(Subcommittee) NYDA Board Vacancies: Committee Report

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

08 July 2021
Chairperson: Ms C Ndaba (ANC) & Ms M Gillion (ANC, Western Cape)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Joint Meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

The Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities and the Select Committee on Social Services and Health convened jointly to consider and adopt the Committee Report on the NYDA Board recommendations. It came up during the deliberation that there was still critical information outstanding, particularly the verification of candidates by the State Security Agency. At this point, only 11 out of the 17 recommended candidates had been successfully verified. This left six outstanding candidates not yet verified. Of the 11 candidates successfully verified by the SSA, three candidates were flagged: one candidate with public violence; the second one with a default on a Cell C account and the last one with a default on a Markham clothing account, which had since been closed.

Members questioned if these matters were relevant for disqualification based on Section 10 of the National Youth Development Agency Act. Legal advice provided that the default on accounts would only have ground for disqualification if the candidates were un-rehabilitated insolvents and if the candidate with public violence offence was sentenced to prison without an option of a fine. Therefore, the Committee resolved to invite the candidates to a closed session to obtain further details as part of conducting due diligence and ensure that it submitted a full report to the Houses and the President that answers the question whether the recommended candidates were “fit and proper” persons for the NYDA Board.

After much deliberation whether the Report should be adopted noting the SSA report on the outstanding six candidates as well as the three candidates that were flagged, Members resolved that it would delegitimise the process if the Committee went ahead with the adoption of the Report without first engaging the three candidates and the SSA report on the outstanding six candidates. The Committee resolved that it would be in the best interest of the process to ask the Office of the Speaker to request SSA to expedite its vetting and await the report on the six candidates.

Meeting report

Ms M Gillion (ANC, Western Cape), Co-Chairperson, said that the joint meeting was solely for the adoption of the Sub-Committee Report by both the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and People living with Disabilities as well as the Select Committee on Social Services and Health. She thanked all Members, the staff and the candidates that took part in this process.

Ms Nomvula Giba, Committee Section Manager, explained the two Committees are meeting jointly to adopt the report and the sets of minutes. The Sub-Committee was now reporting to the two principal Committees, the Portfolio Committee and the Select Committee. At this point, any of the two Chairpersons should table the Report. If we start with the Portfolio Committee, only Members of the Portfolio Committee will participate in moving the motion to adopt and the same applies to the Select Committee as well as the sets of minutes.

The Sub-Committee was now reporting to the two principal Committees.

Committee Report on NYDA Board
Ms Giba commenced with the introduction and read out the Report which outlined the recruitment process, brief background, overall performance of the top 17 candidates, the demographic profile and the geographical spread of the candidates and the Sub-Committee resolutions.

Ms C Ndaba (ANC), Chairperson, said that she thought the Secretary would highlight the State Security Agency report on the vetting of candidates. If there was nothing bearing then that would be accepted but Members would have liked to deliberate on the SSA report. She was uncertain if this Committee Report could be submitted to the Speaker without that State Security Agency report.

Ms Giba replied that there was a part shaded in red in the Report, which indicated that the SSA report would be submitted to the Speaker and the President once it has been received. All qualifications were checked and they have all been confirmed positive.

Ms Ndaba asked Members for their comments on the presented Report.

Mr M Bara (DA, Gauteng) sought clarity if the Report was that of the Committee or the Sub-Committee and if the Sub-Committee would be adopting its own Report as well.

Ms Giba clarified that the Sub-Committee is not an independent Committee, it consists of selected Members from either a Select Committee or a Portfolio Committee delegated to complete a specific task; therefore, it cannot adopt its own Report because it reports to the two principal Committees.

Yesterday, the Sub-Committee agreed on the Report but it was now presenting that Report to the two principal Committees for adoption.

Mr L Mphithi (DA) said that he thought the Report needed to have a section on how the Sub-Committee came to the top 17 candidates. The Sub-Committee needs to explain how it arrived at that number so that it is clear.

On the security clearance, he wanted to know if the Report will first go to the Speaker before the President and asked for the timeframes on how long that process is going to take before it comes to the House.

Ms Giba replied that the Committee(s) could resolve that it would want the SSA to respond before these Reports are tabled before the two Houses.

Co-Chairperson Gillion sought clarity on the outstanding SSA report.

Ms Giba replied that there were about 16 or 17 interview candidates that were still outstanding but the Committee could resolve that the outstanding names should be made available before the Reports are tabled in the House.

Co-Chairperson Ndaba said that she was wary to create a situation that could come back to bite the Committee. Members needed to know if there were serious issues with the candidates that may have been found by the SSA. If so, this will give the Committee an opportunity to bring those candidates before the Committee to elaborate on those matters. However, the only matters that have been flagged so far on some of the candidates were minor such as outstanding clothing accounts.

Ms Giba suggested that perhaps the legal team should comment on this matter. However, this is outside the control of Parliament and the team tried to get the Office of the Speaker to intervene to fast track the process but this could not happen. There is an SSA report on about 20 candidates and this could be shared with the Committee.

Adv Siviwe Njikela, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, said looking at 2.3 (Verification of Academic Qualifications and Security Clearance) in the Committee Report, it refers to an SSA report on 26 candidates that has been received. How many of those 26 are part of the top 17 that are recommended. Is the rest of the candidates shortlisted for interviews still relevant for the purposes of this Report in view of the fact that the Committee is only recommending 17 candidates? Would it not be prudent to verify if the recommended top 17 are covered in the SSA report on the 26 candidates?

Co-Chairperson Ndaba agreed with Mr Njikela’s point. The team must indicate to Members if the 17 candidates were part of the SSA report on the 26 candidates.

Ms Giba replied that the team would verify if the recommended 17 candidates were included.

Ms Neliswa Nobatana, Committee Secretary, said that only 11 recommended candidates were in the SSA report. Of that, three out of that 11 had a negative verification. One candidate had a 2015 case on public violence; the other one was in default on a Cell C contract and the last one was in default on a Markham clothing account and it is a closed account.

Co-Chairperson Ndaba said that this is what the Committee needed to know to be certain if the negatives were critical or not.

Ms Neliswa confirmed that there were 13 out of the 40 candidates awaiting SSA vetting, which meant that the Committee had received a report on 27 candidates.

Co-Chairperson Ndaba asked Mr Njikela to comment on the report about the negatives on the three candidates.

Mr Njikela stated that the question of a default on an account that was not paid for a certain period needs to be evaluated on how relevant it is for the purposes of an appointment to the Board. To decide this, the Committee must look at Section 10 of the NYDA Act in terms of disqualifiers. Public violence is not mentioned and the defaulting on accounts.

Co-Chairperson Ndaba suggested that the Committee convene a meeting with the candidates that had credit defaults to obtain details of the extent of the credit. However, there was nothing substantive on the disqualifiers.

Mr Mphithi suggested that the information the Committee is aware of must be included in the Report and to specify that there were outstanding reports still coming through.

Ms T Mgweba (ANC) said that the Committee should not include the items picked up on the three candidates, instead it should submit the SSA report to the President so he can further evaluate on it.

Co-Chairperson Gillion said that none of the disqualifiers as per Section 10 of the NYDA Act were picked up on the three candidates. Therefore, based on the Act there are no grounds to disqualify anyone. Those who are in default of their accounts were not declared as un-rehabilitated insolvents. What may not be clear is the case of public violence if the candidate was sentenced to prison without the option of a fine. 

Ms Mgweba suggested that the Committee follow what has been presented by Mr Njikela.

Mr Mphithi said that when the process began, he mentioned that the Committee would need to get the security report and it only came now but whose role is it to receive the security report. The report was coming in pieces. If it was the Committee’s responsibility then this process of obtaining the security report needs to be seen through to the end by the Committee.

Co-Chairperson Ndaba said that the Committee submitted the details of all the shortlisted candidates to ensure that issues picked up by the SSA were clarified during the interviews.

Dr Herman Tembe, Parliament Legal Officer: Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy, said that the critical question being asked is who is a “fit and proper” person before submitting the Report to the Houses and the President. The evaluation of a fit and proper person must be done by the Committee. Parliament must first satisfy itself that the candidates sent to the President are “fit and proper”.

Adv Njikela agreed with Dr Tembe’s point that the due diligence must be done by Parliament.

Mr Mphithi recommended that the Committee would have to reconvene at a later stage once all the required information is received to determine if the recommended candidates were “fit and proper”.

Dr Tembe suggested that the candidates that had negatives or matters picked up by the SSA should be invited to come before the Committee to make presentations on those matters in order for the Committee to sanitize its Report before it is submitted. It would not be wise for the Committee to send the Report without conducting the due diligence.

Co-Chairperson Ndaba conceded to Dr Tembe’s point and suggested that the Committee convene a closed session with the three candidates flagged by the SSA.

Ms B Maluleke (ANC) proposed that the team should request a report on the outstanding six candidates from the SSA for the Committee to have a full report on the 17 recommended candidates.

Co-Chairperson Gillion suggested that the Committee adopted the Report with the amendments that were now under discussion.

Ms Mgweba seconded this proposal.

Mr Mphithi said he did not agree with the suggestion because he did not understand why the Committee would need to rush the process. He felt very uncomfortable adopting a Report that is not complete yet.

Co-Chairperson Ndaba said she was also not very comfortable yet; however, the flagged candidates did not fall within the grounds of disqualification as per the NYDA Act. The Committee may need to obtain clarity from the candidate with the issue of public violence, but the other two, it was not a prevalent issue.

She was frustrated that the support staff did not submit this SSA report to the Committee on time and these matters would have been resolved much earlier.

To move forward, the Committee needs to invite the candidate with the issue of public violence for a presentation on the matter and in the interim the support staff should request the SSA to expedite the verification or screening of the outstanding six candidates.

Ms Mgweba suggested that there was nothing stopping the Committee from adopting the Report for now and noting in its Report that there was an outstanding SSA report on six candidates.

Mr Njikela said that the Committee had no way of knowing the outcome of the six candidates reports from the SSA. If of the outstanding six, four are flagged and need to be taken out, would this mean that the Committee has to add more candidates to meet the requirements met for the initial 17 candidates? The Committee could only adopt a Report with amendments if those amendments are known to the Committee. At this point there is no certainty or knowing what the outcome of the outstanding six candidates will be. Therefore, he would not advise the Committee to proceed with the adoption of the Report for now.

Co-Chairperson Ndaba conceded to Mr Njikela’s point and suggested that the staff convene a closed meeting with the three candidates for presentations on the matters raised in the SSA Report. Parliament must assist the Committee to get SSA to expedite the process of verification of the outstanding six candidates within three days. This will allow the Committee to sit again next week to finish the process. We cannot rush this process and present a “half-cooked” report, by so doing; it will de-legitimise the smooth process that the Committee has completed so far. The Report will have to be adopted once all the top 17 candidates have been verified and the SSA report submitted to the Committee.

Members agreed to this proposal.

Consideration and adoption of minutes
Both the Select and Portfolio Committee considered and adopted minutes dated 9 and 10 February; 9 March; 24, 25, and 26 May; 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25 June; and 7 July 2021 without substantive amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.


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