The Sub-Committee of the Portfolio Committee in Public Service and Administration met to interview the ninth and final candidate for the position of Public Service Commissioner. As there was still outstanding vetting of the candidates, it was agreed that the deliberations on the recommended candidate should take the following week.
The Committee approved the minutes of 31 October 2019 and 1 November 2019 committee meetings.
Interview: Adv Kevin Malunga
The Chairperson said that the questions presented to the candidate would be practical, and that members would appreciate it if the candidate balanced theory with practice in his responses. He asked the candidate to introduce himself with reference to his background and experience and why the candidate would like to be a Public Service Commissioner. The PSC has a constitutional mandate to promote the values and principles of section 195. He asked what the candidate’s understanding of these values and principles is. He asked the candidate to briefly state what the functions of the PSC are.
Refer to audio for responses.
Ms R Lesoma (ANC) said that the Constitution provides for a strong role for the PSC in upholding the principles of public administration. One of its 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. She asked the candidate what could be the best strategy in assisting the PSC to ensure that government departments appoint competent and dedicated public servants, particularly at the senior management level. The National Developmental Plan (NDP) emphasised that South Africa needs to build a state that is capable of playing a developmental and transformative role. She asked what challenges hinder public administration in realising a developmental state; and what sort of public service South Africa requires to achieve its developmental objectives.
Mr C Sibisi (NFP) said that effective governance in the public sector encourages better decision-making and an efficient use of resources. He asked the candidate to define good governance and to state the five main principles of good governance within the context of a democratic government and efficient public service.
Dr L Schreiber (DA) asked the candidate to focus on corruption in relation to public servants doing business with the state. There was already legislation in place to prevent this corruption, however recent reports indicate that this is still ongoing. He asked what the best way of preventing or eliminating this kind of behaviour could be.
Ms Lesoma said that there is a perception that senior managers are not comfortable with being vetted. She asked for the candidate’s view on vetting.
Ms M Kibi (ANC) said the PSC does oversight and asked the candidate how the PSC can strengthen its oversight and 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 capable, ethical and developmental state, which is what Chapter 10 of the Constitution envisages. She asked what role the PSC should play in ensuring he realisation of a capable, ethical and developmental state.
Ms C Motsepe (EFF) 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 on how financial disclosure works.
Ms M Ntuli (ANC) said 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 in the recruitment system in the public sector are; if its recruitment system is effective in ensuring a professional and capable state; and what role the PSC could play in eliminating unethical practices in the recruitment system to ensure that public servants are appointed on merit.
Dr Schreiber said that the candidate pertinently raised cadre deployment. He asked if the practice of cadre deployment, of political bosses being able to influence appointments, is ethical and appropriate, or if it should be removed and strengthen the role of the PSC when it comes to appointments.
Dr Schreiber clarified that the previous question was not asked in relation to advisors or a chief of staff, but about professional public servants. He asked what the candidate’s view on cadre deployment is in relation to professional public servants.
The Chairperson asked if the candidate had a question or comment for the committee.
The Chairperson indicated that the candidate would be informed of the outcome of the interviews in writing.
The Chairperson stated that there was still outstanding vetting of the candidates. He suggested that the deliberations on the recommended candidate should take place once the vetting has been concluded, which would be in the following week.
The Committee agreed.
The meeting was adjourned