The Committee wanted to provide specific oversight over the Commission for Gender Equality’s provincial offices so after a general introduction by the National Office, the KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape offices gave a breakdown of their key achievements and challenges, their monitoring and evaluation strategies and noting which provincial organisations they were partnering with to achieve their objectives.
The KwaZulu-Natal office noted an increase in incidents of gender based violence and poor communication between complainants and investigations. Magistrates and attorneys often questioned the involvement of the CGE in these cases. There were more cases involving culture and human rights such as lobola being paid for very young girls. Another constraint was that there was a poor response from KZN government departments. As each provincial office had only one vehicle, this resulted in poor continuity in their activities.
The Eastern Cape office reported that gender based violence was the most pressing issue affecting the province, together with poverty. Efforts to address the scourge were done through workshops, dialogues, campaigns and discussions through radio programmes. In terms of culture, religion and tradition, the focus was on ukuthwala, succession, and taking complaints from the public. Programmes were implemented to address the scourge of ukuthwala. Traditional practices continued to infringe on other people’s rights, such as ukuthwala, virginity testing, initiation and circumcision. CGE reported a lack of response or cooperation by certain government departments as a challenge. The work of the CGE was made difficult when prominent members of society continued to make statements that opposed the Constitution on gender equality and discriminated against women in succeeding as traditional leaders. This was evident from the Bathekile Holomisa/Xhanti Sigcawu statement on the Sigcawu traditional leadership dispute.
The Committee was told about the CGE Turn Around Strategy in order to stop the audit disclaimer it had received because of its shortcomings in the areas of control environment, control activities, risk management, information and communication, and monitoring. Project Clean CGE Audit endeavoured to achieve a clean audit within two years.
In the discussion, the CGE was asked to send its monthly progress reports on the Turn Around Strategy to the Select Committee as well as the Portfolio Committee on Women. It was agreed that the next meeting should be a joint meeting with the Portfolio Committee and in that meeting, before dealing with the provinces and programmes, they would deal with the challenges that were still pending in the institution.
The CGE said that it was excited that the NCOP had requested a briefing from the provinces, and particularly would welcome visits to the provinces, as stakeholders would go back to influence their provincial legislatures that had oversight of the departments. In terms of rural women’s access to service delivery, the Commission was struggling with departments own accountability to stakeholders within the province.
More importantly, the NCOP Committee Members could return to their provinces and champion the gender equality issues that each provincial office had identified as challenges. When briefing the provincial legislatures and colleagues from the provinces, the NCOP Committee Members were encouraged to invite CGE to join the provincial committees in their briefing sessions. The Select Committee was a partner in the provinces in addressing entrenched attitudes towards practices that had such a negative impact on women and children in provinces.
Commission on Gender Equality briefing
The Chairperson, in her welcome to the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) delegation, said that the Committee was aware that CGE had already presented before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities. She hoped this presentation was not duplication.
The delegation consisted of Mr Mtanazelwe Shozi (Acting Chairperson, CGE), Commissioner Mathosazana Nxumalo (Provincial Coordinator, KZN), Mr Nceba Mrwebo (Provincial Coordinator, Eastern Cape), Commissioner Yvette Abrahams (Western Cape), Commissioner Janine Hicks (KZN and Mpumalanga), Commissioner Ndeleka Loyilane (Eastern Cape), Adv Kamraj Anirudhra (Parliamentary Officer), Ms Mashudu Nefhere (Provincial Researcher, Western Cape), Ms Winnie Mofokeng (Researcher, Eastern Cape), and Ms Daphne du Pont (National Coordinator for Provinces, Head Office).
The Chairperson said this was a very important meeting in terms of the oversight role of the Committee, which also performed oversight over provincial offices. Nationally the CGE had met with the Portfolio Committee and certain obligations were placed on the CGE. The Select Committee had been briefed on those obligations and it was expected that the presentation would deal with those obligations and the progress to date in terms of changing the situation.
Mr Mtanazelwe Shozi (CGE Acting Chairperson) said the presentation would look at the key achievements for 2009/10, the challenges and constraints, and how the CGE partnered with local government, its monitoring and evaluation within the provinces, and its turnaround strategy. The mandate stated that the CGE was created in terms of Section 187 of the Constitution of South Africa, but that was in terms of the 1993 Constitution, so it was critical that it be amended to be in line with the 1996 Constitution. The Commission was engaging with the two Committees to review the CGE Act. Its vision was a society free from all forms of gender oppression and inequality; and its mandate was to promote respect for, as well as promote the protection, development and attainment of gender equality.
Ms Daphne du Pont (National Coordinator for Provinces, Head Office) explained that in terms of monitoring, investigation and research, there were six thematic areas, being gender and poverty; gender based violence; gender, democracy and good governance; gender, culture, religion and traditional practices; gender, HIV and AIDS; and the national gender machinery (NGM). Specific activities flowed from the three departments: Research, Legal Services, and Public Education and Information.
Goals and objectives:
• In partnership with various stakeholders, to monitor the standard of living and quality of life of South African women, including female-headed households, using access to land, water, sanitation, and transport infrastructure as key points. CGE monitored, researched and educated around government strategies and programmes, particularly at local levels, specifically aimed at poverty eradication. CGE also made annual submissions with recommendations to Parliament and key departments in this regard.
• To ensure that the national legislative and policy frameworks complied with all international gender-based violence instruments/protocols to which the South African government was signatory. CGE monitored the enforcement of legislation seeking to address gender based violence and improvement of effectiveness of service delivery. It undertook community awareness interventions and received and acted upon complaints.
• To ensure that all legislation was assessed from a gender equality perspective, and using a Gender Barometer, track implementation of gender equality legislation and policy framework by government; to engage with judiciary, private sector, political parties and media to promote gender equality and women’s representation in those sectors; and to monitor implementation of the 50/50 campaign and assess women’s participation in elections.
• CGE evaluated the role which South African cultures, religions and traditions played in contributing towards gender inequality, and worked towards rectifying those inequalities, and put mechanisms in place for ongoing monitoring of gender transformation.
• The CGE monitored and made recommendations on the gendered responsive nature of government’s existing HIV/AIDS legislation and programmes in terms of prevention, care, treatment and support.
• The Commission sought to monitor the implementation, development and efficacy of the NGM at all levels, and ensure the adequate implementation of international and regional conventions ratified by South Africa, impacting on gender equality and women’s status. CGE undertook monitoring and research interventions to assess South Africa’s implementation of Beijing Declaration and Platform forAction, CEDAW and Millennium Development Goals obligations, sharing findings with South African and UN stakeholders, and advising Parliament of shortcomings and recommendations.
Programme of Action highlights for 2010/11 would be:
• The monitoring of government progress on Millennium Development Goals; CGE was working on legal opinions in terms of gender and energy, and a project was underway for a maternity benefits campaign.
• In terms of gender-based violence, CGE had a human trafficking Red Card campaign with the National Prosecuting Authority and FIFA, raising awareness with a specific focus on the 2010 World Cup.
• Monitoring of the local government elections; using the gender barometer to mainstream gender in government departments, and gender transformation in the workplace.
• CGE was working on a conference on Culture, Religion and Tradition; and a study on Ukuthwala.
• The Research Department had monitored the National Strategic Plan on HIV and AIDS; and
• CEDAW and Beijing reports had been prepared and presented to the Standing Committee; and a review of SA reservations in terms of African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights of Women in Africa.
Each of the nine provinces had six staff members, a Provincial Coordinator, a Legal Officer, an Education Officer, a Researcher, Provincial Administrator and Office Assistant.
The Commission’s budget allocation for 2010/2011 was R50 383 673, the allocation for goods and services being R15 207 000 and employee compensation R35 176 673.
Commissioner Mathosazana Nxumalo (Provincial Coordinator, KZN) briefed the Committee on the KwaZulu-Natal provincial office. Key achievements for KZN in 2009/10 were:
• The CGE had partnered with the UN Population Fund and had two dialogues on traditional practices in rural areas, looking at issues such as Ukuthwala and male circumcision, and human rights. The Commission also held a workshop with stakeholders such as the South African Law Commission, the KZN Legislature and government departments.
• CGE launched the Chapter 9 Forum, comprised of the Independent Electoral Commission, the South African Human Rights Commission, the Commission for promotion and protection of rights of Cultural, Religious & Linguistic Communities (CRL) Commission and the Office of the Public Protector, which was a forum for collaboration and support. That was very important because CGE only had one regional office in Durban whereas the IEC had offices in each local municipality. This provided support and communication which was so important in the rural areas.
• A complaint was received from the very rural community of Manyiseni, on the border of Swaziland, which was very neglected and the lack of services affected mainly women. For a pregnant woman, about to deliver, the clinic was forty kilometres away, there were no roads and the only mode of transport was by donkey. The same transport was used when a person died, to take the body to the mortuary. Community meetings were held together with government stakeholders. However, they had so many other pressing issues as well that the Commission had assisted the community to draw up a petition, which was with provincial government, and they were awaiting response.
• Monitoring meetings were held with the Durban Roundtable and the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Commerce targeting their human resources to monitor how they had advanced in terms of equality in the workplace and with senior management positions.
• KZN had also contributed to the Beijing and CEDAW reports.
• CGE had received a complaint from a woman who was self employed, and who felt that as a taxpayer she should be able to tap into the same maternity benefits as public servants. Dialogues were held with women’s associations in KZN and the South African Legal Aid Board and a questionnaire was sent out as to how this issue should be addressed.
• Concern was raised about discrimination in public transport due to their display of very revealing pictures that were very demeaning to women. CGE met with the KZN Transport Association but were not satisfied and were strategising on how to take that issue forward.
• KZN CGE, in partnership with government departments and NGOs, including the House of Traditional Leaders, had a human trafficking task team that ascribed to prevention, protection, partnership and prosecution on human trafficking. Brochures were distributed to educate people, especially children, on human trafficking.
• CGE decided to train Victim Empowerment Forum members, especially in the rural areas, on Karridene, Beijing and CEDAW.
• CGE, in partnership with Men’s Forum, held information sessions with men in Sundumbili, Wentworth and Cato Manor on gender based violence.
The KZN office identified its challenges and constraints as being an increase in incidents of gender based violence; poor communication between complainants and investigations; magistrates and attorneys questioning the involvement of the CGE; there were more cases dealing with culture and human rights (lobola being paid for very young girls); poor or non-compliance by departments; lack of resources – each province had only one vehicle for such vast areas, and as a result poor or lack of continuity.
KZN had embarked on mass male circumcision. The concern was about the use of the Tara Klamp by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health in performing circumcisions. The Tara Klamp has been shown to be unsafe for use on adult and adolescent males The CGE had discussions facilitated and run by the Department of Health. They were also concerned about the lack of education and the belief that once the male was circumcised, there was little chance of contracting HIV/AIDS.
KZN partnerships with local organisations in delivery of programmes included Gay Centre, KZN University, NPA, Legal Resources Centre, SASEWA, Gina Barbieri, South African Law Reform Commission, Sisters of Faith in Action (SOFIA), UNFPA and Chapter 9 forum.
Eastern Cape office
Mr Nceba Mrwebo (Provincial Coordinator, Eastern Cape) spoke about the Eastern Cape Province achievements, focusing on the six thematic areas:
• An information session on the Millennium Development Goals was held at Makana Local Municipality, also assessing whether or not the goals were being achieved.
• Inputs were made at the African Peer Review Mechanism workshops organised by the Premier’s Office.
• In collaboration with the Home Affairs Centre for Refugees and Buffalo City Municipality, a dialogue was organised in Duncan Village on the impact of migration and its relevance to increasing levels of poverty.
• Inputs were made on the Imbumba Yamakhosikazi Akomkhulu (IYA) document, which included poverty alleviation and infused gender equality on their programmes, which was intended for rural women. The IYA was an organisation consisting of women who were married to traditional leaders to assist the chieftaincy to play a significant role within the communities.
• A research study was conducted on the Beijing Platform of Action and the Land Study for the National Report.
• Gender based violence seemed to be the most pressing issue affecting the province, together with poverty. Efforts to address the scourge were done through workshops, dialogues, campaigns and discussions through radio programmes.
• Two workshops were conducted on Human Trafficking and sex work, looking at the 2010 World Cup, of which one was held in conjunction with Molo Songololo. The workshops were held in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, including Uitenhage and City Hall Central, because of the severity of the cases involving sex work in the area.
• In partnership with the Eastern Cape Council of Churches and People Against Gender Based Violence, a Men and Boys dialogue was held at Zwelitsha, Buffalo City Municipality, with the focus on initiation. Some cases of rape were reported to be as a result of the belief that after initiation it got rid of bad luck.
• CGE continued to engage traditional leaders on the issue of ukuthwala, which largely included rape and physical abuse.
• CGE Eastern Cape continued to play a supportive role to the Parliamentary Officer by making input on submissions to Parliament. One Parliamentary Officer, based in Cape Town, served all nine provinces. Considering that Provincial Government and Local Government proposed bills and bylaws, it would be ideal if the provinces could have Parliamentary Officers. One Legal Officer per province was not ideal taking into account the three spheres of government and the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders and the levels of gender equality disparities experienced.
• CGE Eastern Cape had made input on four research projects, being the National Election Monitoring 2009, the Land Study Report, and Beijing Platform for Action (shadow report); and analysis of the National Government Strategy on HIV/AIDS using the gender lens.
• In terms of culture, religion and tradition, the focus was on ukuthwala, succession, and taking complaints from the public. CGE, in partnership with the United Nation’s Population Fund
and South African Human Rights Commission, had embarked on a vigorous awareness campaign on Ukuthwala in areas such as Lusikisiki, Tabankulu, and Engcobo. The programmes targeted traditional leaders, Community Development Workers, and advice centres in the former Transkei area, where most incidents were reported.
• Programmes were implemented to address the scourge of ukuthwala and the plight of the girl child. The Department of Social Development was taken to task for lack of protection of the girl child housed at centres.
• On HIV/AIDS, two dialogues were conducted in collaboration with NAPWA on HIV/AIDS at Zwelitsha and Brown Farm. The CGE also participated in workshops and conferences of the Eastern Cape Aids Council.
• The Commission had sound working relations with the Provincial Gender Machinery and participated on other stakeholders’ activities that sought to promote gender equality and the Bill of Rights.
The Eastern Cape office identified its challenges and constraints as:
• The Eastern Cape was a vast area with a population of 6.9 million people, 38 local municipalities, six district municipalities and one metro. The provincial office served the entire province which made it difficult to cover all geographic areas because it was short staffed.
• Traditional practices continued to infringe on other people’s rights, such as ukuthwala, virginity testing, initiation and circumcision.
• Most laws adopted by Parliament were not yet translated into indigenous languages, making it difficult for rural communities to understand their basic rights.
• The lack of response or cooperation by certain government departments.
• Budgetary constraints and resources.
• Certain members of society continued to ignore the basic cornerstone of the Constitution such as equality based on gender. They discriminated against women becoming traditional leaders of their communities. This was evidenced by the Bathekile Holomisa/Xhanti Sigcawu statement on the Sigcawu traditional leadership dispute. The work of the CGE was made difficult when prominent members of society continued to make such statements as opposed to upholding the Constitution.
The Eastern Cape and KZN offices also reported on their monitoring and evaluation strategies.
CGE Turn Around Strategy
Ms du Pont explained that over the past few years the Auditor General had provided predominantly negative audit opinions as a result of shortcomings in: control environment, control activities, risk management, information and communication, and monitoring. She explained the shortcomings in each of these:
• The control environment related to the organisational structure; management and staff authority and responsibility; HR policies; integrity and ethical values not developed or understood; accounting officer not exercising oversight responsibility; and lack of competent staff.
• Control activities included inadequate segregation of duties to prevent fraud and misappropriation; poor controls which compromised the integrity of the information systems; poor authorisation procedures; failure to achieve financial reporting objectives; control activities not selected to mitigate risks; and policies and procedures related to financial reporting not well established.
• Information and communication included unavailability of information to implement internal controls; pertinent information not identified and captured in an appropriate manner and within requisite time frames; and communications not enabling the support and execution of internal controls.
• Monitoring: Ongoing monitoring and supervision was not undertaken; no reviews by internal audit or audit Committee; internal control deficiency not identified and communicated; and corrective actions not taken.
Ms du Pont highlighted the course of action to deal with these shortcomings in its Project Clean CGE Audit. It aimed to move the CGE from an audit disclaimer to an unqualified audit. The strategy was dealing with:
• Finance: Lease agreements, fixed asset count, liabilities – payroll, liabilities – sundry trade and staff creditors, current assets, petty cash, cash and bank, income expenditure, audit office and reporting, and internal controls.
• Human Resources: Employee personal records, payroll records, performance management system, recruitment for critical positions, job evaluation and the organisational structure.
• Governance and business process improvements: Supply chain management, budget control, compliance with Treasury regulations, month-end policies, document management, capacity building within the Finance department.
Besides improved organisational performance, it anticipated a move from disclaimer to qualified audit in year one; from qualified to unqualified audit in year two and sustaining the unqualified audit opinion in year three.
The Chairperson said the Committee would like to visit the CGE offices as part of its oversight role. In reply to the Chairperson asking where the CGE offices were based, Commissioner Shozi said that the Head Office was in Braamfontein, Gauteng, with provincial offices in Durban, East London, Kimberly, Pretoria, Mafokeng, and major cities. The CGE would welcome and appreciate visits.
Mr G Mokgoro (ANC, Northern Cape) added that the question was not so much the place, but whether the offices were fused with the civil section of the government, in the Premier’s Office or the Presidency?
Commissioner Shozi responded that in terms of its mandate CGE was supposed to monitor all government departments, including the Premier’s Office, and the Presidency. Therefore CGE would need to be seen as autonomous from government structures and would not want staff members to work in the same building. The CGE Act stated that CGE must establish its own offices and be removed from government in order to monitor government and do its work without any favour, but whether CGE was able to access government offices in order to monitor them was another question.
In response to the Chairperson asking if CGE was independent, Commissioner Shozi said that it was.
The Chairperson commended CGE on the presentation. The institution was going through difficult times but was still able to coordinate programmes, to champion them and possibly to deliver on them. However, obligations had been set in the National Assembly and the Committee’s invitation had stipulated a progress report. One of the issues was that CGE was required to submit monthly progress reports and CGE had not reported for two months. The Turn Around Strategy was too broad and was not specific. CGE had been given guidelines on what to report, and more detail was required. CGE was expected to report with the focus on financial management, the audit of fixed assets, the review of leases, payroll liabilities, invoices and their reconciliation, recording of internal expenditure, of which there had been no mention. On human resource management, the CGE was expected to update the Committee on the employee payroll records and the implementation of the performance management system.
Commissioner Shozi asked for clarity on the report from which the Chairperson was reading.
The Chairperson said she was highlighting issues that CGE was obligated to report as a result of their last meeting with the National Assembly. She referred to the presentation on the Turn Around Strategy and issues that were outstanding since May.
Commissioner Shozi commented that the Committee’s invitation had been received on the 4 August. Their report today concentrated on provincial activities. It was the Commission’s understanding to curtail the presentation on the Turn Around Strategy which they had given to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. CGE was not aware that they should do the same presentation to this Committee. The presentation was designed in terms of the invitation from the Committee. He apologised for the omission. The information would be forwarded to the Committee.
The Chairperson agreed that the Committee did expect what the invitation had said. Perhaps it was best not to refocus those issues raised by SCOPA and the Portfolio Committee. As a way forward, the Committee had agreed that the next meeting should be a joint meeting with National Assembly Committee. In that meeting, before dealing with provinces and programmes, the CGE would deal with the challenges that were still pending in the institution. She highlighted the need, in dealing with the CGE, for having combined meetings with the National Assembly in addressing and correcting the mistakes in the institution. The CGE had given information on good programmes but it could not pretend there were no problems. Challenges must be dealt with so it could continue with its programmes. The Committee would give the institution the support it required.
Mr Mokgoro agreed with Ms Mabe. Regarding the omissions, he would like the information well formulated, with an emphasis on finances as well as employment records.
Mr D Worth (DA, Free State) also agreed; otherwise there would be just a repeat of the whole process.
Commissioner Shozi welcomed the decision and suggested that Members look at their report to the Portfolio Committee.
Commissioner Hicks welcomed the idea of a joint initiative. Ms Mabe had mentioned that CGE was ‘obliged’ to submit monthly reports, but that was not the case. CGE had presented the strategic Turn Around Plan to the Portfolio Committee as required. It was the CGE that had offered to submit monthly progress reports to keep them informed of developments. It would be useful to provide the Select Committee with copies of those monthly reports which could be interrogated at the joint meetings.
Commissioner Hicks said that the turnaround strategy was being implemented. The latest Auditor General review process was being concluded. The next critical moment to engage with the Select and Portfolio Committees would be on the basis of the Auditor General’s findings. There would be opportunity for substantive discussion on which of the Auditor General’s findings had been adequately addressed and which were still outstanding for the two oversight committees to monitor.
The Chairperson said that, regardless of whether the CGE had themselves initiated the monthly progress reports or not, the question was had that been done? The CGE had committed itself to furnishing reports to the Portfolio Committee and the Select Committee would also like to go through those reports.
Commissioner Shozi replied that the combined report for June and July would be emailed immediately. In future whenever reports were sent to the National Assembly, they would simultaneously be emailed to the NCOP Committee. The next report would be the end of August.
The Chairperson said the Committee was satisfied with that. Going forward, they would engage with the CGE as a joint committee, including the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus, to avoid repetition. Meetings would be combined and would deal with institutional challenges. From there, they would be taking a look at each of the provinces, starting with KZN, the Eastern Cape, and so on.
Commissioner Hicks said the CGE was excited that the NCOP had requested a briefing from the provinces, and particularly would welcome visits to the provinces, as stakeholders would go back to influence their provincial legislatures that had oversight of the departments. In terms of rural women’s access to service delivery, the Commission was struggling with departments own accountability to stakeholders within the province. She would like to know that the challenges that her KZN colleagues had raised would be taken up. She appealed to Committee Members to take on these challenging matters and go back to the provinces and champion those matters. CGE regarded the Committee as partners in the provinces in addressing entrenched attitudes towards those practices that had such a negative impact on the women and children of our provinces. While she was mindful that the Committee was concerned about oversight and addressing the shortcomings in management and administration, CGE was thrilled that this forum had been revived and would like to see that collaboration and support at provincial level to assist CGE taking up in the provinces. CGE welcomed that and would like to see it championed by the Committee as well in partnership with CGE. When briefing the provincial legislatures and colleagues from the provinces, they should feel welcome to invite CGE to join the Committee in their briefing sessions. CGE would be thrilled to present critical issues that they were facing in their provinces for debate in Parliament’s Houses and see how those could be taken up at provincial level.
Commissioner Abrahams echoed Commissioner Hicks’ approval. The CGE would like to see that CGE did not exist in the Head Office only - it existed in the provinces. She extended a warm welcome to visit the Western Cape office. The Northern Cape Commissioner was on maternity leave but would also love to receive the Committee.
Commissioner Shozi asked for a programme. If CGE were requested to present a study when the Committee had joint meetings it would need one to one and a half hours to present. He thanked the Committee for inviting the CGE and suggested when there was a joint meeting not to focus on national programmes without focusing on the provinces.
Mr Mokgoro said that the Select Committee was aware that when departments were called to give presentations they came with the notion that they were going to be criticised, but not this Committee. The Committee had recently taken a tour of KZN and the Eastern Cape and there was more praise than criticism for those two provinces. The Committee was also aware that the problems were complex and historical, and being historical these became more complex. There was more praise than criticism for the efforts of the people dealing with those two provinces. The Committee and CGE had to work together.
Commissioner Shozi asked why those two provinces had been chosen.
The Chairperson responded it was because they had, together with the Department of Health, visited KZN and the Eastern Cape with regard to maternal mortality. She extended an invitation to CGE to the follow up meetings with MECs and Heads of Departments that was due to be held on 18 August. She thanked CGE for their time and looked forward to the next meeting. The Committee was not out to ambush anyone; they were all in it together. It was about the people of South Africa that they had taken an oath to serve.
The meeting was adjourned.
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