In this virtual meeting, the Standing and Select Committees on Finance and Appropriations met jointly to consider a report back from the Subcommittee on the Appointment of Director to the Parliamentary Budget Office and a proposed shortlist of candidates to be interviewed.
56 applications were received but only 13 met the minimum requirements. The minimum qualification is a relevant Masters degree. The minimum experience is ten years as an Analyst or Researcher in a related field and two years at a Senior Management level. The details of nine candidates who had been shortlisted for interview were presented.
Members questioned what being “fit and proper” means and whether this would be factored into the interview questions. Concerns were also raised on the low number of female candidates that were shortlisted and the fact that 17 applicants could not complete the application process online. Interviews are set to take place on 22 September from 09:00-19:00.
The Chairperson made brief introductory remarks and requested Adv Mongana Tau, Unit Manager, Parliament, to present the proposed shortlist of candidates for the position of Director of the PBO.
Adv Tau said that the minimum qualification requirement is a Masters degree in Finance or Economics or Public Finance or a related field. A PhD is preferable. The minimum experience requirement is ten years as an Analyst or Researcher in a related field and two years at a Senior Management level. The candidate must be a fit and proper individual. All shortlisted candidates will be subject to positive security clearance by the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the State Security Agency (SSA), as well as a citizenship and qualifications check.
56 applications were received. 17 applicants could not complete the application process online. 39 applicants completed the process online. 13 applicants met the minimum requirements and nine applicants were recommended for shortlisting.
The shortlisted candidates comprised four African males, one African female, one Indian male, two white males and one white female.
Five candidates have PhDs, two candidates have two Masters Degrees and two candidates have one Masters Degree. [See presentation slides for more details on candidates’ years of experience and various positions held].
The nine shortlisted candidates are:
Mr Dzingai Francis Chapfuwa with an MBA from Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) and an MPhil in Development Finance from Stellenbosch University. The candidate has 13 years of experience and his most senior position is as a Director and Economist for the National Treasury RSA. The candidate produced seven research papers.
Dr Dumisani Joseph Jantjies with a PhD in Public Finance from the University of Birmingham, an MPhil (LLM) Trade, Business and Investment Law from the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and an MSc Finance and Economic Development from Oxford. The candidate has 11 years of experience and the most senior positions he has held are as a Director at the PBO and an Advisor. The candidate produced five research papers.
Dr Lungelwa Kaywood (formerly Dlulisa) with a PhD in Law and Development and an Master of Public Administration. The candidate has 16 years of experience and the most senior position held is as a Director. The candidate has published a book and five research papers.
Dr Jacobus Willem Mostert with a PhD in Economics from the University of the Free State (UFS) and an MCom Economics from UFS. The candidate has 12 years of experience and his most senior position held is as a Director in government. The candidate has produced 32 published research papers.
Mr Bongani Khumalo with an MSc Economics from the University of Zimbabwe with 19 years of experience. The candidate’s most senior position is as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC). (The research work of the candidate was not listed in the presentation)
Prof Seeraj Mohamed with a PhD in Economics from the University of Massachusetts and an MA in Economics from Williams College in Massachusetts. The candidate has 26 years of experience and his most senior position was as a Director at the PBO and an Advisor to the Minister at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The candidate produced 12 published research papers.
Ms Nelia Orlandi with an MPhil in Economic Policy and MBA from Stellenbosch University. The candidate has 14 years of experience and her most senior positions held is as a Deputy Director at the PBO and a Senior State Accountant. (The research work of the candidate was not listed in the presentation)
Prof Daniel Plaatjies with a PhD in Management Administration and Policy from the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS) and an MPhil in Management Administration and Policy from UWC. The candidate has 19 years of experience and his most senior position was as Director-General in provincial government. The candidate has published and produced research papers in journals.
Mr Stuart Ian Charles with an MCom Economics from Stellenbosch University and 13 years of experience. The candidate’s most senior position is as an Acting Director-General in the National Treasury (the research work of the candidate was not listed in the presentation)
Mr S Buthelezi (ANC) said the Subcommittee decided that these are the best candidates and asked if members had any questions.
Mr D Joseph (DA) asked for clarity on the criteria raised by Adv Tau, specifically what it means to be “fit and proper” and whether this will be factored into questions that the candidates are asked when they are interviewed.
Mr Buthelezi said the report was presented and requested that Members of the Subcommittee ask questions at the end.
Mr Joseph agreed with this.
Mr X Qayiso (ANC) said he wanted to note what the Sub-Committee has done and accept the report.
Ms D Mahlangu (ANC, Mpumalanga) welcomed the work done by the Sub-Committee. They had done well and the selection of recommended shortlist candidates is the best among the 13 candidates that qualified. She said it had been a nightmare, since Parliament have been questioned on the delay, but now she was happy that there is progress.
Mr Y Carrim, (ANC, KZN) asked about the 17 applicants who were unable to finish the application process online. Did this mean that they did not have access to the correct tools? The other striking thing is that there were 39 applicants, but only 13 qualified. That means less than a third of applicants did not meet the requirements. This means that people are quite desperate for jobs and just applied anyway, even though they did not meet the requirements. “It’s not their problem that there aren’t enough jobs available, its ours.” Another striking thing is that nine out of 13 candidates are included in the shortlist. Normally, half would be shortlisted, but it was very good nevertheless since the process is transparent and nothing stops the Committee from considering the four candidates that were turned down. He emphasised that it was good that nine candidates were shortlisted as it was a high number. He thanked the Subcommittee for its hard work.
The Chairperson asked Mr Joseph to repeat his earlier question relating to the criteria used to shortlist candidates, what “fit and proper” meant and whether this would be factored into the questions asked to interviewees.
The Committee never discussed the questions that would be asked to candidates. The Chairperson said this would be discussed as a panel. The joint Committee did not want to prescribe the questions and criteria. The presentation document indicates how the criteria were decided on and “fit and proper” comes from the Constitution. The candidate must be a fit and proper citizen who is of sound mind. There are also certain criteria that are standard, but above all this, the Committee will also consider other criteria when it completes a score sheet. It is not the responsibility of this committee to draft the score sheet.
Mr E Njadu (ANC, Western Cape) said he wanted to give his confirmation on the report presented.
Mr Buthelezi asked Adv Tau to look into why the 17 candidates could not complete the process online. Someone may have the necessary experience, but may have been embroiled in fraud or corruption. For example a candidate will be interviewed and Members will be surprised if the candidate has been accused of defrauding a company. That makes him or her improper. The vetting process considers these things so that a decision can be made on whether the person is fit and proper. Considering the 13 candidates who made the shortlist, there are only two females who met the minimum requirements. Ideally, the joint Committee would have liked to have a list with at least 50% of females. He said the Committee should look into this as it may be indicative of a bigger problem. If one considers the candidates interviewed for the Auditor-General (AG) position in South Africa, there was only one female. Parliament should look at this to consider what the environment is that causes female candidates to be disinterested in applying for government positions. He did not think it was something the Committee could deal with, but it was definitely something that should raise a red flag. He said Mr Carrim was correct that to interview nine candidates is quite a laborious process. In many instances, the maximum amount of interviewed candidates is five. The Sub-Committee wanted to give as many people as possible an opportunity to interact with the Sub-Committee in interviews which is why it stretched the number to nine candidates. He requested Adv Tau to address the Committee.
The Chairperson asked if Adv Tau or Members had anything else to contribute.
Adv Tau said Mr Buthelezi had already reflected on most issues. Ms Shanaaz Gabier, from Human Resources (HR), would inform the Committee on why certain candidates could not complete the application process. A criminal record would disqualify a person from interviews, but the vetting process will also pick up where a person has been charged with misconduct. The question on being “fit and proper” can be addressed when the candidate is reflecting on his or her experience. What usually happens is that it would be noticeable that a candidate has moved from one job to another and when questioned on why, it will be because the candidate was facing disciplinary action, resigned or was dismissed.
The Chairperson asked Advocate Frank Jenkins, Senior Parliamentary Legal Advisor, to address the Committee.
Adv Jenkins said “fit and proper” was a requirement which was added when the Act was amended in 2016 or 2017. It is a specific requirement for appointment. [Parliament] has not spelled out exactly what this means, but it has guidance from the Financial Intelligence Act which speaks of personal character, integrity, competence and operational ability to fulfil the responsibilities imposed by the Act. The candidate also needs to be financially sound. If someone has not been able to stay afloat in their personal finances, one will have to question whether they will be capable in doing so in the management of the PBO. As in the case of the AG, this can be open to public comment and if it is found that the candidate has not been rehabilitated then this should disqualify someone from the “fit and proper” criteria.
On Mr Carrim’s earlier point on there being nothing preventing the Subcommittee from looking at all 13 candidates, the Subcommittee makes a recommendation to the full [joint] Committee and it is the full Committee that needs to decide who makes the shortlist and what will be asked during the interview process.
Ms Gabier said Parliament uses the online portal for people who are interested to apply for vacancies. Parliament makes an assessment based on the minimum requirements and in this case, it was a Masters degree and ten years’ relevant experience. If a person does qualify and indicates that they have both, they would be able to apply for the job, but if they do not have either the experience or qualification, the [online] system will reject them. This is why some candidates could not complete their applications for this particular position.
The Chairperson asked Ms Gabier to outline the process going forward until interviews are finalised.
Mr Buthelezi asked if there was a presentation on this.
Adv Tau said there was a presentation.
Mr Buthelezi said the important thing was to begin with interviews and complete it in one day as the Committee would not want to give anyone an unfair advantage where he or she will know the questions beforehand.
The Committee Secretary outlined the way forward to the Committee.
If the Committee agrees on the recommended candidates, HR will begin the process of qualifications checks and vetting immediately after the meeting.
The proposed date for interviews was 22 September 2020 from 9am to 7pm. This date falls within the constituency period so the Committee will obtain permission from both House Chairpersons to conduct the interviews on this proposed date.
The Sub-Committee will deliberate on 23 September 2020 from 9am to 11am to propose three candidates after it has conducted interviews.
The Sub-Committee will then revert back to the Committees with HR and Protection Services to present the report on vetting on 13 October from 3pm to 6pm. If there is agreement, the Sub-Committee will present on the preferred candidates in its report. This will conclude the process.
Mr Buthelezi said this was the proposed programme going forward and asked if Members wanted to make any further contributions to the discussion.
Mr Njadu said he was covered.
Mr Z Mkiva (ANC, EC) made comments in isiXhosa [28:45].
Mr Carrim said he wanted to offer some clarity on asking for the names of those candidates who were not shortlisted. He did not expect that Members would go through each candidate’s details if they are unhappy with the nine shortlisted candidates. He was simply saying that openness and transparency is important. This means that any Member of any of the Committees can request to speak with the Chairperson on the multiparty Subcommittee.
Ms Mahlangu said she could not wait for the process to be completed.
The Chairperson asked for clarity on the endorsement of the candidates. He asked if this meant the Committee needed to move for adoption. What does this mean?
Mr Buthelezi said the important thing was to get the go-ahead from the joint Committees to proceed with the process. The reason the Subcommittee presented the entire list was in case there was a blind spot, so Members could identify this. They would like the process to be as transparent as possible.
The Chairperson asked if Members agreed that the Subcommittee could proceed with interviewing the selected candidates. He asked for a mover or anyone who objected.
Mr Joseph said he had no objections. He asked Adv Tau and Adv Jenkins whether the adoption of a unanimous report would be done or whether the Committee should recommend that the report be adopted and someone should second this in terms of procedure. Do the minutes have to reflect this?
The Chairperson said he thought officially the work of the Subcommittee would have to be endorsed thus far and the go-ahead would need to be given on the next process for interviews.
Mr Joseph asked for further clarity on the matter saying that he was asking a procedural question. He could hear that there was approval for the report, but he wanted to know if the minutes must reflect that someone proposed that the report be accepted and this be seconded before moving on to the next step.
Mr Mkiva said it was a universal procedure that if a Subcommittee had done some work and presented this to the main Committee, there has to be a mover from any of the Committees. This had already been done.
Mr Buthelezi said he thought it was obvious that everything discussed should be recorded.
The Chairperson thanked the Subcommittee Members and welcomed the report. The interviews would proceed. Members had full confidence in the Subcommittee.
The Chairperson said he wanted to pay tribute to the late stalwart and Human Rights Lawyer, Adv George Bizos, who had passed on. May his soul rest in peace. He conveyed condolences to his family, the legal fraternity and the people of South Africa in general. He also paid tribute to Achmat Dangor, former CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, author and struggle stalwart. Condolences were offered to the Dangor family. “To the struggle stalwart and late wife of Matthew Goniwe, Nyameka Goniwe, may her soul rest in peace”. The Chairperson said he wished to pay tribute to others that had not been mentioned and that had passed on since the last joint Committee meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
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