Commission for Gender Equality filling of vacancies: planning

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

03 June 2022
Chairperson: Ms C Ndaba (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

Video

The Portfolio Committee met to discuss the recruitment of six Commissioner vacancies for the Commission for Gender Equality. Two of these vacancies were for part-time commissioners and needed to be filled with immediate effect. The remaining four were full-time Commissioner positions which would become vacant in October 2022 as their term had come to an end.

On the timeline for the recruitment process, the Committee was looking to conclude interviews on 15 September, and the Committee would deliberate and recommend the following day. The criteria for applicants were guided by the CGE Act, and the processes would be in line with the Employment Equity Act (EEA) and Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) and the Constitution.

An electronic application system through a Google form on the Parliament website would be used. That link will be included in the advert. There will be a dedicated WhatsApp number for people request the link as well.

Drafts of the advert and application form were presented and approved by the Committee.

Committee members asked for confirmation of the dates; if the candidates' CVs may appear on the Parliament website without breaching POPIA; and about candidates with qualifications but no experience.

The Committee was informed that applicant CVs would be redacted to remove personal information before being published on the Parliament website. The application form included that applicants give consent to have their details published on the Parliament website with redactions as required by POPIA. Public comments on the shortlisted candidates would be reviewed by the Committee, and only relevant information would be considered. It would also be used to verify community work included in an applicant's CV as those communities and NGOs would have a chance to share the impact made by the candidate.

Candidates would be considered based on their knowledge and previous experience in promoting gender equality. The CGE Act did not specify formal education requirements, so candidates without degrees would still be considered. The Committee was more interested in candidates who were working with communities or promoting gender equality.

Meeting report

The Chairperson explained that the meeting was delayed due to IT system checks. The meeting was meant to be physical, but they had to accommodate Members who could not attend. They would not make these accommodations in future as Members were seemingly refusing to attend physical meetings. Accommodation was made due to some Members having flight issues and others presenting acceptable reasons for not being able to attend.

All political parties were expected to be represented at Portfolio Committee meetings. The Chairperson reminded Committee members that being absent meant that their parties would not be represented. The Committee would not follow up as Members were deployed by their parties and had a responsibility to attend. Members would need to explain to their parties why they failed to attend meetings. Members were reminded to keep information discussed at these meetings confidential as it was part of their professional capacity.

The purpose of the meeting was to fill Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) vacant positions. Two positions for part-time commissioners had become vacant due to resignations. They were to be filled with immediate effect. A report on these would be sent to the President after the meeting.

They would also advertise four Commissioner positions whose terms would expire at the end of October. Due to the Committee’s workload, they were advertising them now to prevent gaps and ensure continuation of service.

Commissioners who had served only one term were qualified to apply, according to the CGE Act. Those who had served more than one term were not eligible. The CGE Act had been sent to all Members before the meeting.

Two Parliamentary Legal Advisors had been invited to advise on legal compliance for the recruitment process. Ms Yoliswa Landu from Parliamentary Communication Services was present and she was responsible for communication with all media houses.

Programme for filling CGE Commissioner vacancies
Ms Kashifa Abrahams, Committee Content Advisor, presented the draft programme so Members knew what processes needed to be followed when filling these vacancies.

- The Committee would determine where the adverts should be placed
- Adverts would be posted for three weeks
- Support staff would collate the resumes so Members could review them.

This would need to be concluded by 14 August.

Depending on the number of applications received (usually around 90), Members would need to decide how many applicants would be shortlisted for interviews. These would usually be done over a three-day period to avoid having too many interviews on one day. Deliberations on who would be recommended to the President for appointment would happen the day following the conclusion of interviews. Members would receive the Committee Report on the Friday of the following week to review and adopt.

Qualifications would be verified and SAPS screening would be performed. Public commentary would be received.

Discussion
The discussion was led by Ms Seoposengwe (ANC) as the Chairperson was not feeling well.

Ms N Hlonyana (EFF) asked for the time allocated for the Committee to deliberate, as this had not been specified.

Ms T Masondo (ANC) asked if Members were expected to be in Cape Town on the dates listed.

Ms Neliswa Nobatana, Committee Secretary, replied that 16 September was set aside for deliberations, so only one day was allocated for it. It would depend on the number interviewed, but the programme allowed only one day for deliberations. Interviews were proposed for 13 to 15 September.

Only the support staff would be working the week following that meeting week. There would be no meeting for Committee members until 16 August in Parliament.

Ms Hlonyana asked why there were no Committee meetings except for the CGE commissioner appointments.

Ms Nobatana replied that there would be one more Committee meeting this term on 7 June on the NYDA Quarter 4 report.

The programme was adopted by the Committee.

Advert for CGE Commissioner Nominations and Applications
Ms Nobatana presented the draft advert for the CGE vacancies. All applicants would apply through a Google Form posted on the Parliament website. The advert would include a link to this application. A dedicated WhatsApp number would also be given for people to request the application link. This was to ensure that the application form would be accessible.

A list of the shortlisted interview candidates and their resumes will be published on the Parliament website to allow for public comment on the suitability of candidates. This would be in line with the Constitution, POPIA and the EEA.

Commissioners who had served only one term would be eligible to apply as the Act permits serving not more than two terms. Candidates needed to be South African citizens with the required knowledge and skillset for the Commission mandate. They were broadly to represent South African communities and be committed to the promotion of gender equality.

Nominations needed to contain the full names and contact details of the nominee. They were to be accompanied by the name of the nominating individual or organisation, as well as signed acceptance of the nomination by the nominee.

The closing date for the applications would be 18 July. They had requested an official dedicated email address from the IT department so nominations, applications and information would be submitted through the same channel.

The Acting Chairperson commended the use of a Google form so that applications would not be sent to the personal inboxes of Members. This would allow for all applications to be in one destination.

Ms Abrahams added that they had learnt from past experience that it was better to have a central location for information to be provided to candidates. This would also help ensure that candidate information was accurate as they would submit it themselves.

Application Form for CGE vacant positions
Ms Abrahams presented the draft layout and details of the application form. This was influenced by suggestions made by the Committee. A link to the application form would be made for applicants to populate and submit.

Previously, applicants were asked to fill in a questionnaire as well as submit a resume. This time, they combined these steps by requiring applicants to fill in these details on the application form. The form would have mandatory fields that applicants needed to fill before being able to submit.

Committee members were encouraged to suggest any changes to the form and to which fields should be mandatory.

Section 1 was mostly the personal information of the applicant. They were required to fill in their ID numbers as well as upload a copy of their ID. A reason for this would be provided to applicants. Residential addresses were also compulsory as Members wanted to know which provinces applicants were from during past recruitment processes. Applicants needed to state their disability status as this was part of the CGE mandate for visibility. The onus was on the applicants to indicate whether they had a disability or not.

Section 2 was on applicant education. They were to indicate the formal education they had. The CGE Act did not specify any formal education required for candidates.

Relating to work experience, Members needed to decide how far back they wanted to go. From the NYDA process, they had learnt that people would provide experience from more than 5 to 20 jobs. What was more relevant for the Committee?

They encouraged candidates to include any work done relating to human rights and gender equality. They also needed to specify their language proficiency.

Section 4 was a motivation section, where they needed to elaborate on why they wanted to serve as a Commissioner. This could be used as an interview point for shortlisted candidates to provide more details.

Section 5 was a general section. Applicants could select if they wanted to serve as full time or part-time Commissioners. Legal matters and requirements would be explained by the legal team. Candidates also needed to disclose any financial statuses or criminal history that could prevent them from being a commissioner.

Applicants had the opportunity to disclose matters that could come up during the screening process. They also had to submit their ID as well as proof of any qualifications obtained.

Ms C Seoposengwe (Acting Chairperson) Ms C Seoposengwe (Acting Chairperson) thanked them for the presentations and allowed for questions from the Committee.

Discussion
Ms N Hlonyana (EFF) had a few questions. When would the Goole link be available? Given that shortlisted candidates would have their resumes posted on the parliamentary website, how would their information be kept confidential? Some resumes would include people’s addresses, and this was confidential information.

The application form was presented, but not the nominations form. What would the nominations form look like? Was there a sample of this?

Ms T Marawu (ATM) asked about how they would deal with comments from the public. How would negative comments be dealt with? Would the candidate appointed by the Committee be the final selected individual, or did the president have the power to change the selected person?

The Acting Chairperson drew attention to the nominee submissions. Was there a way to establish the relationship between the nominator and nominee? Was this included in the form? The Chairperson had mentioned that the processes followed needed to be transparent.

Responses
Ms Abrahams replied that the link would be available once Members approved the application form in this meeting. The IT department will create the digital form and this usually took one day to complete. They would then test the form for two days, so the form would officially be completed within a week. By the time the advert was posted, the form would be complete and available online.

The legal advisors will give details about the public comments on the shortlisted candidates. The uploaded CVs would not include personal information. This would be removed along with their references.

The public comments would be collated and Members would decide what information they found useful. In the past, public commentary was received from fewer than 50 people. People usually state if they support a nomination and provide reasons. The aim was to encourage transparency and facilitate public participation. The Committee would decide what they found relevant.

There was no specific nomination form. Usually, nominators would send a short motivation for a candidate. There was no standard layout for nominations as they usually submitted the required information on behalf of a nominee. The requirement was for the nominator to provide their details as well as their relationship to the nominee, and this was for transparency reasons.

The Committee submits to the President a list of recommendations for potential commissioners. The President has the final say on who becomes a commissioner.

Discussion
Ms N Hlonyana (EFF) asked about the resumes of the shortlisted candidates. Would a photo of the candidate be attached to the CV?

She added that the Committee set a standard for the rest of the country. She proposed that they follow the LGBTQI community where they do not specify pronouns for applicants to select, but rather they choose their own.

Ms A Hlongo (ANC) asked about the experience required. What would happen with candidates that had the required qualifications but no experience? Would they be penalised? The youth was facing high unemployment and most of them were sitting at home with qualifications but no jobs.

Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy (OISD)‚Äč and Parliament Legal Services comments & response
Mr Kayalethu Zweni, Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy (OISD), stated that it was admissible for the Committee to recommend a number of candidates that exceed the number of vacancies, after concluding their deliberations. These candidates would be shared with the President in their order of preference. This was in case a preferred candidate declined the position. In such cases, the next listed candidate would be offered the position.

The Committee was allowed to make recommendations to the President as it had interacted with the candidates during the interview process. The President would select based on their advice.

He supported the gender suggestion at the application stage. When drafting the advert, they would ensure that advert was inclusive of both nominations and applications to avoid unintentionally excluding either group of potential candidates. The advert would include both nominations and applications.

On the phrase “fit and proper person” used in the Act, the Committee needed to outline what kind of person met this standard for a CGE commissioner. This would include relevant experience for delivering on the mandate. The Committee can specify the kind of person needed for the CGE commissioner position. That would also help weed out irrelevant comments from the public as they would have defined the ideal candidate for the commissioner vacancy. Doing so would limit irrelevant comments being submitted by the public.

Integrity and criminal record were factors to consider when defining a “fit and proper person”. The form gave the Committee an opportunity to specify this.

On diversity, there was a requirement for candidate diversity and demographics to be considered. The current composition of the CGE would need to be evaluated for diversity. Did it represent South Africa? Which provinces were represented?

Ms Siph’Esihle Pezi, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, said section 3 of the CGE Act listed the requirements for appointment. The President must appoint from the names recommended by the Committee and approved by the National Assembly.

The proposed application form would need to consider POPIA for the protection of personal information. This included information unique to an individual. That information would have to be redacted or obscured for legal purposes.

Any changes to the draft application form would need to be in line with POPIA which required that only information relevant to recruitment needed to be included and could not be excessive. Non-compliance with the POPI Act could lead to reputational damage for Parliament.

The declaration at the end of the application form provided for direct consent from the applicant, and this was necessary to ensure compliance with section 20 of POPIA. That declaration gave consent for applicants to have their details published on the Parliament website, with the redactions.

Mr Zweni commended the question about qualifications and experience and stated that the Committee needed to decide on this. They had to decide if they needed people with degrees or those with fewer qualifications but more experience. This would also form part of the definition of a “fit and proper person”. Given that the Committee worked with the CGE, they had more insight into what criteria needed to be set.

Ms Pezi added that the Act did not specify an educational requirement. The only requirement was that the person needed to have a record of commitment to the promotion of gender equality and have applicable knowledge or experience. That experience could be educational or otherwise. Formal education was not a requirement in terms of the Act.

The Chairperson agreed that education was not a requirement. Participation in activities for non-profit organisations was part of knowledge. They look at the record of a person's work with communities or in any other form.

Publicising the resumes would allow NGOs and communities to make their comments. After that, the Committee would then review the comments from communities. This would corroborate and verify roles listed in their resumes, as some people tended to include roles and activities that they were never part of. They applied logic when it came to the requirement of knowledge.

Even with the current commissioners, some did not have professional qualifications. Judging solely by that would put some candidates at a disadvantage as not all of them had degrees. She agreed with Mr Zweni’s input.

The Chairperson agreed that the resumes needed to be thoroughly reviewed before being posted to avoid publicising personal information. They also needed to be screened before being posted. State security would screen the candidates and provide a report on the findings. Individuals would be given an opportunity to explain themselves before being disqualified based on the results of the screening.

People would not be disqualified for insolvency. They would be afforded an opportunity to explain such cases.

Ms Masondo requested that the point on insolvency be clarified.

The Chairperson explained that those details about a candidate would not be publicised. They would be removed from the published CV.

The amended application form was approved by the legal team.

The Committee adopted both the advert and application form with the amendments

The Chairperson thanked the legal team for providing good advice to the Committee. They were looking forward to having them join future meetings.

The Committee agreed that they would deal with the remaining agenda items at the 7 June meeting.

The Acting Chairperson handed over to the Chairperson.

The Chairperson commended Ms Seoposengwe for chairing the meeting well. She thanked Members who were able to attend the meeting in person. She thanked the staff for their work and the Committee was looking forward to continued collaboration. Their participation made the work of the Committee easier.

The meeting was adjourned.

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: