DA: Statement by Sandy Kalyan, Democratic Alliance shadow minister of science and technology, on nominees for the HSRC board (21/08/2009)

21st August 2009

The list of nominations for the new Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) board was tabled yesterday. While the Democratic Alliance (DA) supports most of the names on the list, there are two that we do not believe will serve the HSRC well and we call on Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, not to appoint these two to her final list of board members.

The first is Phumelele Ntombela-Nzimande. As a member of the previous SABC board, she was deeply involved in the use and abuse of state resources to turn the SABC into an ANC propaganda machine. She, as part of the Board, must also be held accountable for the brazen financial mismanagement of the SABC, which has left it with losses amounting to R1bn and requiring repeated state bailouts.

The HSRC must be completely independent of the state if it is to do its job properly. It must generate research that makes a real contribution to our knowledge about our country, and it must not dance to the tune of politicians. Given her record at the SABC, Ms Ntombela-Nzimande would not be a good appointment.

The second is Nomboniso Gasa, the former chairperson of the controversy-racked Gender Commission. The Commission has been almost completely moribund for several years because of internal disputes. In April this year she resigned in a storm, following a summons to parliament from the former deputy speaker to explain happenings at the commission, including various allegations of fraud and embezzlement against Gasa.

Neither her inability to keep the Gender Commission focused on its important mission, nor the question-marks around her ethics, will stand her in good stead as a member of the board of an institution which needs to be clear, focused and accountable.