Interviews for filling PSC Commissioner vacancy Day 1

Public Service and Administration, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation

31 October 2019
Chairperson: Mr T James (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Five of the nine candidates for the position of Public Service Commissioner were interviewed by the Sub-Committee of the Portfolio Committee in Public Service and Administration. The candidates were: Ms Zukiswa Mqolomba , Ms Nomazala Caith Mninzi , Dr Fhumulani Munyai , Mr Tsepo Phillip Kgwathisi , Ms Rashika Bosch.

Meeting report

The Committee first considered and adopted the minutes of 17 and 22 October 2019 committee meetings.

A substantive amendment was raised about the 22 October 2019 minutes.

Ms R Lesoma (ANC) said that demographics should not be an influential criterion for the shortlisting of candidates. This would be undermining the Public Service Commission Act and the advert. Demographics should not be added as a deciding factor. She approved the rest of the minutes.

Dr L Schreiber (DA) agreed with Ms Lesoma and suggested that demographics as an influential criterion should be removed.

Mr C Sibisi (NFP) agreed and stated that demographics as a criterion should be treated with care, and that it should be removed.

The Committee Secretary stated that all eight candidates for interview were citizens of South Africa and that they all met the qualifications requirement.

Dr Schreiber asked if the other eight candidates had submitted their fingerprints and which candidate had not done so. Were the results of the fingerprints available?

The Committee Secretary replied that the final report was not available. The fingerprints had been submitted to the State Security Agency. The set of fingerprints outstanding was couriered the day before.

Mr Sibisi asked for the status of the candidates in terms of criminal records.

The Committee Secretary replied that the committee had to wait for the final report which would advise them about criminal records. Any candidates affected would need to be alerted of the status and be consulted.

Mr Schreiber responded by advising that the preliminary report had been released and that a decision on the final results about criminal record should be discussed once a final decision has been made.

Ms M Kibi (ANC) asked if the committee will receive information on the outcome of the fingerprints before the officials communicate with the candidates.

The Committee Secretary replied that as a preliminary report was available to committee members, it would be advisable to decide to allow the secretary to communicate with the candidates while waiting for the final report; instead of waiting for the final report.

All committee members agreed with the Committee Secretary.

The parliamentary legal advisor explained the legal opinion given to the previous committee, which dealt with the meaning of the term “a fit and proper person” which is found in the Constitution and the Public Service Commission Act.

The Committee Secretary explained the process of interviews before the start of the first interview.

Candidate 1: Ms Nomazala Caith Mninzi

The Chairperson indicated that responses to the questions required both theoretical and practical answers. He introduced himself and asked the committee members to introduce themselves. He asked the candidate to introduce herself making reference to her background and experience.

Refer to audio for responses. Interview conducted from: (31115M02) 02:20 – 5:58

The Chairperson asked the candidate why she wants the position of Commissioner for the Public Service Commission. He stated that the Public Service Commission (PSC) derives its mandate of promoting the values and principles as outlined in section 195 of the Constitution. He asked what the candidate’s understanding of these values and principles is. He asked the candidate to briefly explain what the functions of the PSC are.

Dr Schreiber stated that his question related to the powers, functions and the legislative mandate of the PSC. The Constitution provides for a much stronger role for the PSC in upholding the principles of public administration. One of those functions is "to give directions aimed at ensuring that personnel procedures relating to recruitment, transfers, promotions and dismissals comply with the values and principles set out in section 195”. He asked what would be the best strategy to assist the PSC in ensuring that government departments appoint competent and dedicated public servants, particularly at senior management level. He asked if the PSC has enough teeth and enough power to do the kinds of things that the candidate was talking about, or if it needs strengthening in both theory and practice.

Ms Lesoma stated that her question assumes that the candidate has gone through Chapter 10 of the Constitution, the advert as well as the work of the public service. In reference to the latter part of the candidate’s previous response, she asked where the gaps are and what the candidate would suggest needs to be done. The National Development Plan (NDP) emphasises that “South Africa needs to build a state that is capable in playing a developmental and transformative role”. She then asked what challenges hinder public administration in potentially realising the developmental role as it is pronounced in the NDP. And, what sort of public service does South Africa need to achieve the developmental objectives as outlined.

Mr Sibisi asked what role should the public service play to ensure that we are in line with the vision of the NDP 2030, in relation to the developmental state or developmental plan.

Ms Kibi stated that effective governance in the public sector encourages better decision-making and the efficient use of resources. She asked the candidate to define good governance; and what the five main principles of good governance are within the context of a democratic government and efficient public service.

Dr Schreiber said that there is a huge loss of public monies due to corruption, especially with public servants doing business with the state. This is an issue that has been around for a very long time and continues to plague the public service. He asked how public servants could be prevented from doing business with the state, there is legislation already put in place to prevent this practice however it still continues – what are the practical things that need to be done to prevent this from happening?

Ms Lesoma said that there is a perception that some senior management do not want to be vetted. She asked for the candidate’s view on this.

Mr Sibisi said that a Commissioner would do oversight in the public service administration. He asked how the PSC can 1) strengthen its oversight and 2) the oversight by parliament. During the State of the Nation Address, the President applied seven priorities for the Sixth Administration, among those is to build a capable, ethical and developmental state, which is what Chapter 10 of the Constitution envisages. He asked what role the PSC should play in ensuring the realisation of a capable, ethical and developmental state.

Ms M Ntuli (ANC) said that the financial disclosure framework is aimed at preventing conflicts of interest by requiring senior management to disclose their financial interests. She asked the candidate to provide an explanation of how financial disclosure works. It was clear in the candidate’s response that the lifestyle of some senior managers does not equate to their income, she asked how the PSC eliminates that. The power to appoint in South Africa is assigned by section 3(7) of the Public Service Act – ministers or MECs can delegate the power to the officials within the department. She asked what the major obstacles are in the recruitment system of the public sector; if its recruitment system is effective in ensuring a professional and capable state; and what role the PSC can play in eliminating unethical practices in the recruitment system to ensure public servants are appointed based on merit. Is it safe to say that the candidate is worried about this based on her previous responses?

Dr Schreiber asked if any cadre deployment policy is appropriate or if it should be abolished.

The Chairperson asked if the candidate had a question to ask the panel.

Candidate 2: Mr Tsepo Phillip Kgwathisi

The Chairperson asked the candidate to introduce himself in relation to his background; to state why he is the best candidate for the position of PSC Commissioner and why the candidate wants to be a Public Service Commissioner. The PSC derives its mandate of promoting the values and principles as outlined in section 195 of the Constitution. He asked the candidate to state some of these values and principles and what the candidate’s understanding of these are. He asked what the candidate’s understanding of the functions of the PSC are.

Refer to audio for responses. Interview conducted from: (31115M03) 00:10 - 1:04:05

Dr Schreiber said that the Constitution provides for the PSC to have a strong role in upholding the principles of public administration, one of its key functions is "to give directions aimed at ensuring that personnel procedures relating to recruitment, transfers, promotions and dismissals comply with the values and principles set out in section 195”. He asked what the best strategy is for the PSC to ensure that the government appoints competent and dedicated public servants, particularly at senior management level.

Ms Lesoma said that the candidate mentioned in his previous response that he provides services for the public and that he is blacklisted from doing so. She asked if this has enlisted in the law or declared by the court – what are the laws surrounding that? She asked what sort of public service South Africa requires to achieve its developmental objectives, in reference to the Public Service Act and Chapter 10 of the Constitution – around the Public Service Commission.

Ms Kibi said that effective governance in the public sector encourages better decision-making and the efficient use of resources. She asked the candidate to define good governance; and what the five main principles of good governance are within the context of a democratic government and efficient public service.

Dr Schreiber said there is a huge loss of public monies due to corruption, especially in the case of public servants doing business with the state. There is already legislation to prevent this, but this practice is still ongoing. He asked what should be done to ensure that this legislation is complied with and that public servants are prevented from doing business with the state.

Ms Lesoma said that there is a perception that senior managers do not want to be vetted. She asked for the candidate's take on the vetting of senior managers.

Mr Sibisi asked how the candidate thinks a Public Service Commissioner can strengthen his/her own oversight and the oversight by parliament. During the State of Nation Address, the President outlined seven priorities for the Sixth Administration, among these is to be build a capable, ethical and developmental state, which is what Chapter 10 of the Constitution envisages. He asked what role the PSC should play in ensuring the realisation of a capable, ethical and developmental state.

Ms Ntuli said that the financial disclosure framework is aimed at preventing conflict of interest by requiring senior management to disclose their financial interests. She asked the candidate to provide an explanation on how the financial disclosure works. The power to appoint in South Africa is assigned by section 3(7) of the Public Service Act – ministers or MECs can delegate the power to the officials to the departments. She asked what the major obstacles in the recruitment system of the public sector are; if its recruitment system is effective to ensure a professional and capable state; and what the role of the PSC can be in eliminating unethical practices in the recruitment system to ensure public servants are appointed on merit.

Ms Ntuli said that the candidate mentioned that people are not appointed according to their relevance to the job. She asked how the PSC can eliminate that, so that in future there are not unskilled people in place.

The Chairperson asked if the candidate had a question to put to the committee.

Candidate 3: Ms Rashika Bosch

The Chairperson asked the candidate to introduce herself in reference to her background, experience and why she would like to be a Public Service Commissioner. He asked what her understanding is of the values and principles enshrined in section 195 of the Constitution, that she should name a few of them and elaborate.

Dr Schreiber said that the Constitution provides a strong role for the PSC in upholding the principles of public administration, one of these functions is to give directions aimed at ensuring that personnel procedures relating to recruitment, transfers, promotions and dismissals comply with the values and principles set out in section 195. He asked what the best strategy is to assist and ensure that the PSC makes sure that government departments appoint competent and dedicated public servants, particularly at senior management level – how do we realise this goal?

Ms Lesoma said that the NDP emphasises that South Africa needs to build a capable state that plays a developmental and transformative role. She asked what challenges hinder public administration to realise a developmental state as envisaged; and what sort of public service South Africa requires to achieve its developmental objectives.

Ms Kibi said that effective governance in the public sector encourages better decision-making and the efficient use of resources. She asked how the candidate would define good governance; and what the five main principles of good governance are within the context of a democratic government and efficient public service.

Mr Schreiber said that a huge loss of public monies due to corruption, especially with public servants doing business with the state. This is a particularly important issue because there is already legislation in place that seeks to prevent this, yet the practice still continues. He asked what the PSC could do more broadly to ensure that this practice comes to an end.

Mr Schreiber said that the candidate mentioned the mandate of the PSC and asked if the PSC in its mandate has enough teeth to implement some of the things the candidate has spoken about.

Ms Lesoma said that there is a perception that some of the senior management do not want to be vetted. She asked for the candidate’ view on this.

Mr Sibisi asked how the candidate thinks a Public Service Commissioner can strengthen his/her own oversight and the oversight by parliament. During the State of Nation Address the president outlined seven priorities for the sixth administration, among is to be build capable, ethical and developmental state, which is what Chapter 10 of the Constitution envisages. He asked what role the PSC should play in ensuring the realisation of building capable, ethical and developmental state.

Ms Ntuli said that the financial disclosure framework is aimed at preventing conflicts of interest by requiring senior management to disclose their financial interests. She asked the candidate to provide an explanation of how the financial disclosure works. The power to appoint in South Africa is assigned by section 3(7) of the Public Service Act – ministers or MECs can delegate the power to the officials to the departments. She asked what the major obstacles in the recruitment system in the public sector are; and if its recruitment system is effective to ensure a professional and capable state.

Ms Ntuli stated that the candidate mentioned that there are not relevant appointments to certain jobs. She asked how PSC can eliminate that?

Mr Schreiber asked if cadre deployment, in any form and practiced by anyone, is ethical and appropriate or if it is something that should be abolished in this process of review.

The Chairperson asked the candidate is she had a question or comment for the committee.

Refer to audio for responses. Interview conducted from: (31115M05) 01:01 – 58:47

The Chairperson indicated that the results would be communicated to the candidates in writing, as there were other candidates to be interviewed.

Afternoon session:


Candidate 4: Ms Zukiswa Mqolomba

The Chairperson: Can you introduce yourself by telling us about your background and experience, and why you want this position as Public Service Commissioner.

Audio: 01:29 – 03:46

The Chairperson: What is your understanding of the values and principles enshrined in Section 195 of the Constitution. You can give us a few and elaborate where you can.

Audio: 04:12 – 07:26

The Chairperson: Can you tell us your understanding of the functions of the Public Service Commission.

Audio: 07:36 – 09:15

Dr L Schreiber (DA): The Constitution provides a strong role for the Public Service Commission in upholding the principles set out in section 195 of the Constitution. One of these functions is to give directions aimed at ensuring that personnel procedures relating to recruitment, transfers, promotions and dismissals comply with the values and principles set out in section 195. What do you think is the best strategy moving forward  to ensure the PSC plays a bigger role in ensuring competent and dedicated people are appointed as public servants, particularly at senior management level.

Audio: 10:30 – 14:00

Dr Schreiber: What do we do to ensure that dedicated and competent people are employed when it comes to appointments?

Audio: 14:18 – 16:44

Ms R Lesoma (ANC): The assumption is that you have read the advert, Chapter 10 of the Constitution and you quoted the NDP. The NDP emphasises that South Africa must build a state that is capable of playing a transformative, developmental role. What challenges are hindering the public administration in potentially realising a developmental state? What sort of public service is required by SA to achieve its developmental objectives?

Audio: 19:53 – 24:44

Ms Lesoma: Would you agree with me that all what you said , in summary, is a result of poor management and lack of will to correct things?

Audio: 25:13 – 27:28

Mr C Sibisi (NFP): If you were given a chance to be a Public Service Commissioner, how would you deal with political interference in public administration?

Audio: 27:58 – 29:52

Ms M Kibi (ANC): Effective governance in the public sector encourages better decision-making and efficient use of resources. How would you define good governance? What are the five main principles of good governance within the context of a democratic government and efficient public service?

Audio: 31:11 – 33:22

Dr Schreiber: The issue of corruption is front and centre in the public service. One of the ways it continues to manifest itself is in public servants doing business with the state. We know there are legal mechanisms in place to prevent this, yet this practice is continuing. What would you say in your view is the best way to ensure this law is implemented? What is the role of the PSC in preventing civil servants from doing business with the state?

Audio: 34:10 – 36:34

Dr Schreiber: You say there is no watchdog over the public service. Is this not the job of the Public Service Commission?

Audio: 36:49 – 38:00

Ms Lesoma: Section 196(5) of the Constitution says the Public Service Commission has to report to the National Assembly at least once a year. What is your view on the perception that senior public service managers do not want to be vetted?

Audio: 39:23 – 40:46

Mr Sibisi: You say one of the mandates of the Commission is to strengthen oversight. How do you think the Public Service Commission can strengthen its own oversight and the oversight done by parliament?

Audio: 41:36 – 44:13

Mr Sibisi: The State of Nation Address by the President outlined seven priorities for the Sixth Administration. Amongst others, is to build a capable, ethical developmental state. That is what Chapter 10 of the Constitution envisages. What role should the PSC play to ensure the realisation of an ethical, capable developmental state?

Audio: 44:58 – 48:46

Ms M Ntuli (ANC): Finance disclosure is there to prevent a conflict of interest. Provide an explanation of how the financial disclosure system works.

Audio: 49:39 – 52:03

Ms Ntuli: The power to appoint in South Africa is assigned by section 3 of the Public Service Act. Ministers and MECs can delegate the power to officials within the departments. What are the major obstacles in the recruitment system in the public sector?  Is the public sector recruitment system effective in ensuring a professional, capable state? What can be the role of the Public Service Commission in eliminating unethical practices in the recruitment system to ensure public servants are appointed based on merit?

Audio: 53:32 – 59:05

Chairperson: Is there a question you would like to ask or comment you would like to make?

Audio: 59:18 – 1:00:53

Ms Lesoma: There are five national commissioners and nine provincial ones. But as a collective they become the Public Service Commission. In terms of areas of focus and governance, they distribute work amongst themselves. Some deal with social and economic issues. Others deal with financial management, human resources, etc. Currently, you cannot assess the commissioner as an individual. You get assessed as a collective. But that does not have an impact in terms of renewability or non-renewability. The commissions are assessed as a collective.

The Chairperson thanked the candidate and told her she would be informed of the results of the interview once the process of interviews was finished.

Candidate 5: Dr Fhumulani Munyai

The Chairperson: Introduce yourself by telling us about your background, work experience, and why you want to become a Public Service Commissioner.

Audio: 1:05:48 – 1:09:09

The Chairperson: The Public Service Commission has a constitutional mandate to promote and uphold values and principles of section 195. What is your understanding of the values and principles enshrined in section 195 of the Constitution? You can mention a few and elaborate on them.

Audio: 1:09:40 – 1:12:54

The Chairperson: What is your understanding of the functions of the Public Service Commission?

Audio: 1:13:03 – 1:14:10

The Chairperson: The members of the panel will ask you questions and will introduce themselves to you.

Dr Schreiber: One of the key functions of the Public Service Commission is that it has a strong role to uphold the constitutional principles of public administration. One of these principles and functions is to give directions aimed at ensuring that personnel procedures relating to recruitment, transfers, promotions and dismissals comply with the values and principles set out in section 195. What would you say is the best strategy for the Public Service Commission to ensure competent, proper and dedicated people are employed, particularly at senior management level.

Audio: 1:15:23 – 1:17:51

Ms Lesoma: You are saying, in terms of the Executive Authority and Head of Department engagement, that the Act has a gap. Which part of the Act does not give the Public Service Commission teeth so that it can be taken seriously? My principal question is on a developmental state. The NDP emphasises that South Africa must build a state that is capable of playing a transformative, developmental role. What challenges are hindering the public administration in realising a development state? What sort of public service is required by South Africa to achieve its developmental objectives?

Audio: 1:21:38 – 1:28:53

Ms Kibi: Effective governance in the public sector encourages better decision-making and efficient of resources. How would you define good governance? What are the five main principles of good governance within the context of a democratic government and efficient public service?

Audio: 1:30:08 – 1:32:18

Dr Schreiber: Corruption is one of the perennial issues in the public service, and one of the ways it manifests itself is when civil servants do business with the state. There are laws in place against this, yet the practice does continue. What would be your advice on the role of the Public Service Commission in ensuring this corruption of civil servants doing business with the state is addressed and the law implemented?

Audio: 1:33:04 – 1:36:30

Dr Schreiber: You spoke about corruption generally. How do we tackle public servants doing business with the state?

Audio: 1:36:49 – 1:40:39

Ms Lesoma: What is your view on the declaration of financial interests? There is a perception that people at senior management level are not keen on being vetted. Should it be mandatory or not? How do we deal with that?

Audio: 1:41:36 – 1:44:46

Mr Sibisi: How do you think the PSC can strengthen its own oversight and the oversight by parliament?

Audio: 1:45:29 – 1:46:22

Mr Sibisi: The State of Nation Address by the President outlined seven priorities for the Sixth Administration. Amongst others, is to build a capable, ethical developmental state. That is what Chapter 10 of the Constitution envisages. What role should the PSC play to ensure the realisation of an ethical, capable developmental state?

Audio: 1:47:00 – 1:52:13

Mr Sibisi: Section 195 of Chapter 10 of the Constitution speaks of the values and principles that should govern public administration. What would be the solution to all the problems you are mentioning because we want you to tell us how you are going to manage and give us solutions?

Audio: 1:53:02 – 1:55:03

Ms Ntuli: The financial disclosure framework is aimed at preventing conflicts of interest. Senior members of the public service are required to disclose their financial interests. Provide an explanation of how the financial disclosure system works.

Audio: 1:55:58 – 1:57:23

Ms Ntuli: The power to appoint in South Africa is assigned by section 3 of the Public Service Act. Ministers and MECs can delegate the power to officials within the department. What are the major obstacles in the recruitment system in the public sector?  Is the public sector recruitment system effective in ensuring a professional, capable state? What can be the role of the Public Service Commission in eliminating unethical practices in the recruitment system to ensure public servants are appointed based on merit?

Audio: 1:58:59 – 2:07:36

Dr Schreiber: The issue of political involvement in public service appointments: do you think that is something ethical and appropriate or do you think it should be abolished? Or do you think a body like the Public Service Commission should have a much stronger role at the expense of politicians in making or influencing those decisions?

Audio: 2:08:13 – 2:13:04

The Chairperson asked the candidate if there question or comment she would want to put to the Committee.

Audio: 2:13:15 – 2:14:20

Ms Lesoma informed the candidate the commissioners work as a collective. There were five national commissioners plus nine provincial ones. They work as a collective. An individualistic approach is not seen. The commissioners are allocated to different spaces and are clustered. A Public Service Commissioner would have to report to the Committee representing a particular cluster, but not as an individual.

The Chairperson said that all applicants would be informed of the outcome at the end of the interviewing process.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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