OUTA is increasingly seen as a voice for transparency and accountability, and we receive more and more requests for our input. In response to the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities’ (WYPD) invitation for public participation, OUTA submitted recommendations on 24 shortlisted candidates for the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE). This very important commission has been marred by allegations of maladministration, poor governance and leadership instability. It is time for the for CGE and WYPD to listen to the citizens of South Africa and promote transparency. 

The appointment of new Commissioners to the CGE poses an opportunity to stabilise the leadership crisis and ensure that the body functions properly to advance its constitutional mandate. Therefore, OUTA decided to comment since the Committee did not (as required) release the CV’s of the shortlisted candidates on Parliament’s website after announcing them.  Instead, they just released a spreadsheet that includes the names and surnames of candidates, as well as their qualifications. They have also asked the public to comment or object to candidates using a Google form which has a 2000-character limitation. The information released was insufficient to allow for meaningful public participation. 

OUTA argues that it is impossible to gauge integrity, honesty, skills and expertise based on this watered-down available information. It is a near insurmountable task to prove the candidate has knowledge of gender issues and the ability to advocate for gender equality. Using PoPIA as an excuse to not make the redacted CVs public, hampers the vetting and validation purposes, curtailing the ability to track employment history and work experience. 

More than 40 organisations – including OUTA – came out against the “inadequate” public participation process for selecting new commissioners for the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE). It is time for the for CGE and PC on WYPD to listen to the citizens of South Africa and promote transparency. 

You can read more herehere and here.