Pressure mounts over gender commission nominations

2012-02-07 18:05

Pressure is mounting on Parliament to reconsider the selection of commissioners for the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE).

The DA will write to the speaker of Parliament, Max Sisulu, to request that the ad hoc committee tasked with filling positions on the commission reconvene and reconsider its nomination of Janine Hicks and Ndileka Loyilane as commissioners.

This follows a City Press report on Sunday, based on concerns raised by acting chairperson of the CGE Teboho Maitse in a letter written to Sisulu, deputy speaker Nomaindia Mfeketo and chairperson of the ad hoc committee, Ruth Bhengu.

Maitse admitted to writing the letter but denied questioning the suitability of the two commissioners.
Bhengu, however, confirmed the details of the letter to City Press.

The DA’s shadow minister of women, children and people with disabilities, Helen Lamoela, has added her voice to the debate about the suitability of Hicks and Loyilane.
In 2010 a report of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found the two commissioners’ appointments to be “unlawful and irregular” on the basis that they were jointly appointed as acting chief executive officers and commissioners. Money spent on them was found to constitute irregular expenditure.

Lamoela said the Public Finance Management Act did not provide for two people to be appointed as joint accounting officers.

The objection to the appointment of Hicks and Loyilane brings to three the number of recommended commissioners whose nominations are being questioned. The DA has already objected to the nomination of former City of Cape Town manager Wallace Mgoqi, saying he lacked credentials as a gender specialist.

Said Lamoela: “The committee must now not only reconsider the appointments of Ms Hicks and Ms Loyilane, it must also re-evaluate Mr Mgoqi’s suitability as a commissioner.”

Questions have also been raised about the fact that Mbuyiselo Botha of the Sonke Gender Justice Network failed to make the cut.

Said the DA’s Denise Robinson, who sits on the committee that fills the CGE vacancies: “Mbuyiselo was an outstanding candidate. I’m very disappointed that he didn’t make it.”

Bhengu said Parliament cannot be dictated to by individuals and civil society organisations.

The CGE has been so badly run that the chairperson of Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts, Themba Godi, once called for the commission to be placed under administration.

In an interview with City Press last week Maitse listed several challenges that hamper the commission’s performance. One of them is lack of representation in some provinces.

“Does it mean people from those provinces don’t make nominations? Right now, with the current list, North West, Limpopo, Free State, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape are not represented,” Maitse said.

That becomes “a costly exercise” for the CGE because commissioners need to travel from Johannesburg to service provinces that don’t have commissioners.

“Inevitably that also impacts on the effectiveness of the commission because there will be pockets of people who do not know about us.”

The ad hoc committee on CGE last week recommended nine names to Parliament for appointment as gender commissioners. The names will either be adopted or rejected in two weeks’ time.

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