Women, Youth, Children & People with Disability Committee's Workshop: Department, Ministry & National Youth Development Agency briefings

Women in The Presidency

10 August 2009
Chairperson: Ms B Thompson (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee held a workshop to discuss its strategic plan and the mandate and role of the Committee. Questions at the outset were raised about whether this Committee would have oversight over the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) since it would reside in the Presidency. Several members agreed that it was desirable that the Department and hence the Committee also include older persons as one of their target groups. The Department for Women Children and Persons with Disabilities (the Department) firstly noted the change of its name to reflect “persons with disabilities”, which it considered more appropriate, and the use of the term “target groups” rather than “vulnerable groups”. It was noted that the new Ministry would be the central co-coordinating point for the advancement and protection of the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities, and the co-ordination of compliance with South Africa’s obligations under international instruments. The vision was to achieve “a fully inclusive society free from unfair discrimination, abuse and exploitation”. The core strategic objectives were outlined, including protection and promotion of human dignity and equality, creating an enabling environment for empowerment and advancement, advocating an inclusive society, preventing and eliminating unfair discrimination against the target groups and oversight and coordination of programmes. Members asked for clarity whether the Department would primarily deal with implementation or oversight, whether the Department would be national only, how it would use provincial gender focal points and how it would align with Department of Public Works’ strategies.

The newly formed National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) presented its strategic plan, noting that the NYDA arose from the merger of Umsobomvu Youth Fund and National Youth Commission. It aimed to achieve integrated and mainstreamed youth development in all organs of State, the private sector and civil society, for sustainable livelihoods”. The work would aim to redress previous imbalances, create equal opportunities, and promote accessibility, transparency and accountability of youth development programmes. A large part of its activities would focus on economic participation, job development, better career choices and access to information about opportunities for young people. The statistics for the NYDA’s planned activities were given. Members asked about its oversight role, questioned whether the budget was already set aside and available, urged that three quarters of the World Cup volunteers should be selected from the youth, recommended that promotion of youth education and combating corruption be added in to the business plans, and urged that there must be clear and effective communication.

The Parliamentary Research Unit presented an overview of the Five Year Legacy Reports of the Joint Monitoring Committee for the Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of women, and the Joint Monitoring Committee for Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Children, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, which had operated from 2004 to 2009. Their mandate, the work they had done, and their challenges and shortcomings were outlined. The latter Committee had not managed to complete its work due to failure to abide by its Strategic Plan, and had shared with the former Committee the same difficulties around meetings and finding a quorum. Members discussed whether the new Committee should take over and complete the outstanding issues, and agreed to do so, despite the fact that the focus of the new Committee would also differ. Members then discussed the Committee’s mandate, agreed upon wording, and decided to give priority to the Domestic Violence Act, the Child Support Grant Act, the Children's Act, the National Youth Development Agency Act, and the Traditional Courts Bill. They received information on the international treaties the Committee would oversee. They agreed that there should be a platform for civil society to communicate its thoughts, needs and suggestions to Government, and some form of measuring the impact of legislation.

Meeting report

Chairperson’s opening comments and concerns
The Chairperson welcomed all to the workshop, and gave a brief oversight of the role of the Portfolio Committee. Passing legislation and overseeing its implementation were two very important functions of the Committee. The Committee must monitor, investigate, inquire into and make recommendations to any Constitutional institution falling under the Committee. She advised the Members to use the workshop to make recommendations and proposals concerning its mandate.

Ms Kashifa Abrahams, Parliamentary Research Unit, noted that a presentation would be given by the Ministry and the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), followed by a group discussion on their mandate and its target groups.

The Chairperson said that the youth would fall under the Presidency and therefore not under the Committee, and suggested that the Department include the elderly as one of its target groups.

Ms Vuyiswa Nxasana, Acting Director General, Department for Women, Children, Youth and Persons with Disability (the Department) said the Department wished to add elderly persons as one of the target groups, and would appreciate a recommendation from the Portfolio Committee to the Presidency to legally amend the target groups. She further stated that the Department would discuss the youth in its presentation and requested a decision on whether the youth would form part of its target groups.

Ms D Robinson (DA) agreed with the idea to include elderly people as a target group, because they were vulnerable. She suggested that the Members listen to the presentation and then discuss this issue.

Ms P Duncan (DA) asked why the youth had been taken out of the Ministry. She agreed that the Department should include elderly people as one of its target groups.

The Chairperson also requested information as to why the youth had been moved to the Presidency and whether or not the Department still reported to the Portfolio Committee.

Ms Nxasana said that she could not answer the questions, because she did not know when the decision was taken. She referred to elderly people as a target group and said that their needs were covered by the Social Development Programme, but all target groups should benefit from Government programmes.

Ms H Malgas (ANC) agreed with the Chairperson that the Department should extend its mandate, referring to the youth and elderly persons.

Ms S Rwexana (COPE) stated her concern for the lack of information regarding the Committee’s role in youth topics. She, however, requested that Members should not discuss the elderly, as she feared that other target groups might become neglected.

The Chairperson said the reason for this workshop was to come up with solutions. The Department had an opportunity to review its mandate. She would not like to leave out the elderly.

Ms Duncan asked why the youth were taken out of the Ministry, and why the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) now fell under the Presidency.

The Chairperson replied that there was no person in the meeting that could answer her.

Ms Duncan requested that someone from the Presidency must come and speak to the Committee on this matter.

Ms Malgas said that she did not understand the concern about oversight of the youth, because the NYDA would be presenting to the workshop, and suggested that Members continue the discussion after the presentation.

Departmental p
resentation
Ms Nxasana noted that the new Ministry was announced by President Zuma on 9 May, and was proclaimed on 7 July, and that the Department was now known as “The Department for Women, Children, Youth and Persons with Disabilities”, because “persons” was a more appropriate term to use than “people”. This amendment, as well as the inclusion of older persons, would be taken to the Presidency.

Ms Nxasana said that although she would be presenting a Strategic Plan, this was still a draft, as the Department was still in a developmental stage and did not have a budget yet.

Ms Nxasana noted that the new ministries sought to strengthen the Executive's capacity to deliver and track progress on Government's priorities, as articulated in the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) document that would guide Government programmes for the next five years. This document was entitled “Together Doing More and Better.” She recommended that the Members read this document, because it defined the strategic objectives and targets for the next five years, in essence strengthening the Executive’s capacity to deliver and track progress more effectively.

Ms Nxasana stated that in this Fourth Parliament’s term, the country still faced historical disparities in meeting the needs of historically marginalised groups of women, children, youth, persons with disabilities and older persons. Some of the problems within this context were the global economic crisis, deepening poverty and inequality, an increasingly feminised nature of poverty, the increasing numbers of poor child-headed households, and increasing numbers of the elderly and the disabled.

The new Ministry’s mandate was the country's central co-coordinating point for the advancement and protection of the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities, and the co-ordination of compliance with the country's obligations under international instruments. This mandate presented an opportunity for addressing the challenge of neglect of social justice concerns and the challenge of marginalisation of concerns for women, children and persons with disabilities

Ms Nxasana said that the vision was to have “A fully inclusive society free from unfair discrimination, abuse and exploitation.” To achieve the envisaged inclusive society, the Ministry and Department would operate as a co-ordination point for planning, policy guidance, and tracking progress on the development and empowerment of women, children and persons with disabilities, through mainstreaming equality concerns and implementing measures to empower and advance these groups.

Ms Nxasana referred to the Ministry's strategic thrust that would answer questions such as whether the Department needed a basic, or strategic needs approach. In fact the Department might need both. It would also address whether the Department would deliver primary or secondary level service delivery, whether it would have a service delivery model, and whether it had an oversight or implementing role.

Ms Nxasana said fundamental recognition must be given to the Ministry's relationships to other Government departments, Chapter 9 Institutions, and other organs of civil society including private sector (partnership model). The Department preferred to an inclusive development and service delivery agenda and had developed a strategic implementation framework for programmes to be developed for all strategic priorities, as recommended in the MTSF. This would entail sequencing and phasing in of various programmes, taking into account availability of resources and creative ways of involving development finance, private sector and civil society. Priority would be given to transforming societal values and institutions, in line with the constitutional vision of equality, non-sexism, human rights, and social justice.

Ms Nxasana outlined the Department’s core strategic objectives. These included the Department’s commitment to protect and promote human dignity, equality and freedom of women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons (the target groups), to create an enabling environment of equality for empowerment, advancement and socio-economic development for the target groups, to advocate for an inclusive society, to prevent and eliminate all forms of unfair discrimination against the target groups, and to monitor and evaluate implementation of projects and programmes. 

Within these core strategic objectives, the Department had identified contextual strategic objectives, which included the desire to mobilise, strengthen and support relations with local, regional and international partners at all levels, to ensure that government structures did address issues of the targeted groups, including providing adequate resources, and to strengthen, broaden and enforce legislative mechanisms and regional and international instruments. The Department would also provide the Executive with high quality strategic support, ensure compliance with legislation, and undertake research and design and implement appropriate programmes. It would further develop and implement practical communication mechanisms that responded to the interests and aspirations of the target groups, and develop and maintain efficient knowledge systems.

National Treasury (NT) required the Department to develop programmes, and the Department was in the process of creating organisational and project structures and finalising the Strategic Plan. The four programmes dealt in turn with administration, women’s development and empowerment and gender equality, child protection and development and programmes for persons with disabilities.

Discussion
Ms Robinson requested clarity as to why the term “vulnerable” was now being replaced with “target groups”.

Ms Nxasana stated that the term “vulnerable” had a disempowering connotation. She further stated that the Department was trying to empower these groups and would not like to label them in a negative way..

Ms Rwexana asked if the Department would exist only at the national level, or at the provincial level as well. She thought the work would be very difficult for the national department to handle in the provinces.

Ms Nxasana stated that the Department believed that its work must be strengthened at provincial level, but currently the Department only operated at national level.

Ms Malgas referred to gender focal points in departments, including at the provincial level, and asked how the Department would use those points.

Ms Malgas asked how the Department would align with the Department of Public Works’ eight point principles. She also asked for clarity on the reference to an “inclusive development and service delivery agenda”, saying that the role seemed to be one of oversight.

Ms Nxasana stated that preferably Government programmes should not residing in the Union Buildings, but had to reach people at all levels of society. She said that she was not familiar with the eight-point principles, but the Department would try to ensure equality through rewards for those who adhered to the principles, and sanction for those who did not.

The Chairperson asked whether the Department was an oversight or an implementing department. She also said that she would like, at a later stage, some information as to how the Department planned to implement its objectives.

Ms Nxasana stated that oversight was the key function, because the Department did not have the capacity to reach everyone. The Department also recognised the need intervention and its programmes would need to be implemented in partnership with other departments, so that her Department would play a facilitating role. She asked advice from the Committee with regard to oversight and implementation.

National Youth Development Agency (NYDA)
Presentation
Mr Andile Lungisa, Chairperson, National Youth Development Agency, said that the NYDA was launched on Youth Day, 16 June 2009, and was established through a merger of Umsobomvu Youth Fund and the National Youth Commission. The vision of the NYDA was to achieve integrated and mainstreamed youth development in all organs of State, private sector and civil society, for sustainable livelihoods. Its business was to initiate, facilitate, implement, coordinate and monitor youth development interventions aimed at reducing youth unemployment and promoting social cohesion.

The objectives of the NYDA were to
develop an integrated youth development plan and strategy for South Africa, to develop guidelines for implementation of an integrated national youth development policy, to initiate, design, coordinate, evaluate and monitor all programmes aimed at integrating the youth into the economy and society in general. It would also guide efforts and facilitate economic participation and empowerment, and achievement of education and training. It would partner with organs of State, the private sector and non-governmental organisations and community based organisations. It would further initiate programmes directed at poverty alleviation, urban and rural development and the combating of crime, substance abuse and social decay amongst youth. Annual national priority programmes for youth development would be developed. It would promote a uniform approach by all bodies, public and private, relating to youth development. Finally it would promote youth interests, and especially target young people with disabilities.

Mr Lungisa noted that the work of the NYDA would aim to redress previous imbalances, create equal opportunities, and promote accessibility, transparency and accountability of youth development programmes. The NYDA served young people between 14 and 35 years of age. Most beneficiaries would be from low income households, but there would be no racial bias. The Agency’s programmes would be structured according to key priorities, but others could be supported on a merit basis. The NYDA would adopt and apply effective practice standards when investing in youth development projects. These would include clear and measurable goals, effective management, youth transformation, measurable impact and partnerships.

The Act that established the NYDA had captured the key performance areas that he had outlined. The youth were to be mainstreamed into economic activities, and assisted with them. There were a number of programmes in partnership with the Department of Education (DOE). The National Youth Service (NYS) had two aims. Young people who had failed their matric could be enrolled into the army, where there would be training facilities. The NYDA would be building levels of understanding, so that the youth could speak with one voice and participate in community activities. The communications function was aimed at giving access to information, to let the youth know about opportunities being created by Government. Lobbying, advocacy, research and information would identify target groups and opportunities.

Mr Lungisa noted that the NYDA intended to create 59 800 jobs, especially targeting women and young people with disabilities. 35 000 Grade 8 - 12 learners would participate in entrepreneurship programmes nationally, and over 500 000 young people would be helped to make more informed choices about careers. 120 000 youth would be serving communities while gaining skills. 1 000 business mentors had been recruited to provide free mentoring services, 15 000 volunteers were recruited for the World Cup and there were 99 community projects.

The NYDA aimed to have 298 information dissemination and access points in all municipalities, whether full service or points, or mobile units. Marketing would be done in  wide variety of ways, including radio, website, television programmes and brochures. The budget requested was R930 million  but the recession may well affect this.

Discussion

Ms G Tseke (ANC) referred to the youth desks in municipalities and stated that there were no existing programmes to utilise these desks. She thought that at least three quarters of the World Cup Volunteers must be drawn from the youth.

Ms Teboho Sejane, Business Strategist, NYDA,said that the youth desks were critical to service delivery at a local level. The NYDA would work in partnership with them, elaborating on a plan that the National Youth Commission and Umsobomvu had used.

Ms Malgas referred to the NYDA's oversight role and asked how this would work, and who was intended to oversee the National Assembly.

Ms Sejane responded that the NYDA had had a long discussion on the issue of oversight, because the Act required it to regulate organs of State and businesses. One of its targets for the current financial year was to come up with a recommendation to the President on how the Department would play that role.

Ms Robinson felt that if there could be encouragement in education given to the youth, then a lot of its other projects would not be necessary.

Ms Nxasana referred to the budget, asking if this was already set aside.

Ms Sejane reminded the Members that the NYDA was formed from the merger of the NYC and Umsobomvu, each of which had their own budgets, totaling R438 million. Because this was a new organisation with new needs she was hopeful that the requested amount would be allowed.

Ms Duncan commented on the heading for “Nature of Business” and recommended that the NYDA add “promoting youth education”.

The Chairperson suggested that the NYDA create a marketing strategy so that the youth were aware of them. She further recommends that it include combating corruption in its strategic plan.

Ms Sejane said that the Chairperson of the NYDA was meeting with the communications team on a weekly basis to ensure that the NYDA step up on its marketing, so that young people throughout the country could access its services. Although the Strategic Plan had made references to crime prevention, she agreed that an emphasis on corruption prevention would be appropriate.

 Ms Rwexana requested clarity on whether the Portfolio Committee had  oversight over the NYDA. She further raised her concern about the budget.

Mr Lungisa confirmed that the Act made it clear that the NYDA must report to the Portfolio Committee. The NYDA was located in the Presidency, and not the new Ministry, because NYDA would have to advise other ministries on youth issues, therefore had to be located in the highest office of the Presidency. In Britain youth issues were not specifically advocated, because they were already part of the system, but the same did not yet apply in South Africa.

Five year legacy report
The Committee Secretary presented an overview of the Legacy Report of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) for the Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women in South Africa from 2004 to 2008. The functions of this Committee had been to monitor and evaluate progress with regard to the quality of life and the status of women in South Africa, with specific reference to Government’s commitment to eliminate discrimination against women. That Committee could make recommendations to both houses. The Committee had oversight over the Government departments. Over the five-year period, the Committee had held 74 meetings. It had not dealt with any legislation, because it was a monitoring committee. No study tours were taken during that time. The Committee faced some challenges, particularly around attendance at Friday meetings and obtaining a quorum.

The Secretary of the Portfolio Committee then presented an overview of the Legacy Report of the Joint Monitoring Committee for the improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Children, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, from 2004 to 2008. This Committee had to oversee and monitor the
Office on the Status of Disabled Persons, the Office on the Rights of the Child, the National Youth Commission, Umsobomvu Youth fund, and the Office on the Status of Disabled Persons. The Committee had 72 meetings. This Committee also did not deal with any legislation, because it was a monitoring committee. It undertook a study tour to Geneva to study the Inter parliamentary union. Once again, because meetings were set for Fridays, there was difficulty in obtaining a quorum, as Members had to leave to travel to their constituencies. Outstanding issues were the need to visit other provinces, the need to complete the public hearings on accessibility to transport by persons with disabilities, a summit on structures for children, youth and persons with disabilities, engagement with civil society regarding matters of children, youth and persons with disabilities, a briefing by the Office on the Tights of the Child, a briefing by the Department of Public Services, the Annual Report briefing by Umsobomvu Youth Fund and the hosting of a disability indaba.

Ms Abrahams summarised the shortcomings of these two committees. The JMC for Children, Youth and Persons with Disabilities had not abided by its strategic plan and had neglected some of the target groups. The work that the Members did in other Committees was never brought back for discussion at this Committee. There was very little time for conferral, which was a lost opportunity. The balance between oversight and legislation was neglected, because of lack of adherence to the Strategic Plan and public participation never happened because there was lack of planning.

Discussion
Ms Malgas asked whether these Committees would come to life again. She proposed that this Committee should incorporate outstanding issues into its own Strategic Plan.

The Chairperson replied that these Committees would not be reestablished again, and agreed with the need to address outstanding issues.

Group discussion on the Committee's mandate

Ms Malgas referred to the name of the Committee and requested that this change to reflect “persons with disabilities”

Ms Robinson stated that since there was no allocation of finance as yet, this made it difficult to achieve much and suggested that there was a need to work closely with other Departments. It was important to be involved in the budget process in order to oversee that there were budget allocations for target groups.

Ms Crystal Levendal, Committee Researcher, suggested that Members must look at the Department's goals and objectives for each target group, and create its own plans as to what it should achieve, and how this was to be done. This Department should not take over the functions of other Departments like Social Development. It was the responsibility of the Committee to oversee international obligations.

Ms Abrahams added that a Committee had certain matters to attend to, which could be used as a starting point for the mandate. The Committee had to look at the Department’s Annual Reports and budgets, and there was a need to engage in the State of the Nation Address and budget speech. There were three international treaties that the Department must ensure were being  followed through across different departments. The priorities must align with Government priorities. There was a need to decide which legislation to focus on.

Ms Malgas suggested that the Committee work around that report prepared by the researchers, because it spoke to all the obligations of the Committee.

Ms Rwexana raised her concern that this Committee was doing the same as the JMCs, saying that it differed in its oversight function.

The Chairperson said that because the JMCs were no longer in existence, this Committee could pick up matters that remained outstanding.

Ms Rwexana said that the Ministry was created because the JMCs could not deal with the women's issues. She believed that there was now a new mandate, and that Members must look to the reasons why the new Ministry and Department were created, as a starting point for the Committee’s mandate.

Ms Robinson took Ms Rwexana’s point, but noted that the work still needed to be done because the JMC had not achieved what it had intended, but agreed that the creation of the new structures empowered this Committee to continue and succeed in the same line of work as the JMC.

The Chairperson understood why the JMC had had so many difficulties, but there was a Ministry in respect of this Committee’s work.

Ms Abrahams suggested that the Committee’s mandate specify how it differed from the JMC, and also specify the legislative power, oversight, public participation and treaties.

Members then held a group discussion on the specifics and the wording of the Committee’s objectives, activities and responsibilities to appear in the mandate.

Committee Programme

Members discussed the Committee programme for the following term, and assigned activities, which included poverty, prostitution, youth, women, children, gender equality and issues concerning disability. They also aligned themes and activities to amendments that were made.

Members decided that they would give priority to the Domestic Violence Act, the Child Support Grant Act, the Children's Act, the National Youth Development Agency Act, and the Traditional Courts Bill.

In respect of public participation, Members agreed that there should be a platform for civil society to communicate its thoughts, needs and suggestions to Government, since Government should ideally incorporate civil society input into its programme implementation. The Members also agreed that there should be some form of measuring the impact of legislation on the public.

Members wished to move on to the international treaties, but were hampered by the fact that they had not yet been through those treaties.

Ms Abrahams informed the Members about the treaties for which the Portfolio Committee was responsible. She made reference to the Convention eliminating discrimination against women (CEDAW), noting that the Department had submitted a report and was awaiting feedback. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) treaty on protocol and gender development had been signed by South Africa last year. The United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) required that South Africa, as a signatory, give country reports, and the second and third reports, although written, had not yet been submitted. The previous report was submitted in 2000. The African Charter on the Rights of the Child was a regional treaty for which South Africa had yet to submit a report. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability also required a report from South Africa, the first one being due in 2010, but there was still the need to decide how to enforce this in local government and what legislation would be necessary. South Africa was also a signatory to the African Youth Charter.

Ms Malgas suggested that the Committee Secretary write a letter to the Presidency, asking for the outstanding reports, in order that the Committee review them.

Members then asked the researchers to do research and make suggestions as to what study tours would be appropriate for the Committee.

The meeting was adjourned.
  

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