Shortlist drama at gender body

2012-02-04 16:55

Teboho Maitse, outgoing acting chairperson of the Commission for Gender Equality, has questioned the shortlisting for a second term of two current commissioners accused of irregularities.

In a letter addressed to Speaker of Parliament Max Sisulu, his deputy, Nomaindia Mfeketo, and chairperson of the committee tasked with filling the commission’s vacancies, Ruth Bhengu, Maitse asked why another commissioner – who is eligible for a second term – was overlooked.

But Maitse’s letter has angered Bhengu, who considered the letter “out of order”, saying the acting chairperson was dictating to Parliament.

In her letter, Maitse asked for reasons for the selection of current commissioners Janine Hicks and Ndileka Loyilane, whose appointments as joint chief executive officers at the commission were found to have been “unlawful and irregular” by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela in a 2010 report.

The two also claimed travel expenses for their trips to the commission offices in Johannesburg from their homes outside the city.

They undertook more than 17 trips in an eight-month period. Maitse said the exclusion of Kenosi Meruti from the shortlist was questionable.

Maitse refused to discuss the contents of her letter with City Press, but confirmed asking questions about Meruti’s exclusion from the shortlist.

Bhengu said Maitse was not supposed to raise the matter at all. “Any person in South Africa who has allegations against him or her can be nominated for an election and cannot be disqualified on the basis of allegations.

“She (Maitse) was dictating to us who we should shortlist. Can a chairperson of a commission choose who she wants? She’s abusing her position.”

Bhengu said the process of appointing commissioners could not be delayed by the Public Protector’s report.

“The fact that there is that report doesn’t give her the right to make conclusions.”

Maitse slammed the process to appoint the new commissioners, saying it was not transparent enough.

“I was just highlighting that for Parliament, just cautioning that people could ask what criteria were used if they’ve left out a commissioner.”

Four commissioners who served the previous term were shortlisted from the beginning of the process. Meruti, who was appointed as a part-time commissioner, “worked full time without claiming any remuneration”, Maitse said. “It would be ideal if she had also been renominated, considering that she was expending as much energy as everybody else.”

The DA said it would object to the nomination of former City of Cape Town manager Wallace Mgoqi as a commissioner because it believed that he failed to meet the basic requirements of a commissioner.

The DA’s Denise Robinson said Mgoqi failed the standards because he did not have a record of commitment to the promotion of gender equality and had no applicable knowledge or experience on matters connected with the objectives of the commission.

“Obviously he is close to Nomaindia (the deputy speaker) who was the mayor, which seems to me like clear cadre deployment. He needed the job.”

Bhengu defended Mgoqi’s selection.

“We knew we have candidates with a political background but that cannot disqualify you. In fact, in gender issues you’re also dealing with political issues so we need people with political awareness.
 
“We looked at whether a candidate understood the mandate of the Commission for Gender Equality and gender issues.”

Maitse, who has served two consecutive five-year terms and is leaving when the new commissioners start work in the next few months, also listed several Commission for Gender Equality failures, which she said hampered its progress.

These included:

» Only printing its material in English;

» Having no commissioners in five rural provinces – the North West, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, Free State and Limpopo; and

» Not catering for young people.

She added: “I don’t understand why no one has taken legal action against us because we are violating the constitutional requirement of using all 11 languages. In fact, we are adding to the demise of our own African languages.”

Young people are also neglected, Maitse said. “I don’t remember going to a university to address students and inform them about the Commission for Gender Equality.

“We need to go to schools as well. We should also have young people as commissioners because they can easily speak to their peers.”

The nine recommended names will either be rejected or approved by Parliament this month.

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