Speech on the recommendation of persons for appointment to the South African Human Rights Commission in terms of section 193(5) of Constitution, 1996
Speech by ACDP MP, Steve Swart

Issued by the ACDP Parliamentary Media Office

ACDP concerned about institutional decline at the SAHRC

Dec 5, 2023

Thank you, House Chair.

The ACDP is deeply concerned about the institutional decline at the Human Rights Commission and this obviously impacts on its effective delivery of its constitutional mandate and has an impact on the effective protection, promotion and monitoring of human rights in South Africa.

There are a number of issues that the Auditor-General raised and its underperformance was very clear to the members of the committee.

When we then conducted these interviews, this issue had to be taken into account and someone had to accept responsibility for the Commission’s decline. It was the previous Chairperson, Professor Majola, who accepted responsibility.

Then, when one actually considers the nominations and who should serve as commissioners, one has to strike the balance between holding people accountable and the need for continuity and institutional memory.

The ACDP supports the appointment of Reverend Chris Nissen. He is a very passionate person who really works very hard to protect human rights. He’s performed very well in the interviews and he’s always on standby.

We also strongly argued for Advocate Guam to be retained due to his extensive experience, his institutional knowledge and the fact that he’s busy with a number of projects and reports. Sadly, his nomination was not accepted by the committee and we, as the ACDP, believe that the Commission will be far poorer for this omission.

We also share concerns about the inexperience of a number of the nominees that the committee accepted, and this came to the fore during the interviews.

When one looks at the state of the Commission, this is a matter of extreme concern, given the fact that the new Commissioners that have being nominated will have to really turn around the Commission to ensure that human rights are protected.

I thank you.

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