Auditor-General appointment: shortlisting for interviews

Appointment of the Auditor General

04 August 2020
Chairperson: Ms N Tolashe (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Ad Hoc Committee on the Appointment of the Auditor-General (NA) 4 Aug 2020 

Mr Michael Sass, CA (SA)

Dr Moses Gasela, (FCCA, UK)

Ms Shabeer Khan, CA (SA)

Ms Rachel Kalidass, CA (SA)

Ms Tsakani Maluleke, CA (SA)

Mr Zakariya Hoosain, CA (SA) 

Mr Edmond Shoko-Lekhuleni, CA (UK)

The Ad Hoc Committee on the Appointment of the Auditor-General shortlisted eight candidates to be considered for the position of Auditor-General.
The Committee received 71 applications for the position. However, the majority of these applications were from people with no accounting or auditing background. Out of all those who applied, the Committee shortlisted the candidates who met the minimum requirements. These requirements were based on both qualifications and experience in the public sector, and were derived from section 193 of the Constitution.
The shortlisted candidates are:
1. Mr Michael Sass, CA (SA)
2. Dr Moses Gasela, (FCCA, UK)
3. Ms Shabeer Khan, CA (SA)
4. Ms Rachel Kalidass, CA (SA)
5. Prof Tankiso Moloi
6. Ms Tsakani Maluleke, CA (SA)
7. Mr Zakariya Hoosain, CA (SA) 
8. Mr Edmond Shoko-Lekhuleni, CA (UK)
The Committee has agreed to seek permission from the shortlisted candidates to make their CVs public. The publication of their CVs would allow the public to participate and make informed comments to the Committee on the shortlisted candidates. The Committee will also conduct comprehensive background checks on all the candidates to ensure that a credible outcome is achieved.

Members wanted to ascertain that these background checks would be done thoroughly by Parliament. They also asked if police clearance would be done in a manner that left the Committee enough time to make an informed decision before making recommendations to the President.

Meeting report

The Chairperson said that at the focus of this meeting was to ensure that the Committee completes the work of shortlisting a candidate for the position of Auditor-General of South Africa.

She welcomed Mr Peter-Paul Mbele (Committee Secretary) and the team accompanying him included: Mr Xolisile Mgxaji, Committee Content Adviser; Parliament's Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy (OISD) was represented by Mr Andile Mphunga, Senior Manager: ISD Oversight Support; Ms Siphesihle Phezi. Also in attendance were Adv Frank Jenkins, Senior Parliamentary Legal Adviser; Shanaaz Gabier, Human Resources; Ms Mbuyiselo Hlekiso, Researcher at Parliament.

Meeting Agenda
Mr Mbele noted that at the previous meeting there was discussion after the receipt of legal advice from the Constitutional and Legal Services Office (CLSO) on an implementation plan for this process. Members had been sent a proposal on this. The second agenda item would be the shortlisting itself. The last item (coming from the deliberations of the last meeting) would be logistics around the interviews. Members had said that when they know where the AGSA shortlisted candidates are based, they could then discuss where the Committee would wish to hold these interviews.

Implementation plan for Auditor-General Appointment
Mr Mbele said that the implementation plan was sent to Members after the previous meeting. In that plan, Members would have read that they would be meeting today (4 August 2020) for the shortlisting of candidates. The Committee applied for permission, and it was granted by the House Chairperson and the Chief Whip. The proposal is that once Members have shortlisted candidates, the Committee must seek the candidates’ permission to publish their CVs on the parliamentary website. The Committee will ask candidates for a version of their CV that excludes personal details. After this meeting, the Committee will inform candidates of their shortlisting, and ask them for the CVs. Candidates must give the information to the Committee by close of business tomorrow (5 August 2020). Mr Mbele also shared with the Committee a Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE) consent form, which is a personal disclosure credential form. This form will be shared with candidates and returned the day after they have been shortlisted. This form will be used by an independent company, MIE, that is contracted to Parliament and that company will be do thorough background checks on each of the candidates. A committee member had raised that it is important that the Committee do thorough background checks on qualifications, experience, criminal record, etc. Colleagues from HR will be working with the company to collate that information for the Committee. From Thursday 6 August 2020, the CVs of the shortlisted candidates will be published on the Parliament website with calls for public comments. The Secretariat would be working closely with the Parliament Media Unit to release statements and whatever else is necessary to ensure that the message is out there stating that the Committee is calling for public comments on the shortlisted candidates. This will continue until close of business on Friday 14 August 2020. This allows for seven working days.

There were also proposals on the need for the development of questionnaires and scorecards to assess and evaluate candidates as per practice. The development of questionnaires and scorecards is at an advanced stage. It will be shared with Members in due course. The proposal is in keeping with the Committee’s adopted programme, which means that there will be no need for any further changes to the programme which will see the Committee finishing the programme around 25 August, when the Committee will be ready to report to the National Assembly on its recommendations to the President.

The Chairperson said that this was the programme that the Committee would follow in ensuring that the public is part of the process, and that the Committee ensures that it owns the process. If anything goes wrong, it will come back to the Committee.

Mr S Buthelezi (ANC) thought that the implementation plan will ensure that the Committee is transparent with the process and allows the public to participate by making comment once the names are published on the Parliament website.

Mr N Singh (IFP) thanked the Parliament team for the guidelines on public participation; it goes a long way in ensuring that the Committee’s process is transparent, and that those who are interested are given the opportunity to make comments on the shortlisted candidates. He asked if the background checks would include academic checks, financial checks, intelligence checks, etc. Will it be a comprehensive background check on the candidates? He was concerned that if the Committee went on with public comments until 14 August, it leave them with very few days to read through the public comments and make assessments for themselves. He asked if 18 August would be suitable for the Committee itself to go through the questions privately, and do the interviews on 18 August. The Committee would also have to get permission for 18 August, because it is a plenary day as the third term of Parliament started on 17 August. The Parliament team might need to consider if the Committee will have enough time to look through those public comments. In the background checks for the JSE, candidates are asked about political affiliation, and if they are holding active positions in a party. He wanted to know if the background check included that.

The Chairperson replied that questions were going to the company appointed by Parliament. In the case that what Mr Singh raised is not part of that package, can the office responsible respond?

Ms D Peters (ANC) supported the proposal by Mr Singh on the background checks being done, and the overall package of references that needs to be followed up. She should be done simultaneously with the process for public comments on the candidates. She said that Mr Singh was proposing a very important point which was whether the Committee will be able to make the deadline with 18 August being the day of the interviews.

The Chairperson asked if other Members wanted to comment. Members were suggesting that timeline was short between the public voicing its concerns and the Committee looking through submissions, preparing interview questions and the actual interviews. She asked Mr Mbele to take the Committee through the possibilities within the timelines that the Committee has.

Mr Mbele said that Committee’s contributions were well-received and he heard Members’ concerns. On the question about background checks, he would ask Ms Shanaaz Gabier from HR who has worked for some time with the company that does background checks. She would give Members an idea of the process that MIE uses when doing background checks. On the timeline, specifically when one talks about the content for the interviews and preparations, Mr Mbele would talk to the parliamentary team. As far as the scorecards and questionnaires were concerned, those were nearly ready, and would be shared with Members before 18 August. The team needed to devise a way to take into consideration the public comments received. In terms of the Committee’s internal preparations for the interviews themselves, the team would be ready for 18 August.

The Chairperson asked if Members could conclude on what Mr Mbele had said. As Members might have differing views on the public comments, she suggested a one-hour meeting where the Committee would conclude on the public comments so as a Committee it could come to an agreement on the public comments before it proceeds with interviews. Mr Mbele was saying that the parliamentary team would be ready with the internal processes, which needed to be ready before the actual interviews. If the Committee had an additional meeting, it could conclude on the public comments. The Committee might have individual views, but it needs to have a collective view on, for example, what a particular non-government organisation (NGO) says. Then the Committee will have records to speak to the issue of transparency

Mr Singh said that the Chairperson’s observations were well-founded. It is fine for administration to be prepared, but the Committee has to be mentally prepared with all the information at its disposal. If comments are allowed until Friday 14 August, it leaves a weekend and a constituency day to catch up, so that the Committee can interview on 18 August. He suggested that the Committee delay the interviews to later that week, so the Committee can have the Tuesday for a private meeting and prepare itself for either 21 or 22 August. The Committee’s deadline is at the end of August. The Committee could give a report to Parliament in the first week of September, so that it gets tabled. He was appealing for the Committee to get some leeway because whatever happens in the Committee will fall on its shoulders; it has been entrusted by the National Assembly to ensure that this process is transparent and done properly.

Mr S Somyo (ANC) noted the sad news of the passing of Committee Member, Mr Peter, on 1 August who would be laid to rest on 5 August 2020.

Mr Somyo agreed with Mr Singh saying that those who have participated in the Committee’s processes must feel that the Committee has respected what participants have contributed to the process. The Committee would be dealing with those inputs, and then setting itself time for interviews, which would not have to be “very long”. The appreciation shown to the contributions made thus far was on record.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Somyo for the reminder of the news about Mr Peter, and said, “May his beautiful soul rest in peace”.

She said that it would be up to the parliamentary team for the actual date that the Committee could have a meeting on the public inputs before the interviews, where the responses and internal matters could be brought together in one meeting, and the Committee be allowed a space to bring the Committee together. Then by the time the Committee gets to the interviews, it will be stronger. The Committee is a team already, and it has “gelled very easily”; however, the Committee “has not been made psychologically ready”. She wanted strongly to suggest avoiding Friday in case Members have to travel.

Mr Buthelezi asked who is this company to whom the Committee has given such an important responsibility? How long has it been with Parliament?

Ms Shanaaz Gabier from Parliament's Human Resources section, replied that MIE stands for Managed Integrity Evaluation. It is an external company; it is contracted to Parliament, and went through a procurement process. MIE verifies the qualifications of all candidates that come through the recruitment process at Parliament or verification of qualifications of applicants for appointments such as those completed for the NYDA Board and the MDDA Board. The MIE consent form is where the candidates give permission, Parliament takes that form, including the actual qualifications, and submits it to MIE electronically. MIE independently verifies with the respective tertiary institutions. MIE can verify both locally and internationally-gained qualifications. In this particular test for the AG, it was suggested that Parliament verify professional membership, because the advert calls for the person to be a chartered accountant. Parliament will not just verify qualifications, it will also verify professional registration, which was important as well. When Parliament submits, MIE comes back with a verification report that verifies if a candidate has the qualifications that they state they have.

The Chairperson noted that Mr I Morolong (ANC) was experiencing technical difficulties. He had stated via the Microsoft Teams chat box: "Honorable Chair, I’m struggling with this platform but I agree with Honorable Singh, we could be found to be ill-prepared for the public response if we don’t give ourselves sufficient time to deal with these comments. I fully agree with Thursday".

The Chairperson apologised to Mr Morolong and to Ms Dlakude who was also experiencing technical difficulties. She hoped that the IT team was trying its best to ensure that those two Members were brought into the meeting. She requested that IT do an analysis on the platforms being used for virtual meetings. She thought that it was “about time”; there are platforms that are “frustrating us”. The Committee knew that there was not much it could do about the network, but there were some platforms that were giving the Committee difficulties more than others.

The Chairperson welcomed the report from HR and asked Members to respond if they were satisfied with the company who would do the work. She thought it was important to ask how long MIE had been working with Parliament; those kinds of questions are important, especially now when the country is having various concerns. The Committee must be as transparent as it can. About 90% of the work that the Committee will do depends on the screening process.

Mr Somyo said Mr Singh’s proposal was even more relevant now, because “the taste of the pudding is in the eating”. Whatever information has been mined on each candidate should be analysed. After such an analysis, the Committee should satisfy itself in this process.

Mr Singh said that the Committee was fortunate to have ex-premiers, ex-ministers, ex-deputy ministers, who may have been involved in these interview processes. He did not know to what extent the Committee has a responsibility to go into detailed backgrounds of the shortlisted candidates. He was asking this on advice, because the Committee knows from the process involved with the appointment of the Public Protector. His earlier question about an intelligence report, financial background, active political affiliation; to what extent does the Committee look into those things? From what he heard from Ms Gabier, the Committee is looking more at the verification of the academic qualifications. How much beyond that should the Committee go? This is a very important position as the person appointed deals with finances, integrity, morality, etc. He was putting that question out for discussion and advice.

Mr Buthelezi said that Mr Singh “was spot-on”. The person appointed to this position must fulfill the condition of being fit and proper to occupy this position. “Fit and proper” is much wider than the scope that Ms Gabier spoke about, that scope is one element of a “fit and proper” definition. The question of appropriate qualification and membership to those institutions, in this case the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). When one does a background check, it should be a thorough and broad check. For example, there is a security check that should be done on an individual; secondly, such a position would
require that the person is not insolvent, a criminal record check etc. The main thing is that the Committee is looking for a fit and proper person. What MIE does concentrates on the academic qualifications and membership with professional institutions. He thought that the scope must be broader. He was not sure if MIE was able to do other kinds of checks. If not, another company or body would be needed to check the other elements of being a fit and proper person for the job. The person who performs the duties of the AG would have to do so without any fear or prejudice.

The Chairperson asked Ms Gabier to clarify if the MIE fell short on what the Committee needed in terms of background checks. If yes, how can the Committee ensure that it measures the standards that it has put before itself within the legal framework that it has, but using all other internal processes in reach to ensure that it performs this task in a manner that South Africans would be proud of. She said that she would give over to Ms Gabier to explain if the people who are given the responsibility will be able to deliver according to what the Members are expecting.

Ms Gabier replied that MIE does credit checks as well. Ms Gabier supported the Committee dealing with the Commission on Gender Equality appointments. In that Committee, Parliament interacted with the State Security Agency (SSA) to actually do a complete background check, including a credit check, and then that feedback, when it was completed, was given to the Committee in a closed meeting. That information was thorough, and it was at the standard that the Committee had expected. On how long MIE has been doing this work, she replied that there have been various procurement processes, but MIE has been with Parliament for about ten years verifying qualifications.

The Chairperson said that she did not hear Ms Gabier saying if MIE falls short, therefore Ms Gabier agreed with Members that the Committee could bring in any state institution that can ensure that the Committee comes up with the best list of candidates. She noted that the Committee was having discussions on a different platform (i.e. online meetings), where security is only sometimes there. She asked if Ms Gabier was in agreement that state institutions such as the SSA can be included to ensure that one has a list of people who might be interviewed, shortlisted and appointed in the end.

Ms Gabier said that she was in agreement that Parliament uses both MIE and state institutions such as the SSA to give it the best outcome and the best appointment that Parliament can be proud of.

Mr Mbele said that he had received advice from his manager to say that the State Security Agency is a separate process; candidates are normally requested to submit fingerprints, and these are then sent to SSA for screening. The vetting itself at that level is done by the Presidency on appointment. Parliament will probably be recommending more than one name to the President and the SSA goes on to do the vetting at that level. The President makes the appointment based on the feedback received. Parliament will kick start the process to get information to SSA as it takes quite a bit of time. The Presidency will complete the process when the vetting is done at that level.

Mr Somyo said that the Committee had been entrusted with the responsibility of recommending the appointment of the Auditor General. He wanted to propose that there must be a way to ensure that there is some vetting process done together with the Committee’s own processes. The Committee must not leave vetting until it is too late.

Mr de Villiers supported Mr Buthelezi and Mr Singh. If one looks at the Public Audit Act and the Constitution, there are three main items that the Committee needs to consider when it recommends a suitable candidate for the position of AG. One is specialized knowledge, experience in auditing state finances and public administration. Those are things which can be checked. The external company and Parliament officials can check references; qualification and registration with the relevant CA association. For him, the third and very important item is that the candidate must be impartial. The Office of the AG needs to remain impartial above all else. Mr Singh asked if it is the Committee’s responsibility to check whether candidates have a political affiliation; Mr de Villiers would argue that it is. It must be one of the questions put to the candidate must be about holding any political affiliations. Such a matter must also be checked by officials and the outside consultant because if one is affiliated to a political organisation, it is impossible to be impartial, and one will not be impartial. He asked if political affiliation is something that would be checked.

Ms D Dlakude (ANC) agreed with Mr Somyo that the Committee cannot leave out background checks when a name is recommended to the President. What if the recommended candidate has something that will take the Committee back to square one? She did not think it would create a challenge if a thorough background check is done before the Committee finalises the process. When the recommendation arrives on the desk of the President, it will be easier for the other process to kick in. The Committee will know that the work that it has done is credible, and the candidate that it recommends can stand any test such as a background check or a qualification check, so that the Committee "can sleep peacefully at night”. She agreed with Mr de Villiers that a candidate must be impartial. The position of AG is a public office; the Committee needs someone who will fit into the shoes of the current AG. The Committee definitely needs someone who will do the work for the people of South Africa, not for any political party.

The Chairperson said that the Committee was suggesting that more should be done to ensure it has a credible outcome. The Committee wants to hear from the Parliament team where the difficulties might be but she wanted to insist that there be further checks as Members were consistently raising this.

Mr Buthelezi said that the Chairperson had summarized well what the Members had said. The Committee wants to do the correct thing so there are no “ifs” or “buts” and its recommendation is the best of the best. The Committee cannot delegate upwards to the President to do the things that it is supposed to do. That does not preclude the President from doing whatever checks he wants to do. Is there anything which precludes the Committee from saying the SSA should do these checks? His take was that there were no restrictions, but he wanted to hear from the support staff if there are any restrictions.

The Chairperson wanted to give over to Mr Mbele to tell the Committee if there might be a challenge, and if there are any, what they are so that the Committee can come up with a solution.

Ms Nomvula Giba, Unit Manager, Committee Section: Parliament, responded that MIE is a service provider that is used for qualification verification. For all candidates, there will be a qualification verification solely done by MIE. MIE usually takes a week or two to finish its work, and HR then presents the Committee with that report. Once the Committee decides on the shortlist, then Parliament HR will do the qualification verification and submit and table a report to the Committee on the veracity of the qualifications indicated on the CVs. There will also be a report from the SSA. SSA reports are twofold: Vetting is a very thorough and intense process and there is also Security Clearance. For filling vacancies in Parliament, security clearances are done. The South African Police Service (SAPS) does because there is a deadline by which the Committee needs to finalise its work. That is why Parliament recommends security clearance instead of vetting, because vetting is a thorough process that takes longer than the time that the Committee has. Security clearance is done by Parliament so that by the time the Committee arrives at the conclusion of who to recommend, it has a clear idea of each candidate, and whether that candidate is fit and proper. The vetting will then be done before the actual appointment is made by the President.

Ms Giba explained how security clearance is done: Parliament's own Protection Services provide it with a document which it communicates to each shortlisted candidate, where it asks the candidate to submit to the Secretariat their fingerprints by a certain deadline. After that, Parliament submits the fingerprints to the SSA, so that SAPS can do its work. In its planning, Parliament normally asks for about two to three weeks to do that. But from experience, that process takes long currently. Based on other Committees that Ms Giba had been involved in, the Committees most likely finalise their work without having the security clearance report at its disposal, and the Committee recommends subject to the availability of that report. However, Parliament can assure Members that MIE is reliable. Once Parliament sets a deadline, MIE does it within the allotted time. The security clearance for candidates sometimes does not arrive by the time the Committee finalises the recommendation. That is why there is also vetting at the appointment stage

The Chairperson said that that was the explanation on the capabilities. Ms Giba had explained some difficulties when a Committee is embarking on this kind of task. There is a need to review the process to include all the issues that the Committee had spoken about. The Committee must take note of the frustrations that Ms Giba talked about. As democracy is growing, the Committee cannot afford these frustrations. The Committee must be able to resolve those frustrations if they become the norm.

Ms Dlakude said that the Committee head what Ms Giba explained, but this is the office of the AG, which supports South Africa’s constitutional democracy. If Parliament can make a request to the SSA to come on board with the other processes as soon as possible when then it starts its processes, then this would assist the Committee going forward. This position cannot be treated like any other position. She understood what Ms Giba said about the processes that Parliament does, but said, “Let’s try our level best as Parliament to seek the assistance of SSA”. The reason why she was saying this is because the rate of corruption in South Africa is “really tearing our democracy apart”. The Committee does not want to find itself in a situation where a person whom it recommends to the President for appointment is found to have “a dark cloud over their head”. The Committee wants a credible process which it can own to recommend a person whom Members know will serve South Africans well. When Members were appointed to the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence, SSA came on board. She knew that the SSA was very busy, and had many things it was dealing with, but at the request of Parliament, it was able to do the work; the turnaround time was very short. If the request can be made directly to the SSA, then she believed that it could be done. What the Committee wants is to see a credible person who will do the work as expected.

Mr Singh said he could not agree more with Ms Dlakude. The Committee has to be as thorough as practically possible in this process. If Ms Giba says two to three weeks, it is taking the Committee to 25 August; that is the outer date. He thought that it was time for the Committee to reconsider its interview date. The Committee must stay on the side of caution instead of going through the motions. As far as he could recall, the current AG term ends at the end of November. The Committee still has some time.

The Chairperson said that the Committee would now leave it to Administration to do the things suggested by the Members. She wanted to discuss changing the date for interviews, as well as the timeline for reporting back to Parliament. The Committee would bring that report to the Members of Parliament, taking into account what Committee Members raised and emphasized. The Committee cannot create an impression that there are no allegations about corruption. The Committee cannot do things as it used to; it must sharpen its tools, so that it keeps people’s trust, in ensuring that whatever is being raised, the Committee is aware of it and equal to the task. She then asked if the Committee could go to the agenda item that talks directly to the shortlisting, and Members agreed.

Mr Mbele said that he understood that Parliament must try its best to ensure that things happen at this level. As Parliament looks at the dates, it is saying that it can still go on with the information from MIE; it will have interviews, but it will not report to the National Assembly until the SSA reports on the candidates are received. The recommendation for appointment will not happen until a report on all the candidates from the SSA is received. He wanted to clarify if he understood correctly.

The Chairperson said that the Committee would not say “we are not doing this until that has been done”. All the Committee was saying is that it must be as thorough as possible. The Committee has put suggestions in place. Where there are difficulties, the Committee will come in to resolve those difficulties preventing it from achieving what it has agreed upon. Members said that they do not want to see the process fail at the tail end and find that the person chosen was not supposed to be there. Members had agreed that the SSA must assist in this regard. If Parliament can send a letter today, the Chair of Chairs can send the letter at the Committee’s request. In three days, the Committee could get a response. The Committee is sitting with chief whips who can also assist. Let this task be done by Parliament and come back to the Committee to let it know of any difficulties and it will deal with those accordingly. The Committee wants Parliament to implement what it has discussed and agreed on.

Summary of Applications for position of Auditor-General
Mr Xolisile Mgxaji, Committee Content Adviser, summarized the submissions received for the AG position, and the process of sorting the CVs according to the requirements as stipulated in the advertisement. At the first meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on 24 June, it was agreed that the job advertisement would be circulated. Members gave their input, and the advertisement was adjusted accordingly. The final draft of the advertisement was signed off by the Committee Chairperson. Parliament placed that advertisement in national newspapers and on local radio stations and invited suitable candidates to apply for the position. The application period was from 3 July to 17 July 2020. By the closing date, Parliament received 71 applications. The applications were received from people from all walks of life, ranging from stock packers, drivers, and cashiers, to CEOs and managing directors. Degrees ranged from matric, national diplomas, bachelor degrees, up to PhD level. Although the requirements clearly stipulated that people should be in possession of an accounting or commerce degree, Parliament had a significant number of applications from other fields ranging from engineering, science, law and philosophy.

Of the 71 applications received, more than half (54.9%) or 39 were male applicants, while female applicants accounted for only 30.9% or 22 applicants. Ten applicants did not specify their gender in their CV.

The majority of applicants were very young between the ages of 20 to 30. They were followed by the middle-aged applicants between the ages of 36 to 45. There were 11 applicants who did not specify their age in their application.

Qualifications in Accounting/Auditing
About 17% or 12 people are in possession of a Bachelor degree in Accounting and/or Auditing. One of the two applicants who possess a Master’s degree or above in Accounting and/or Auditing, is qualified as a chartered accountant. Applicants who meet the requirements in terms of qualifications are those who possess a Master’s degree and above, and those who are registered as Chartered Accountants, meaning that they constitute ten out of the total 71 applicants. Out of these ten applicants, three of them did not meet the requirements in terms of experience but only in terms of qualifications. The majority of applicants (45% or 32 people) are in possession of a qualification from other fields of study such as engineering, science, law, information technology, retail management, business administration, philosophy and other fields. The “other” qualifications also include an applicant who recorded Grade 12 as her highest qualification.

Experience as required in terms of this position
Of 71 applications received, only 10 applications met the required experience. Three of these 10 applicants could not meet the qualifications requirement as they possess an Honours degree. Of the 61 applications that fall below the minimum requirements in terms of experience, some possessed irrelevant experience or no experience at all. This includes applicants who have experience in law, internships, cashiers, stock packers, boilermakers, driver/general worker, financial managers in the private sector, quantity surveyors and others.

Sorting of the applications
On 22 July 2020, the Committee support staff met with the aim of sorting applications to enable the Committee to shortlist the suitable candidates. The support staff, with the guidance of an expert from Parliament Human Resources, agreed on the criteria to follow in the sorting of the applications. The criteria as stipulated in the job advert are that the applicant must be a registered chartered accountant or possess equivalent qualifications, with a specialized knowledge of or experience in auditing, state finances and public administration. These requirements were mainly derived from section 193 of the Constitution.

The following names are proposed for consideration for shortlisting by the Committee:
1. Mr Michael Sass, CA (SA)
2. Dr Moses Gasela, (FCCA, UK)
3. Ms Rachel Kalidass, CA (SA)
4. Mr Shabeer Khan, CA (SA)
5. Professor Tankiso Moloi
6. Ms Tsakani Maluleke, CA (SA)
7. Mr Zakariya Hoosain, CA (SA)
8. Mr Edmond Shoko-Lekhuleni, CA (UK)

Mr Michael Sass is a Chartered Accountant (CA, SA), who has specialized experience and knowledge in auditing state finance and public administration. Mr Sass has worked as a Deputy Director-General (DDG) in the Gauteng Provincial Government, under the Gauteng audit service. He has also worked as a DDG in the National Treasury (2013 to 2015). He is currently the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of National Health Laboratory Service.

Dr Moses Gasela has a Chartered Accountant degree from the UK (FCCA, UK). He has a PhD in Finance. He is currently employed by the Northern Cape Premier as a CFO. He has worked in various government institutions, such as the Eastern Cape Provincial Treasury and Department of Justice as a Director of Finance.

Ms Rachel Kalidass, CA (SA), has worked as a CFO in the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency. She has also worked as the Manager of Finance in the Mpumalanga Agricultural Development Corporate Agency.

Mr Shabeer Khan, CA (SA), has worked in the Office of the Auditor-General of South Africa before. He is currently a CFO in the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Prof Tankiso Moloi has a Master’s degree in Accounting, and a PhD in Finance. He is a professor at the University of the Witwatersrand. He has also played an advisory and consulting role in government.

Ms Tsakani Maluleke, CA (SA), is currently the Deputy Auditor-General (DAG), a position which she has held since 2014. In 2012, she joined the Office of the AG as a national leader in audit service. She has worked in the Eastern Cape Development Corporation.

Mr Zakariya Hoosain, CA (SA), has worked as Head of Department (HOD) in the Western Cape Treasury. Before being appointed as HOD in the Western Cape Government, he was appointed as the DDG responsible for governance in the Western Cape Treasury.

Mr Edmond Shoko-Lekhuleni, CA (UK), is currently the Technical Advisor at AFROSAI-E (African Organisation of English-Speaking Supreme Audit Institutions in Africa). (He was not on the shortlist at the time of the meeting, but was later added to the shortlist.)

These candidates met the requirements as derived from section 193 of the Constitution.

Ms Dlakude noted the process of acquiring information on candidates. As Members who are bestowed with the responsibility of making sure that they have a credible process, the Members requested that they must be allowed to go back and relook the applicants, and also to do some thorough work in this regard. The Committee did go through the pool of 71 applicants. Members agreed with what was presented, namely that most of the applicants applied for the sake of applying. The Committee came across the seven names who have vast experience in the public sector, and these candidates are well-qualified as per the advertisement. She agreed with what Mr Mgxaji presented, because the Committee had been given enough time to go through the candidates and satisfy themselves.

Mr de Villiers thanked the Secretariat for its work. He thought that it was a very thorough process. He appreciated the way that it compiled the control list, and it had compiled the shortlist in a sensible way. He had questions about how the list was put together. If one goes to the control list and looks at candidate 13, Mr Edmund Shoko-Lekhuleni, it seemed to him that that candidate is a registered CA, and has worked in the Office of the AG, but he had not been included on the list. In his opinion, it looked like both Mr Shoko-Lekhuleni’s qualification and experience meet the minimum requirements to be on the shortlist.

He then asked about Mr Shabeer Khan; he was not shown as a CA on the control list, but it says that he is a CA on the shortlist. He asked why it did not say CA on the control list. On Prof Moloi, he had been shortlisted, but is not a CA, although he is academically qualified. In the Committee’s documents, it states that one of the conditions for employment is that the person must be a CA, or possess equivalent qualifications. For Mr de Villiers, there is no equivalent qualification; if one is going to be the Auditor General of South Africa, then one has to be a CA.

Mr Singh thanked the Secretariat for its work. He asked why Mr Edmond Shoko-Lekhuleni was not included on the shortlist. What is an equivalent to a CA? He had a concern about Prof Moloi; he is well-qualified, but he is an academic. One of the requirements in the advertisement says, “experience in auditing state finances” and “specialized knowledge in auditing”. He noted that with Prof Moloi there is not that specialized knowledge in auditing, and maybe with some of the other candidates as well; they are more financial people rather than audit people. He was prepared to give such people the benefit of the doubt and let them go through the process of being interviewed. For example, Mr Khan is a CFO; “he is a finance person and not audit person. But it’s like bread and butter; they go together”. That is why he is willing to give such people the benefit of the doubt. Ms Kalidass did not seem to have the necessary experience, but “let’s just see what happens in the interview, because there are only two females, and we must give the females an opportunity”. He was unsure about Prof Moloi, unless he could be convinced otherwise.

Ms D Peters (ANC) said that Mr Singh had said what she wanted to say about Ms Kalidass. She asked if the parliamentary team could inform Members why the shortlist seemed to be “very limited” in terms of women. Why is Ms Maluleke classified as external? Seven is a good number but it is a very small pool to select from. But she agreed to go with the seven that had been selected.

Mr Mbele wanted to make a correction as there was an oversight on his part; Mr Khan is indeed a CA, and that should have been reflected on the control list. Parliament would correct that. As with all the candidates, qualifications would be verified.

Mr Mgxaji answered the question about what is the equivalent of a CA. There had been an agreement that the equivalent a CA would be having a Master’s degree in Accounting or Auditing, because in order to be a CA, one must have a business degree, and an Honours degree or CTE in Accounting. After that, one would write a board paper for the CA qualification. A candidate must have something beyond the Honours degree, which could be a Master’s degree in Accounting or Auditing in this case. Regarding Mr Shoko-Lekhuleni, the reason he was not put on the shortlist is because of the experience he had. This candidate was manager at the Office of Auditor General. Above that position, is senior manager, national manager, the deputy AG. The candidate did not meet the requirement of having experience in state finance and public administration. It was agreed that Mr Shoko-Lekhuleni met the requirements in terms of qualifications because he is a CA.

Mr Mgxaji replied that Prof Moloi has a Master’s degree in Accounting. Prof Moloi’s CV stated that he is providing advice and consultation in state departments. That counts as relevant experience.

Mr Mgxaji said that he was part of the support team during the process of appointing the previous AG. The number of shortlisted candidates was more or less the same. About six people were interviewed last time.

Mr de Villiers responded that he was comfortable with the explanation on Mr Shoko-Lekhuleni. If it was a junior position at AGSA, then maybe that is not enough experience. On "the equivalent of a CA", something that Members must remember is that a Master’s degree is purely academic. It is someone who has done the additional postgraduate time to further themselves academically. But a CA did three years of being a clerk, and worked as an auditor in an auditing firm. One cannot register as a CA unless one has completed the degree, completed the Honours degree, and then written the board exams. But very importantly, one also did three years of being a clerk in an audit firm. “Having a Master’s degree is actually not equivalent to having worked as an auditor, and having put in the time in the industry”. He could not agree that having a Master’s degree was equivalent to being a CA.

Mr Singh agreed with Mr de Villiers, and he still had doubts about Prof Moloi. On Mr Shoko-Lekhuleni, the person is a CA. Nowadays, an ordinary teacher at the lowest level can be the principal, because it is a given thing; SADTU (South African Democratic Teachers Union) and others accept that. He did not think a person should be punished because of the hierarchical shape in the current organisation that the person serves. He was a bit uncomfortable in saying that even though this person is a CA and an auditor working in the Office of the AG, he still has to “go up the ladder” because he is only a manager. He was appealing to include that person, and if the Committee could reconsider the academic with a Master’s degree.

The Chairperson noted that there were suggestions to include another person on the list, for which there were motivations. Members agreed that seven people was too little; however; the candidates are of a good quality. She did not think it was a train smash to consider names that Members were insisting be brought onto the list. The whole Committee must agree to who is on the list, so that the Committee can find the best candidate in the process.

Mr Buthelezi supported the addition of Mr Shoko-Lekhuleni.

Ms Dlakude said that Mr Shoko-Lekhuleni’s name must be added.

Mr Somyo accepted the proposal by the other Members.

Mr W Wessels (FF+) agreed with the inclusion of Mr Shoko-Lekhuleni. He agreed with Mr Singh's concern about the inclusion of Prof Moloi and his lack of experience in auditing. He thought that the Committee should leave Prof Moloi out of the shortlist.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Wessels, and expressed concern about Mr Morolong being unable to reconnect to the meeting. She said that Members agreed to take what had been presented to them by the administrative staff. However, Members had questions, for which there were satisfactory answers; but in principle, Members agree with the list, and agree to bring in Mr Shoko-Lekhuleni. For the names that the Members think can still be included, let the Members agree that the names be added. It is not because the Members want more numbers, but because the Committee wants to find the best candidate. She then summarized what had just been asked by Members, and answered by Parliament.

The Members agreed that she had summarized the matter correctly.

Logistical arrangements for interviews
The Chairperson noted that in the last meeting, Members had asked if the interviews could be held in a central area so that they do not experience technical glitches. The date of the interviews had been changed to a date after 18 August. The last item is Members would need to present the report to Parliament, and the administrative staff should work within those parameters for a new date.

Mr Mbele said in principle Members were in support that a central location would have to be found. It was important to ask where candidates are, and to start thinking around that. He wished to propose Johannesburg as a central point. Even with the addition of an eighth candidate on the shortlist, he could safely say that five of the eight candidates are based in Gauteng. Looking at where the Members are coming from, it would be easier to get them that side. Of the other three candidates, one is from the Northern Cape, another is from the Western Cape, and one is from Mpumalanga. Parliament had written to Members to request, for records purposes, what their home addresses are, so that it would know from where Members are traveling for now and for the future. A proposal on the travel arrangements would be made, as well as on what would happen on the day. Mr Singh had proposed having a meeting before the interviews to ensure that all is in order well before the interviews take place.

Mr Singh said that there should be in-person interviews because it would be easier to interact with the candidates. Perhaps the team should consider a hotel at the airport, or a conference centre at the airport, so that it does not have to travel. Members could come in the night before and have a meeting, and then start with the interviews early in the morning. He was suggesting conference centres or hotels with conference venues at the airport, as long as such venues are suitable for social distancing.

Ms Dlakude agreed with what Mr Singh suggested about choosing a venue at the airport.

The Chairperson said that Members would be expected to respond to administrative team to indicate from where they would be flying. The Committee would take into consideration the venue proposed, and all other venues proposed. It would also take into consideration the proposal that the Committee must meet the night before the interviews, so that the next morning it knows where the venue is, and all other logistical arrangements such as meeting the Covid-19 regulations.

Mr Buthelezi asked when Members would see the interview questions. He asked the team what general areas would they cover. He wanted to check with the Chairperson if that was acceptable.

The Chair accepted that the Members should not guess what they will find.

Mr Mgxaji responded that with the previous appointment of the AG, Parliament put interview questions into three categories, which were leadership, technical and behavioural.

Mr Mbele said that the interview questions would cover those categories, but by no means would Members be forced to stick to those categories. Members would do their own preparation for the interviews, because it is very important that they do so, and ask the questions that they want to ask. He wanted to include the new date for interviews as part of the proposal about the interview arrangements. Mr Mbele would report to Members no than later tomorrow on the way forward.

The Chairperson asked if Mr Buthelezi was fine with the explanation.

Mr Buthelezi said he was and wanted to add one more point: Are the leadership and management categories related?

The Chairperson replied that the categories are related. She said that Members should prepare themselves and meet the night before the actual interviews. There would be correspondence and she asked Members to respond to what the administrative team needed in preparation for logistical arrangements. She apologised to Ms Dlakude and Mr Morolong for the difficulties in logging in. The Committee wished to put this matter to IT as this matter must be resolved. It cannot be that one Member is unable to log in until the meeting ends. She thanked all Members for making the meeting fruitful.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:31pm.


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