CGE board interviews: deliberation and recommendation of candidates for appointment

Appointment to the Commission for Gender Equality

14 March 2019
Chairperson: Ms N Ncube-Ndaba (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Chairperson commended the Members for their hard work and dedication during their term as the Ad Hoc Committee over the previous five years. She also appreciated the sacrifice of their time in conducting the interviews for the filling of vacancies for the Commission of Gender Equality (CGE) till late at night.

During the interviewing process some candidates had stood out, demonstrating their competence and suitability for the vacancies while other candidates’ interviews ranged from being very good, to good and also satisfactory. Those candidates who had criminal records or whose qualification verifications did not corroborate with their CVs had been given an opportunity to account to the Committee.

The skills required for appointment were: innovation, problem solving, conflict management, teamwork and interpersonal skills, knowledge of gender equality practices, principles as well as the CGE legislative framework. The candidates also had to have work experience which demonstrated substantial leadership skills. Other included the need for representation of different age groups, people living disability, the LGBT community as well as the geographical spread of the candidates. The candidates had to be South African citizens. Outgoing commissioners who were applying for a new term in office had to be available for both part-time and full-time positions, much like other candidates.

Members had rated candidates out of ten per expertise criterion. The rating process was deemed fair and just for all. Members evaluated each candidate according to the criteria out of a total score of 70 and ranked candidates according their scores. Three candidates appeared in the top 10 of all Members. The Committee debated whether it was procedural to publicise the names of the chosen candidates before the report was submitted to Parliament. The top three candidates were named and there were proposals that a male candidate be nominated as Chairperson. The proposal was opposed by other Members as a male had recently been Chairperson for two terms.

The Committee recommended ten candidates from which the President would decide on the appointment of six full-time and two part-time Commissioners. The additional nominations were to cater for the possibility of candidates withdrawing from their candidacy. The Committee recommended three candidates for immediate appointment. It was suggested that the President select a Chairperson from those three candidates. Other candidates would be appointed from the dates on which current Commissioners ended their terms of office.

The geographical spread of the candidates encompassed five provinces, including Mpumalanga, Western Cape, Gauteng, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal. Gender representation included males, females and non-binary candidates. The lists included people living disabilities. A few of the candidates were returning for continuity. The age spread ranged from 32 to 68 years old.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks by the Chairperson
The Chairperson commended the Members for their hard work and dedication during their term as the Ad Hoc Committee over the previous 5 years. She also appreciated the sacrifice of their time in conducting the interviews for the filling of vacancies for the Commission of Gender Equality (CGE), working till late at night on both interview days.

Selection of Candidates for Nomination
She noted that the candidates were all esteemed in their respective professional fields, with many of them being recommended and nominated for the vacancies by organisations, entities and individuals in important positions within society. During the interviewing process some candidates had stood out - inspiringly and stupendously demonstrated their competence and suitability for the vacancies; other candidates’ interviews ranged from being very good, to good and also satisfactory. The candidates who had criminal records and also those whose qualification verifications did not corroborate with their CVs were given an opportunity to account to the Committee.

In shortlisting the selected candidates, the aim was to primarily consider their motivation, skills and work experience, while broadly reflecting the composition of race and gender of South Africa - according to page 96, section 1.93.2 of the Constitution of South Africa. Specifically, the skills required for appointment pertain to: innovation, problem solving, conflict management, teamwork and interpersonal skills, knowledge of gender equality practices, principles as well as the CGE legislative framework. The candidates also had to have work experience which demonstrated substantial leadership skills. Other aspects discussed included the need for representation of different age groups, people living disability, the LGBT community as well as the geographical spread of the candidates. The candidates had to be South African citizens.

The Chairperson also cited that in finalising the list of the candidates to be recommended to the President’s Office, there would likely be disagreements amongst the members; but the most important thing would be to find common ground - in line with the Constitution of South Africa and the CGE Act. The Committee had agreed to recommend 12 candidates from which the President would then decide on the appointment of 6 full-time and 2 part-time Commissioners. This was done to cater for the possibility of candidates withdrawing from their candidacy. Each member had to rate each candidate out of 10 (per expertise criterion) on a scoresheet and also their overall comments and remarks on each of them. The rating process was deemed equally fair and just for all. The candidates who had previously served in the CGE did not get special treatment; they had to go through the same process as the rest of the candidates. The Chairperson then asked each member to read out their list of top 10 candidates in descending order, according to their overall scores.

Ms T Stander (DA) suggested that the outgoing Commissioners who were applying for a new term in office should be eligible for both part-time and full-time, much like the other selected candidates, if appointed to a new term. She stated that once the final list had been consolidated, each name should be reviewed against the state security report as well as the MIE qualifications verifications system, because there were candidates whose qualifications could not be verified and those who had state security issues.

The Chairperson stated that the Committee Legal Advisor, Adv Herman Tembe (Parliamentary Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy), reminded her that the Committee should also recommend a new Chairperson for the Commission, from amongst the chosen candidates. She indicated that the Deputy Chairperson was currently serving as the Acting Chairperson. While the Committee might recommend, the final decision would be made by the President.

Ms D Robinson (DA) stated that whichever candidate was to be recommended to be the Chairperson of the Commission would have to be available for full-time appointment.

Ms Stander listed her nominated candidate numbers as: 38, 76, 58, 37, 13, 75, 15, 72, 56, and 79. She then suggested that once members had all revealed their choices the names of the chosen candidates should be made public at the end of that very same meeting, after the Committee had deliberated; much like it was done during a previous selection process. She was advocating for the media representatives that were present at the meeting.

The Chairperson remained adamant that Committee was not accountable to the media and that the Committee would publicise the names once it had presented the recommendation report to Parliament. She felt that disclosing the names before that report was submitted could potentially jeopardise the process. She then ruled that she would not continue dialoguing on this matter with Ms Stander.

Ms Stander responded, stating that the Chairperson cannot shut down the discussion. She pleaded that the Committee should check how the process was previously undertaken. She reminded the Chairperson that she was the one who had stated that publicising the names did not matter because the process was being televised anyway.

Ms S Morutua (ANC) stated that Parliamentary processes are the same across the board and should be consistently followed. She added that the relevant information would be stipulated in the report that would be adopted by the Committee.

There was then a brief recess when some of the Members went to vote at the National Assembly.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) listed her nominated candidate numbers as: 15, 58, 38, 13, 37, 76, 75, 79, 71, and 72.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP):, 38, 37, 13, 58, 76, 15, 43, 71 and 79.
Ms W Newhoudt-Druchen (ANC): 38, 37, 75, 71, 58, 15, 13, 76, 79 and 70.
Ms S Khawula (EFF): 38, 65, 37, 75, 70, 72, 13, 85, 63 and 15.
Dr S Thembekwayo (EFF): 15, 38, 58, 13, 75, 37, 76, 70, 79 and 71.
Ms Robinson: 13, 37, 75, 15, 56, 72, 76, 69, 79 and 70.
Ms Morutua: 79, 15, 58, 38, 75, 13, 71, 37, 20, and 70.
Ms B Maluleke (ANC): 15, 13, 38, 58, 75, 76, 79, 37, 71 and 20.
Dr Maesela (ANC): 15, 38, 76, 37, 13, 71, 79, 72, 75 and 20.
The Chairperson: 15, 38, 58, 13, 76, 75, 37, 79, 70 and 71.

The Chairperson suggested that the Members should each indicate the scores they gave to each candidate in order to determine the top 10 candidates; because some Members have selected candidates that were not selected by any of the other Members. Thereafter, the overall scores given by each Member, for every given candidate, would be added up and averaged (by the numbers of Members).

Ms van der Merwe pointed out that there were already about 5 candidates that were unanimously part of each Member’s top 10 list. Therefore, there would not be a need to add up their scores. However, the Chairperson’s suggestion could be considered for the candidates that were not unanimously selected. She added that this would be the best method because the aim was not to find which candidate had the highest score amongst the lot.

The Chairperson noted the importance of recording and adding up the scores of each candidate, given by every Member in order to maintain the integrity and credibility of the process and to ensure fairness. She felt that not doing so would introduce uncertainty in the case of having multiple candidates having similar overall scores.

Ms Stander stated that the ranking process was not made clear and that the Members who were part of a similar process in the previous year also based their selection of candidates on consensus; taking for granted the possibility of discrepancies in the shortlisting. She explained the two methods that the Committee could use: by consensus of commonly selected candidates; by ranking the candidates according to their average scores calculated from those given by each Member. She asked the Committee to consider the fact that not every Member was present during the meetings and the numbers used to average the overall scores would be inconsistent.

Dr Maesela reminded the Committee that each Member had already scored each of the candidates individually and that the Chairperson ruled that the names would not be revealed before the report was adopted. He thought the candidates would simply be ranked according to their scores, given by the different candidates; so there should not be cause for any confusions and delays.

Ms Morutua concurred with Dr Maesela.

The Chairperson clarified that the secretary would record and consolidate the individual scores that were given by each Member.

Ms van der Merwe pointed out that the Committee were actually on the same page, citing that there were already multiple candidates that were common amongst all the Members.

The Chairperson ruled that the process that would be used would be based on consensus and asked that the Members should ensure that they ranked the candidates according to the score they gave them.

Ms Khawula asked what would be done with the forms the Members used to score the candidates.

The Chairperson indicated that they would be collected by the Secretary and used in consolidating the results.

Ms Stander stated that the consensus method would not specifically order the candidates according to preference; it would only give the top 10 candidates.

Ms Maluleke disagreed with Ms Stander, stating it would not matter whether the Members give just the candidate numbers or the scores of each candidate because the list being read out by each Member was already ranked in descending order according to the score totals.

Ms van der Merwe objected and stated that giving only the list ranked according to scores would only give the vote tallies which each candidate has accumulated and would not automatically rank them – it would not solve the case where multiple candidates receive an equal amount of votes.

Ms van der Merwe moved on this motion and Dr Thembekwayo seconded it.

The Chairperson asked them to reread the candidates according to the scores they have given.
Ms Robinson: 13, 37, 75, 15, 56, 72, 76, 69, 79 and 70.
Dr S Thembekwayo: 15, 38, 58, 13, 75, 37, 76, 70, 79 and 71.
Ms S Khawula: 38, 65, 37, 75, 70, 72, 13, 85, 63 and 15.
Dr Maesela: 15, 38, 76, 58, 13, 37, 71, 79, 20 and 88.
Ms Morutua: 15, 38, 58, 13, 75, 37, 76, 79, 71 and 20.
Ms B Maluleke: 15, 38, 58, 13, 75, 37, 76, 79, 71 and 20.
Ms W Newhoudt-Druchen: 38, 37, 75, 71, 58, 15, 13, 76, 79 and 70.
Ms L van der Merwe: 75, 38, 37, 13, 58, 76, 15, 43, 71 and 79.
Ms Tseke: 15, 58, 38, 13, 37, 76, 75, 79, 71 and 20.
Ms Stander: 38, 76, 58, 37, 13, 75, 15, 72, 56, and 79.
The Chairperson: 15, 38, 58, 13, 76, 75, 37, 79, 70 and 71.

The Chairperson recapped that the Committee had decided to elect candidates who were well-versed in the legislative framework of the CGE as well as issues surrounding gender equality and its promotion. Another key quality needed was problem solving, particularly in conflict management. Also, the candidates had to have good interpersonal and teamwork skills because Commissioners work as a collective, in a board. They had to demonstrate that they understood the role they would play as Commissioners and that they would be able to operate optimally with the limited resources. They also had to also motivate why they felt they were suitable for the job.

The Chairperson reconfirmed that all of the candidates were South African citizens were all competent. Some had more of relevant work experience than others. The ones with state security issues and those with qualification verification discrepancies had all accounted to the Committee. The Committee was enlightened on LGBT matters by some of the candidates.

Selection of Recommended Candidates
The Content Advisor of the Committee announced the vote tallies for the top 10 candidates as follows (listed as “candidate number: total votes”): 15: 11 votes; 13: 11 votes; 37: 11 votes; 38: 10 votes; 76: 10 votes; 75: 10 votes; 79: 10 votes; 58: 9 votes; 71: 8 votes; 70: 5 votes.

The remainder of the votes for the candidates were distributed as: 20: 4 votes; 72: 3 votes; 56: 2 votes; 43: 1 vote; 88: 1 vote; 69: 1 vote; 65: 1 vote; 85: 1 vote; 63: 1 vote.

Ms van der Merwe asked if the Committee would be recommending 8 candidates to Parliament.

The Chairperson explained that although the Committee would recommend 8 candidates, the report would still contain the top 10 candidates in order to cater for candidates that may decide to withdraw their candidacy or for other unforeseen events.

The Members all agreed on the 10 candidates that were selected.

The Content Advisor indicated that that the geographical spread of the candidates encompassed five provinces, including Mpumalanga, Western Cape, Gauteng, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal. Gender representation included males, females and non-binary candidates. There were also people living disabilities. A few of the candidates were returning for continuity. The age spread ranged from 32 to 68 years old. A total of nine of the selected candidates had indicated that they would prefer full-time appointment and the other candidate’s survey form was missing.
Ms Stander reminded the Chairperson that she had asked that the Committee should double-check the candidates on the state security and the qualification verification systems.

The Chairperson told Ms Stander that the vetting process would be conducted by the Presidency because it was the President who appointed. The Committee had done its role in screening the candidates. The Chairperson stated that the Committee should continuously check on the appointed candidates and hold them accountable to their positions.

Ms Tseke pointed out that the results should be procedurally adopted.

Resolution
Ms van der Merwe formally proposed the motion to adopt the results of the short-listing and Ms Khawula seconded the motion. The ANC, EFF and IFP supported the motion. The DA reserved its rights.

The Chairperson called for a recess to give the support staff some time to consolidate the results into the report.

Consideration and adoption of the report on the recommendation of candidates for the CGE
On page 1 Ms Stander suggested a correction on paragraph 1, on the 4th line - to insert “in terms of” before the words “the Commission of Gender Equality Act”. She also suggested a reduction of the 5th line into: “The Committee, as mandated, exercised the necessary powers in terms of the rules of the National Assembly”. She added that page 2, section 3.1, under the “Committee Meetings” heading, should include that the Committee had elected the Ms Ncube-Ndaba to be the Chairperson on 24 October 2018.

A few Members pointed out mistakes in their initials, titles and the spelling of their surnames.

Ms Morutua asked if there were any reasons why the names of the Members were not titled with “Honourable” instead of ‘Ms’ and ‘Mr’.

Ms Stander proposed the reduction of the last paragraph on page 2 by rephrasing it as: “This extension was to enable the Committee reasonable time for the application process, including civil society inputs as well as screening and verification of candidates.”

The Members supported Ms Stander’s proposition.

Ms Stander then asked if there were any details that Members needed to be updated on concerning the Committee’s meeting on 22 January 2019 about the progress made on the filling of CGE vacancies: the number of applications received or the extent of public participation.

Dr Thembekwayo pointed out that the report of the meeting on 22 January subsequently clarified all the relevant details concerning the comments obtained from public participation.

The Chairperson stated that the sequence of events should be chronologically reflected by the report. She also indicated that the closing date for public participation was advertised as 10 December 2018 but did not indicate when the advert was first published.

Ms Maluleke pointed out that the unavailability of the SSA screening report had delayed the shortlisting process of candidates and suggested that this should be included in the report.

Dr Maesela suggested the rephrasing of the sentence to be: “The unavailability of the SSA screening report led to the postponement of the shortlisting of candidates.”

Ms Stander suggested that, for the sake of time, the Members should not focus on grammatical and stylistic amendments to the report but rather focus on its content and ensure that it was a true reflection of the sequence of events during the entire process of the filling of vacancies. She added that the support staff members were more than capable of dealing with the fine detail of how the sentences were structured and that they would do at a later time.

The Chairperson disagreed with Ms Stander’s suggestion.

Ms van der Merwe suggested that the Members should take some time to read through the pages and ensure that the content was stipulated accurately, representing the processes that had been followed. Then on the following day the support staff could work on the minor changes and then circulate the final draft to all the Members via email for them to confirm that they were satisfied with the report.

The Chairperson disagreed with Ms van der Merwe and insisted that every change should be done during the meeting, while all the Members were present, in order for the Committee to do justice to the report.

Ms Stander pointed out that the grammatical and stylistic suggestions would differ amongst the different Members and that this could cause delays. She suggested that it be only a few Members who would do the corrections during a short recess in order to speed up the process.

The Chairperson disagreed and stated that every Member had a copy of the report and should be allowed to have an input in the corrections they would like to suggest.

Ms Stander pointed out that paragraph (on page 3) that spoke about the need to engage the Speaker of the National Assembly (NA) about blockages that were hindering the progress of the Ad Hoc Committee required a reference to the correspondence received from Ms Nare, former Chairperson of the CGE. She stated that that paragraph needed to under a separate heading.

The Chairperson suggested that there should be a separate heading under which there would be different paragraphs that contain all correspondence information from different individuals, such as Ms Nare.

Ms van der Merwe asked that the correspondence information should not be written under a separate heading because the Committee had deliberated on the matter and concluded that it would not deal with it because Ms Nare had addressed it to the Speaker of the NA; the Committee only read it, became aware of it and then referred it to the Parliamentary Legal Services. She suggested that the current report’s comment on the matter should be limited to indicating that sequence of events, instead of including the actual correspondence details.

Ms van der Merwe suggested that the Members should go through the content detail of the report and allow the support staff to make the minor grammatical and stylistic changes by the next day in the morning; she added that they would then circulate the edited draft to the Members for final check before it was published.

Dr Thembekwayo supported Ms van der Merwe’s suggestion.

The Chairperson approved this suggestion.

Dr Maesela differed and stated that there was only 1 page left to the report and that the process of proposing changes would not take much longer.

The Chairperson told Dr Maesela that the Members would review the report once the support staff sent it via email the next morning. She stated that if the Members had any more comments on the edited draft they would have to submit them back via email before 09:00 that morning.

Ms Stander pointed out that on page 8, section 9.2, misrepresented the decision made by Committee, which was to recommend 10 names, not in any order of preference.

Ms Khawula interjected and stated that the Ms Stander was no longer following what the Chairperson had ruled, regarding grammatical and stylistic changes. She asked the Chairperson to take control.

Ms Stander clarified that she was making suggestions on substantive issues, not grammatical errors.

Ms Stander pointed out that in a previous meeting, when the Committee was shortlisting the candidates to be interviewed, she had made recommendations that had not been captured by the report. She recalled that she proposed that in order to save time and money, with verifications and settings, the advertisements should state that the certified copies of identity documents and qualifications had to be included with the applications.

The Chairperson stated that the Committee had to recommend three candidates who would replace the Commissioners whose contracts had been terminated on 30 December 2018, 30 January 2019 and 30 March 2019. Those three candidates would start with immediate effect because the CGE was short-staffed. The rest of the candidates would then come into office as Commissioners ended their terms. The Committee should also recommend a new Chairperson of the CGE. The part-time and full-time allocations would be done by the Presidency with reference to the preferences indicated by the candidates.

Ms van der Merwe noted that there were three candidates that were unanimously recommended – candidates 37, 13 and 15.

Dr Maesela expressed that it may be problematic to recommend the three candidates if the recommended Chairperson of the CGE also happened to be one of those three candidates because it wouldn’t be make sense for the appointed individual to begin serving as a Commissioner and then suddenly be promoted to the Chairperson role.

The Chairperson replied that it would be the President who would select the Chairperson of the CGE, anyway. The role of the Committee was to recommend: the three candidates that would start working as Commissioners, with immediate effect; seven other candidates later join the first three; and also a Chairperson of the CGE. Those recommendations would assist the President in making a decision and would not serve as a directive.

The Chairperson and the rest of the Members agreed with Ms van der Merwe’s suggestion.

Ms van der Merwe identified the three candidates that she had proposed as Ms Jennifer Smout, Mr Mbuyiselo Albert Botha and Ms Octavia Ntuli-Tloubatla. She suggested that the Committee should recommend one of the three as a potential Chairperson of the CGE and that selecting a male Chairperson for a Gender Equality Commission would make a powerful statement.

The Chairperson objected to Ms van der Merwe, stating that the CGE’s previous Chairperson before Ms Nare was a man who had served for nearly two full terms.

Ms van der Merwe highlighted that Mr Botha had had a proven track record and had shown his commitment. He was making media appearances and publishing articles, advocating for gender equality. He had the necessary work experience and the knowledge of the internal operations of the CGE.

Ms Khawula supported Ms van der Merwe, stating that Mr Botha had proven to be competent, had a wealth of experience and was passionate about the realisation of gender equality.

The Chairperson disagreed that the Committee should elect Mr Botha because of his gender.

Ms van der Merwe clarified that that was not the basis of her recommendation. She stated that she had suggested him because making the Chairperson male would show that men were also part of the quest for gender equality. She also mentioned that Mr Botha, during his interview, had stated that men should also champion the idea of gender equality in society.

Ms Morutua proposed that Ms Octavia Ntuli-Tloubatla be recommended as the Chairperson.

Dr Maesela pointed out that the Chairperson should only direct the proceedings and not have an input in the decisions being made in the meeting. She could not be agree and disagree with what the Members were proposing. That was not procedural.

Dr Maesela suggested that the Committee should immediately recommend the three candidates shortlisted for the Chairperson role. The Committee should not choose a single candidate.

Members all supported Dr Maesela’s proposal.

Ms Stander indicated that she had recommended (during the shortlisting meeting) that the shortlisting should be conducted once the dates for applications and public participation process had closed. Instead of waiting for the vetting and security clearance, the shortlisting could be done on the information submitted by the candidates and the public input. The shortlisted names could then be sent to state security and to the Human Resources Department for the final vetting, making the process much quicker and cheaper. She did not find that recommendation in the report and asked for it to be included.

The Committee support staff indicated that Parliament had agreed that the Committee should finalise all of its outstanding reports by 15 March 2019 and that the term of the Committee would end at that point.

Ms van der Merwe suggested that the outstanding minutes should be emailed along with the report the following morning. The Members would then also check the minutes and communicate any proposed changes to the support staff.

Adv. Tembe indicated that although the Committee had allocated six full-time and two part-time positions, the Deputy Chairperson of the CGE applied for a conversion, leaving five full-time and three part-time positions. He suggested that one of the three recommended candidates should be given a full-time position.

The Chairperson proposed that the incoming Deputy Chairperson should be full-time, along with the top five candidates, in order to make up the six full-time positions required.

Ms van der Merwe moved for the adoption of the report on the selection of candidates as Commissioners on the CGE Board, with amendments; Ms Tseke seconded the motion.

The Committee discussed the minutes, most of which had been included in the report. The minutes were adopted with technical amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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