Election of Chairperson; Proposed course of action for filling of vacancies

Meeting Summary

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Meeting report



11 February 1999


Documents provided:

1 Letter of notification from HRC chairperson regarding resignation by Ms Helen Suzman and Ms Marlene Bosset’s intention not to take up her recent appointment (attached to the end of the minutes).

2 Previous advert used to seek out applicants for positions in HRC accompanied by list of newspapers in which the advert was placed.


Following the resignation of two members, the HRC is at present in urgent need of satisfactory replacements. This Ad Hoc Committee which has been given the task of resourcing these candidates first elected its own chairperson before discussing the best way of re-opening the discussions on filling the vacancies within the HRC, as well as related measures.


Mr Vilakazi(ANC) began the meeting by stating that the meeting should be dealt with in two stages.

STAGE ONE Firstly, they should put forward their nominations for a chairperson for the ad hoc Committee.

Ms Botha (ANC) nominated Ms Routledge (ANC) and this proposal was seconded by Ms Chalmers (ANC). No other nominations were put forward. There were no objections from any of the members present and therefore Ms Routledge was elected chairperson.


The chairperson, Ms Routledge, reiterated the Committee’s task of filling two vacancies within the HRC, qualifying that one position was a full-time position and the other was part-time.

Procedural issues The chairperson emphasised that there is a great urgency with which the task must be dealt. The Committee "must move as quickly as possible". However, it must also be aware of the law regarding the advertisement of a vacancy and that they had to allow a period of no less than 10 days for adverts and the calling of nominations.

Mode of recruitment Ms Vos(IFP) noted the costs of advertising and queried whether or not the Committee were "absolutely required to readvertise" and whether or not they could simply use last year’s candidates that were shortlisted.

The chairperson confirmed that they were required to readvertise but added that there was no reason why they could not notify those past candidates on the shortlist that the positions they applied for have been reopened. She emphasised the importance of simply notifying these candidates and not of giving them any hopes that they might receive preferential treatment over others or any guarantee of obtaining the work. No member of the Committee objected to this course of action.

Format and substance of advert Addressing the format and substance of the advert, the chairperson questioned whether or not the advert used only 6 months ago for the same purpose ought to be reformatted.

Mr Gumede(ANC) observed that they should insert in the advert a request for applicants to specify whether they are wanting to work full or part time.

Ms Vos(IFP) added that they must include a clear indication that the work is based in Johannesburg.

Ms Botha argued that the term "relevant information" in the original advert was too vague. She proposed that applicants must be told to provide a CV as well as relevant information that might not be included in their CV. It was also suggested that the applicant should be specifically asked for referees since these too are not always present in a CV.

Choice of newspapers The chairperson pointed out that the guiding principle behind their choice of advertisers is the need to reach out to all the provinces. She then noted that the choice of newspaper publications that were used the last time they had to advertise for the filling of vacancies for the HRC seemed in line with this objective. The question was then put forward as to whether or not it was necessary to change the choice of newspapers that were used. After referral to a list of these publications, no one thought it was necessary.

Time frame

-for posting of applications. Ms Botha(ANC) asked what was the proposed closing date for applications. The law requires the adverts to stand for a minimum of 10 days and therefore, bearing in mind the urgency of the issue, it was proposed that the closing date should be 10 days after the last advert is placed in the papers.

The chairperson then suggested that the advert should be allowed to run for 2 weeks in order to give applicants sufficient time to respond as well as to give the Committee sufficient time to consider the applicants. This was not disputed and therefore the cut off date for applications was set to be 5th March 1999.

Ms Vos (IFP) expressed concern that, owing to the inefficiency of the postal service, they needed to stipulate somehow the latest date of arrival of the advert (eg by fax or something equally reliable).

Ms Van der Merwe(ANC) suggested an alternative solution by asking the Committee to favour a "rule of thumb" not to consider applications which were stamped by the post office with a date that shows they were posted too late. Members of the Committee agreed that there had to be some such mechanism which does not discriminate against late applications where such applications were purely delayed in the post and not by any fault of the applicant.

-for consideration of applications. Ms Botha (ANC) then suggested that the Committee should be setting a date for finalising their decision as well as a date for the applicants themselves. The chairperson agreed and so the Committee secretary was charged with setting up a timetable for the Committee. In the time before the meeting to discuss the applications, it was agreed that each member of the Committee must familiarise themselves with the CVs and other details of each applicant.

Furthermore it was suggested by Ms Vos that the Committee would be greatly assisted in its function if they could again have the help of the chairperson of the HRC. He would help by running through the current members of the HRC, assessing their weaknesses and strengths, in order that the Committee be made more aware of what skills are needed or are currently missing from the HRC and therefore what kind of a candidate the Committee must look out for in filling the vacancies.

This course of action was also agreed upon. However, there was no date confirmed for the next meeting of the Committee.

Representatives present: Routledge, N (ANC)

Green, L (ACDP)

Chalmers, J (ANC)

Van der Merwe (ANC)

Vos, S C (IFP)

Vilakazi, M (ANC)

Gumede, D (ANC)

Botha, N (ANC)

Prior to commencement of meeting, Ms Smuts(DP) excused herself from the meeting as she had to attend another meeting. An apology was also issued on behalf of Mr Baker (NP) and Mr Fourie (NP) who were both also unable to attend.


11 January 1999

Mr Sindiso Mfenyana

Secretary to Parliament


This is to confirm that the resignation of Mrs Helen Suzman from the Commission took effect on 1 January 1999. Mrs Suzman gave the requisite notice of her intention to resign from the Commission with effect from 31 December 1998. This means that a vacancy can now be declared for a part-time member of the Commission.

I also wish to inform you that I was surprised to receive an e-mail message from Ms Marlene Bossett dated the 7th in which she informed me that she was withdrawing from her appointment to the Commission. I advised her to inform the President.

In the circumstances, we now have two vacancies in the Commission. I hope that the Ad Hoc Committee will be able to short-circuit the process and put forward the name of the next candidate on their short-list. Regarding the vacancy caused by Mrs. Suzman's resignation, I would like an assurance that the process for filling the vacancy will take place speedily. That, with due regard to the forthcoming short parliamentary session.

I believe that I can rely on your advice and cooperation.

N Barney Pityana



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