The subcommittee convened to discuss a letter received by the Minister of Social Development regarding a request to fill two vacancies on the board of the Central Drug Authority (CDA). In 2020, the subcommittee undertook the process of recommending 13 names to constitute the board. The Minister appointed 12 of the recommended 13 candidates. However one of the board members passed away due to COVID19 and the Minister had reservations about the remaining recommended candidate. The maximum number of members for the board was 13 but with 11 members, the board was still legally constituted.
The subcommittee agreed to set up a meeting with the Minister to discuss the options which were to either leave the board at 11 candidates or have the subcommittee restart the process of advertising for and interviewing candidates to fill the two remaining positions – Members expressed that this might be time consuming when the emphasis was on ensuring the CDA had an operational board. The subcommittee would hear the outcome of the meeting within two weeks.
Chairperson Mvana opened the meeting and greeted Members. She called on the Portfolio Committee Secretary, Ms Lindiwe Ntsabo, to read the letter from Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, which outlined the reasons why the subcommittee was meeting today.
Ms Ntsabo said the Minister had asked for the subcommittee to reconvene so that it could consider recommending two additional members to serve on the Central Drug Authority (CDA) Board. One member had passed on, and the Minister had reservations about the remaining recommended candidate.
Chairperson Gillion added that last year, the subcommittee completed the process of recommending candidates to fill vacancies on the board however one of the appointed members had passed away due to COVID19 and one of the recommended candidates was not supported by the Minister. The subcommittee recommended 13 names to the Minister for her approval. The Minister appointed 12 of the recommended candidates for the CDA board. After the passing of one board member, the CDA Board now only had 11 members. The Minister had since written to the subcommittee to recommend names for filling two vacancies on the CDA board.
According to the legal advice received, the subcommittee had two options: Firstly, the Minister has appointed the maximum number of recommended candidates so it could be left at that. Secondly, to fill two vacancies, the subcommittee would have to start the process afresh.
Chairperson Gillion recommended that she and Chairperson Mvana set up a meeting with the Minister to discuss the options. Legally, the Minister was not obliged to fill the two vacancies because she already opted to appoint 12 out of a maximum of 13 candidates but since the passing of one of the members, the board was left at 11 members which was still within legal prescripts. If the Minister insisted on filling the two vacancies, the subcommittee would meet again to discuss the way forward as this might mean starting the process afresh.
Chairperson Mvana said her understanding was that if the Minister wanted to fill the two posts, the positions would have to be advertised again. The challenge was that starting the process afresh would take a lot of time
Ms B Masango (DA) agreed with Chairperson Gillion’s comments, saying they made sense. She agreed with her recommendations, and noted that the process had taken longer than the country could manage. South Africans relied on the CDA to do its work.
Ms Masango hoped that the subcommittee would receive some legal opinion on this matter. The Minister was within the number of board members needed. 13 was the maximum, but less than this was still in compliance with the law and the Minister’s obligations.
If the Minister agreed to have a meeting with the Chairpersons to discuss the need for two additional members, then the subcommittee should not have to start the process over again. There were time constraints, and Ms Masango supported Chairperson Gillion’s recommendation to discuss this matter with the Minister. She did not believe that too much time would be taken to advertise and interview two people compared to the 13 candidates the subcommittee last recommended. In summary, Ms Masango said that the Chairpersons should seek out further discussion with the Minister.
Ms L Arries (EFF) added that the process needed a legitimate timeframe. The appointment of a CDA board was way overdue and the CDA needed to be functional. Could the Chairpersons indicate the timeframe going forward, so that the subcommittee could conclude the task?
Ms J Manganye (ANC) agreed with the comments made.
Chairperson Gillion said the subcommittee needed to get the committee administrators to organise a meeting with the Minister as soon as possible, so that the subcommittee could be briefed within the next two weeks.
Chairperson Mvana said that in 14 working days, the task would hopefully be completed.
Chairperson Gillion told Ms Ntsabo that it was her responsibility to organise a meeting with the Chairpersons and the Minister.
The meeting was adjourned.
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