Pan South African Language Board Interviews day 2

Arts and Culture

21 November 2018
Chairperson: Ms Xoliswa Tom (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Portfolio Committee conducted its second session of interviews for board members to be appointed to the Pan South African Languages Board (PanSALB).

The Committee had 10 shortlisted candidates, but one candidate withdrew from the race. The interview candidates were Ms Bernedette Muthien, Ms Lolie Makubu-Badenhorst, Mr Thulani John Mbuli, Mr Sibulelo Goodfriday Msomi, Mr Aubrey Greyling Mthembu, Mr Ben Ramadi Nkumane, Ms Siphesihle Mnguni- Ngingi, Mr Ntshengedzeni Edward Mudau and Ms Mariaan Magdalena Maartens.

The Committee members asked the candidates questions relating to PanSALB’s mandate according to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and the PanSALB Act of 1995. All candidates were asked the same set of questions, and were asked how their skills would contribute to the betterment of PanSALB. Members wanted to know what their values were and how they would be useful to the board. They were also asked how they would make sure all previously marginalised languages were treated equally and what they would do if there was no budget allocation for sign language which has been officially recognised as an examinable subject in schools. Members further enquired what their stance was on multilingualism and what they would do to ensure it was implemented in all state departments because PanSALB failed in this matter.

Some members expressed disappointment when the candidates who initially wanted to be interviewed in their own languages succumbed to forces that seemed to undermine their rights, but agreed to let the interview process be conducted in English. As a result, the concerned members felt the candidates were contradicting themselves. Many of the candidates had strong academic and professional backgrounds in language and corporate governance.

Each interview was 45 minutes long. Candidates were then informed of the procedure that would be  taken after the Interviews, the committee recommendations to the Minister who would then select candidates to be appointed, and the department would communicate the outcomes to both successful and unsuccessful candidates.

Meeting report

Candidate one: Ms Lolie Makubu-Badenhorst

Ms Makubu-Badenhorst initially requested to give her responses in isiZulu and an interpreter was provided by parliament. However, upon understanding time constraints and that there was no provision for simultaneous interpreting in committee rooms, the interview was fully conducted in English.

The Chairperson asked Ms Makubu-Badenhorst to introduce and market herself to the committee and highlight her experience in languages.

Mr T Makondo (ANC) asked what other skills besides those outlined in her CV and self-introduction she has got that would be useful to PanSALB, if she got appointed to the board, because the role of the board was to report to the government and provide strategies required in terms of the law.

Ms S Tsoleli (ANC) noted that Ms Makubu-Badenhorst had extensive knowledge of how the board functions. She asked what her understanding of PanSALB was in relation to the Constitution and PanSALB Act of 1995.

Ms V Mogotsi (ANC) asked how Ms Makubu-Badenhorst would ensure ethical leadership was practiced if she got appointed to the board. She also wanted to know if she understood what the role of a board member was.

Ms N November (ANC) wanted to establish how conflicts should be handled between board members and executives because they all have different roles.

Ms N Bilankulu (ANC) enquired how Ms Makubu-Badenhorst, as a language activist appointed to the PanSALB, would promote equality for all 11 official South African languages.  She further expressed disappointment in Ms Makubu-Badenhorst for agreeing to have the interview in English when she initially requested to be interviewed in isiZulu. She indicated she saw it as a contradiction when Ms Makubu-Badenhorst firmly stated that she gets irritated when forced to communicate in English.

Mr M Rabotapi (DA) asked how her values would assist the board, and he remarked it was obvious that Ms Makubu-Badenhorst would be expected to add value to the board through her expertise.

Mr G Grootboom (DA) wanted to know if she had learnt some of the Nama language seeing that she has learnt some French and Mandarin. He further asked her for her understanding of the use of indigenous languages in relation to Section 6, Subsection 2 and Subsection 6 of the Constitution which made provision for these languages to be used in universities and other government institutions. He also asked her how well the languages of isiXhosa and isiZulu were developed as scientific languages in academia.

Refer to audio for responses

Candidate two: Ms Bernedette Muthien

The Chairperson asked Ms Muthien to market herself to the committee and highlight her experience in languages.

Mr T Makondo asked Ms Muthien how she would ensure indigenous languages were developed, promoted and making sure they got the recognition and acknowledgement they deserved. He stated that Section 6 of the Constitution; subsection 2 and 5 recognised the 11 official languages in the country, but also acknowledged that the indigenous languages were diminished to promote others like English and Afrikaans. The PanSALB was established to promote these languages that were deliberately demoted by the apartheid system.

Ms Tsoleli wanted to know if Ms Muthien was still serving on the Iziko Museums board. She asked if Ms Muthien was aware of the racial branding incident at Iziko in 2016 which the media made a noise about it abroad.

Ms Mogotsi asked how Ms Muthien would ensure ethical conduct and integrity were observed; and she wanted to find out if she knew what the role of a board member was.

Ms November wanted to understand if Ms Muthien has got an idea of how conflicts could be resolved between the board and executives.

Ms Bilankulu wanted to establish how she would ensure all 11 official languages, including sign language were given equal status in the Western Cape. She remarked that the political will was good, but change must first begin in the society.

Mr Rabotapi asked how her values would assist the board.

Mr Grootboom wanted to find out about her understanding of PanSALB in relation to the Constitution and PanSALB Act of 1995.

Mr Makondo wanted to understand if she was equipped with conflict resolution strategies because she would be tasked with the responsibility of overseeing the affairs of the entity where there would be friction, not conflict, when executives disagree with the board.

 Ms Tsoleli asked what contribution she would make to promote indigenous languages to ensure they were not at risk of getting extinct, especially those spoken in deep rural areas.

Refer to audio for responses

Candidate three: Mr Thulani John Mbuli

Mr Mbuli initially requested to give his responses in isiZulu and an interpreter was provided by parliament. However, upon understanding of time constraints and that there was no provision for simultaneous interpreting in the committee room, the interview was fully conducted in English.

Mr  Makondo asked what Mr Mbuli would do, if appointed to the board, to ensure languages that were not given necessary respect were developed. He gave reference to Section 6 of the Constitution which recognised all official languages and the diminished use of local languages at the expense of the use of English and Afrikaans. He stated PanSALB was established to promote and create conditions for the development of the other languages that were deliberately diminished by the apartheid system. It has been “a song and talk show” to promote the 11 languages but nothing was being done to develop them. He also asked what he would do to ensure all government departments have a language policy that observed multilingualism because PanSALB has not been successful in this task.

Ms Tsoleli enquired what he would do to develop all the 11 languages because the Constitution was demanding they all be treated equally.

Ms Mogotsi wanted to find out how he would ensure there was always ethical leadership and integrity observed on the board; and she asked what values he was personally upholding.

Ms November wanted to know if Mr Mbuli has got suggestions on how conflict should be handled between the board and the executives.

Ms Bilankulu enquired how he would promote equality for marginalised languages.

Mr Rabotapi asked how his values would assist the board.

The Chairperson expressed concern about the chairpersons who were bossing board members in PanSALB. She said it was not good at all that PanSALB was in tatters.

Refer to audio for responses

Candidate four: Mr Sibulelo Goodfriday Msomi

Mr Makondo commended Mr Msomi for his published work at his TVET college, stating that it was a good piece of work although the name of the publication was in TshiVenda. He wanted to know what he would do about Section 6 of the Constitution which recognised that not all official languages were accorded equal status.

The Chairperson then asked the candidate what other skills besides his academic and professional accolades he would bring to the table to serve the PanSALB board.

Ms Mogotsi asked how he would uphold ethical leadership and integrity in the board; and wanted to know if he understood what the role of a board member was. She further asked him if he knew a thing about the code of good governance seeing that it could not be separated from ethical leadership.

Ms November asked him how he would resolve conflict that would be encountered with the executive.

The Chairperson added that experience has taught them that, at times, conflict arises between the board and management. The two teams, at times, tend to step into each other’s territory while at the same time oversight needed to be instituted. She then asked how a board member would resolve conflicts that arose in role playing between the executive and the board, especially when the human factor comes into play even though roles were clearly defined.

Ms Bilankulu asked him how he would close language gaps in the country - without fear, favouritism and prejudice - and make sure indigenous languages were on the same status with English and Afrikaans.

She further enquired what he was currently doing at his TVET college to promote African languages. She said young people tend to prefer English and they were feeling they were expressing themselves better in English. She wanted to find out how he was helping students to see value in African languages.

Mr M Rabotapi asked what values he was bringing to PanSALB and how these would assist the board.

Mr Makondo asked him to explain the difference between an interference and oversight.

The Chairperson asked how he would mitigate against instances where the CEO engaged a service provider without following right processes, keeping in mind the board was the accounting authority at the end of the day.

Mr Makondo wanted to find out if he has got any conflict of interest with PanSALB should he be appointed to the board.  He stated Mr Msomi is a young person who might be in business and wondered if this  would be an issue of concern for the board.

Mr Grootboom  wanted to understand what he would do if there could be no budget allocated to the South African Sign Language because it has been officially recognised as an examinable subject. He also asked him what he would do to ensure the promotion and development of a sign language.

 Refer to audio for responses

Candidate five: Mr Aubrey Greyling Mthembu

Mr Makondo remarked that PanSALB has failed even in instances when it was not supposed to. He said provinces like KwaZulu-Natal do not even have signage for public toilets in indigenous languages.

Ms Mogotsi asked how he would uphold ethical leadership and integrity in the board. She also asked what the role of a board member was.

Ms Bilankulu said Mr Mthembu was very knowledgeable and asked how his skills would help transform PanSALB as an institution.

Mr Rabotapi wanted to find out about what his values were and how these values would assist the board.

Mr Grootboom  asked him how he would promote the marginalised languages like Nama, Sign and Khoi.

Ms November asked Mr Mthembu how the board and executive would mitigate towards a unified action.

Ms Mogotsi asked how he would manage a conflict between the board and management, especially on financial matters.

Refer to audio for responses

Candidate six: Mr Ben Ramadi Nkumane

Mr Makondo asked him to explain the skills he has got in relation to the responsibilities that might be required for him to serve on the board; and he also asked him to broadly explain the mandate of PanSALB according to the Constitution and the 1995 PanSALB Act.

Ms November asked him how he would promote languages that were marginalised.

Ms Mogotsi wanted to understand what he would do to ensure ethical leadership and integrity were observed.

Ms Bilankulu wanted to know if he understood what PanSALB was about; and she asked him how he would ensure all languages were protected equally because part of the PanSALB mandate was to protect South African language rights.

Mr Rabotapi asked him what values he had and how these values would assist the board going forward.

Refer to audio for responses

Candidate seven: Ms Siphesihle Mnguni-Ngingi

Mr Makondo wanted to know if Ms Mnguni-Ngingi has got other skills than those she explained in her introduction in relation to the responsibilities that might be required for her to serve on the board. He also asked her to broadly explain the mandate of PanSALB according to the Constitution and the 1995 PanSALB Act.

Ms November asked her how she would promote languages that were marginalised such as Nama and Khoi.

Ms Mogotsi asked her whether financial management and finance policy setting were the duties of a board member; and enquired if she knew the portfolio committee that usually deals with budgeting and other finances for PanSALB. She further wanted to find out how she would uphold good governance through ethical leadership and integrity in the code of conduct of PanSALB.

Ms Bilankulu asked if she understood what PanSALB was all about and its purpose. She indicated that, amongst other things, PanSALB’s mandate was to protect South African language rights. She asked how Ms Mnguni-Ngingi would ensure all languages were protected equally. She further asked her to elaborate on what she meant when she mentioned ‘‘dictionaries in the provinces’’ and the responsibilities of the PanSALB regarding that; and she asked her to explain the objectives she was referring to when she mentioned ‘’2012 objectives that need to be adhered to”.

Mr Rabotapi asked her about her values and how these values would assist the board going forward.

Mr Grootboom wanted to find out about the skills she has got in financial management seeing that she has not mentioned them in her CV, but spoke quite extensively about them.

Refer to audio for responses

Candidate eight: Ms Mariaan Magdalena Maartens

Mr Makondo asked her about the skills she thought were required for one to serve on the board.

Ms November enquired what she would do to ensure all 11 official languages receive an equal standard of recognition.

Ms Mogotsi asked her how she would uphold ethical leadership and integrity in the board; and asked her what she thought the role of a board member was.

The Chairperson asked Ms Maartens to define the thin line between oversight and interference. She remarked that the role of a board member was to oversee what management was doing. There was usually a thin line between the roles of the board and senior management. The management usually seemed to feel that board members were interfering in their work.

Mr Rabotapi asked her about her values are and how these values would assist the board.

Ms Mogotsi wanted to establish if Ms Maartens has got any experience of serving on a board.

Mr Makondo wanted to know what she would do to promote the indigenous languages in South Africa so that they were on an equal footing with English and Afrikaans which were advantaged because more resources were allocated to their advancement in the past.

Ms Mogotsi wanted to find out what her stance was on multilingualism and why she thought it would be a good thing to practice it in both the government and private sector.

Mr Makondo wanted to understand if she has got any conflicting interests with the PanSALB that might cause problems if she got appointed to the board.

Ms November asked what Ms Maartens would do if conflict arose between the board and executive.

The Chairperson stated that communication was key in any relationship and that all boards of all were encouraged to ensure there was open communication with entities because small matters might end up big due to a lack of effective communication.

Refer to audio for responses

Candidate nine: Mr Ntshengedzeni Edward Mudau

Mr Makondo asked him about the skills he thought were required for one to serve on the board.

Ms November wanted to find out what he would do to ensure all 11 official languages receive an equal standard of recognition.

Ms Mogotsi asked how he would uphold ethical leadership and integrity in the board; and she also asked if he knew what the role of a board member was.

The Chairperson wanted to understand how he felt conflicts between the board and executives should be handled, especially when the executive felt the board was interfering in its work.

Mr Rabotapi asked what Mr Mudau’s values were and how these values would assist the board.

Ms Mogotsi asked if Mr Mudau has got any experience serving on a board.

Mr Makondo wanted to establish what he would do to promote the indigenous languages in South Africa so that they are on the same level with English and Afrikaans which have been advantaged because more funds were allocated to their advancement in the past.

Ms Mogotsi wanted to find out what his stance was on multilingualism and why he thought it would be a good thing to practice it in both the government and private sector.

Mr Makondo enquired if Mr Mudau had any conflicting interests with the PanSALB that might cause problems if he got appointed to the board.

Ms November wanted to understand how he would handle conflicts that would come up between the board and the executive.

The meeting was adjourned.

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