Subcommittee: NYDA Board: Shortlisting of Candidates – Day 2

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

02 July 2020
Chairperson: Ms C Ndaba (ANC); Ms M Gillion (ANC, Western Cape)
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Meeting Summary

Audio: Shortlisting of NYDA Candidates Day 2
The Subcommittee of the Portfolio Committee and Select Committee on Health and Social Services met for a second day to shortlist candidates for the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) board. The meeting was held at Premier Hotel Conference Room, OR Tambo International Airport, while some Members joined the meeting through an online platform. 

Members were presented with two reports – the first on the disqualified candidates and the second on the 38 preferred nominees determined the day before. The first report had been reviewed to check for human error against the disqualified nominations/ applications and the second report checked if the summaries were a true reflection of candidate information.

The Subcommittee adjourned for Members to confirm information and to reduce their preferred choices to a list of 30 candidates for interviews. When the meeting reconvened, Members submitted their final choices and an interview shortlist of 30 was attained. It was emphasised that the selection process was guided by the Constitution, the job advert and the NYDA Act. The process was declared free and fair by each party.

There was a concern that Member who was not on the panel had sent in a preferred nomination and the matter should be investigated as the candidate numbers were confidential to the panel.

The Legal Advisor of Parliament's Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy advised that it had to have a round of public comment on the candidates shortlisted for interviews. He pointed out that the process should follow not only the Act which stated the shortlist had to be published but also the Constitution which stated that committees had to facilitate public involvement in all its processes.

A long discussion ensued as Members said public comment had been invited previously but they agreed to open up for public comment again when the interview shortlist was published.

The South African Youth Council wrote a letter questioning the NYDA Board appointment process and the closed discussion on the criteria the Committee had used to select its interview shortlist. Members reiterated that the process was transparent and the criteria were discussed in detail during the 1 July open meeting.

The list of 30 shortlisted candidates will be published. They will be vetted by State Security and Parliament's Human Resources and non-virtual interviews would commence when Parliament resumes on 27 July.

Meeting report

Opening remarks
Ms C Ndaba (ANC) said that she hoped the information presented today was accurate. She and her team worked all night until 4 am to review and check for errors in the Committee Report on Disqualifications. As requested the previous day, the Report was checked for human error on the disqualified curriculum vitaes (CVs) and if the CV summaries were a true reflection as well.

Today’s presentation would be accurate as there had been verification of the summarised CVs compared to the actual CVs. The shortlisting process was guided by the Bill of Rights, NYDA Act and the shortlisting criteria. The legal advisor had added the necessary additions to the criteria to ensure alignment with the Constitution, NYDA Act and the advert. Members had to adhere to what was in the advert and legislation when carrying out the nomination process.

Yesterday during the nomination Members used these three documents as a guideline and this had to continue. The nominations were done according to the criteria and Members went through the CVs checking if their nominees met the requirements. The Committee did not want to unfairly disqualify people therefore the CVs had been reviewed. The Report as corrected was in line with what the Committee said it would do.

The criteria had been adopted on 29 June and yesterday the criteria had been double checked and additions added to the documentation. The Report had been forwarded to Members and would be presented.

Ms M Gillion (ANC, Western Cape) thanked Ms Ndaba and her team for all the work done. She appreciated the work done to make the process as smooth as possible.

Committee Reports presentation
Ms Nomvula Giba, Unit Manager: Committee Section, said there were a total of 232 CVs which were said not to have qualifications attached. Therefore as per the Committee’s resolution yesterday, each of these CVs had been verified to see if qualifications were attached. The outcome determined that there were 58 CV with qualifications attached therefore the total number of CVs without qualifications was 158. The summaries for CVs had been updated accordingly for those with qualifications. The summaries had also been updated on the uVimba electronic document management system and were available.

The second document was prepared by Ms Kashifa Abrahams, Portfolio Committee Content Advisor. This document contained yesterday’s CV nominations ranked from highest to lowest. The list of nominations per Member showed the number of nominations given yesterday. This information would be useful for Members throughout the day.

Ms Ndaba said every single CV had been double checked to ensure no one would be disqualified unfairly.

Ms F Masiko (ANC) said the Nominees Report was clear according to yesterday’s work. She asked if sheet four and five were the same except that sheet five had been ranked according to the number of nominations each candidate had received yesterday. A total of 38 candidates were shortlisted yesterday.

Ms Ndaba replied that there were two reports. The first report was the disqualifications which were being discussed now and the second report was the nominations from yesterday which would still be discussed.

Ms Masiko referred to the second report and repeated her question.

Ms Ndaba confirmed that was correct. There were two reports. The first one was about disqualifications and this report was dealt with. The second report had six sheets.

Mr L Mphithi (DA) said of the two documents received, the first one had been dealt with but for the second one he had sheets one to five. Was there a sheet six?

Ms Gillion clarified there were five sheets and six batches.

Ms Ndaba said she would allow Members a few minutes to read through the second report and then the discussion would continue thereafter. The summarised CVs were created according to the CV submitted. If Members wanted to nominate a candidate but felt the CV had been incorrectly summarised and wanted to double check the CV, they could click the Uvimba link on the digital document to view it. Thus no one could say the summary captured on Uvimba was the incorrect information.

[The meeting paused and was later reconvened]

Committee Report on Nominees: adoption
Ms Ndaba asked if Members were satisfied with the Report so it could be adopted.

Ms Gillion said that if everyone was satisfied with the Report, could someone move for its adoption.

Ms Masiko moved for the adoption of the Report and was seconded by Ms M Khawula (EFF).

Ms Ndaba gave thanks to her Co-Chairperson, Members and commended the support staff for creating the Report. Members would now nominate 30 short-listed candidates out of the pool nominated yesterday.

Ms Gillion said the Report was adopted. Members now had to make final nominations.

Shortlist nominations
Mr Mphithi nominated candidate numbers 95, 249, 368.

Ms Masiko nominated candidate numbers 408, 448, 430, 148.

Ms Khawula nominated candidate numbers 217, 23, 81.

Ms B Maluleke (ANC) nominated candidate numbers 18, 305, 445, 428.

Mr M Bara (DA, Gauteng) nominated candidate numbers 434, 124, 213.

Ms T Mgweba (ANC) nominated candidate numbers 25,187,121,143.

Ms A Maleka (ANC, Mpumalanga) nominated candidate numbers 407, 82, 160.

Ms S Luthuli (EFF, KwaZulu-Natal) nominated candidate numbers 45, 670, 339.

Mr E Nchabeleng (ANC, Limpopo) nominated candidate numbers 134, 432, 49.

Ms Gillion said these numbered 30 candidates for the shortlist. She asked if all Members had made their nominations and, if so, a Member had to move for the adoption of the 30 nominations.

Ms Ndaba said Mr Mphithi notified her than an MP had sent him a message to nominate a candidate but she did not know where this MP got the candidate number. This MP had to explain where she got the number. The list of candidate numbers was only available to the panel; no other MP had access to this list. This Member had to submit to the Speaker and be dealt with. Members of the panel were present and there was no one else with the numbers. If the Member had hacked the system, it had to be addressed.

Ms Gillion said when the process started there was a leak which had not even been discussed by the Sub-Committee and it had to be dealt with. She agreed with her Co-Chair that it needed to be investigated immediately and Mr Mphithi had to reveal the name of MP as there should not be leaks.

Ms Ndaba said documentation had not been sent to those who were not part of the panel. The MP who sent the number was known and this would be submitted to the legal advisor. There would be further information on the matter. Staff members such as researchers even knew the procedure. A confidentiality clause had been signed not to disclose the information.

Ms Gillion asked who moved for the adoption of the nominations.

Ms Ndaba said the numbers captured were exactly 30.

Ms Maleka moved for the adoption of the 30 nominations and Mr Mphithi seconded.

Ms Ndaba gave thanks. There were now 30 nominations and these people would be invited for interviews. The candidates would be submitted to Parliament's Human Resources department for verification of information and State Security would screen the CVs. After 14 days the candidates would be notified that they were shortlisted and would be invited for interviews. The Committee had to decide if the interviews would be a hybrid or physical and candidates would be notified accordingly. Parliament would have to cover travelling costs if travelling was involved. She asked Members to declare whether the process was free and fair or not.

Ms T Mgweba (ANC) declared the process free and fair on behalf of the ANC.

Ms Luthuli for the EFF declared the process free and fair.

Mr Mpithi for DA said that he was glad the Committee had robust conversation yesterday and believed the process was free and fair.

Ms Ndaba said the list of nominations met the criteria, Bill of Rights and the advert. All the candidates nominated met the requirements.

Ms Masiko asked if it had been agreed that some interviews would be held virtually for those with co-morbidities.

Ms Ndaba said it would be discussed. The Legal Advisor of Parliament's Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy, would present a letter he received today so the parliamentary legal team could deal with it.

Public Comment on Shortlisted Candidates
Dr Herman Tembe, Legal Advisor: Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy, said before he addressed the letter, he presumed that the list of shortlisted candidates would be published for public comment as this was the process moving forward before the interviews. Adequate time had to be made available for this.

Ms Ndaba asked for clarity.

Dr Tembe said the list had to be published as the public had to comment before the interviews.

Ms Ndaba replied that public comments were received on the candidates.

Dr Tembe said there were no public comments. He asked how many public comments had been received.

Ms Ndaba responded that public comments were received.

Dr Tembe asked how many public comments had been received.

Ms Ndaba replied that the information was in the report tabled in the previous meeting and the time for public comment was even extended.

Mr Tembe said Section 9(3)(c) of the NYDA Act stated that a shortlist of candidates had to be published.

Ms Ndaba said the list would be published.

Dr Tembe said that today was the short-listing and therefore it still had to be published for public comment.

Ms Ndaba asked for clarity.

Dr Tembe clarified that today the shortlisting had been done and now it had to be published for public comment. He said the initial process was only for applications and public comments were not received.

Ms Ndaba said public comments were allowed and for the public to read through the CVs and comment and the reports were drafted based on this. The report received yesterday did not note any serious issues raised in the public comments. She asked Dr Tembe for clarity.

Mr Tembe said Section 9(3)(c) of the NYDA Act said a shortlist had to be published. Today the Committee created the shortlist and the list had to be published. It would assist the Committee going forward to ask for public comment because if there were adverse findings against the 30 candidates they could be made during this process. What was the purpose of inviting comments before the candidates were shortlisted?

Ms Ndaba replied that the purpose for inviting comments was that when shortlisting was done the comments could be read together with the criteria, the Act and the Constitution. The requirements said the candidates had to be South African citizen and public comments helped identify candidates who were not citizens.

Dr Tembe said the shortlist had to be published.

Ms Ndaba said this was her understanding and perhaps other Members understood it differently. The public comments served the purpose of exposing false claims in the CVs. Was this not the case?

Ms Giba said to be on the safe side she advised the Committee publish the shortlist according to section 9 of the Act. There would still be time during these two weeks for the shortlist to be opened for public comment on the parliamentary website while the candidates were being vetted by HR and State Security.

Ms Ndaba agreed that when the list of shortlisted candidates was published, the public could give comments. The work would be done. Any comment raised after today’s list was published would be heard.

Ms Masiko agreed that the publishing process had to be done as the Committee agreed that the process would be open. She expressed concern that the steps for the process were adopted but publishing the shortlist for public comment had not been noted. The Committee had to be advised on this process correctly.

Ms Ndaba asked what clause in the Act was referred to. Why did comments have to be requested twice as it was unnecessary.

Dr Tembe replied that it was section 9(3) of the Act that read: “(a) participation by youth in the nomination process (b) transparency and openness and (c) a shortlist for appointment is published”.

Ms Ndaba responded that it did not state that it had to be published for comment.

Dr Tembe asked for what purpose it had to be published.

Ms Ndaba said the names were published on the Parliament website and anyone could view it there.

Mr Mphithi said section 9 was clear and the Subcommittee did not violate the Act as it did not mention public comment; it only said the shortlist had to be published. Public comment had been held initially and it was welcomed.

Mr Bara said he was covered by Mr Mphithi. He wanted to added that SA was a participatory democracy therefore transparency was required for such processes. The Act had been followed to the letter at this point and what the legislation did not stipulate should not be anticipated. The list of shortlisted candidates had to be publicized in the same way that selected board members would be publicized. It was a matter of transparency and completing a transparent process.

Mr Nchabeleng commented but it was inaudible [02:25].

Ms Mgweba said there had to be compliance with the Act. The Subcommittee had adopted a programme at its first meeting. She proposed the publishing of the shortlist had to be part of the programme as advised by Dr Tembe. There had to be a day or two of the publishing of the CVs as part of the programme.

Dr Tembe said to guide the Committee, Members were aware of section 59(1) of the Constitution which spoke to public access and involvement. Section 59(1)(c) stated the National Assembly had to facilitate public involvement in the legislative and other processes of the Assembly and its committees. The Constitution was the supreme law of the country. If the list was published it would be in accordance with the Act but the Act had to comply with the Constitution and there had to be no contravention. These nominations were another "process of Parliament" and public comment had been the case in the past.

Ms Ndaba said the Committee was not disagreeing about publishing the list but that it had adhered to the requirements of openness and transparency in the Act. The CVs had been published on the Parliament website so that people could see who applied. The CVs were published for public comment and the report was created on this.

The Committee followed the same processes when it dealt with the recommendations for the Commissioner appointments for the Commission of Gender Equality (CGE). The reports of the HR and State Security even got discussed and all the candidates knew they would be questioned. The legal process had been followed. The media statement would be published after the meeting ended today according to the legislation.

SA Youth Council letter
Dr Tembe said there was a letter from the SA Youth Council (SAYC) dated 1 July and addressed to the Speaker on the NYDA Board shortlisting process. The letter stated: The SAYC is an umbrella body of the youth organization in SA[…]. It has been made aware that Parliament published a Z list in which the criteria for the appointment of the Board would be discussed in camera. We find it was odd that the criteria were discussed behind closed doors when CVs of the candidates are subject to public scrutiny. We therefore request that you refer us to legal instruments you have relied on in taking such a decision that defied all democratic principles of our Constitution. We have been advised that it is only the standing committee on intelligence that sits behind closed doors. I remember vividly that the SABC appointment of the SABC Board was open to both the public and the media and the media was allowed to cover it. It comes as a shock that the appointment of the NYDA Board has been treated with such secrecy.

We further wish to understand what criteria MPs used in shortlisting candidates on the 1 July 2020 meeting. We are asking this because the Co-Chairperson Ms Ndaba is on recorded having said “Once the consolidated list has been finalised we will then look at our criteria”. This statement suggested that when they shortlisted candidates there was no criteria as she kept on saying that criteria will only be applicable afterwards. It was our submission that how MPs shortlisted candidates was flawed and predetermined. We further wish to understand whether the criteria, which are now a secret, are in line with what was contained in the advert and NYDA Act. If not, why so?

The SAYC requested that it be provided by end of business of the 2 July 2020 with the criteria used to shortlist candidates by MPs at their meeting held on 1 July 2020. We further request the criteria be made public on the same date. We also wish to remind Parliament that for the past two NYDA Board processes, the SAYC successfully managed to put the process to a halt because of the flaws we exposed. We don’t want to travel that route again. The only way we can avoid that is cooperation on the part of Parliament. We expect the response from Parliament by the end of business day on 2 July 2020.This letter is written without prejudice.

Ms Masiko said the bottom line was the criteria and there was not a lot that could be said as the Committee had commenced with shortlisting yesterday. Parliament's legal advisor was given an opportunity to go through the criteria as discussed and that was how the day was structured. The criteria were covered fully by the legal requirements and she did not see a problem writing a letter to SAYC about it.

Mr Mphithi agreed as quite a number of hours was spent speaking about the criteria in yesterday's open meeting. The Members went through the criteria in detail and as far as he knew it was being covered live on the parliamentary channel. The selection criteria were public and guided the Members yesterday. The matter was dealt with live and could be followed on various social media platforms therefore the letter had to be responded to by stating that the process was public.

Mr Bara said if there was any secrecy then the SAYC would not have known about the procedures. The meeting and information was public on numerous platforms. There had to be a response to the letter and the criteria had to be attached if necessary. The matter had to be put to rest.

Mr Nchabeleng said he was covered. The Members had a lengthy discussion on the criteria the previous day. It was not the Members problem if SAYC had not monitored that meeting correctly.

Ms Ndaba said SAYC had missed the public process. The process was open, democratic and it could be watched. Dr Tembe’s legal team had to respond to the letter. Was it an intimidation or threat that the SAYC would go to court? The Committee had followed all processes and was not haphazardly dealing with this. No favours were done for candidates. That was why the Committee was not afraid to publish the names of those shortlisted. The Committee would not be intimidated.

Closing remarks
Ms Ndaba said after the meeting the shortlist would be published. The CVs would be submitted to HR and State Security. The support staff had to deal with the process within two weeks so that when the interviews started on 27 July, all the reports would have been received. On 27 July when the session resumed, the candidates had to have already received their seven day prior notification for interviews.

The Subcommittee wanted to see each candidate physically and did not want to conduct virtual interviews to avoid fraud, but that process still had to be finalised. Those with co-morbidities would have to notify the Committee and provide supporting documents which had to be submitted to Parliament so that precautions could be taken care of.

She thanked Members for finishing the strenuous meeting. Members had to travel safely back home and tell their constituencies to adhere to social distancing. Dr Tembe and his team would deal with the SAYC matter. The process was supposed to end tomorrow but was completed early due to everyone’s hard work.

The meeting was adjourned.


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