Heritage Western Cape council shortlisting: preparations

Community Safety, Cultural Affairs and Sport (WCPP)

10 September 2019
Chairperson: Mr R Allen (DA)
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Meeting Summary

Documents handed out: Scoring sheet [not approved yet]

The Committee met with the Director of Museum Services from the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport to deliberate on the candidates for the Heritage Western Cape council. The discussion included clarity about the long list of 42 nominations; discussion on the differences between vetting, security check-up or verification of candidates; mechanisms for ensuring that information is accurate; role of the Committee in the shortlisting process and whether to interview; the process followed by previous committees; development of process and criteria for shortlisting; fair representation of cultural groups; regulations applicable; fair scoring of candidates; and development of scoring sheet.

The Committee suggested that a resolutions tracker be developed that includes to what extent MECs take note of Committee recommendations.

 

Meeting report

The Chairperson said that the Committee was to deliberate on the nominations they have received for the Heritage Western Cape council. Before the Committee deliberated on the full list of candidates for shortlisting, he asked for any pressing questions of clarity on the process.

Mr G Bosman (DA) explained that in the previous meeting the Committee had asked for a list of those candidates who used to be on the Board. Could the Committee have this list of members and their contributions? Has this been distributed?

The Chairperson said that they had the list and that Dr Dlamuka would be available only for 15-30 minutes. Could the Committee get clarity on the 'long list' and the vetting process that was undertaken? Was such a process undertaken?

Dr Mxolisi Dlamuka , Director: Museum Services, Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) said there was no vetting at this stage. Vetting had not been asked for, but it was a crucial matter.

Ms L Botha (DA) asked if anything was prohibiting the Committee, at this stage,from asking for vetting on all the candidates.

Dr Dlamuka thought that there was nothing prohibiting this, but that it would be better if an execitive decision on vetting could be made. Netting should be done for those candidates the Minister wants to appoint. Vetting could sometimes be a very lengthy process. In the public service, vetting is not necessarily done on staff; instead, security check-ups are done as vetting is done by the Intelligence Service and normally takes a while. In this case, DCAS might not necessarily do vetting but rather a security check-up.

Mr Bosman asked if the word 'vetting' could be taken away and replaced with the word 'verified'. Is there a process to verify the people that have been nominated? The way that it was understood was that individuals nominated candidates or candidates nominated themselves. The Committee and Department were trusting that the information that the candidates provided about themselves was true and accurate. What mechanisms are in place to make sure that that information corresponds with the truth?

Dr Dlamuka agreed that there may be a need for the verification of CVs and qualifications to ensure that there is no falsification. This is in light of what had been seen in the past weeks.The level of security check was crucial. He requested that he inform the Head of Department so that an executive decision could be made, and for consideration to be made on the vetting of those candidates the Minister recommended for appointment.

Ms Botha asked what would be the difference in time to conclude a verification rather than vetting.

Ms A Bans (ANC) noted that there were 40 applications. She agreed with Dr Dlamuka that the shortlisting should first be done and then verification thereafter.

Dr Dlamuka replied about the time difference between vetting and verification. Vetting was done by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) whilst verification was done by security service providers in government. Verification normally took, on average, about a week. This was not the same as vetting, because vetting had different levels such as top secret, high secret and confidential. Thus, vetting is a very technical process. If the MEC shared the same view, verification could be done. The Committee could recommend to the Minister that before she appoints members, she should consider verifying their credentials.

The best way was vetting those who the Minister wishes to appoint. Although it is understood that sometimes it is not possible to pick up on a number of issues during the long list process as vetting had not been done. Going forward, perhaps, before the Department sent the long list there should be a basic security check on candidates. This is so that the information presented to the Committee meets the minimum requirements for people to be put on the shortlist. For example, one of the requirements is that nominees must be South African citizens – the Department did not do this vetting, as they relied on the information that was provided. Whether this information was true can only be determined through verification. He agreed that verification was required before an appointment could be made and requested that the Committee make this recommendation to the MEC.

The Chairperson heard what Dr Dlamuka was saying and agreed with Mr Bosman. As this was a new committee, could light be shed on how this was done previously? It is understood that it is the Committee's role to shortlist. However,the process was not prescribed on whether there were interviews or ranking, and whether this was by consensus through voting on each and every candidate. How was this done previously? What learning could be taken from previous committees? The process should not be rushed as it was important.

Dr Dlamuka said that he would not know how the previous Committee went through the process and thought that the Procedural Officer might be right person to answer this. What could be shared with the Committee was his experience when it came to these processes. At one stage he had been an advisor to the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture in the National Assembly where one of the constitutional bodies was the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB). The legislation required that the Committee conducts this process and prescribed that there should be interviews. In this case, legislation does not prescribe this as it only states that the Committee is to conduct shortlists. In doing this, the Committee can be guided by Parliament but the Committee can also develop its own procedures on how it is going to do this.

Mr Waseem Matthews, Procedural Officer, said that in the previous committee, when it came to shortlisting, each Member would indicate against specific criteria a score out of five. Based on this, a ranking could be obtained from lowest to highest. The Committee would then base its decision on that ranking. Ranking is not something that is mandatory, as it was just a mechanism that the previous committee used. Also, the number of candidates were far fewer and did not exceed the low 20s, so during the scoring process the Committee was not considering a long list of candidates. This might not be useful with the current list of 42 nominees. It depended on the Committee and how they wanted to develop their own process because the Committee would be dealing with two other entities – the Western Cape Language Committee and Western Cape Cultural Commission. These terms of these entities would also come to an end during the Committee's five-year term. There are instances where there might be vacancies in the other entities and shortlisting would also be necessary. It was the Committee’s decision on how they saw fit to carry on the process.

Mr Bosman proposed that the Committee agree to look at the 40 names and come up with a list of people that they would like score. The Committee would thus use the criteria and score members on whether they met the minimum criteria which should be included – for example, whether they are South African citizens. Could Mr Matthews provide the Committee with the criteria that were used before so that Members could see if they wanted to adjust these? This would be helpful. The Committee would then score the candidates based on whether they thought they met the minimum criteria and agree to meet the candidates. For a body as important as HWC council, it is important to speak to the people and gauge who are to be appointed there. He suggested that the Committee include some time to interview 25 candidates as 20 names needed to be submitted to the Minister. The Committee would invite interview these candidates on questions developed by the Committee and also apply a scoring mechanism to it. After that, the Committee would make recommendations to the Minister.

Ms Bans went back to the criteria. Were the criteria set by the Department or would the Committee decide on and have influence over the criteria? Where are the criteria?

Dr Dlamuka replied that, broadly, the criteria could be found in legislation. However, these criteria are not at  level at which the Committee should conduct its business. The legislation just says that the Minister must submit candidates to the Standing Committee. What should then guide the criteria is what is found in the advertisement as this was crucial. For example, if the Committee submitted 20 names through recommendation, it should ensure that those 20 names in fact have a variety of expertise as listed in the advertisement. It is crucial to ensure that the Minister has a shortlist that is balanced. In HWC council, someone who has experience in built environment and architecture, planning, social history, palaeontology and a number of sub-disciplines eventually influences the nature of the work of HWC council. All of these attributes are found in the application pack where people indicate their expertise and experience. Provincial Parliament would need to find out in terms of its role, if the Committee is empowered to interview. If it is empowered, which provisions empower the Committee to do so? Are there House Rules which allow the Committee to do so?

Mr P Marais (FF+) arrived and apologised for being late.

The Chairperson duly noted Mr Marais’ apology. Going forward, it was understood that there are two requirements to consider by the Minister with regard to appointment of 4 and 14. No Member may serve for two consecutive terms. It is understood that, based on this, no one was reapplying to serve for a third term as only five had reapplied. He informed Mr Marais that the Committee was deliberating the process for  shortlisting candidates for the HWC council.

Ms Marais mentioned that the Committee was a vital component to establishing cultural rights. The Committee was to ensure that all of the cultural groups are adequately represented. When looking at the applicants, did the Committee take the various cultural groups into account to ensure that all cultural groups are adequately represented?

The Chairperson said that the Committee was dealing with heritage.

Mr Bosman noted that Mr Marais did not have the benefit of being present earlier. The Committee was going to consider the various cultural groups but were currently discussing the process of developing criteria for shortlisting. The Committee discussed that they should put together criteria for selecting members to serve on the HWC council. The shortlisting for the Cultural Commission would be happening at a later stage. He agreed with Mr Marais that, broadly, representatives or people with understanding of the significance of cultural groupings and its impact on heritage was important. However, the Committee was not currently discussing the broad detail as they were only discussing the process going forward. The Committee agreed that Mr Matthews would send Members the criteria, hopefully quickly, and that a rubric would be developed where the Committee was to ensure that each of the different requirements for the expertise that HWC council needed to have were there. Committee members would then on their own go through the 42 nominations received. The Committee would thereafter score the individuals, come to the next committee meeting to agree on a shortlist of people to interview, and make a recommendation of 20 names to the Minister to choose from.

The Chairperson said that the Committee would consider the qualifications and experience and process them in line with the requirements for areas of expertise. Thus there were various factors that needed to be taken into account to compile a shortlist.

Ms R Windvogel (ANC) suggested that the criteria in the advertisement should be used for the shortlisting.

Ms Bans apologised for always going back to the criteria. However, she needed clarity while Dr Dlamuka was still present and she had not seen the criteria in the advertisement. Was there something that said the Department wanted everyone to be represented geographically? 

The Chairperson remembered that this was briefly discussed at the 20 August 2019 meeting. Could Dr Dlamuka reiterate on this point?

Dr Dlamuka replied that it was a crucial element because, for quite a long time, the perception has been established that Heritage Western Cape is in fact Heritage Cape Town. For quite a long time, a lot of work has been around Cape Town. However, the heritage of the province was not the heritage of the city. Whilst the majority of people are in the city, the heritage that is found throughout the province is as equally as important as that found in Cape Town. It is crucial that the HWC council is fairly representative, and that there are people from the West Coast and all different regions. The Karoo was one region where inroads were trying to be made, as there are crucial elements of diverse heritage that sits in the Karoo. Currently, in this week, the Department was going to Prince Albert to have a stakeholder engagement. The Department had called all people from the Great Karoo to discuss how assistance could be provided to protect heritage. It is crucial that, in the shortlist, the Committee also zoom in on the geographical spread. This was found in Regulation 17 by requiring that, in appointing, various things need to be taken into consideration. Subsection (d) spoke about cultural, geographical and demographic considerations. What Mr Marais spoke about in the context of the Cultural Commission likely applied here as there had to be cultural, geographical and demographic diversity.

The Chairperson confirmed that the criteria used previously by the Committee for the shortlisting, as Mr Matthews confirmed earlier, was the criteria given in the presentation received on 20 August 2019. This gave the requirements and sub-disciplines in which a nominee should have experience. They would ensure that all Members had a copy of the long list, the matrix system, experience and qualifications necessary. All the requirements would be taken into consideration to compile a shortlist using a ranking system. He thanked the Department for their presence. He hoped that the Committee had clarity. The Committee now needed to decide on the process. He asked for input and comment.

Mr Bosman asked if it was possible to get the criteria used previously so that the rubric could be done and sent to Members electronically so they would be able to come to the following meeting prepared with their scoring. Members have already gone through the applications, and now just needed to score it.

Ms Bans asked if the Regulation 17 mentioned by Dr Dlamuka could be added.

In response to Mr Bosman, Mr Matthews said the previous Committee followed the same format in having the Department present first. The information given in the presentation and the regulations were used to determine the shortlisting. This was not extensive in creating criteria by saying, for example, that candidates must meet four of the specialised areas. Members’ scoring was based on whatever the qualifications and experience were of the nominees, and this was how consensus through scoring ended up on the ranking. In essence, two members could score the same candidate completely differently however, the total thereof would lead to the final scoring.

Mr Bosman was worried that it was difficult to defend the process. If an applicant had a query and asked about the process, would the Committee confidently be able to say that it was a fair process? Had anyone felt aggrieved by that process?

Mr Matthews replied that there was no person who expressed dissatisfaction. The Minister may appoint between 4 to 14 persons. What the Committee did was submit a list of 20 persons, which would give the Minister the option to fully capacitate the council. Obviously, the names shortlisted would be people that would fit the profile of being able to be productive in terms of qualifications and experience. He could not recall if there was a ranking however, there was a preferred order and a B-list where, in the case of vacancies or people being dismissed, the Minister would first have to exhaust the additional names before coming back to the Committee. However, that was not for HWC council, but for the other two entities for which there was a different process where the Committee did the advertisements, and everything resided with the Committee. In this instance for HWC council, the Committee received set information from the Department and the Committee is to choose from the compilation of names. It would also avoid having to go through the process several times if there is an existing list of persons. Obviously, if the list is exhausted one would have to re-advertise. There were no queries following the shortlisting.

Ms Bans agreed with Mr Bosman that if the Committee did not have the criteria in front of them, it would not be wise for the Committee to do everything now. It would be better to reconvene sooner and then finalise. This is better than the Committee getting the criteria now, rushing through it and not having applied their minds thoroughly. The reason she was constantly referred back to the demographics was Members had spent time on this and Dr Dlamuka had said that only Cape Town had been represented in the past. This time other regions of the Western Cape were to be included. If the Committee had the criteria, they can think how best to accommodate these without rushing so that there are no comebacks.

Mr Marais stood corrected as it could have been covered before but the Committee should look more broadly. When serving on a Committee like this one, muscles start being flexed. There should not be holy cows which cannot be spoken of. One of these holy cows was that he detested being called a “kleurling”. What is kleurling culture? The Committee was going say that they would be addressing culture. Whose culture? Out there, there was a rejection of this term as it is derogatory. This Committee should say what its views are if people ask the Committee for help as they are not kleurling but rather Griqua, Namaqua or Khoi. Griqua, Namaqua or Khoi was the designation they attached to themselves and each are cultures. Kleurling is not a culture. There is no such thing as a kleurling culture. The Committee had to address what were holy cows in the past. They had to face these head on to be seen to be making a difference. This could be a debate and the Committee had to get the various groups to say how they feel about the title that the apartheid regime had given them.

The Chairperson appreciated Mr Marais’ comment, shared his views and was sure that the Committee could have this discussion going forward. However, the Committee needed to stick to why they were meeting today to resolve the process moving forward and to compile a shortlist. The next available date for the Committee to meet is 1 October 2019. Members had to remember that the session would be coming to an end on 31 October 2019. Members would receive a document to score the candidates. The Committee will then work down the list of candidates on 1 October 2019 and rank them using that format. After the shortlisting, the verification process would be undertaken by the Department.

Mr Matthews provided an example of an excel scoring sheet and asked if Members wanted a similar scoring sheet for each Member.

Mr Bosman suggested the list include the criteria.

Mr Marais said that he did not have the list of candidates and asked if he had been purposefully overlooked.

The Chairperson confirmed that on 22 August 2019 Mr Marais had signed for the list himself and so had received the document.

The Chairperson said Mr Matthews would sum up the process on the forward. Hopefully in the 1 October meeting, the Committee would be able to conclude. There was a strict deadline the Committee wanted to adhere to before 31 October 2019.

Mr Matthews said that he would make the proposed amendments to the list and include the criteria. Members would use the criteria to make notes. At the 1 October meeting, the Committee would do the scoring from this. This could be shown on the projector so that it is open for everyone to see. A report could even be done. In this way everyone would see what is happening, and the Committee could send it off as soon as possible.

Adoptions and Resolutions
The minutes for 20 August 2019 meeting were adopted.

Mr Bosman made a suggestion on process. Due to the cluster of three portfolios and to make Mr Matthews’ job easier, is it possible to develop a resolutions or decisions tracker? This was for the Committee to keep an excel spreadsheet or document with the date of meeting, item on which the decision was made, and a record of every decision. It might be a lot easier for committee members to refer back to this than to go back and refer to the minutes every time.

The Chairperson confirmed that this was doable and thanked Mr Bosman for the suggestion.

Mr Marais wanted to know to what extent Ministers took note of the Committee’s recommendations. When the Committee interviewed officials, came to conclusions, passed resolutions and then informed the Minister, could the Committee have a report-back to say what the Minister’s response was to the resolution? Or is the Committee just a resolution factory with no production? He was concerned that there were many resolutions being taken by the committees but they never get a letter back from the Minister at the next meeting saying that the Minister had seen the resolution, is in favour of it and is giving attention to or that it is nonsense that is not to be taken note of. When talking about flexing muscle, this is what was meant. The Committee has to become relevant and not just a factory producing resolutions.

The Chairperson agreed with Mr Marais and said that the Committee would definitely request a response to resolutions that the Committee took. He thanked the Committee for attending and noted that they had tons of work to do. To conclude, he read a portion of the Preamble of the National Heritage Resources Act which stated, “Our heritage is unique and precious, and it cannot be renewed. It helps us to define our cultural identity and therefore lies at the heart of our spiritual wellbeing as has the power to build our nation. It has the potential to affirm our diverse cultures and, in doing so, shape our national character.” This was why the Committee was here.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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