Vacancies on Public Service Commission: Interviews

Committee: Public Service and Administration, as well as Performance Monitoring and Evaluation

Chairperson: Ms M Matsomela (ANC)

Date of Meeting: 12 Nov 2008

Summary

The Committee had shortlisted ten candidates for the filling of the vacancies on the Public Service Commission, of whom six were interviewed during this meeting. Each of the candidates was asked to give a brief description or background to themselves, and to indicate what value they believed they would provide to the Commission, and what their particular passions were.

The candidates were asked specific questions on their understanding of the functions of the Public Service Commission, the principles of Batho Pele, what were seen by them as being the important reports emerging from the Public Service Commission, the changes that had come about as a result of the recommendations from the Commission, what were the legislative provisions used by the Commission for evaluating its functions and if they thought the Commission was effective regarding service delivery, otherwise what changes they might propose for improvement. Other questions included the measures they would suggest to deal with corruption, what their views were on the fact that the Commission had powers of recommendation only, how they understood affirmative action and their assessment of it, and for comments on the disciplinary processes in past cases.


Minutes

Public Service Commission (PSC) Vacancies: Interviews of candidates
Interview: Mr Mark Solari

The Chairperson welcomed Mr Mark Solari and asked him to provide information about his background, experience in the public service and managerial experience.

Mr Mark Solari thanked the panel for the invitation to the interview. He said that he was born in Cape Town and grew up in the Elsies River area. He went to school in Belhar, and then moved to Johannesburg, where he started his working experience with the Permanent Building Society. He moved back to Cape Town after getting married, and had been back in Cape Town now for 15 years. He had been working at Nedbank for 26 years, and for ten of these years had been in a management role. For the last two years he had been in a senior role as an Area Manager for Nedbank. Mr Solari said that he had extensive experience during this time of management in developing and recruiting staff, empowering people, and also on the compliance side regarding governance, performance and instilling pride in people to develop and prosper.

At present, Mr Solari said he was running his own business with MKCS Investments. 

Mr Solari said that, as could be seen from his  CV, he had won numerous awards with coaching and developing people and growing businesses. He said this was where he felt he could add value to the public service, even though he had not been in the public service directly. He added that he had negotiated at very high levels with senior people in corporate companies.

The Chairperson asked what value did Mr Solari feel he would add as a person in the Public Service commission.

Mr Solari said that the value he would add was the passion around accountability for service delivery, as he was strong on the principles of integrity, Christian values and respect.

The further questions asked of Mr Solari by the Committee are detailed below. Full answers to these questions can be heard on the attached audio recording:

The Chairperson said that Mr Solari did not have much experience in the public service as an employee, but obviously had had interactions with the public service. He therefore asked Mr Solari, from his management experience, to give his impressions of the state of the public service.

Mr K Julies (DA) asked Mr Solari what his strong and weak points were.

Ms P Tshwete (ANC) asked what Mr Solari thought could be done  about corruption.

The Chairperson asked of Mr Solari if he could mention some of the roles of the Public Service Commissioner, or what he thought he would  be doing if he were to be appointed as a Public Service Commissioner.

The Chairperson asked if Mr Solari felt that the Public Service Commission was effective in dealing with improving service delivered by the public service, and, if not, what he thought still had to be done to improve the way the Public Service Commission carried out its duties.

Mr Julies asked if there were any challenges that needed the attention of the Public Service Commission.

The Chairperson said that the Public Service Commission produced reports. He asked which of these Mr Solari felt had been the most important.

Ms Tshwete asked if Mr Solari could provide information about the qualifications he had, as he had only provided information on his work experience.

Mr Solari asked what the procedure would be after the interviews took place.

The Chairperson outlined the procedure that would be followed after the interview.

Interview: Professor Valiant Clapper
The Chairperson welcomed Professor Valiant Clapper and asked him to provide his background in academia, work experience in public service, and managerial experience.

Professor Clapper said that he was born and grew up in Johannesburg. His first tertiary studies were at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), and he had continued at the University of South Africa (UNISA) thereafter. He completed his Bachelor degree in Theology in the United States, and his Public Administration Doctorate was obtained from UNISA. His first work experience was as a pastoral minister in the church, and he had also worked in insurance companies for a short while. He was currently employed by the Tshwane University of Technology, as a research professor, where he had been for the past six years. The rationale for the position of Research Professor was for research development. He had managed the research process through the transformation to a university of technology. As a result of his work at the university there were now approximately six Doctoral candidates and numerous Masters students. He said he had also dealt with finances and recruitment and the selection of  candidates for research.  With regard to external liaison he stated that the university had started working with Parliament regarding research and development and  managerial training. He had also been doing extensive  work in leadership and management with the National Intelligence Agency. Given that the university had been engaged in transformation, Professor Clapper said that he had had to head the department through the merging of different campuses, and his focus campus had therefore been the Pretoria University of Technology. 

The Chairperson asked what value Professor Clapper thought he could add given his extensive experience in academia, as she felt that the public service at a managerial level had people with academic qualifications but there were problems when it came to service delivery.

Professor Clapper responded that this question was absolutely pertinent in terms of Chapter 10 of the Constitution. He said the value he would be able to bring to the workplace was a heightened sensitivity to the practice-versus-theory challenge currently being faced.  He said he was totally convinced that he had the required theoretical understanding to produce a legacy of inculcating a spirit of taking public service personally in the public service,.

The Chairperson asked if Professor Clapper could tell the panel what he understood to be the functions of the Public Service Commission.

Ms Tshwete asked Professor Clapper what his impressions were of the Public Service Commission at the moment.

The Chairperson asked what Professor Clapper’s view was of the Commission only having recommending powers.

The Chairperson asked if Professor Clapper thought that the Public Service Commission was performing its duties efficiently, and what he would consider to be the challenges for the Commission.

Ms Tshwete asked Professor Clapper for his understanding of affirmative action.

The Chairperson asked if, as a public service, a point had been reached where assessment could take place.

The Chairperson said that the Public Service Commission released reports, and asked which ones did Professor Clapper consider most important, and why.

The Chairperson asked Professor Clapper what his passion was.

The Chairperson asked Professor Clapper if he had any questions for the panel.

Interview: Ms M Ralefatane
The Chairperson welcomed Ms M Ralefatane, and asked her to provide information about her background and experience in public service and at a managerial level.

Ms Ralefatane said that originally she was from Limpopo, but was currently residing in Boksburg in the East Rand. She said that she had attended primary and secondary  school in Limpopo. She had done her B. Proc and LLB at the University of Limpopo. She has also completed a course in  Bookkeeping in 1990, while still working to finish her studies. Ms Ralefatane completed her LLB in 1995 and thereafter joined the Eastern Gauteng Services Council (EGSC), where she worked as a legal advisor and as an acting manager at a legal division for three years. During this time she was admitted as an advocate. She then joined the Polokwane Local Municipality, where she headed the division, and this was where her managerial skills started to unfold, from about 1996. In 2002 she was appointed as a Commissioner of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), and started to decide cases and do dispute resolution there. She then opened her own legal practice,. She had continued to practice as a Commissioner with the CCMA and was presently doing cases for Local Government and the Police. She was also a Board member and on the council for the National Museum.

The Chairperson asked what values Ms Ralefatane felt that she could bring to the Public Service Commission.

Ms Ralefatane said that the main issue was to first identify the loopholes in any situation. She felt that she was well equipped to do this, and then to deal with the loophole, and research the required strategy on how to overcome it.

The Chairperson noted that Ms Ralefatane had not worked in the public service full time.

The Chairperson asked what Ms Ralefatane understood to be the functions of the Public Service Commission.

Ms Tshwete asked about the link between the CCMA, Ms Ralegatane’s  job and the public service, and what were the common cases that were being dealt with.

The Chairperson said that the challenges that had been named were that the Public Service currently did not have appropriate systems, whistle-blowers were not protected, and there had been misappropriation of funds. She asked what Ms Ralefatane felt was the role of the Public Service Commission to ensure that these problems were being attended to. She further asked how the Public Service Commission could correct the problems mentioned, given that it only had powers of recommendation.

Mr Julies asked Ms Ralefatane how much experience she had in the Human Resource field.

Mr Julies asked if Ms Ralefatane could function in a team, and if her communication skills were good.

Ms Tshwete asked if Ms Ralefatane was aware that this position was a full-time one, as her CV had shown that she had never been in fulltime employment.

Ms Tshwete noted that Ms Ralefatane was a member of the Progressive Business Forum, and asked if she could tell the panel more about her involvement with that Forum.

Ms Tshwete asked Ms Ralefatane what her understanding was of Batho Pele principles.

Mr Julies asked if Ms Ralefatane would recommend that every public official should have a Batho Pele booklet in his or her pocket.

The Chairperson asked if Ms Ralefatane was aware of any changes that had come about as a result of recommendations from the Public Service Commission.

The Chairperson asked which reports from the Public Service Commission Ms Ralefatane thought were the most important, and what were her reasons.

Ms Tshwete said that in one of the reports there was a delay in the attendance of cases, and asked why this had happened.

Dr U Roopnarain (IFP) joined the panel at this point, and apologised that she was late.

The Chairperson asked what core legislative provisions the Commission used to evaluate the overall performance of the public service, and its functions.

The Chairperson asked if Ms Ralefatane had any questions for the panel. 

Interview: Ms Ravina Udit
The Chairperson welcomed Ms R Udit  and asked her to provide information about her background and experience in the public service, and at a managerial level.

Ms Udit. said that she was from Durban, and had started off at a low level in a company, in an administrative position. This company had then closed down and she was then employed in a management position at Justin Traders. There were not many staff members at this company, so not much management was done.  She then was employed at a clothing company where she worked her way up to a supervisory position. She was then promoted, but had already by then started her studies for a B Proc LLB qualification, which she then obtained. She had completed her articles and had been practicing at the Bar since 2002.

The Chairperson asked the Candidate what value she thought she could add to the operations of the Public Service Commission.

Ms Udit said that her background in the legal fraternity had given her confidence, as well as certain skills in respect of dealing with grievances, handling labour issues, doing reports and monitoring. She said she was very goal-oriented and focused, and was also a perfectionist. If given a task she would ensure that it would be done. She described herself in all respects as a very loyal person, who was dedicated, and an achiever.

The Chairperson asked what in her view were the major functions of the Public Service Commission.

The Chairperson asked what Ms Udit’s view was regarding the efficiency of Public service Commission, and what did she think were the shortcomings of the Commission.

The Chairperson noted that the Candidate was not in a position to observe any shortcomings.

Ms Roopnarain asked what legislation Ms Udit thought the Commission used, as a basis for its  reports and findings on.

Ms Roopnarain asked Ms Udit to talk to the panel about her impressions of the Public Service Act.

Ms Tshwete asked what Ms Udit would do to make sure that corruption was dealt with.

Ms Tshwete said that many public service members had been suspended, but there were delays in dealing with the matters. She asked what the causes were for the delays in dealing with these cases.

The Chairperson asked Ms Udit if she was aware of the reports from the Public Service Commission, and which of these she would regard as most important.

The Chairperson asked if Ms Udit was aware of significant changes made as a result of recommendations from the Public Service Commission.

The Chairperson asked if Ms Udit felt that the Public Service Commission was adding any value to the public service.

The Chairperson asked if Ms Udit felt Affirmative Action was being effectively implemented.

The Chairperson asked Ms Udit what her passion was.

Ms Tshwete asked what Ms Udit was doing at the moment in terms of work.

Interview: Ms Selena Nkosi
The Chairperson welcomed the candidate and asked her to provide information about her background, education and experience in public service and at a managerial level.

Ms Nkosi said that she was born in Robertson and studied for a primary school teacher’s certificate, and thereafter upgraded herself by completing her Matriculation Certificate. She had become the principal of a primary school in 1993. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1994, at UNISA, and continued her studies to obtain a Bachelor of Education degree in 1997. Because she enjoyed studying she completed a Masters degree in Public Administration. After teaching for 24 years, she feared that she would become stagnant and therefore obtained employment by the Department of Education in 1994, and was tasked with opening an English medium school similar to a Model C school. She visited Independent Schools to see how they did things in an attempt to adapt and modify processes to suit the local situation. She spent two years at an Independent school in Nelspruit. Thereafter she obtained a permanent post as one of the first Provincial Managers at the Language Board for Mpumalanga. For purposes of growth in her career she then applied to Local Government for a position as Director of Corporate Services because she was passionate about the public service. This position was obtained in the Alberton Municipality, and she was currently based there. 

The Chairperson asked Ms Nkosi what she could bring to add value to the Commission that would ensure that the body moves in the right direction.

Ms Nkosi said that she believed in the principle of “you get what you see”. She did not believe in being artificial. If something was incorrect, it should not be hidden. She emphasised that she was not being arrogant but there were times when one had to be firm about getting things done. She said that she was passionate about the public service and keen to prove to the world that South Africa was not the most corrupt country in the world.  South Africa was a new democracy and the world was constantly looking at it. Ms Nkosi said that people had to be trusted to do their work and in some cases had to be motivated to act accordingly, to set matters straight. She emphasised that people had to talk about issues and debate openly if there were problems, and attempt to reach a compromise. She added that she enjoyed working in a team where goals could be achieved by contributions from everyone.

The Chairperson asked Ms Nkosi what her understanding was of the major functions of the Public Service Commission

The Chairperson asked if Ms Nkosi thought the Public Service Commission was living up to its mandate, or if there are any shortcomings.

Mr Julies asked if Ms Nkosi understood the principles of Batho Pele and if she could give two examples of such principles.

Ms Tshwete asked Ms Nkosi if she had come across any reports from the Public Service Commission, and if so, what she thought were the common challenges.

Ms Tshwete asked what Ms Nkosi’s first task would be, if she were appointed, to deal with corruption.

Ms Roopnarain asked Ms Nkosi how she felt the public service was doing in terms of women in the public service.

The Chairperson asked how Ms Nkosi understood the different roles played by the Commission and the public service.

The Chairperson asked what the legislative provisions were that the Commission used to do its work.

The Chairperson asked Ms Nkosi if she was aware of any changes in the public service which were brought about by the recommendations of the Public Service Commission.

The Chairperson asked Ms Nkosi to comment on the Public Service Commission only being able to make recommendations, but not enforce them.

The Chairperson asked what Ms Nkosi was passionate about.

Interview: Ms Shahista Rohan
The Chairperson asked Ms Rohan to give a brief background to herself.

Mr Julies asked Ms Rohan what values she would add to the Public Service Commission, if she was appointed as Commissioner

Ms Rohan replied that she had great investigative skills complemented by good research ability, as she had been doing research since 1996. She also mentioned that she was very fair and honest and had a great ability at conflict resolution.

Mr Julies asked Ms Rohan how, if she were appointed, she would deal with corruption within the public service.

Ms M Mentor (ANC) asked Ms Rohan whether she thought that the Public Service was doing enough to combat corruption.

Mr Julies then asked Ms Rohan if she had ever been involved in State entities or government organisations.

The Chairperson asked Ms Rohan what she would see as the role of the Public Service Commission, and what was the difference between the Public Service and the Public Service Commission.

Ms Mentor asked Ms Rohan which of the reports that the Public Service Commission had previously put out was regarded by her as the most important. 

The Chairperson asked Ms Rohan what prompted her to apply for the post when she saw the advertisements in the press.

Mr K J Julies asked Ms Rohan how she thought that the Public Service could be improved.

The Chairperson asked Ms Rohan to give the Committee her interpretation of affirmative action.

The Chairperson asked whether Ms Rohan thought that Black Economic Empowerment and Affirmative Action were adequate.

The Chairperson asked Ms Rohan whether she had any questions.

Ms Rohan stated that she did have one question, relating to the success rate of the Department of Public Services and Administration

The meeting was adjourned.