Auditor-General Vacancy: final deliberations

Appointment of the Auditor General

20 October 2020
Chairperson: Ms N Tolashe (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Ad Hoc Committee on the Appointment of the Auditor-General (NA) 20 Oct 2020     

The Ad Hoc Committee met virtually to finally deliberate on the appointment of the Auditor- General to the National Assembly. Members unanimously agreed to recommend Ms Tsakani Maluleke (the current Deputy Auditor-General).

The Committee expressed gratitude to all the candidates that were interviewed for the position who represented themselves in a professional manner. The Committee was impressed that all candidates interviewed were found to be fit and proper by the State Security Agency of South Africa (SSA) to occupy the office of the Auditor-General. It was said the Committee received the best applications. South Africa should be proud of the type of the candidates that were interviewed by the Committee. Members were impressed by the intensity and quality of questions which the Committee asked the candidates and the professionalism of the candidates’ responses. Of the utmost importance was public participation and transparency. This allowed ordinary citizens to comment on the shortlisted candidates. In turn, candidates welcomed and addressed the comments.

Members agreed Ms Maluleke displayed experience and knowledge of key issues that are required for the position and she came out on top in the interviews. She demonstrated her fitness to hold the position in her impressive interview. They believed she would be independent and impartial in the salient role.

Members expressed gratitude and complimented the Chairperson for a job well done. The Chairperson thanked the Members and emphasised that it was their commitment and determination that ensured a smooth and productive process.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed and thanked everyone for being in attendance.  The meeting would conclude the work that the Ad Hoc Committee started. She was proud to be part of a team that worked smoothly and thoroughly. Nothing negative was reported about the Committee or its deliberations. This was because Members displayed positive energy and were constructive in carrying out duties diligently. She expressed her gratitude for working with such a team and would recommend the Committee Members to the Chief Whip and the Speaker whenever an Ad Hoc Committee is needed. She officially opened the meeting and asked for apologies.

 The Chairperson gave the first apology from the Deputy Chief Whip of the ANC, Ms D Dlakude (ANC) ,who was not feeling well. She recently lost a loved one and was not coping very well. Members were encouraged to include her in their prayers for healing under the circumstances.

The second apology was from Ms V Mente-Nqweniso (EFF) who was travelling and would join the meeting as soon as she landed.

The third apology was from Mr N Singh (IFP) who was going to join the meeting as soon as it was convenient for him to do so.

The Chairperson noted that those were the only apologies. She asked the Committee Secretary if there were more apologies.

The Secretary noted that those were the only apologies. He had just spoken to Mr Singh who was going to join the meeting approximately in 10 to 20 minutes. Mr Singh was comfortable with the process as far and was happy for the Committee to deliberate in his absence and would contribute as soon as he joins the meeting.

The Chairperson asked Members if they had the meeting agenda. She asked the Secretary to lead the Committee in discussing the first item on the agenda.

The Secretary emphasised that the Committee would follow the proposal that was deliberated in the previous meeting.

Mr S Buthelezi (ANC) asked the Secretary if it was possible to see the agenda displayed on the screen.

The agenda did not appear on the screen as the Secretary attempted to show it to the Members.

The Secretary said, based on the previous’ meeting deliberations, the primary purpose of the day’s session was to finally deliberate on the recommendation of the appointment of the Auditor-General. This was communicated to Members via email. Members would deliberate and give recommendations on the preferred candidates that will be recommended to the National Assembly.

 The Committee would then take a break once deliberations were done.  Members were given a task by the secretariat to seek permission from the House Chairperson and the Chief Whip of the Majority Party to meet this evening. In the second session, Members would finalise its Report on the recommendation for it to be ATC’d and then referred to the National Assembly. The Committee had expressed the wish to finalise all the work today including the minutes that were outstanding in the previous meeting so that all the documents would be adopted officially. Members would need to agree on the recommendation of one candidate to the National Assembly that will be officially appointed by the President.

The Chairperson thanked the Secretary for the clarification.  However, she asked the Secretary to confirm if the next item on the agenda was giving Members a platform to present their preferred candidate followed by deliberations. The meeting would then adjourn to allow the administrative work and then resume to conclude the outstanding work.

The Secretary confirmed that was correct. The Chairperson might need to find out from Members on how best the Committee could proceed. Members had notes from the previous interviews and it was suggested that each Member w-should be allowed to present their top three candidates. Reasons should be given based on the qualities that were discussed which were strategy and technical domain, behavioral domain and leadership domain.  A general discussion guided by the Chairperson would then follow.  He emphasised that the outcome sought is for the Committee to agree and recommend one candidate, but that is entirely up to Members.

The Chairperson asked Members if they agreed with the agenda outline as well as plans for the day. Members were asked about how best they can achieve the objective sought.

Mr Buthelezi thanked the Secretary and said the process was straightforward as all the Committee needed was one candidate that would be recommended to the National Assembly. He suggested that Members must recommend one candidate. Recommending three candidates would be a waste of time since the Committee would not recommend three candidates to the National Assembly. This could be done in the first session and if Members agree, that would allow the Secretariat to compile a Report that would be brought to the Committee after the break. The Committee would then need to look at the Report.

Mr S Somyo (ANC) supported the proposal.

The Chairperson asked Members if they were all happy with that proposal.

Mr J De Villiers (DA) supported the proposal

The Chairperson noted that all Members concurred with Mr Buthelezi.

Members’ recommended candidate

Mr Buthelezi said that it was not an easy road.  The Committee received the best applications. South Africa should be proud of the type of the candidates that were interviewed by the Committee. The interviews covered a variety of areas including, but not limited to, understanding the responsibility of the Auditor-General as far as the Constitution is concerned, understanding the Public Audit Act, Public Finance Management Act, and other relevant legislation. Many questions were asked. The Committee showed strength and independence. Candidates were made aware of the stakeholders of the Auditor- General’s office, understanding of the transformation agenda of the country and most importantly, the requisite skills, experience and qualifications needed for the position. The Ad Hoc Committee showed wisdom by waiting for the State Security Agency clearance before making a final decision on the candidates. The Committee was then informed by the supporting staff that all the candidate who presented themselves were found to be fit and proper to occupy the office.

Mr Buthelezi was impressed by the intensity and quality of questions which the Committee asked the candidates and the professionalism of the candidates’ responses. Of the utmost importance was public participation and transparency. This allowed ordinary citizens to comment on the shortlisted candidates. In turn, candidates welcomed and addressed the comments. He recommended Ms Tsakani Maluleke for the position as she was the best of the applicants.

Mr I Morolong (ANC) thanked the Chairperson for successfully leading the Committee. It was a great honour and privilege to have served under her leadership. It was because of her leadership that the entire process was incredible. He thanked fellow lawmakers for being professional in discharging their responsibilities. It was his first time being part of an Ad Hoc Committtee. He was particularly impressed by the experience and leadership that was displayed throughout the whole process. This would serve as a precedent for future Committees. He expressed gratitude on behalf of all Members to all the candidates who participated in the entire process as it was quite a robust engagement. He was also marveled by the questions that were raised by Members and responses provided by the shortlisted candidates.  He was also impressed by Ms Maluleke as she distinguished herself diligently from other candidates through her responses. She demonstrated her fitness to hold office and for those reasons, he concurred with the nomination proposed by Mr Buthelezi.

Mr W Wessels (FF+) expressed gratitude to the Chairperson and the supporting staff for leading an incredible and transparent process which was necessary for filling a very important office such as the Auditor-General. It is one of the most important institutions in the country especially currently. Applicants were of great quality and the shortlist was the best. There were indepth engagements with the candidates that appeared and participated in the interviews. There were very few differences between the candidates in general. He was also of the view that Ms Maluleke was the best and most suitable candidate for the office of the Auditor-General and recommended her for appointment. There were other candidates with the required qualities and experience and would be able to excel in the job but Ms Maluleke had already proven herself that she is the right person for the job because of her current position.

Mr Somyo also expressed gratitude to the Chairperson for the job well done. It was a very meticulous process which enabled the Committee to engage with the best quality of applicants. The Committee showed maturity. Interviews managed to reveal matters that are key to the country to enable maximum accountability. This would ensure that the resources of the country are used efficiently. An applicant who would occupy the position would need to be independent and impartial. In that way, the country and the Committee are guaranteed that Ms Maluleke was the best candidate.

Mr De Villiers said that it was a great honour to be part of the selection Committee and agreed that all the candidates were impressive and professional. He expressed gratitude to the candidates for participating in the application process. The interview process was fair and transparent and raised no suspicion. He complimented fellow Members and the Chairperson for the contribution and efficient leadership. It was indeed a pleasure to work under her leadership. He greatly concurred with recommendations of other Members in recommending Ms Maluleke for office.

The Chairperson thanked Mr De Villiers and said she was completely humbled by the comments made by Members.

The Committee Secretary notified the Chairperson that Mr Singh had joined the meeting and was ready to contribute.

Mr Singh apologised for joining the meeting late. He was at a memorial service of a friend. Glad to be joining the meeting, he said he was briefed by Mr De Villiers. He had also received a briefing from the Committee Secretary. He was not aware that the Committee had now agreed to recommend one candidate instead of three. He thanked all the candidates that submitted their applications and regretted that some had to withdraw voluntarily but thinks that the Committee acknowledged the reasons. He emphasised that on behalf of the IFP, he was impressed by answers provided by Ms Maluleke during her interview.

The Chairperson interrupted and briefed Mr Singh about the plans for the day and other Members’ recommendation.

Mr Singh continued that Ms Maluleke was an outstanding candidate looking at her ability to answer questions and the experience she has.

Ms D Peters (ANC) joined Members in complimenting the Chairperson on her leadership and ability to lead the entire team and steer the entire process. She complimented fellow Members for the commitment and determination. None of the Members gave an excuse during the proceedings – this speaks to the credibility of Members and their seriousness in carrying out responsibilities. She expressed gratitude to the supporting staff. There were never glitches and people on virtual platforms were able to connect even while there were threats of possible loadshedding. The advert for the position was inclusive and a job well done. Interviews were conducted in the stipulated time and sometimes would extend beyond the call of duty and Members would work at night.

 She complimented all applicants as they were professional and possess quality leadership capabilities. This was a very good indication as it exposed that the country has people with the necessary skills in the auditing profession. The questions raised by Members were constructive and of great quality. That allowed candidates to display their capabilities to the Committee and the country at large.  Public participation enhanced the whole process as citizens were commenting and motivating their own preferred candidates as opposed to judging whether the candidates were qualified or not. The report from the State Security Agency, which cleared that all candidates were fit and proper, showed that applications received were of the best quality.

She proudly supported the view of Mr Morolong and thanked the Secretariat for always supporting the Committee, confidentiality, document preparation, briefings and making sure interviews were conducted on the hybrid system. She recommended Ms Maluleke to be considered for the position as she already has the necessary experience and that is a bonus under the conditions of the “new normal”. She told fellow Members that she enjoyed being part of the team and would certainly want to work together again in any Committee in the future.

The Chairperson thanked Members for the unanimous candidate preference. She agreed with Members on the recommendation of Ms Malueke as the best candidate. Members recommended Ms Maluleke with no fear of contradiction. The process was smooth because of Members’ contributions. She emphasised that her skills and experience were not going to yield anything without the support of the entire Committee. She was indeed humbled to have worked with the calibre of the Members. She expressed gratitude to the administrative staff for all the preparations and confidentiality. No information was leaked during the process and the public would hear it for the first time from the Committee.

She asked Members if they would like to proceed with the meeting or adjourn. As was mentioned earlier, the Committee would conclude the recommendation discussion and adjourn to allow Members to go and prepare for the National Assembly. She was of the view that the Committee should proceed until all the work was complete and then take a break and then reconvene later  to discuss everything that had been deliberated so that it can be adopted with the Report/ Members were asked if they could finish the entire agenda because there were minutes that needed adoption. The Committee would then reconvene to discuss the compiled the Report and adopt it. This would also allow Members to go back to the National Assembly. Members could relax if it is before 2pm and could join the National Assembly.

The Secretary confirmed what was proposed by the Chairperson. He thanked Members on the recommendation of Ms Maluleke and noted that compiling a Report the Secretariat had already started so that would be easy. Deliberations from today would be added to the Report that would go to the National Assembly. The initial request was to take a break after Members were done deliberating in the first session to allow the Secretariat to finish the Report. He said that he had already sent two sets of minutes that were going to form part of the adoption process later. He was of the view that it was best do everything at once in the second session.  He advised Members to check their emails for documents he was going to send. Members should propose a time for when the second session should start. Members should be afforded time to go through the Report. He would send a new link and time for the next session.

Mr Singh suggested 5pm to consider the Report. That would enable Members to participate in the National Assembly. He suggested that for future reference, the Secretariat must try to capture some of the suggestions that were raised to hold the office of the Auditor-General in good standing. The information would be shared whenever a new Auditor-General is appointed by the President. He asked if Ms Mente’s apology and preferred candidate had been received. He noticed that the Report had been scheduled for debate in the National Assembly for Tuesday, 27 October 2020. He suggested that if all the work is concluded today and the Report gets published the following day, he saw no reason as to why the Report could not be considered in the House on 22 October. That would obviously depend on the Chairperson and the Committee but the objective is to conclude all the work.

The Chairperson apologised for not reading Ms Mente’s recommendation and contributions. Her attention was overwhelmed by the unanimous recommendation of Ms Maluleke. She asked the Secretary to read Ms Mente’s recommendation.

 The Secretary notified members that Ms Mente was joining the meeting so it would be for her to contribute.

The Chairperson said it is better for her preference to be recorded.

The Secretary asked the Chairperson to notify Ms Mente that instead of recommending three candidates, she only had to recommend one suitable candidate.

There were connection issues with Ms Mente.

 The Chairperson suggested that if connectivity issues persisted, there was no harm in reading her recommendation.

The Chairperson briefed Ms Mente on what the Committee had decided.

 There was no response from Ms Mente because of poor connectivity.

The Chairperson said the Committee could not wait. She understands Ms Mente is failing to connect. She asked the Secretary to announce Ms Mente’s recommendation.

 The Secretary confirmed that her candidate was Ms Maluleke as well.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee had concluded recommending the best candidate and asked Members to proceed.

Mr Buthelezi thanked the Chairperson for her leadership and the communications team who made it possible for the Committee to perform its work.

The Chairperson asked Members to confirm the proposal of taking a break and then reconvening.

Mr Buthelezi supported Mr Singh’s suggestion of resuming at 5pm to finish the agenda for the day as no one had opposed it. This would enable some Members to participate in the National Assembly.

Ms Peters said that Mr Singh suggested that the Committee could mandate the Secretariat and the Chairperson to engage with the programme scheduled for Tuesday, 27 October 2020. The matter could be considered on Thursday (22 October) and she supported it.

Mr Singh confirmed and said it prevent the media reporting on the recommendations before the debate.

The Chairperson supported him

Mr Morolong agreed to the proposal.

The Chairperson thanked and complimented Members for the hard work and expressed the wish to work with them again in the future

Meeting adjourned.

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