Committee to probe state's independent bodies

An ad-hoc committee has been set up to investigate chapter nine institutions (independent institutions) like the Public Protector, SABC news reported Friday.

Wide ranging issues like employment procedures and institutional governance will be tackled.

The committee chaired by Kader Asmal met for the first time on Friday to map its work for the next eight months, the public broadcaster said.

There are six chapter nine institutions, which include the Human Rights Commission, the Independent Electoral Commission and the Gender Commission.

These independent institutions are accountable to Parliament, but they have often come under fire for not performing, high salaries and internal fights. One example is the recent spat between the Public Protector and his deputy over allegations of sexual harassment.

Asmal says issues like these need to be addressed so that the image of these institutions can be restored. The 11 bodies welcomed the review, but had some reservations.

Jody Kollapen of the Human Rights Commission says these institutions occupy a particular space in democracy, whether they occupy it effectively is something else.

Salary scales and the institution's relationships with departments will also be investigated.

A structured oversight role of parliament is another issue the committee will look at. This means they will have their work cut out and will report to Parliament in June next year. - Sapa

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