Gender chair sorry over short-list questioning

2012-02-14 13:06

Acting chairperson of the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) Teboho Maitse has apologised for questioning Parliament’s short-listing of two candidates for commissioner positions.

In a letter written in the same week City Press published the story about Maitse’s unhappiness with the selection of Janine Hicks and Ndileka Loyilane to return for a second term as commissioners, the acting chairperson changed her mind.

She had withdrawn her first letter and apologised to all.

“This morning (31 January) we had a teleplenary and commissioner Hicks raised her disquiet about the letter I sent to you, particularly the section where I state that both the reports of the Public Protector and the Auditor General had stated that they should repay some monies to the CGE,” read Maitse’s second letter.

“She (Hicks) stated that while the AG’s draft had made this observation, the final report did not make this recommendation. I therefore on the basis of this assertion request Parliament, particularly your office to disregard what I had written about the two commissioners.

“I sincerely ask that my statements should not be held against their reappointment as commissioners to the commission”.

The letter of withdrawal, which City Press has seen, was addressed to the chairperson of the ad hoc committee to fill vacancies in the CGE, Ruth Bhengu, deputy speaker of Parliament Nomaindia Mfeketo, Advocate Nonkosi Cetshwayo, who heads the Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy in the National Assembly, and chairperson of the portfolio committee on women, children and people with disabilities Dorothy Ramodibe.

The communique was copied to Hicks and Loyilane.

It continued: “I apologise for any embarrassment caused to your ad hoc committee and to Parliament in relation to the short-listing of the aforementioned commissioners. I furthermore wish to apologise without any reservation to the two commissioners.”

The storm about Hicks and Loyilane’s short-listing was fuelled by a Public Protector report of 2010, which found that their appointments as joint chief executive officers at the CGE were “unlawful and irregular”.

Money spent on their travel expenses between their homes outside Gauteng and the Johannesburg-based CGE headquarters – more than 17 trips in an eight-month period – constituted irregular expenditure.

In an interview with City Press early this month Maitse admitted to writing the letter but denied questioning the suitability of the two commissioners, saying only that she had asked why serving commissioner Kenosi Meruti did not make it on to the list of short-listed candidates.

Bhengu, however, confirmed the details of the first letter to City Press and the second letter withdrawing Maitse’s concerns confirmed those details.

Last week the Democratic Alliance said it would ask Parliamentary speaker Max Sisulu for the ad hoc committee to reconvene and reconsider its recommendation of Hicks and Loyilane for re-appointment.

Parliament still needs to adopt the nine recommended names before they are sent to President Jacob Zuma for appointment.

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