candidates to be added to the list of 20 were read out together with the five candidates to make the list of 25 the Committee initially said it wanted to interview.

The Chairperson asked for agreement that the names read out were those candidates to be called in for interviews. These names would be submitted today so as to kick start the process. She suggested the Committee give itself three or four days for the interviews.

Members agreed.

The meeting was adjourned.


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