Politicians performing poorly: Zondo fails them on SOE board appointments

But deputy chief justice says this poor performance could be because 'processes that were in place were not processes that enabled or promoted quality appointments'

Aphiwe Deklerk Political reporter
Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo. File picture.
Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo. File picture.
Image: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo says politicians have done a bad job with the appointment of boards of state-owned entities.

Zondo was reacting to a presentation made to the state capture commission on Thursday by Corruption Watch executive director David Lewis, who was speaking about the parliamentary processes to appoint heads of institutions such as the public protector.

In his presentation, Lewis called for some form of professionalisation in the process, similar to that used by the Judicial Service Commission which apart from having politicians as members, also has the chief justice and other legal professionals.

Zondo questioned the processes followed to appoint SOE boards.

“If one looks at SOEs that the commission has been looking at, if that is anything to go by the politicians have, to a very large extent, done a very bad job in terms of appointments. But maybe that is because the processes that were in place were not processes that enabled or promoted quality appointments,” said Zondo.

He said that though in some cases politicians would not have deliberately made wrong appointments, there was evidence to suggest that there were a number of cases where these poor appointments were made to facilitate wrongdoing.

“Speaking within the context of SOEs, I certainly have been thinking that it's going to be important to look at the criteria that should be looked at in selecting people who will be considered as members of SOE boards.

“One talks about what criteria they must meet. And then apart from that, you need to look at the process for appointment. What type of process should it be? And what should it be, its main features. And transparency ... should be an important feature of that process,” said Zondo.

He said Lewis' recommendation in terms of the appointment processes for Chapter Nine institutions, among others, “spoke to” what he termed pillars he felt were needed in the appointment process.

He said if politicians were going to be making decisions on appointments for SOEs, there should be a body which makes a recommendation so that politicians were not “at large” to go against the recommendations.

Lewis had told of how his organisation had closely followed the appointments of the public protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.

He had then made recommendations about relooking appointment processes, some headed by parliament, of heads of institutions.

Lewis recommended that a law be crafted to guide the appointment of senior officials.

He also called for multi-stakeholder structures to be part of the selection committee for such appointments.

Lewis further called for more transparency in processes where parliament is in charge of the appointment of candidates. “The candidates must be tested for integrity and ethics, as well as their skills and expertise, using clear merit-based and objective criteria,” said Lewis.


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