ATC191121: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration on the Recommended Candidate for Appointment by the President to Serve as a Commissioner for the National Public Service Commission, dated 20 November 2019

Public Service and Administration, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation

REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION ON THE RECOMMENDED CANDIDATE FOR APPOINTMENT BY THE PRESIDENT TO SERVE AS A COMMISSIONER FOR THE NATIONAL PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION, 20 NOVEMBER 2019
 

The Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration (the Committee) having considered a request by the President of South Africa, requesting the National Assembly to recommend fit and proper person in accordance with section 196(8)(a) of the Constitution, to fill vacancy of a commissioner for the Public Service Commission, reports as follows.

 

  1. BACKGROUND

 

  1. The Public Service Commission is an independent institution established in terms of Chapter 10 of the Constitution, 1996. It derives its mandate from section 196 of the Constitution, which sets out the values and principles governing public administration. The Constitution stipulates that there is a single PSC for the Republic of South Africa, which consist of 14 commissioners. Section 196 (7)(a) of the Constitution stipulates that five commissioners are approved by the National Assembly in accordance with subsection (8)(a). Section 196(10) states that a commissioner is appointed for a term of five years, which is renewable for one additional term only.

 

  1. INTRODUCTION

 

  1. A letter dated 02 April 2019 was received from the President of South Africa, requesting the National Assembly to recommend fit and proper persons in accordance with section 196(8)(a) of the Constitution, to fill a vacancy that will occur when the term of office of Ms S S Nkosi as a commissioner in the Public Service Commission comes to an end on 23 April 2019 (see ATC 47 of 11 April 2019). The Portfolio Committee was unable to process such a request timeously due to the National Elections.

 

  1. On 07 August 2019, a letter was received from the Chairperson of the Public Service Commission, requesting the National Assembly to expedite the President’s request, made in terms of section 4 (1) of the Public Service Commission Act, 1997 (Act No 46 of 1997), and tabled and referred to the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration on 2 April 2019, that it initiate the process to fill a vacancy when the term of office of Ms SS Nkosi came to an end on 23 April 2019. The Speaker referred the matter to the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration.

 

  1. In designing an advert, the Committee was guided by a legal opinion on “fit and proper person” from the Constitutional and Legal Services of Parliament pertaining to the constitutional requirements for a commissioner in the Public Service Commission (PSC). The words “fit and proper person” in respect of the appointment of a PSC commissioner as set out in both the Constitution and the Public Service Commission Act, 1997 (Act No.46 of 1996) was rigorously interpreted and clarified.

 

  1. In terms of the legal interpretation, it is commonly accepted that in order to be a “fit and proper person” a person must show integrity, reliability and honesty as these are the characteristics which could affect the relationship between such a person and the public. The Courts have also interpreted the requirement of “fit and proper person” and have held that the “fit and proper person” standard is a value judgement.

 

  1. According to 09th Edition Rules of the National Assembly, Rule 229 indicates that “a portfolio committee may appoint a subcommittee from among its members to assist the committee. On 11 September 2019, the Portfolio Committee established the subcommittee to shortlist and interview candidates. The subcommittee comprised of the following members:

African National Congress:

James, Mr TH (Chairperson)

Lesoma, Ms RMM

Kibi, Ms MT

Ntuli, Ms MM

 

Democratic Alliance:

Schreiber, Dr LA

 

Economic Freedom Fighters:

Motsepe, Ms CCS

 

National Freedom Party:

Sibisi, Mr CHM

 

  1. On 22nd September 2019, the Committee placed an advert in various newspapers calling on members of the public who are fit and proper persons to apply for the vacancy at the PSC. The advert closed on 04th October 2019.

 

  1. PROCESS UNDERTAKEN

 

  1. The Committee received 172 applicants who responded to the advert to serve as a commissioner of the Public Service Commission. Since the Constitution and the Public Service Commission Act of 1997 do not prescribe the requirements, the subcommittee agreed on the criteria to be considered for purpose of shortlisting candidates. The following criteria were generally applied:
  • Principle of fit and proper person.
  • Demonstrate strong work ethic and integrity.
  • Extensive knowledge and skill of government system.
  • Understanding of and/or previous experience with the Public Service Commission.
  • Appropriate and extensive experience in senior management level in either public or private sector.
  • Understanding of the National Development Plan and the mandate of the Public Service Commission.

 

  1. The subcommittee discharged its duties conscientiously in screening 172 applicants’ curriculum vitae’s. The subcommittee had a lengthy discussion on a specific number of candidates to be shortlisted. The subcommittee resolved to shortlist the following nine (09) candidates for the interviews:
  1. Ms Zukiswa Mqolomba.
  2. Ms Nomazala Caith Mninzi.
  3. Dr Fhumulani Munyai.
  4. Ms Nomonde Patience Keswa.
  5. Mr Dizline Mfanozelwe Shozi.
  6. Ms Zanele Isabella Hlatshwayo.
  7. Mr Kevin Sifiso Malunga.
  8. Mr Tsepo Phillip Kgwathisi, and
  9. Ms Rashika Bosch.

 

  1. INTERVIEW PROCESS

 

  1. As per the advert requirements, applicants were subjected to security clearance. All candidates’ details were submitted for the security clearance process.

 

  1. All candidates were invited to attend the interview.

 

  1. Parliament Support Staff drafted guidelines and interview questions framework to advise members of the subcommittee on conducting interviews. The subcommittee agreed on structured interview questions for the purpose of ensuring fairness of the process.  

 

  1. Interviews were held over three days. On 31st October 2019, the subcommittee interviewed five (5) candidates, three (3) candidates on 01st November 2019 and one (1) candidate on 06th November 2019.

 

  1. The Committee received preliminary security clearance and final verification of qualifications reports to guide the process to ensure fit and proper person get recommended for the appointment. Due to the delays encountered regarding the final security clearance, the Committee reached consensus to continue with its recruitment process and to not disqualify any candidate based on the preliminary security clearance report.

 

  1. RECOMMENDATIONS

 

  1. The Portfolio Committee resolved to recommend Ms Zanele Isabella Hlatshwayo to the National Assembly in terms of section 196(8)(a) of the Constitution, for the appointment by the President to serve as a commissioner for the Public Service Commission.

 

  1. Mr Kevin Sifiso Malunga is a second best candidate recommended for appointment as a commissioner for the PSC, in case the above recommended candidate declines based on her own personal or any other reason.

 

  1. The Democratic Alliance (DA) participated fully in the process. However, they had a first preferred candidate by the name of Mr Kevin Sifiso Malunga, and they raised an objection to Ms Zanele Isabella Hlatshwayo being the first preferred candidate for the position. With the exception of the Democratic Alliance, based on paragraph 5.2 above, there was consensus on the way forward.

 

  1. Having encountered delays with regard to the final security clearance, the Office of the Presidency should consider pursuing the matter with the Department of State Security Agency prior appointment of the above recommended candidate to serve as a commissioner for PSC, since the information on fingerprints is still outstanding from the security agency   

 

  1. In terms of the Public Service Commission Act of 1997, once appointed “a commissioner shall not hold office in any political party or political organisation. A commissioner shall not, without the consent of the President, perform or engage himself or herself to perform any remunerative work outside the duties of his or her office”. This provision of the Public Service Commission Act of 1997 ensures that the Commission remains independent and impartial from any political influence.

 

  1. CONCLUSION

 

  1. The Portfolio Committee is therefore confident that the above recommended candidate for the appointment has a clear understanding of the mandate of a commissioner for the Public Service Commission, with the exception of the Democratic Alliance.

 

Report to be considered.

 

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