OUTA calls on Parliament to extend nominations for new commissioners for the Commission for Gender Equality
OUTA has written to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, calling on it to extend the period of advertising vacancies for commissioners on the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE). The letter was written by Advocate Stefanie Fick, OUTA Executive Director.
The committee is to fill six commissioner vacancies on the CGE: two part-time positions due to resignations, and four full-time positions which become vacant at the end of October when the incumbents’ term ends. The committee runs the process and recommends a shortlist, the National Assembly approves this and forwards to the list to the President, who makes the appointments from that list.
The committee’s advert for the vacancies went out on 27 June 2022 with a deadline for applications of midnight on 18 July, just 22 days.
OUTA believes this is insufficient time and has asked for this deadline to be extended for at least a week, to ensure a more inclusive and publicly engaged process to get the best possible candidates for such crucial positions.
“Independent, impartial, and robust institutions, such as Chapter 9 institutions like the CGE, that act in the public interest are imperative to safeguarding South Africa’s constitutional democracy. The collapse of these institutions gives rise to a situation where public resources are misappropriated for private gain, where impunity prevails, and where the public is made vulnerable to abuse of our constitutional rights,” said Advocate Fick in the letter.
OUTA, together with Corruption Watch, also recommended that the committee enhance the selection process by:
Establishing an independent selection panel to shortlist candidates.
Developing additional criteria and guidelines, beyond the requirement that a candidate be a fit and proper person, to ensure that only the strongest candidates are shortlisted. “To be shortlisted, not only do candidates need to possess the necessary experience, expertise and qualifications, but they must also be thoroughly vetted for financial and security risks,” said Fick.
Providing a detailed report to the public on the process, including the names of the applicants, criteria used for shortlisting, methodology used for assessing skills and competencies, and the results of financial and security vetting on shortlisted candidates.
The committee has previously undertaken to publish the names and resumes of shortlisted candidates to allow members of the public to comment on their suitability, and has scheduled this public comment for 23 August to 9 September. OUTA believes that meaningful public comment is crucial to the credibility of such processes and encourages the public to use this opportunity. The committee has scheduled interviews for 13 to 15 September.
OUTA’s letter to the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities is here.
A soundclip with comment by Advocate Stefanie Fick is here.