IEC interviews: No women commissioners at the moment

2015-06-15 17:34


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Johannesburg - Six women and four men were interviewed for the position of part time Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) commissioner on Monday.

The position became vacant following the resignation of Raenette Taljaard in late February.

There are currently no women serving on the IEC following her resignation and that of former IEC chairperson Pansy Tlakula, who left in the wake of a botched leasing deal.

Tlakula's position as IEC commissioner was replaced earlier this year by a man, Vuma Mashinini, who was a special project adviser to President Jacob Zuma.

The chairperson position has not yet been finalised.

Ten candidates were interview by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, SA Human Rights Commission chairperson Lawrence Mushwana and Commission for Gender Equality chairperson Mfanozelwe Shozi in Johannesburg on Monday.

Championing women’s empowerment

During the panel interviews Mogoeng asked some of the men who interviewed what he called an "unfair question", regarding the fact that there were currently no women commissioners.

He asked them why they should be recommended for the position over a woman.

Nkosikhulule Xhawulengweni Nyembezi, a former national advocacy programme manager at Black Sash, said this was discussed when he was nominated to stand for the position but it was decided that those who had the power would make the final decision in the end.

He said he spent a lot of his time as a human rights activist championing the empowerment of woman.

"Some answers lie with the attitude of men. This could be my contribution," he added when motivating why he should be recommended.

Another male candidate, Mautji Eloridge Pataki, the former South African Council of Churches general secretary, said it was undesirable to have an all male group.

"I don't think I want to be associated with a committee that's all men... Quiet honestly I noticed this and because I was invited to come I thought let me go and be in the hands of those who manage the process but it's quite troubling," he said.

The other men who were interviewed were Mahmood Sanglay, who has been involved in journalism and publishing for 15 years and Simon Zwelibanzi Mbokazi, was a former acting superintendent-general in the KwaZulu-Natal education department.

The six women who were interviewed were:
- Nomsa Praisy Masuku;
- Tshinyalani Charlotte Mavhungu;
- Lizeka Noxolo Mda;
- Mokgadi Sylvia Mothapo;
- Fulufhelo Velda Mphuthi and;
- Gerdileen Taylor

Masuku, who currently works for the IEC as a deputy chief electoral officer responsible for the outreach division, was the first candidate to be interviewed.

When asked why she wanted to be a part-time commissioner, she answered that it was because she was interested in the stewardship and strengthening of democracy.

Warning against complacency

She had worked for the IEC twice since 1998 and understood how the institution worked.

Asked if she had been involved in any way with the Tlakula lease saga, Masuku said no. She had left the electoral commission in 2006 to work in the private sector and returned in the aftermath of the process which led to the agreement in 2013.

Looking at the challenges facing the IEC, Masuku said the organisation needed to heal and there had to be introspection, following what had happened, however it could not become complacent.

"I think we have to remind ourselves that although we have done well for a long time, we can't become complacent," she said.

Technology was cited as a challenge by some of the women candidates who spoke about e-voting, mobile usage and applications to help take the IEC forward.

Mphuthi, a chemical engineer and group chief executive at Akhani Group, said she believed in transformation and technology.

"As South Africa we need to keep ourselves abreast... as compared to how the IEC is conducting its business."

Mphuthi spoke about developing a mobile application to help manage elections.

Mda, a former journalist, said she would bring her experience in the communication sector to the IEC.

"The commission I think used to interact a lot with the populous and was seen to be out there meeting people, doing voter education.

"Lately, I don't seem to see a lot of that. I don't know if they think here is no more need for it, but I think people still need to be interested, we need to keep South Africans still interested," she told the panel.

Sticking to the rules

Mothapo had also worked for the IEC before, said she was the best person for the role of part time commissioner because she had integrity and could not be influenced.

"I cannot be tempted, because I know the rules, I understand in that institution you have to play by the rules," she said.

"I think the only thing is sticking to the rules, making sure everything I do is sticking to the rules and not deviating."

Tshinyalani Charlotte Mavhungu, a businesswoman with a master’s degree in labour relations said she wanted to be a commissioner because she wanted to be part of transformation in the country.

"I want to play a part in the transformation of this country so that everyone can be treated fairly... I just want things to change. That's why I am here," she told the panel.

"With my leadership style I believe I can make a big contribution. Also my education, I am from a social work background. I can make a big contribution in terms of education."

Mavuhungu also spoke about upholding the integrity of the commission adding that her conduct would not compromise that.

Gerdileen Taylor, a chartered accountant, had worked with the IEC from an internal auditing perspective.

She said she had a lot to offer the commission in terms of promotion of governance, excellence and professionalism.

Asked what else she would bring to the job, Taylor said it was her analytical skills.

"I like to think about concepts and problems will assist the IEC."

Read more on:    iec  |  thuli madonsela  |  mogoeng mogoeng

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