The Department for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities was recently established to replace the National Office on the Status of Women, the National Office on the Status of Disabled Persons and the Office on the Rights of the Child. The Department’s mandate excluded matters concerning the youth, which remained with the Office of the President.
The Members of the Committee asked questions about the timeframes for the implementation of the strategic plans, the completion of the commitments of the entities absorbed into the new Department, the alignment of the Department’s aims with existing legislation, the oversight over the new Department, the structures at the Provincial and Local Government levels, the capacity of the new Department and how it would function. Members requested information on the draft budget, the quota for the employment of disabled persons, the programmes to address the problem of children living on the streets and the programmes for mentally disabled persons.
The Committee discussed the media campaign to publicise the public hearings on the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act. The minutes of previous meetings and the Committee Programme for the remainder of the year were adopted.
Briefing by the Department of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities (DWCPD)
Dr Ellen Kornegay, Political Adviser to the Minister, briefed the Committee on the vision, values, mission, structure and strategic objectives for 2009-2014 of the Department (see attached document). The DWCPD was a new Ministry, established on 10 May, 2009 and was created to drive Government’s equity, equality and empowerment agenda on women, children and persons with disabilities, particularly in disadvantaged communities.
The Ministry replaced the original multi-agency national organisations for women, children and persons with disabilities, including the National Office on the Status of Women (NOSW), the National Office on the Status of Disabled Persons (NOSDP) and the Office on the Rights of the Child (ORC). Several factors made it difficult for these entities to deliver on their mandates, in particular, inadequate financial and human resources and the low rank of the officials responsible for driving programmes.
The vision of the DWCPD was of an inclusive, non-sexist, discrimination-free, equitable and gender equality oriented society that protected and developed the human potential of its children. The Department planned to institute a number of programmes to stimulate implementation of the rights of these groups. The mandate of the DWCPD was facilitation, coordination, oversight, research and comprehensive reporting. Approximately 80% of the Department’s work would be externally driven.
Dr Kornegay presented a breakdown of the mission, values and principles guiding the DWCPD. The Department aimed to ensure that Government as a whole integrated gender, children and disability considerations when implementing the national strategic objectives. The strategic objectives for the period 2009- 2014 included compliance with national, regional and international instruments to advance equality and access to development opportunities for women, children and persons with disabilities; to mainstream these groups’ considerations in governance and initiatives; to oversee national programmes and report comprehensively at national, regional and continental levels; to facilitate national planning for these groups and to lead South Africa’s international initiatives on these groups at regional, continental and international levels. A breakdown of the organisational structure of the Department was provided. The Department had a Provincial and Local Government responsibility. The DWCPD will remain in the Office of the President until the process of the transfer of these functions as well as the authority of the DWCPD had been clarified and proclaimed.
There was a general discussion around the exclusion of the youth in the DWCPD. The Department explained that the youth was now excluded from the new Ministry as it fell under the Office of the President. However, the Portfolio Committee would still be named the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth, Children and Persons with Disabilities and would have a mandate to oversee matters concerning the youth as well.
The Chairperson commented that the Department had produced a very clear plan which should work, provided that it was implemented properly.
Ms Peace Mabe (ANC), Chairperson of the Select Committee on Women, Children and People with Disabilities, agreed that it was important that the plan was implemented well. She noted that the presentation did not include timeframes for each of the plans.
Dr Kornegay agreed that timeframes were important and said the strategic framework would be translated into an operational plan and the timeframes would be established. This was likely to happen within a week.
Ms D Robinson (DA) asked for clarity on the quota for persons with disabilities in Government Departments. Currently, the quota was set at two percent, but she wanted clarification on whether this figure was the target for every Department or an overall figure. She also asked how the Department planned to eradicate the problem of street people, as was mentioned in the presentation.
Dr Kornegay explained that the Department planned to address the problem of street children only. Adults living on the streets were a wider problem, which fell under the auspices of many Government Departments, for example, the Department of Housing. The Department intended to reduce the number of children living on the streets by 75%. She advised that the quota for persons with disabilities was two percent for Government as a whole as well as two percent for every Government Department.
Ms HH Malgas (ANC) asked for an explanation of how the oversight responsibility would be carried out. She asked how previous commitments from the NOSW, NOSDP and ORC would be fulfilled by the new Department and what progress had been made to date.
Dr Kornegay replied that the Minister would provide oversight of all other Ministries at Cabinet level or via other forums. An important aspect of oversight was to take women, children and persons with disabilities into consideration when considering the critical priorities of Government and the key projects arising from the national priorities. Monitoring and evaluation would be a priority as well. The Department remained committed to the programmes initiated by the previous entities and the programmes would be integrated into the new Department.
Ms Robinson asked what the Department was doing about parents who used their children to beg.
Dr Kornegay answered that parents were part of the process of rehabilitating street children.
Ms SP Rwexana (COPE) requested more clarity on what the Department was doing at the Local Government level and if there would be a full component structure at the Provincial Government level. She asked for a brief explanation of the budget.
Dr Kornegay replied that posts had not yet been filled and that the structure of the Department was subject to approval. Each branch would have three Chief Directorates, i.e. monitoring and evaluation, research and development and policy and planning implementation. Each branch would develop frameworks, identify gaps, develop programmes and conduct research. It was important for monitoring and evaluation to be done in each branch to ensure that the goals were achieved. There would be Provincial offices. All branches would be constituted in the same way, but the inter-sectoral collaboration would be constructed differently as ongoing coordination was important.
Copies of the draft budget were handed out to the Committee. The total budget for the period 2010 to 2013 was set at R1.174 billion. The funds provided were required to establish the Department from scratch, including infrastructure and human resource costs. The proposed budget for the women’s branch was R40 million p.a. for 2010 and 2011, increasing to R55 million in 2012. The proposed budget for the children’s branch was R32 million p.a. for the same period, increasing to R42 million in the third year. The budget for the persons with disabilities branch was R25 million p.a. for the first two years, increasing to R42 million in the third year.
Ms DM Ramodibe (ANC) enquired whether the Department had sufficient capacity.
Dr Kornegay agreed that capacity was an important issue for the Department. The structure of the Department was summarised in the presentation and would be headed by the Director General. The Office of the Minister would be responsible for oversight. The Minister would be given the requisite staffing to be able to fulfill this extended function. The Ministry had a significant number of international obligations and capacity to deal with this aspect had been put in place. The new department would have more capacity than the previous structure.
Ms AD Qikani (ANC) asked what would be done regarding mentally disabled persons.
Dr Kornegay noted the point made by Ms Qikani and agreed that the Department needed to look into ways to take care of the mentally disabled.
Ms Malgas asked for the timeframes when the Department could be expected to be operational.
Dr Kornegay replied that timeframes for the structure had been submitted. A meeting had been scheduled for the following week to discuss the structure. The plan would be submitted to the National Treasury on Monday, 19th October 2009, after which guidance on the budget would be available.
Ms Malgas asked for a breakdown of the budget provision for the branches of the Department. She asked what the ratio was for the human resource costs and the total budget. She wanted to know if the Public Services Bill would be gender-sensitive and how the new policy applied to existing legislation. She asked how the national policy framework on gender, children and disabled persons would be applied. She asked how each Department would apply the cluster approach to conduct research. She asked if the Department was able to identify the practicalities involved and determine a timeframe for the implementation of the policy.
Dr Kornegay replied that the Department had to determine the timeframes before it could establish a breakdown of the total amount provided for in the budget. The response of the National Treasury was required before this can be done. The proportion of expenditure on human resources was investigated and appeared to be a ratio of 80/20. Legislation that was inconsistent with the new policy directive would be amended. The national policy framework would remain applicable but a task team had been established to review it.
The Chairperson said that the Committee wanted to see tangible programmes and suggested that a balanced scorecard was put in place for the next report-back meeting with the Committee.
Ms S Rwexana (COPE) was concerned that the staffing component of the Department’s budget was too big and that most of the budget would be consumed by salaries. The purpose of the Ministry was to make a difference in the lives of ordinary women and she questioned whether this could be achieved with such a small budget.
Dr Kornegay answered that the budget for administrative expenditure appeared to be excessive but most of the costs were incurred once only, for example, the cost of premises and office furniture. The draft budget did not include certain programmes, such as the programmes that would be funded out of the Minister’s budget. Each branch had to prepare a detailed submission on the programmes that would be initiated, which would be made available by the Department.
Ms Mabe asked who was responsible for providing baseline figures and indicators.
Dr Kornegay answered that the Chief Director: Monitoring and Evaluation was the responsible official. Unfortunately, the Department was not aware that the Committee required a briefing on the annual report for the financial year 2008/09 at the meeting or it would have prepared a presentation to the Committee. The Committee was briefed on the progress made by the NOSDP, NOSW and ORC at an earlier meeting. At that meeting, it was decided that an annual report of the work done prior to the establishment of the Department would be presented at a future date and it was suggested that the Office of the President was involved in the presentation.
Media campaign for the public hearings on the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act
The media campaign aimed to inform the public of the public hearings to be held on this matter. Dedicated Parliamentary advertising slots would be used to publicise the hearings. A local radio campaign would be run. The radio campaign needed to be in all eleven official languages and Members were asked to volunteer as spokespersons. Sign language to be included on all television slots. Briefing packs would be made available to spokespersons. It was suggested that the briefings included possible replies to questions on the legal resources made available to victims of domestic violence and the procedure to be followed in police stations and courts in cases of domestic violence. It was suggested that Members wrote opinion pieces on the findings of the public hearings as part of the campaign. The Members agreed to the suggestion.
Other Committee Business
The Chairperson tabled outstanding minutes of previous meetings. The minutes of 5th, 19th and 26th August 2009 and 2nd, 9th and 16th September 2009 were adopted. The Committee considered and adopted the Committee Programme for the remainder of the year, without any amendments.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Women’s Ministry MTEF Submission
- Media Publicity Campaign: Public Hearings on Implementation of the Domestic Violence Act
- Framework for a Proposal Summary
- Presentation by the Department of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities
- Constituting Strategy Framework of the Department for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, September 2009
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