The Minister of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities gave a brief introductory statement about the establishment of the Department and its intention to build on the work done by the previous Cluster in the Presidency. She outlined that the initial budget proposed for establishment of the Department had been R1 billion, but that National Treasury had then indicated, after discussion, that a budget of R461 million would be granted. However, the allocations now reflected the amount of R156 million. The Department was also to be responsible for the Commission for Gender Equality, whose figure was not included.
The Department outlined its mandate, vision and operational framework, and set out how the Department had intended to structure itself. The national and international imperatives were outlined. The five-year plan tied in with the national priorities of Government, and the Department wanted to engage all stakeholders in the three sectors to meet and agree on targets and outcomes for the sector, and would work with other departments to identify gaps. The achievements included ratification of key continental and international agreements. The Department wished to strengthen family life in the country and integrated the Offices on the Status of Women, the Rights of the Child and the Rights of Disabled Persons into its work. The proposed staff structure consisted of 195 people. The Department noted that it would not be able to achieve its plans without further resources.
Members noted that none of the programmes and plans mentioned were linked to budgets, and no budget had been placed before the Committee. Members asked how the allocations had been made. Members felt that they could not engage with the Strategic Plan in the absence of the budget, and that the budget for R461 million would not help the process, as it was not the figure allocated. Instead, the Department must go back and draw a budget based upon the R156 million granted. Members said that they would have to know how the Department was going to prioritise and whether it could meet its mandate with the budget allocated. It was noted that the Minister had written to the Minister of Finance. The Committee resolved that it could not accept the Strategic Plan in the absence of a budget, and that the Department should now draw up a budget. The Committee also resolved to meet with the Minister of Finance first, and the Department should be present, and might also need to meet with the Minister of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, or the Presidency.
Department of Women, Children and Persons with Disability (dwcpd): Strategic Plan 2010
Hon Nolunthando Mayende-Sibiya,Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, noted that the new Department of Women, Children and Persons with Disability (dwcpd or the Department) was now in the process of establishing itself as a Department, as opposed to the previous functions under the Presidency. The Ministry took its direction from the mandate of the ANC conference in Polokwane, and the President’s State of the Nation Address. The mandate, and therefore the expectations of the public, varied across the three areas covered, from protection of rights of children, to empowering women and responding to the needs of those with disabilities. The Ministry, in order to respond to one of the challenges, would be hosting an indaba, on Human Rights Day, 22 March, about the killing of women and children. The Indaba hoped to come up with a national plan to prevent the killing of women and children for their body parts.
The broader mandate of the Department was to facilitate compliance with the various national, regional and international treaties and institution. It also included the mainstreaming of the rights of the three groups represented. Strong leadership was required in order to include women, children and people with disability into all structures of society. It involved an ongoing process of oversight. There had to be scrutiny of all programmes to ensure that their alignment with the national norms for the sector were monitored and evaluated. The national gender machinery, the Children’s Rights Advisory Council and the National Disability Forum became the first primary platforms to build these national norms and standards.
In terms of existing structures the Minister wanted to highlight the Office on the Status of Women (OSW), the Office on the Rights of Children (ORC) and the Office on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (ORPD) They worked closely with departments in all spheres of government. The Minister stressed that it was necessary that the mandates of these organisations be linked to that of her Department.
The Minister also added that her Department had developed a comprehensive budget which was submitted to National Treasury. This included funds to set up the Department, and physical acquisitions, and totalled R1 billion. However, National Treasury had only allocated R150 million. The Ministry and National Treasury had then held discussions, when a budget of R461 million was settled, for the Department only, but National Treasury had subsequently advised that only R156 million could be paid. She stressed that her Department had already had to scale down significantly from the R1 billion requested, to R461 million, and were now being expected to work with just R156 million. A significant portion of the budget was needed for the Commission for Gender Equality, whose functions had been moved to this Department.
Ms Mabel Rantla, Chief Director: dwcpd, outlined the core functions of the department as being the promotion and protection of the rights of women, children and persons with disability (wcpd), coordinating and facilitating of collaboration of the three spheres of government to ensure a mainstreaming of gender, disability and children’s rights, and setting standards for political and socio-economic transformation needed to achieve incremental empowerment in these three areas.
This would be done within the broader mandate of the Ministry. The Department and Ministry had to facilitate compliance and oversee South Africa’s delivery against the Constitutional imperatives, electoral mandate, and continental and international agreements. The vision was to establish a non sexist, non discriminatory society based on equity and values of inclusivity.
Ms Rantla added that South Africa had various objectives to lead internationally in the field of women, children and people with disability. The strategic objectives of the Ministry included facilitating compliance with all agreements that were intended to give access to empowerment for women, children and people with disability, and to mainstream wcpd considerations in key governance systems. The Department also wanted to exercise oversight on the national framework.
The Department had a broad five year plan that tied in to the national priorities of National Government. The Department also wanted to engage all stakeholders in the three sectors to meet and agree on targets and outcomes for the sector. It would work with other departments to see where there were gaps in the empowerment of people within the sectors of women, children and persons with disabilities.
Ms Rantla outlined the achievement of her Department thus far. This included South Africa’s ratification of key continental and international instruments relating to gender equality, children and people with disabilities. Furthermore, the Department had identified other areas that needed to be strengthened. It wanted to strengthen family life in the country and also align the understanding across all spheres of Government on the mandate of the dwcpd. In the provinces, there were still offices of the OSW, ORC, OSPD operating and the Department would need to work on integrating these into the national five-year plan.
Ms Rantla then set out some considerations for the future. These included the integration of considerations around gender equality, children’s rights and disabilities in the key activities of government, the facilitation of sectoral agreements on the three-year plan, and sector specific knowledge management to ensure continuous performance management.
The Department had a human resources and physical and financial acquisition plan in place. The Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) agreed with the human resources structure plan, and there was an interim personnel team. The Department wished to acquire operating premises and the related electronic and office systems, in order to function. The Department had structured the proposed staff structure to include all three sectors, and this comprised 195 people. The Department of Justice had also transferred responsibility for the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) to dwcpd.
The Department went through a rigorous budgeting process. It had motivated for physical establishment of a new department, implementing the mandate of the Department over three years, the need for critical capacity, and personnel compensation. The last figure the Department agreed on with National Treasury was R461 million, after scaling down from R1 billion, but the final allocation was R156 million, which was not enough. The dwcpd was still communicating with National Treasury to renegotiate this figure. Ms Rantla added that it was rather ironic that Treasury decided to give the Department such a small amount as South Africa’s gender programme and its resource allocation was seen as one of the best in the world. The Department had also been invited to lead on the Commonwealth Gender Responsive Budgeting meeting. The Chief Director wanted to emphasise that there was a need for her Department and National Treasury to work together on this.
Ms Rantla stated that the dwcpd was accountable to the people of South Africa, the government and all other stakeholders.
The Chairperson thanked Ms Rantla and wanted to know why none of the programmes and plans mentioned were linked to budgets. There was no budget allocation and no financial part to this presentation. She wanted the delegation to explain how it was intending to spend the money and the figures for items such as rent, transport and salaries.
Ms H Malgas (ANC) also wanted to know why, in the Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) Framework, the final allocation of R156 million was over three years, and asked where this figure came from, and where the funding was sourced, pointing out that a projection of this over three years would amount to over R400 million.
Ms Rantla confirmed that there were budget figures, but these were based upon the budget request of R461 million. The amount of R156 million was received from National Treasury. The Department had two options – either to scale down even more, or to revisit the process, and attempt to persuade National Treasury to review the budget. It had been agreed by the Minister that the process should be revisited, which was why the budget for the R461 million was not attached to this presentation.
Minister Mayende-Sibiya assured the Committee that the budget that was presently drawn would be made available to the Committee and she reiterated that this was already a scaled-down version. She had also indicated that she had written to the Minister of Finance to try and resolve the issue.
The Chairperson again tried to convey to the delegation what the Committee needed. She added that the Committee could not accept this. If the Department did not have a plan, it would not be able to spend the money effectively and may end up only paying salaries, without having money for programme implementation.
Ms P Lebenya (IFP) wanted to know if the Committee could receive a copy of the budget now to interact with it.
Ms G Tseke (ANC) indicated that the mandate of the Department seemed to be the same as that of the OSD.
Ms Tseke said that she felt the catalyst project was monitoring, not implementation, and she suggested that maybe if National Treasury saw more implementation it would allocate more funding. She said the dwcpd needed to fund activities such as the fund for empowerment of women.
Ms D Ramodibe (ANC) wondered how, having budgeted so much and then having to scale down so much, s the Department was going to prioritise and still achieve on its mandate.
The Chairperson asked that other questions be held aside for the moment as she wanted to address the question of the budgets first.
Ms H Malgas (ANC) noted that although the Strategic Plan for five years had been received, there was no breakdown of what that strategic plan would cost. The Committee must have this breakdown to check what would happen to the money.
Ms D Robinson (DA) wanted to see where the money for the empowerment fund was going to come from.
Ms A Mda (COPE) proposed that the Committee leave the budget discussions for now, but rather discuss some of the content issues.
The Chairperson indicated that she was not happy to proceed without discussing the budget first.
Mr Q Delwa, Director, dwcpd, reported that the budget was being printed out at the moment, and would be made available. He added that this was the budget of R461 million, formerly agreed upon by the National Treasury and the Department.
Ms P Lebenya (ANC) pointed out that this would not help the discussions, because it did not relate to the R156 million that the Department had received.
The Chairperson again reiterated her view that the Committee could not proceed without a discussion of the actual budget and costs. Programmes must be linked to budgets. The Department must make National Treasury understand that it could not meet its mandate with this budget. She was not pleased that the Department was given so little money.
The Minister appreciated the discussion and noted that her Ministry was established to address issues of equity, and had developed a programme that did that, but the funds did not match.
The Minister continued that this budget would not capacitate the Department to fulfil its role. It did not seem that government’s core business revolved around issues of women, children and the disabled, but she had negotiated with the Minister of Finance in good spirit. She had conceded that the Department would try to work with a small budget, but stressed that this would then have to be regarded as excluding funding the Commission for Gender Equality.
Ms Malgas wanted to bring to the attention of the Committee and the Ministry that the R156 million was voted on and it was legally linked to the Department. The R156 million was the amount presented, and therefore it was this figure that had to be made to work. The Department must comply with the Public Finance Management Act and National Treasury regulations. The processes had to go on.
Ms A Mda (COPE) noted that the Finance Minister also had to account to a Committee and he had a mandate. She suggested that this Committee should engage with the Portfolio Committee on Finance, and stress that the substantial drop in the mandate hampered the establishment and operation of the Department. She also added that the Minister should not seek to make apologies to the Committee but should state that National Treasury was not supporting her Ministry. She said that this was how chauvinism came about.
Ms N Madlala (ANC) wanted to know why the Commission for Gender Equality did not fall under the Department of Justice any more. She also asked why women, children and the disabled were not invited to give their input into the budget process.
Ms I Ditshetelo (UCDP) made it clear that the Committee was not happy with the situation, wondered why the functions were even taken out of the Office of the Presidency and were not placed in possession of enough information to account to their constituencies.
The Chairperson reiterated the point made by Ms Mda, and said that the Committee did not need to go begging; the Ministry was established, and therefore needed function. The National Planning Commission and performance and monitoring proposals from other departments reached National Treasury after those from dwcpd, and they had received their allocations.
The Chairperson suggested that the Department must now rework its budget to fit to the R156million.
She suggested that the Committee should set up a meeting with the President to ask him and the Minister of Finance to allow the Committee to raise the issues with them.
Ms Robinson added that the Committee should look at what the allocation for the youth was.
Ms Robinson wanted some more information about the national indaba, who would be invited and why the Committee had not been invited.
The Minister replied that the national indaba was for all stakeholders and the Committee should participate.
Ms Robinson suggested that the Committee should then be informed of this.
The Chairperson asked the Minister if the dwcpd would be hosting this event, with the small budget.
The Minister responded that the Presidency was currently paying for the operational cost.
Members agreed that the Committee must firstly meet with the Minister of Finance, and the Department should be present at this meeting.
The Chairperson said that in a conversation with the Deputy Minister of Finance he had assured her that this Department got the amount that was requested.
Ms Mda suggested amending the proposal just taken, as she wondered if instead the Committee should write to the Planning Commission, so that when performance agreements were signed, these issues should be taken into account.
Ms Mda asked where the operational funds were coming from at present.
Ms Menani, Advisor to the Minister added that the dwcpd may not have money to cover key elements of its mandate.
Ms Menani noted that last year it had been proclaimed that the dwcpd would henceforth take responsibility for the Commission for Gender Equality. That allocation was not included in the initial negotiations.
Ms Robinson noted that the Commission for Gender Equality must also appear before the Committee to account.
The Committee resolved that it did not accept the Strategic Plan and budget of the Department. It would allow the Department the opportunity to align the programmes with a budget. It would also meet with the Minister of Finance, then the Minister for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, and, if all else failed, would approach the President.
The meeting was adjourned.
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