Public Service Commissioner recommendation

Public Service and Administration, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation

19 November 2019
Chairperson: Mr T James (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Sub-Committee deliberated and motivated for the top choice for the position of Public Service Commissioner from the four shortlisted candidates, Ms Zanele Hlatshwayo, Ms Zukiswa Mqolomba, Ms Rashika Bosch and Mr Kevin Malunga. Due to disagreement amongst Sub-Committee members, the recommendation for the position of Public Service Commissioner was put to the vote. Ms Zanele Hlatshwayo was recommended as the first-best candidate and Mr Kevin Malunga was recommended as the second-best candidate. The Democratic Alliance requested that its objection to the recommendation be noted.

Meeting report

It was noted that Ms Ntuli sent her apologies and assigned Ms Malomane as proxy. Ms Lesoma also sent apologies and assigned Ms Maluleke as proxy.

The Chairperson asked Mr Ngoepe to provide a summary of the previous meeting

Mr Julius Ngoepe, Content Advisor stated that four candidates were shortlisted in the previous meeting. Of these four candidates, one will be recommended, and a second candidate will be recommended as the second-best candidate, just in case the first candidate declines the offer. The Sub-Committee previously agreed that the purpose of this meeting is for Members to motivate their choice and rank the candidates in terms of preference. A final report has not yet been received from the State Security Agency. No candidate has been disqualified based on the preliminary report.

Mr Ngoepe listed the four candidates: Ms Zanele Hlatshwayo, Ms Zukiswa Mqolomba, Ms Rashika Bosch and Mr Kevin Malunga.

Ms M Kibi (ANC) stated that she proposed some of the names that were agreed to in the previous meeting. Ms Zanele Hlatshwayo is one of the best candidates because of her experience working for the public service for long time and being a woman also makes her suitable. It is important to listen to how candidates respond to questions during interviews to assess their understanding of the position they have applied for. Ms Zukiswa Mqolomba performed well. Although she is a young woman she performed very well during the interview, she is also suitable for the position. Ms Rashika Bosch has good qualifications and experience, however some of her interview responses were not clear and were unsatisfactory.

Dr L Schreiber (DA) agreed with Ms Kibi's comments about Ms Bosch. Her interview was less impressive than what her CV suggested. He expressed strong reservations about Ms Hlatshwayo. The Constitution stipulates that the Commission has to be independent and impartial. The Public Service Commission Act states that no candidate may hold a position in a political party or organisation. In her CV, Ms Hlatshwayo presented herself as a political deployee in the past. When asked about this in the interview, she responded by saying that “she will not stop being political”. Ms Hlatshwayo was a Mayor in Pietermaritzburg in which the Mzundizi municipality was placed under administration under her leadership. A combination of these factors highlight that she is not a fit and proper candidate. It would be hypocritical for the Sub-Committee to recommend her as she embodies many things that are not merit based, impartial nor independent.

Ms Kibi asked Dr Schreiber to give his motivation about the fourth candidate.

Dr Schreiber stated that Mr Malunga is the exact opposite of Ms Hlatshwayo. He has excelled in an independent institution as Deputy Public Protector; has worked at the highest levels of government; and has deep experience with the Public Service Commission (PSC). He has shown no fear or favour or any kind of political partiality; and has shown a willingness to abide by the Constitution. When looking at the requirements of a fit and proper person, Mr Malunga embodies what the Constitution implores one to make the Public Service Commission to be. This is not a ‘regular appointment’, this is to a body that must be impartial, independent and competent at all times. And the public must perceive it to be staffed and managed by people who are impartial and independent. Mr Malunga fits the bill perfectly and Ms Hlatshwayo is the opposite and it would be irrational to appoint her as Commissioner, as she is politically exposed, connected and unqualified.

The Chairperson stated that Members should not demotivate but should be motivating. Ms Hlatshwayo does not hold any political position. The law states that if candidate is a political office bearer, he/she is disqualified.

Dr Schreiber stated that he does not know the status of Ms Hlatshwayo’s political membership. The test should be whether a rational person who looks at the PSC will have faith in the impartiality and the independence and non-political nature of the appointment. The test is not only about whether there is a legal compliance. The Constitution brings forward the criteria of fit and proper, independent and impartial. The statement she made during the interview suggests that she is not impartial nor independent.

Ms Kibi stated that during the interview Ms Hlatshwayo responded to Dr Schreiber’s question and stated, ‘I can differentiate between politics and when I am supposed to be doing my job’. There is no person in South Africa that does not belong to a political party, everyone belongs to one and it depends on if one can differentiate that with what one is expected to do as a public servant. It is unfair to look at Ms Hlatshwayo’s tenure as Mayor and blame the individual for what happened to the municipality. The law states that the candidate should not hold a senior position. Ms Hlatshwayo is currently not holding such a position and should be given the opportunity. She performed well during the interview process. It is also important that she is a woman as there are enough men holding positions as Public Service Commissioners.

Dr Schreiber stated that it is incorrect to say that all 58 million people in South Africa are members of a political party. The stipulation in the PSC Act is clear that a Commissioner shall not hold an office in any political party or organisation. If one is a member of a political party, one is seen to be partial because you represent a political party’s interests. Ignoring these factors undermines the independence of the PSC. In the first meeting, Ms Lesoma had raised a point that there is an unwritten policy that a candidate should be appointed based on gender. There is no law or policy that predetermines the gender of the candidate for appointment. Therefore, gender cannot be used to deny the concerns that arose in the interview process.

The Chairperson asked Dr Schreiber to state what position Ms Hlatshwayo holds.

Dr Schreiber stated that it could be investigated. The CV that the candidate submitted had a list of political organisations. The standard is not whether one is a member but whether the public will perceive one as politically independent.

Ms V Malomane (ANC) stated that Members nominated these candidates, however there are disagreements. She asked how the candidate was shortlisted if there were challenges present in the CV. The Sub-Committee deals with the recommendation and not the appointment of a Public Service Commissioner. Everything that has been discussed has to be written down in the Committee Report along with the recommendation. She was not happy with the proceedings of the meeting.

Mr Ngoepe clarified that the Act states that “a Commissioner shall not hold office in any political party or political organisation.” Political membership does not disqualify an individual. Mpumalanga Province encountered such a problem in which a recommended candidate had to decline or withdraw his appointment because he was a political office bearer. The Committee can deliberate based on performance. The draft Committee Report indicates that, once appointed, a Commissioner shall not hold office of political party.

Dr Schreiber asked if the action of the legislature was reviewed in court, in the Mpumalanga case.

Mr Ngoepe replied that it was.

Dr Schreiber said that it is his view that recommending Ms Hlatshwayo with the Committee's awareness of all the political information and that the standard is fit and proper, impartial and independent, will be deemed as irrational in a court of law. He suggested that the three other candidates should also be discussed.

Ms Kibi stated that it is unfair to base recommendations on the candidate’s political history. Ms Hlatshwayo was the only candidate who was asked questions about her political history by Dr Schreiber.

Ms C Motsepe (EFF) asked if the question asked by Dr Schreiber during the interviews was a principal question or a follow-up question.

The Chairperson responded that it was a follow-up question.

Dr Schreiber said that the CVs of the candidates were carefully reviewed. A CV should be an honest reflection of one’s background. Members had a right to interrogate Ms Hlatshwayo CV as she included an extensive section on political history. The questioned he asked in the interviews about cadre deployment was standard to all candidates.

The Chairperson stated that Members were also present in the interview and are aware of the responses Ms Hlatshwayo provided. She stated that ‘whenever cadre deployment happens, skills must be the determining factor and not on the basis of being a cadre’. He was satisfied with her response to that question.

Ms Kibi said that Ms Hlatshwayo is the best candidate for the position and that Ms Bosch did not provide satisfactory responses. Ms Mqolomba is very young and young people are not denied the opportunity to holding the position. However, someone who will bring dignity to the Commission is needed.

Dr Schreiber requested a response on Mr Kevin Malunga and input on why he is not a more fit and proper, independent, and impartial candidate than the other three.

Ms Kibi replied that she did not say that Mr Kevin Malunga is not fit. All of the interviewed candidates responded to all the questions. Only one person needs to be recommended and she recommends Ms Hlatshwayo. Females are being disadvantaged and more woman should be brought forward; they should not be disadvantaged. A person like Ms Hlatshwayo is needed to take the government forward.

Dr Schreiber asked for a comparison between the two candidates. When comparing Ms Hlatshwayo and Mr Malunga, he concluded that Mr Malunga is the ideal candidate. He requested that the Committee does the same thing and consider Mr Malunga and provide arguments as to the contents of his CV and the interview which made him less qualified. He asked for a counter argument.

Ms B Maluleke (ANC) said that it would be unfair to state that Ms Hlatshwayo is not fit and proper due to her political affiliation. She asked if the law states that one is excluded if one is a politician, politically active or whether they are a political office bearer. There is a difference. It would not be fair to disqualify a candidate based on political affiliation. She asked if Ms Mqolomba indicated that she is fit and proper for the position.

Ms Motsepe said that all Members reviewed the candidates and identified the one they think is suitable for the position. She wanted a woman to be recommended, specifically Ms Mnisi and then Ms Hlatshwayo. However, she was not present at the interviews of Ms Mnisi and Ms Hlatshwayo but was present at Mr Malunga’s interview. She recommended Ms Hlatshwayo as the first candidate and Mr Malunga as the second-best candidate.

Ms Kibi said that Dr Schreiber does not dispute that Ms Hlatshwayo’s interview was impressive and that his only concern is that she will not be impartial. She said that it is unknown until the candidate is in office whether or not they will be impartial.

Mr Mlungisi Biyela, Committee Researcher, suggested that because this was a deliberation on the candidates, it would best if a fair deliberation is given to the fourth candidate.

The Chairperson agreed.

Dr Schreiber also agreed and said that his earlier question implied the same request for a comparison. Ms Kibi comment is absolutely incorrect – he had not given substance to his views about Ms Hlatshwayo because he believed that her political involvement listed in the CV and her statement during the interview disqualify her. However, Ms Hlatshwayo’s CV is light; her previous positions were political, she also has experience as a nurse, deputy mayor and a mayor; and she does not have an educational background equivalent to Mr Malunga’s. This suggests that her experience is very light for someone who is expected to be in the PSC. Mr Malunga’s CV is deep and thorough; he has a legal background; his professional experience includes being a Deputy Public Protector of South Africa, which is an important institution at the same level as the PSC; and he has worked at national government level. He concluded that Ms Hlatshwayo is disqualified because of political issues, background and previous experience. Mr Malunga has a better standing than all the other candidates.

Ms Maluleke agreed that Mr Malunga has a legal background, but his professional experience is limited to the legal field. One needs to be aware that the position is that of a Public Service Commissioner. Ms Hlatshwayo has been a professional nurse, an educator and a director outside of being a mayor. She has diverse experience, even though she has no legal background, she has occupied many levels in government.

Voting on Public Service Commissioner recommendation
The Chairperson put the two candidates to vote, Ms Hlatshwayo and Mr Malunga.

Ms Kibi, Ms Maluleke, Ms Motsepe and Ms Malomane voted for Ms Hlatshwayo.

Dr Schreiber voted for Mr Malunga.

The Chairperson said that Ms Hlatshwayo’s name would be put forward as the recommended candidate.

Dr Schreiber requested that the objection of the Democratic Alliance to the recommendation be noted

Mr Ngoepe responded that this objection will be noted in the report. He said that the two names would be put forward in the order of first-best recommended candidate (Ms Hlatshwayo) and second-best candidate (Mr Malunga).

Ms Kibi agreed.

The Chairperson thanked everyone and was glad that Members expressed their honest views.

The minutes of the 14 November 2019 meeting were adopted.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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