Office on Rights of the Child, Office on the Status of Disabled Persons, Office on the Status of Women: focus areas for 2009-2010

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

16 June 2009
Chairperson: Ms B Thompson (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee regarded this meeting as more of orientation than a briefing. This was largely because the Ministry was still new and had not been legally established yet, with the result that there was no defined Strategic Plan, making it difficult for the Committee to determine whether the new Department would be mainly concerned with service delivery itself, or with oversight.  In addition there was also the question of whether this new Ministry and Department would take over the work that was being done when the former entities fell under the Office of the Presidency or whether it was going to take a new approach. It was pointed out that although the programmes were continuing, the new Department as yet had no budget vote, because the legalities for its establishment had not been finalised, and because there was no accounting officer. A point that the Committee requested must be clarified was who would bear the responsibility for the budget allocations and spending until that time.

The Office on the Status of Disabled Persons, the Office on the Status of Women and the Office on the Rights of the Child each gave a brief presentation on their focus areas and their work to date, including a brief summary of the achievements in the past year, and the budgets allocated for the work. It was pointed out that there was as yet no overall Strategic Plan, and it was uncertain whether the work and former programmes would continue in their present form, or whether the focus would shift more to oversight. It was indicated that each of the entities had to work with other government departments, and that mainstreaming of issues and budget remained a challenge. The Office on the Rights of the Child requested the Committee's help in trying to alert communities to the harm being caused by certain traditional practices.
Members raised concerns over the fact that the new Department might be duplicating roles of other departments, as issues of children,women and disabled persons could not be isolated. They also questioned the focus on mainstreaming rather than on goals such as capacity building, monitoring and evaluation.  They agreed that some of the budgets allocated seemed to be too small. However it was clear that the Department could not at this stage give detailed answers, and were asked to bear the questions in mind for response at later meetings when the position was more clear. The Committee requested that the Department be given the handover report and the report on donor funding.

Meeting report


Ms M Dzivhayi, Head of Programmes, Ministry for Women, Children Youth and Persons with Disabilities,    informed the Committee that this meeting was a follow up from the meeting the Department had with the Minister and Special Advisor on the progress report for 2008/09. She also said that the Committee should bear in mind that this meeting would essentially provide a report on the new Ministry, and that the budget must be seen as a work in progress. She informed the Committee that each director of a programme was going to brief the Committee.
Office on the Status of Disabled Persons 
Mr Benny Palime, Director: Office on the Status of Disabled Persons, stated that the presentation was a report covering activities within the Office on the Status of Disabled Persons (ODSP)  for the period 2008/09 and 2009/10. The vision and mission was the realisation of a better life for all persons with disabilities and ensuring equalisation of opportunities in leading, developing and managing the strategic agenda of the government. The strategic objectives therefore were to achieve policy coordination, provide strategic leadership to provincial focal points in all spheres of government and in civil society, to coordinate, monitor, evaluate and communicate government policies and programmes and accelerate integrated service delivery, to foster nation-building, effect and impetus to the people's contract, promote the integrated approach to governance for accelerated service delivery, and support, develop and consolidate initiatives for building a better Africa and a better world. In doing so, it would also promote accelerated and shared economic growth and development with emphasis on the second economy and social inclusion. He stated that the budget allocated according to the Medium Term Economic Framework (MTEF) for 2008/09 was R2.3 million and the Department  spent all of it. The budget allocated for 2009/2010 was R2.4 million. This limited budget was seen as a challenge. Other challenges included limited capacity within the disability sector, the fact that disability was treated as a separate issue instead of it being mainstreamed into general department work, the failure by the government to reach the 2% employment of disabled persons target and ineffective coordination among the various government departments and stakeholders. 
The Chairperson opened the discussion by stating that she was disturbed by the budget and by the failure of mainstreaming this group of people. 
Ms H Malgas (ANC) concurred with the Chairperson on the issue of the budget. She then asked for further clarity on the 2009/10 budget.  
Ms Malgas ) asked the OSD to explain the overdraft mentioned in the report.
Ms  Malgas  requested the OSD to give reasons as to why the 2% target had not been reached in government.
Ms Malgas asked the OSD to explain how the Department  mainstreamed, bearing in mind that mainstreaming was a process. 
Ms D Robinson (DA) requested the details of the donor funding, in particular the amount received and what it was used for.
The Chairperson remarked that the budget was unclear, there was no Strategic Plan, and it was still unclear whether the Department would be taking over from the Office of the Presidency or whether the new Ministry was going in a new direction. 
Ms Vuyi Nxasana, Departmental representative, replied that the Strategic planning was still in progress. However, she added that since the new Ministry's work had formerly fallen under the Office of the President, there were programmes and activities already in progress, and these were continuing under the new  Department. She added that the Department  held consultative meetings with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) so as to come to an understanding and forge the vision and mandate of the new Ministry. Those discussions had also concentrated upon whether the new Department would continue with the components as previously set up, or whether it would introduce new components.
The Chairperson asked if the Ministry was going to be involved in the budget vote debate. 
Ms Nxasana replied that there would be a new Department, and until all legislative measures to create the new Department as a legal entity had been finalised, the Department would not have its own budget vote. However, the Department was assuming that the vote for their work would be taken under the Office of the Presidency. She reiterated that the current budget allocation was not sufficient.
Mr S  Mbatsha, Special Advisor to the Minister, added that the new Department  was not going to participate in the budget vote because it had not been legally established. Moreover, the Department could not at  this stage be allocated its own budget as it did not yet have an Accounting Officer, which was an essential legal requirement. 
Ms P  Duncan (DA) asked who was going to perform oversight for the budget that the former Department had received under the Office of the Presidency, in particular for what had already been done in the financial year 2008 - 2009 and 2009 2010 to the present.

Ms Malgas concurred with Ms P Duncan that this matter needed clarity. She also asked who was going to be accountable for the R9 million already allocated and amounts already spent. 
Ms Nxasana replied that the Office of the President would account within their own vote, and only after the estimate adjustment budget in October/November. This was also the time by which it was hoped that everything would have been finalised to set up the new Department, including all the legal aspects and by then there would be full clarity on accountability.

The Chairperson remarked that the representatives could not answer the questions put before them as a result of there being no Strategic Plan and no clear working foundation. However, she asked that the Department note the questions raised and address them in a subsequent meeting.

Mr Mbatsha added that the present and last year's budget were not going to be a guide for future finances because the funding was received when the various entities still fell under the Office of the President. 
Office on the Rights of the Child (ORC) 
Mr David Chabalala, Director, Office on the Rights of the Child, gave background information on the creation of the ORC and the organogram of the office. He mentioned that the core functions of the office were  mainstreaming a child centred approach in development, governance and service delivery, ensuring that policies were children-sensitive, and capacity building on mainstreaming children's rights in government. There were vacancies in the office. The Office also undertook advocacy for children's rights delivery in government, and coordination, monitoring, evaluation and reporting on the children's rights. The achievements included the increased participation of municipalities. Their main challenges were differential understanding of mainstreaming approach in government, slow progress in the appointment of dedicated focal points in departments and municipalities, insufficient budgets to deliver on the children's rights Constitutional mandate, and insufficient personnel. He then requested the Committee's assistance in certain matters.

The Chairperson remarked that she was still concerned about the budget.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) asked what the practice to which Mr Chabalala had referred entailed.
Mr Chabalala replied that this was a form of traditional marriage, whereby the parents of a girl child, usually one between ages 12 to17, colluded with a stranger, who would normally be an older man, to abduct the child and enter into a "forced" marriage, against payment of an animal to the parents by way of compensation. This usually arose in situations of great poverty. The child in such a situation usually found herself completely without protection. Her parents would inform her that after payment had been made the situation could not be reversed. The police were of no help, as they would argue that this was a traditional practice involving the family and therefore they could not become involved.

The Chairperson asked how the Committee could assist in this matter. 
Mr Chabalala replied that the Department was trying to create awareness over this practice and sensitise the respective communities on some of the basic rights violations that resulted from the practice. Overall, there would need to be a collaborative approach and it must also include other institutions such as traditional leaders, the Department of Health and civil society. 
Ms Malgas asked why the Department sponsored only girl guides.
Mr Mbatsha replied that the Department  sponsored girl guides on request. However, the Department was not averse to sponsoring any other organisation should it request help.   
Ms Robinson remarked that she was concerned by the fact that there was going to be duplication of duties considering that issues such as children, women and disability issues could not be isolated. Her biggest worry was that there might not be an effective Ministry if it was going to be doing what other ministries and departments were already doing.  

Mr X Mabaso (ANC) asked how the Department was going to deal with children living and working the streets, as this was a grey area; after reaching a certain age or state of independence some were no longer regarded as children. 

Mr Mabaso remarked that since this meeting was more in the nature of an orientation session, there should be determination of the role and function of the Department and a further presentation at another meeting should clarify the issues.

Office on the Status of Women (OSW)
Ms Linda Hlaisi, Deputy Director, Office on the Status of Women, gave the progress report for the OSW. She highlighted that the Office's mandate was policy work, gender mainstreaming, capacity building, planning and coordination, reporting, monitoring and evaluation, international liaison, and networking. The budget allocation for 2008/09 was R2.3 million, and the Department  overspent by R30 000. She said that the achievements in the last financial year had included the coordinating and facilitating of a donor round table meeting, development of terms of reference, appointment of a service provider and hosting a meeting to review the research report. It had held a seminar on the international Convention on Women (CEDAW), the gender mainstreaming handbook had been finalised and there had been increased participation by civil society, organisations, provinces and national departments. The main challenges were that the level of appointment of the Head of OSW did not allow for effective monitoring and evaluation, and it was unable to hold Directors General accountable. There had been lack of proper collaboration between the Commission on Gender Equality, the Joint Monitoring Committee and OSW as a machinery. There was also a lack of dedicated gender focal units at all spheres of government, lack of proper strategies for working with civil society, business had been minimal and there was a lack of a national plan of action to give direct ion to the entire national gender machinery. 

Mr Mabaso remarked that there was minimal over-expenditure.

Ms  Duncan and Ms Malgas asked why most of the Department's and entities' work seemed to be focused on mainstreaming.
Ms Dzivhayi replied that there was still misunderstanding as to exactly what mainstreaming was, and until that had been achieved mainstreaming was going to form a large part of the Department's mandate.  
Ms Robinson requested that the Department get details of donor funding and the handover report. 
Other Committee Members supported this request.
The meeting was adjourned. 



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