NYDA Board appointments: advert, programme and questionnaire

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

03 December 2019
Chairperson: Ms C Ndaba (ANC) and Ms M Gillion (ANC; Western Cape)
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Meeting Summary

The Sub-Committee considered and approved the programme, advert and questionnaire for applications to sit on the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) Board. Advertising will start on 15 December 2019 and applications are open until 24 January 2020. An extra week is permitted for submission of the questionnaire until 31 January. Shortlisting takes place between the 25 to 27 February. Interviews take place in March. After committee recommendations are completed on 17 March 2020, the names will go to both Houses for approval. The current Board term of office comes to an end in May 2020 which will give the President a month to make a decision on the recommended names put forward.

Meeting report

Programme, Advert and Questionnaire for NYDA Board recommendations
The Committee Content Advisor, Ms Kashiefa Abrahams, went through the Draft Programme. She noted the preparation phase includes the translation of the advert, sourcing quotes and obtaining approval, which requires the involvement of Parliament supply chain management.

Ms Abrahams explained that every person who sends in their CV, will be emailed a questionnaire by Committee support staff that would need to be filled out and returned by the applicant.

Once all CVs have been received, they will be uploaded onto the Parliament website but personal information will be removed. The only thing that will be made public knowledge will be the applicant and referees name so the public can participate. The idea behind civil society giving their input is so that the Committee can get an idea what they think of the applicants.

Ms Abrahams detailed that the Human Resources section in Parliament has a contract with an external service provider which will verify all applications looking specifically at the educational status which includes matric certificates, undergraduate and post graduate qualifications that applicants have submitted.

After committee recommendations are completed on 17 March 2020, the names will go to both Houses for approval. The Board term of office comes to an end in May 2020 which will give the President about a month to make a decision on the names being put forward. This will mean there will be a smooth transition allowing the new Board to kick in and to avoid a situation where there is no NYDA Board.

Ms Abrahams took the Committee through the draft advert and questionnaire. Explaining why the questionnaire was part of the application, she said that with the appointment of the Public Protector, the Deputy Public Protector and the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), they found that because there were so many CVs from potential applicants or nominees which were received all in different formats. The questionnaire helps in the sense that when looking at applicants, Members will be able to see in a systematic way the key information that they are looking for.

Ms Abrahams said that the important thing about the personal information on page one is that the applicant name needs to correspond with the name on the ID for screening purposes. On page four and five, the details provided there give information from the candidate. Over and above the candidate's educational and work background, this additional information will help Members. The questionnaire also gives applicants the opportunity to disclose any information that would cast doubt or that was a challenge in the applicant's history. Some applicants in the past noted that they do have something to disclose but preferred to discuss it with the Committee in a closed space. The applicants thus would be able to detail what it was, long before the screening report comes back. The fact that the CV was going to go up onto the Parliament website and was open for anyone to comment gives the applicant the chance to be honest to the Committee about issues that they have had in the past.

The applicants are given a week to complete and return questionnaires. Therefore, the Committee will have copies of the CVs , comments from civil society along with the questionnaire. The three documents will help when shortlisting the best candidates to put forward as potential Board members.

Ms C Ndaba (ANC), Chairperson, thanked Ms Abrahams but said that the advert did not include anything about qualifications and certificates. The advert needed to include that certified certificates are to be attached to the application.

The responses to the questionnaire will not be uploaded onto the Parliament website because it contains confidential information which is for the benefit of the Committee only.

The Chairperson noted that potential applicants might stay in rural areas where there is no access to the internet or computers and the Committee needs to discuss what provision will be made to accommodate and assist those applicants. Another item is late submissions. In the past, late application submissions from people in rural areas were accepted by the Committee based on the date of postage. In this way the Committee was being reasonable if an applicant has posted their application but it arrived at Parliament late. They cannot penalise that person by disqualifying the application. The application will be considered as long as there is proof. It will be the responsibility of the Committee secretary to check all of that. It is important to acknowledge that applicants in the rural areas have an ICT challenge.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee had received the draft application criteria at the previous meeting. She asked if Members were satisfied with the draft criteria. It was important that the criteria be dealt with to avoid challenges in the future. The Committee wants to avoid a situation where people come into interviews ready with answers. Therefore what Members will need to do is look at the Act and what the person has said in the questionnaire and assess that person.

Ms F Masiko (ANC) said that she was not present in the previous meeting. Her understanding was that the meeting agenda was for the formation of the Sub-Committee only. Therefore these application criteria should have been presented and agreed upon by the Committee. She needed clarity on this.

She noted that the questionnaire asked for place of birth. She was born in the Eastern Cape but is currently residing in KwaZulu Natal. It is important that the applicant reflect current residence as well so that they avoid a situation where the Committee finds itself appointing people from the same province as Board members. This would result in the Board not representing provinces across the country. Her suggestion was that the current residence be included in the questionnaire as place of birth does not reflect where the applicant is residing.

Referring to point 1.5 on page two, Ms Masiko said that it would help to get a reflection of some of the responsibilities that the applicant has had because the Committee would not know what certain job positions entail. She suggested that it should include a place for the applicant to list what they were responsible for.

On page seven under point 3.2 Ms Masiko said that this question was a hot potato because the Committee was dealing with young people. She asked if the question was trying to establish if the applicant was blacklisted or under debt review. She understands young people, especially young African people, get stuck in a situation like this. What was the Committee hoping to get out of the question because this sort of information is personal and private. Some of these questions are designed to ridicule young people and this could happen when a Committee Member refers the candidate to a certain disclosure during the interview.

The Chairperson pointed out that the purpose of this question is for the Committee to establish the truth.

Ms Masiko asked what the Committee must do if an applicant is under debt review. She wanted to know if this will negatively impact the applicant and their ability to serve on the Board. She asked if this had always been the standard practice to disadvantage someone who is under debt review. This question should be discussed honestly especially because in the last interviews that the Committee conducted it was a contentious issue.

The Chairperson responded to Ms Masiko that in these interviews the Committee's main goal to find out the truth. There is nothing private when one is applying to be a Board Member. The NYDA needs young people with integrity because they will be handling public government funds which means that the NYDA needs someone taking up the position to be honest.

The advantage of deliberating on such a disclosure allows the Committee to discuss some of the issues raised by Ms Masiko. Previously with the CGE interviews, insolvency came up and this is why it was raised as something to be addressed again this time around. The Committee was not going to disadvantage people who were already disadvantaged especially as it is well aware of the background that African applicants come from.

During the CGE interview process, applicants were given an opportunity to explain to the Committee and to go and sort out their insolvency issues. Similarly with criminal records, sometimes a person applying will not indicate that criminal record, but the State Security Agency report will reflect that the candidate has a criminal record. Even if this is the case, the Committee will probe further to establish what the criminal record was about and the candidate will get a chance to explain what the record was about.

In the past people during the apartheid era were arrested for political reasons and such criminal records were not automatically rectified by the system. It was Committee's responsibility to ensure that people were not jeopardised because of those cases. However, if the applicant is a fraudster that would immediately disqualify them.

The questionnaire will remain as is, requiring the applicant to make declarations and the Committee will ask questions based on what is written there. As the questionnaire is confidential there are certain matters that Committee Members will use their discretion about and not raise in public as some questions may prevent candidates from performing well in interviews.

The Chairperson said that the Committee Members will sit and assess each questionnaire beforehand and discuss what questions they will put forward to candidates in the interview. If the Committee feels that there is something that they need an individual to elaborate on, they would need to agree collectively.

Ms M Gillion (ANC; Western Cape), Co-Chairperson, proposed that the Committee conclude by stating if they accept the programme, advert and questionnaire.

Ms B Maluleke (ANC) proposed that the programme be adopted.

Mr M Bara (DA) asked that before the Committee adopts the programme, he would like the issues the Chairperson noted to be addressed to provide clarity. He felt that it was important to have a briefing session on interview questions so that when the Committee gets to the interview stage, they know exactly how the process is going to unfold in terms of these questions.

Ms Maluleke noted that with previous appointments, before the Committee started shortlisting they would discuss and agree on what criteria they are going to use when shortlisting. Therefore she suggested that at the 25 February 2020 shortlisting meeting, before the Committee shortlist, they have a briefing on that.

The Chairperson replied that a separate meeting date needs to be set for that because when the Committee discusses criteria there is a lot of to and fro during those discussions until the Committee can find common ground. In the past, the Committee had had two meetings during the shortlisting phase, therefore two days are what the Committee needs to accommodate this.

She told Committee Members that the shortlisting process is very delicate and sensitive and that it has the potential to demand a week of the Committee's time.

There will be a day when the Committee will receive all applications accompanied by the CVs and supporting documents. The Committee will go through each CV. Human Resources will summarise the CVs but the Committee has a duty to go through those CVs again. Going through the CVs can assist in picking up any omission of details. Therefore it is critical that the Committee allocate two days in the programme for this.

Ms Maluleke suggested that the shortlisting process takes place between the 25 to 27 February.

The Co-Chairperson suggested that the programme be adopted with this amendment. She asked Mr Bara if he would second the programme if it is like that.

Mr Bara confirmed that he does second the programme with the amendment.

Ms Masiko noted the time period until 24 January 2020 for advertising in print media. She was concerned that the day after applications close, submission of the questionnaire opens for a week.

The Co-Chairperson pointed out that Ms Masiko's question was out of order as the programme had already been adopted. However, she did say that an answer to that question would come from administration and not the Committee.

Ms Masiko acknowledged that the programme had been adopted but that it was important to consider the practicality of the process, especially for applicants residing in rural areas. She asked if late applicants would get the same number of days to fill out the questionnaire. And how will the Committee get that questionnaire to the applicant on time?

The Chairperson understood what Ms Masiko was saying. She went on to explain that previously the Committee gave candidates the questionnaire only after shortlisting. However, it found it would be better to give candidates the questionnaire before shortlisting as sometimes someone says they have tried to email the Committee Secretary only to find that it is not there which delays the interview process.

The Chairperson was not sure about how to deal with the questionnaire. Perhaps when the advert is sent out the questionnaire could be sent out simultaneously to avoid delays. The questionnaire is for individuals who are applying, so even if the person gets the questionnaire earlier and someone fills it out for them, it is that individual that will be coming into the interview. When the Committee interviews them based on what has been written in the questionnaire sometimes the Committee has found that candidates present answers in the interview that are not even in the questionnaire.

Wrapping up on the questionnaire, the Chairperson said that she will leave it to the Committee Members to decide on how to deal with it.

Ms S Luthuli (EFF; KZN) commented that she thinks it would be wise for the Committee to load the questionnaire along with the advert because it will avoid late submissions and applicants having to keep going back and forth to internet cafes as not everyone has access to the internet at home. It would be easier for applicants to upload everything at once. This would mean that applicants who did not upload the questionnaire did not meet the application requirements.

The Co-Chairperson said that the Committee needs to adopt the amended programme, which will include that the submission of the questionnaire will not happen between 25 and 31 January 2020.

Mr Bara suggested that the programme be left as is. The Committee can make changes to the advert since it had not been adopted. It could state that all applicants are expected to fill in the questionnaire and the questionnaire timeline remains as is on the programme.

Mr M Nchabeleng (ANC) pointed out that the questionnaire needs to be checked for typos before it can be sent out. He was worried that the post is being advertised in December/January. He was not sure if this was the only time the Committee had to advertise, but he felt that it should have been done earlier. He asked if it was possible to move the advertisement dates due to the festive season especially as young people were being targeted for the positions.

The Co-Chairperson called Mr Nchabeleng to order saying that the programme was adopted already.

Mr Nchabeleng replied that it did not matter that the programme had been adopted. The point is if a member of the public asks him why the advert went out in December, he would need to have an answer.

Ms M Khawula (EFF) interjected that as panel members everyone had a right to air one's opinions and be heard so that on the day of the interviews everyone speaks with one voice. In her opinion it would be wise for the Co-Chairperson to give Mr Nchabeleng a chance to state his case.

Mr Nchabeleng asked what was so wrong about asking a question as he needed to get clarity. He was avoiding a situation of having to refer people who ask him this question to the Chairperson, simply because he does not have the answer. He belongs to a constituency where people ask questions and it has young people in it.

The Chairperson replied that if he looked at the programme dates, advertising was going to run from December right through to 24 January. Therefore the Committee has considered the holidays and how December is a busy month. What Parliament will do is that they will send the advert out to all newspapers and it will be put on the Parliament website until 25 January 2020.

The Chairperson said that according to the programme, interviews will happen in March 2020. This was a long process that is sometimes questioned by the South African Human Rights Commission or civil society and this is why the Committee needed to give itself time. When those challenges arise the Committee needs to ensure that its programme has made provision for such.

Ms Khawula said that she understood Mr Nchabeleng’s concern as December fever was a serious thing among the youth that the Committee needed to consider. Not that she was proposing any changes to the adopted programme. Another thing she was concerned about was criminal records. She asked how the Committee would accommodate an applicant who had for instance been involved in #FeesMustFall. Also how was the Committee going to accommodate applicants living with disabilities? She had noticed how there will be talk about their inclusion in certain programmes, but at implementation stage it is never done.

The Chairperson said that for people who are deaf, Parliament knows that they must cater for them. Parliament knows that it must accommodate the blind as well. Addressing the Committee Secretary, she said that it was not Parliament's duty and responsibility alone to be accommodating but the secretary needed to ensure that this was taken care of.

On people who have criminal records due to #FeesMustFall and so on, the Committee would discuss that when discussing the criteria because scenarios are different. The Committee cannot penalise someone involved in #FeesMustFall and disqualify based on that. The Committee is more concerned about a candidate who has been arrested, tried and sentenced. If an applicant is facing a pending case the Committee will be accommodating and invite them for an interview as they have not been sentenced. A candidate will be automatically disqualified if sentenced already.

Expanding further, the Chairperson said that is why it is important for the Committee to have a day where they can discuss the criteria as many things must be taken care of in the criteria discussion.

The Chairperson said that she was not sure what Ms Khawula wanted the Committee to do about accommodating persons with disabilities. She asked if Ms Khawula wanted the Committee to emphasise specifically in their advert that people with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

Ms Khawula answered that it should state in the advert that people with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

The Chairperson said that the advert is open for everyone and felt that the moment it specifies that people with disabilities must apply it will come across as discrimination and that will lead to the SAHRC challenging them. Perhaps when the Committee discusses the criteria they can decide that two out of seven positions can be taken up by people with disabilities. If the Committee is going to say it is the Portfolio Committee for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, it needs to come up with creative ways to lead by example. She tasked the Committee to think about what should be considered when the criteria meeting takes place.

Mr Bara agreed with the Chairperson that the advert does not need to specify that people with disabilities are encouraged to apply. The advert is open to all citizens irrespective of whether they are disabled or not.

Noting what Mr Nchabeleng raised earlier, Mr Bara asked if the Committee was restricted to print media only. His thinking was that the Committee should advertise as widely as they can and for him personally that would be inclusive of radio. Given that the time period for the advert includes the festive season, it would make sense to include radio as in that way many people would be able to catch the advert and apply.

The Chairperson said that as the target market is young people, the Committee will identify two Committee Members from the panel, Ms Masiko and Mr Bara, to speak about the NYDA Board vacancies on TV.

The Chairperson asked the media staff member to find a TV slot for the Members to talk about this. It is not a debate but rather emphasising the importance of why young people should participate. It was important for the Committee to decide on what they wanted to see being communicated on TV and on radio. She said that the Committee will find a way to deal with radio.

Ms Maluleke felt that the media involvement of two Members and no more would be sufficient.

The Chairperson said that the Committee needed to decide on a date for when media would be rolled out.

To summarise, the Chairperson confirmed that the advert would include that qualifications must be attached to the application and it would stipulate that people who have an interest in applying must request a questionnaire. Committee Members corrected the Chairperson by saying that applicants need not request a questionnaire but can obtain one off the Parliament website and from NYDA offices across the country.

The Chairperson asked the Committee if they were in agreement that advertising will start on 15 December 2019 until 24 January 2020. She asked for the Committee to adopt the advert.

Mr Bara asked if the questionnaire asks about previous board member experience. Reading point 1.6, he asked if it was necessary to specify the previous board experience.

The Chairperson said no because it would disadvantage other applicants. On specifying both place of birth and place of residence, the Chairperson felt that it was not necessary to include both in the questionnaire as this can be asked in the interview.

Mr Nchabeleng said that although not everything can be included in a questionnaire he feels that the questionnaire should ask if the applicant is a registered voter because someone, especially the youth, who is not a responsible citizen should not serve on the Board.

The Chairperson instructed the Content Advisor to proofread the document to ensure there are no errors.

The Sub-Committee approved the questionnaire.

With that the Co-Chairperson declared the meeting adjourned.


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