The Joint Meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and People with Disabilities and the Select Committee on Health and Social Services met to deliberate on the selection of applicants seeking a position on the board of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA). The meeting was held at Premier Hotel Conference Room, OR Tambo International Airport, while some Members joined the meeting through an online platform.
During the discussion, Members considered whether candidates who had not submitted their qualifications or their curricula vitae (CVs) should be disqualified. There was also extensive debate over whether a young person who occupied a political office should be automatically disqualified to avoid a conflict of interest. It was decided that the criteria for considering applications for board membership had been resolved at the previous meeting, and no changes would be made
The Committee was told there were seven positions on the board, and 779 people had applied. After rejecting applications which did not meet the qualifying criteria, the Members considered 680 names, which needed to be trimmed down to a short list of 30. The Committee Secretary was tasked with collating the Members’ nominations and double-checking the qualifications.
The 30 candidates who secured the highest number of nominations would all be asked for interviews.
Opening remarks on NYDA Board Selection
The Chairperson thanked the Committees for amending and adopting the criteria for the selection of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) Board.
She said that the public comments were not intended for candidates to lobby on behalf of each other, as it was not a voting process. All candidates were subjected to the full process of selection, regardless of their popularity amongst the public. The public comments did raise concerns about candidates with criminal records.
The support staff had captured all the curricula vitae (CVs) of the applicants. Where there were issues of submitting documents and applications, or questionnaires being sent to different emails or in multiple emails with attachments, these had been compiled. Candidates could therefore be assured that all the support documents sent had been received and compiled.
Ms Nomvula Giba, Unit Manager: Committee Section, Parliament, said the shortlisting process began on July 1, 2020. There were seven positions on the board, and 779 people had applied. Only 609 of these applications had contained all the relevant documentation, as it was stated that applications without qualifications attached would be automatically disqualified. The CVs had been uploaded to the online portal, uVimba, which Members of the Committee may access. The candidates' CVs would not be circulated to the public to safeguard the sensitive information.
The Chairperson said that it was important for the process of selecting the board to be free and fair. The NYDA had an important role in South Africa, especially with President Ramaphosa’s mandate to up-skill the youth according to the State of the Nation Address. The criteria adopted by the Committee would result in a long and difficult process, but she asked that professionalism be maintained. The decisions must be made in the interests of the youth, and not as individuals or political parties. Issues such as defining the youth, rereading the Constitution and NYDA Act were necessary to ensure that all Members were on the same page. Interference from Members of Parliament not on the Committee would be avoided, as it needed space to perform its duties objectively.
The Chairperson reminded the Committee of the requirements stipulated in the advertisement for the NYDA board, which restricted non-South Africans from applying. Following the short-listing, all CVs would be submitted to State Security for screening, as well as to the human resource department of Parliament to verify the qualifications. Only 30 candidates would be short-listed, and the short-listing process would take three days. People with disabilities, geographical spread, youths aged 14-35, and people from rural areas would be considered. People without qualifications would also be considered -- how else would the youth gain experience?
Mr L Mphithi (DA) asked if candidates who hold political office or political positions in a political party would be considered. He said the NYDA board should not focus on cadre deployment, and should not prioritise people from a political party in leadership, but rather young people who would ensure the professionalism of the NYDA. The Constitution protected the political rights of people, but a decision needed to be taken on persons who hold leadership positions in political parties.
Ms F Masiko (ANC) said that applicants that hold positions in political parties should be considered, as youths were active in all sectors of society and formed structures in communities. Some applicants who were appointed may have political affiliations and have intentions of forming leadership of a political party. It would not be proper to limit youth due to this, as leadership acumen was needed and would lead them to being interested in applying for the NYDA board. The duties of the board would far outweigh the political line, and a leader would have the capacity to take services down to young people regardless of political affiliations.
Mr Mphithi clarified that the Constitution was clear on political affiliations. It was a right that was protected under the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Thus, candidates that hold membership of political parties should not be disqualified on that basis. He was referring to candidates that hold high-ranking positions in political parties who were at risk of compromising the integrity of the NYDA. The history of the NYDA showed that across the country, young people found that the NYDA was biased, and assisted only youths who supported certain political parties. If the Committee wanted a professional NYDA that addressed youth opportunities and placed young people within the economic trajectory of the country, it required young candidates that did not serve in high level political leadership. These candidates would be unable to be impartial, as they would have mandates to which they were bound by their political positions, whether it was at a national executive committee (NEC) or provincial level.
The Chairperson said that the criteria had been adopted in the previous meeting, and the issues raised by Mr Mphithi had already been dealt with. It had been agreed that no cadre deployment would occur. Professionalism, credibility and integrity were prioritised. Young South Africans that had shown an interest would not be deprived of this opportunity due to their political affiliations. It was not justified, as it was not in the NYDA Act, nor was it in the Constitution. Regardless of the political affiliations, if a candidate was short-listed, they would be subjected to the interview process where they would have to prove that they were credible and capable of rising to the task of serving on the NYDA board. She assured the meeting that most panels on which she had served as chairperson, cadre deployment had never occurred. This was the spirit that all Members had.
Disqualifying candidates due to their political positions may lead to litigation, as it was unjustifiable. The process of interviewing short-listed candidates would be fair -- there were no set questions created to ensure that none of the interviewees received questions beforehand. Cadre deployment would not occur. Each of the Members present served on behalf of their Committee, and knew what was best for the NYDA, especially considering the environment with which the youth in South Africa were faced.
Ms Gillion urged all Members of the Committee to take off their political boots and carry the mandate of the sub-Committee. The Committee ensured that it acted within the legal framework when implementing the process of short-listing the candidates. The criteria had been adopted, so the agenda for the next three days should be the focus. The legal team present during the process would guide the Committee on what was wrong and right.
Mr Mphithi said that he had not been at the meeting where the criteria were adopted. He wanted it to be noted that he objected to this particular point of the criteria.
Ms Gillion raised a point of order. If a Member was not part of a meeting, whether there was an apology or not, objecting to a particular decision was out of order. The legal team needed to be allowed to present their findings on the decisions made at the previous meeting before points of order were made.
Dr Herman Tembe, Parliamentary Legal Advisor in the Office of Institutions Supporting Democracy (OISD), presented the outline and history of the NYDA board selection [presentation can be found attached]
The Chairperson said the discussion should not go back to Mr Mphithi’s earlier point. The criteria had been adopted, so candidates would not be disqualified due to political positions held. The NYDA Act called for proven leadership in implementing the strategy of a complex organisation. This matter had thus been closed on the basis that the criteria had been adopted and the point was not justified in terms of the NYDA Act. Mr Mphithi’s objection would be noted in the minutes.
Ms Kashifa Abrahams, Content Advisor: Portfolio Committee on Women, said that of the 680 CVs on uVimba, 222 did not have qualifications. The summaries of the CVs looked at what was available per candidate. In cases where a candidate stated their qualifications, but had not submitted them, it was indicated in the summary. It was indicated where candidates provided academic transcripts.
Ms B Maluleke (ANC) asked that Ms Abrahams provide the report on the summary of findings from the CVs submitted. Ms Abrahams said that this would be circulated.
The Chairperson said that 458 CVs would thus be looked at by the Committee, as per Ms Abrahams’ report. Where no qualifications were attached, it was an automatic disqualification.
Ms Masiko asked what would happen to applicants who had not completed and attached the questionnaire.
The Chairperson said that applicants had reported having difficulties in accessing questionnaires. The questionnaire was meant to give an outline of who the person was, what they did, and an overall better idea of the person. The date of submission for questionnaires had been extended. Qualifications were paramount in comparison to the questionnaire.
Ms M Khawula (EFF) stated that people living in rural areas had limited access to information -- information was limited to the people who could go to town. These candidates may have had difficulty in submitting the questionnaire. Thus, in these cases, their applications should still be considered.
The Chairperson asked if the support staff were absolutely certain that the 222 disqualified applications did not to have qualifications submitted.
Ms Abrahams stated that each email had been looked at, and every attachment was opened by two different people. They were therefore certain that the 222 had not submitted their qualifications.
The Chairperson said she had received 222 CVs without qualifications, as well as a list of applications without actual CVs. She asked if Members had gone through all these documents.
The co-Chairperson asked the Committee secretary if an itemized document for the 458 CVs could be provided in a single, consolidated document. She added that the Committee would not be able to complete all the nominations today.
The Chairperson suggested dividing the candidates into batches, with each batch consisting of 100 candidates. She proposed that Members nominate candidates from each batch to move the nomination process forward.
Mr Mphithi raised a point of concern for those who candidates who had submitted applications but had not provided supporting documents such as CVs or qualifications, and asked the Committee to reconsider this matter. He commented that it would not be fair to exclude young people who lived in rural areas and had difficulty in making submissions.
The co-Chairperson responded that the selection criteria had not been changed, as they had been resolved and adopted yesterday. Although she agreed that his proposal could have been accepted at the meeting yesterday, the Committee had to stick to what it had agreed on.
Mr Mphithi added that it should have been included in the criteria that candidates who held roles in political office should be disqualified due to a possible conflict of interest.
The co-Chairperson asked Parliament’s legal advisor to clarify the term “political office.”
Mr Tembe said there was a gray area in legislation, as it did not have a specific definition of political office. It was also a gray area because legislation did not provide sufficient provisions to address such situations in order to avoid conflicts of interest. In his understanding, at a practical level, in order to determine what a political office was, if someone was in a senior-ranked position in an organisation, then this person was in a political office. Being a NYDA board member may create scenarios in which they found themselves unable to execute matters in an impartial manner. However, he did not think that a person at a lower rank in an organisation should be disqualified.
The co-Chairperson asked Mr Mphithi to use actual examples to explain “conflict of interest.” In her view, in addition to that. political office needed to be defined legislatively as senior leadership in a national capacity. She believed that proven experience which a candidate got from serving in an organisation would help the candidate to perform better and contribute to policy direction in a new organisation.
Mr Mphithi said that there was an impression that the NYDA was partial to certain political parties. He emphasized that appointing board members for NYDA should not be based on political parties or party affiliation, but rather on professionalism and fairness.
The co-Chairperson used her own example, and suggested to Mr Mphithi that if she were a 24-year-old young woman, she would have been disadvantaged under his proposal because she was serving a political office. She asked whether it was not unfair for the individual.
Ms Maluleke commented that what Mr Mphithi had just made reference to was a perception of an individual. She reminded him that the Committee should not confuse legislation with perception, and cautioned him against using perception as a basis for appointing board members. She stressed that since the criteria had been adopted yesterday, the Committee could not change the Act now.
Ms T Mgweba (ANC) supported Ms Maluleke and said that the Committee should be guided by the Act of the National Youth Development Agency. It would not be fair to exclude candidates who served in an organisation.
Ms A Maleka (ANC, Mpumalanga) said that the Committees could not change the Act, and must adhere to the selection criteria as discussed yesterday.
Ms S Luthuli (EFF, KZN) endorsed using the criteria as discussed and adopted at yesterday’s meeting. She said that it had taken the Committees too long to put the Act in place. However, she agreed that the legal issue around “conflict of interest” needed to be reviewed in the long term.
The co-Chairperson agreed that in the selection process, committees should be guided by three pillars of legislation: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the National Youth Development Agency Act. She agreed that there was need to review criteria in the long run.
Mr E Nchabeleng (ANC, Limpopo) said that young activists should not be punished for their activism, so it was not fair to disqualify candidates who held political office. One should encourage young people to be activists, and the country needed young people with qualifications who were committed to the development of young people, to participate in the NYDA.
Ms F Masiko (ANC) disagreed with the view that young people who held political offices should be disqualified, although she reserved her comment on the legality around conflict of interest. She pointed out that when young people were activists in nature and were elected, they could not be crucified for being in political positions. She questioned whether Mr Mphithi helped only DA constituents in his constituency, but not constituents from other political parties.
The Chairperson was disturbed that a Member would bring up the same argument over something that had been resolved and agreed on the day before. She said that the nomination process must go on, and urged Committee members to not discriminate against anyone who had applied.
The co-Chairperson chaired the nomination process.
Batch Number One
The process stated with batch number one, with candidates numbered from one to 100.f
Ms Masiko nominated candidates 25, 23 and 49.
Ms Maluleke nominated candidates 95, 81 and 45.
Ms Maleka nominated candidate 82.
Ms Khawula nominated candidates 49, 81, 25 and 45.
Mr R Bara (DA, Gauteng) nominated candidate 18.
The Co-chairperson nominated candidates 23, 49, 82 and 81.
The Chairperson nominated candidates 23, 49, 81, 95 and 82.
Ms Luthuli nominated candidates 49 and 82.
Mr Nchabeleng nominated candidates 20, 49, 81 and 95.
Ms Mgweba nominated candidates 23, 25, 49, 82, 81 and 95.
Batch Number Two
From batch number 2, candidates were numbered from 101 to 200.
Ms Luthuli nominated candidates 148, 121 and 126.
Ms Mgweba nominated candidates 124, 143 and 187.
Ms Maluleke nominated candidates 121 and 143.
Ms Masiko nominated candidates 180, 121, 148, 160 and 161
Ms Maleka nominated candidates 118, 121 and 187.
Ms Khawula nominated candidates 118, 147, 121, 126, 187 and110.
Mr Nchabeleng nominated candidates 121, 134, 187, 118 and 143.
Mr Bara nominated candidates 160, 178 and 197.
The co-Chairperson nominated candidates 124, 143, 187, 121 and 160.
The Chairperson nominated candidates 124, 134, 143 and 187.
Batch Number Three
From batch number three, candidates were numbered from 201 to 300.
Mr Mphithi did not nominate any candidates from the batch.
Ms Maleka nominated candidates 213, 249 and 251.
Ms Luthuli nominated candidates 227, 262, 213 and 235.
Ms Mgweba nominated candidates 212, 213 and 249.
Ms Maluleke nominated candidates 212, 259, 213 and 249.
Ms Masiko nominated candidates 212, 213, 217, 249 and 277.
Mr Nchabeleng nominated candidates 213, 249 and 259.
Ms Khawula nominated candidates 227, 259, 212, 213, 249, 265 and 235.
The Chairperson nominated candidates 212, 213, 249, 251, 277 and 217.
The co-Chairperson nominated candidates 213, 249, 212, 217 and 277.
Batch Number Four
From batch number four, candidates were numbered from 301 to 400.
Ms Maleka nominated candidates 304 and 339.
Ms Luthuli nominated candidates 339 and 390.
Ms Maluleka nominated candidates 339, 368 and 304.
Mr Nchabeleng nominated candidates 339 and 390.
Ms Masiko nominated candidates 339, 368 and 304.
Ms Mgweba nominated candidates 368, 339, 305 and 304.
The co-Chairperson nominated candidates 368, 339, 305, 304 and 390.
Ms Khawula nominated candidates 337, 393, 339 and 390.
The Chairperson nominated candidates 304, 339 and 368.
Batch Number Five
From batch number five, candidates were numbered from 401 to 500.
Mr Bara nominated candidate 445.
Ms Maleka nominated candidates 408, 448 and 430.
Ms Masiko nominated candidates 408, 430 and 448.
Ms Luthuli nominated candidates 409 and 418.
Mr Mphithi nominated candidates 407, 428 and 445.
Ms Khawula nominated candidates 401, 409, 407, 428, 445 and 448.
Ms Maluleke nominated candidates 430, 408 and 448.
Mr Nchabeleng nominated candidates 445, 430 and 448.
Ms Mgweba nominated candidates 406, 403, 408, 448, 445 and 434.
The co-Chairperson nominated candidates 448, 445, 407, 406 and 403.
The Chairperson nominated candidates 408, 430 and 448.
Batch Number Six
From batch number 6, candidates were numbered from 501 to 600.
Ms Mgweba nominated candidates 507, 521 and 528.
Mr Mphithi did not nominate any candidate.
Ms Masiko nominated candidate 528.
Ms Luthuli nominated candidates 507, 521 and 528.
Mr Nchabeleng nominated candidates 528 and 507.
Ms Maleka nominated candidate 528.
Mr Bara nominated candidates 507 and 528.
Ms Maluleke nominated candidates 521 and 528.
Mr Bara and the co-Chairperson did not nominate any candidate.
Ms Khawula nominated candidates 507, 521 and 528.
The Chairperson nominated candidate 507.
Batch Number Seven
From batch seven, candidates were numbered from 601 to 680.
Ms Maluleke nominated candidate 642.
Mr Nchabeleng nominated 670
Ms Luthuli nominated candidates 608, 610, 627, 631 and 654.
Ms Masiko nominated candidate 670.
Ms Maleka nominated candidate 670.
Ms Mgweba initially nominated candidates 670 and 642. She later withdrew candidate 642, as the applicant had not provided qualifications in the application. She said that she had to adhere to the criteria.
Ms Khawula nominated candidates 617, 635, 627, 631, 654, and 657.
The co-Chairperson, Mr Bara and Mr Mphithi did not nominate any candidate.
The nomination session was announced concluded.
The co-Chairperson asked the Secretary to provide Members with a report on all the nominated candidates. In the report, it must also clearly state how many times a candidate had been nominated. She asked the Secretary to double check the qualifications. Furthermore, if the final confirmed number was less than 30 by tomorrow’s meeting, then the Committees would have to make more nominations. All these candidates would be asked for interviews. She added that Members needed to check if people with disabilities had been included.
The meeting was adjourned.
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