Zuma trims terms of gender officers

2012-06-02 19:09

President Jacob Zuma has shortened the term of office for the majority of commissioners to serve on the critical Commission on Gender Equality.

This follows Zuma’s delay in appointing commissioners by three months, forcing the commission to suspend crucial programmes due to lack of commissioners to implement them.

President Zuma appointed the nine commissioners last week. Parliament had recommended the names to him in February.

The new commissioners have taken their shortened term so seriously that the matter will be discussed when they meet for the first time as Commission on Gender Equality commissioners tomorrow in Johannesburg.

Six commissioners were given two-year terms, one will serve four years and only two have been appointed for five years – which has been the practice with previous commissioners.

Commission spokesperson Javu Baloyi said that while recognising the powers conferred on Zuma to determine terms of the commissioners, “we are concerned that these shortened terms may have the effect of undermining the work of the institution”.

Already the commission had to suspend the majority of its programmes for three months due to the delay.

Baloyi said “as a result of the reduced numbers in commissioners” the commission suspended “thematic committees” that lead the commission’s intervention programmes.

Programmes focusing on gender-based violence, cultures, religions and traditions, democracy and governance, HIV/Aids, gender and poverty, and the national gender machinery were affected. In addition, the commission was unable to assign commissioners to provincial offices.

Baloyi said the commission also suspended its oversight committee on finance. Only the audit committee continued to operate because it was “an independent body comprising external members”.

The commission operated with three commissioners since November last year: Dr Teboho Maitse, who acted as chairperson, part-time commissioner Kenosi Meruti and Janine Hicks, who’s been reappointed.

The commission was collapsed on May 8, a day after Maitse’s term ended.

Newly appointed chairperson Mfanozelwe Shozi was unaware of the reasons behind the reduction of terms. With the two-year contracts ending in May 2014, the majority of commissioners are set to leave office around the same time that Zuma’s presidential term ends.

“We’ll look at how this will affect the commission. Will it be negative or positive?” Shozi asked.

The presidency did not respond to emailed questions about the delay in appointing commissioners and the shortened terms, but City Press learnt from insiders that Zuma struggled with selecting the chairperson.

Shozi is a former deputy chairperson who also acted as chairperson until November last year. He’s credited with leading a turnaround strategy for the commission.

Other new commissioners are Sylvia Desiree Stevens-Maziya, Wallace Mgoqi, Ndileka Loyilane, Nondumiso Maphazi Ranuga, Lulama Nare, Thoko Mpumlwana and Professor Amanda Gouws.

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