Department of Women, Children & People with Disabilities: Quarterly Reports May 2010 to Jan 2011 with Minister in attendance

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

08 February 2011
Chairperson: Ms D Ramodibe (ANC); Ms B Mabe (NCOP, Gauteng)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities briefed the Portfolio and Select Committees on Women, Children and People with Disabilities on the Department’s performance over the period April 2010 to January 2011.

The Department had received technical assistance from the United Nations in May 2010 and a draft Monitoring and Evaluation Framework was developed in January 2011. The CEDAW Report was presented to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in January 2011. The Bill on Gender Equality had been completed in September 2010 and the first working draft Green Paper would be released for consultation within the next two weeks.

The National Disability Policy was at the level of consultation with the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) constituencies and the South African Disability Alliance (SADA) and was at the point of implementation according to the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities. A Child Friendly Model on Children's Rights and Responsibilities would be rolled out across provinces in February 2011. Quarterly reports from interdepartmental and provincial forums and compliance with the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities would enable monitoring of unfair discrimination in South Africa.

Members asked how the progress report related to the strategic plan; for a definition of the word ‘popularise’ and how it was used; if there had been any progress in the sizing and motorisation of wheelchairs; how the success of Disability Month was measured; if consultation with the National Disability Machinery was broad to represent the will of the people. Members also asked why reports on Children’s Rights and on People with Disabilities were late and why a report on the killing of children had not yet been finalised. They asked why issues in the current budget were reflected in the following year’s financial plan; which departments had been consulted on mainstreaming of Children’s Rights imperatives and what the time frame was for the Memorandum of Understanding with the relevant departments; why training was conducted in Elias Motsoaledi Municipality only and what the plan was for training of officials at other municipalities.

Members further asked if the Department was engaging with the Department of Economic Development; for more information on the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework document; for an update on the progress on the National Gender Policy Framework; when the Committee would have access to the CEDAW report; for information on Department expenditure; if the Department had its own bank account; and when vacant positions in the Department would be filled.

Meeting report

Women Empowerment and Gender Equality (WEGE)
Ms Ranji Reddy, Director: Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Branch; Department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD), said one of the main objectives of DWCPD was to develop a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system to monitor and evaluate delivery of government on the national, regional and international mandates.

WEGE had received technical assistance from the UN in May 2010 and a draft M&E Framework was developed in January 2011. WEGE had engaged with regional and international bodies such as the African Union (Decade of the African Women) and the SADC region and had presented a report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) on 21 January 2011 in Geneva. A draft report on the participation of the South African delegation in the CEDAW process had been compiled and Cabinet had approved submission of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development to National Parliament for ratification. Responses to the monitoring tool for the implementation of SADC Protocol had been compiled.

The Bill on Gender Equality had been evaluated and completed in September 2010, and the first working draft Green Paper would be released for consultation within the following two weeks. In November 2010, WEGE participated in SADC-initiated gender mainstreaming training; in August 2010 it hosted National Women’s Month; and in November 2010 it led the ‘16 Days Campaign’ to raise awareness on the role of substance abuse on gender-based violence, to popularise victim support services and to raise issues on the Criminal Justice response to gender-based violence.

The National Policy Framework on WEGE had been reviewed and a draft Implementation Plan according to the five priorities and 12 outcomes for women empowerment had been developed in January 2011.

WEGE had developed a draft Concept Paper on a Women’s Empowerment Fund and had met with the National Disability Machinery (NDM) in June 2010 as well as service-specific stakeholders in July 2010 to learn more on funding opportunities. UNIFEM was currently commissioning research in South Africa on Women in Informal Cross Border Trade and WEGE had also assisted with the participation of three South African women entrepreneurs in the SADC Women’s Trade Fair in Namibia. A National Women’s Conference was scheduled for early 2011.

Children's Rights and Responsibilities (CRR) branch
Ms Khomotso Kgothadi, Acting Director: Children's Rights and Responsibilities (CRR) branch, DWCPD, said that DWCPD had worked hard to ensure that their Protection Strategy for Children was successful during the 2010 FIFA World Cup and also beyond the World Cup. DWCPD had engaged communities and stakeholders including traditional leaders in the Eastern Cape to advocate for protection of girls from Ukuthwala (forced marriage). Tshwane had agreed to pilot a Child Friendly Model and the plan was for the model to be rolled out across provinces in February 2011. The study on Child Killing had been completed and would be released during the Child Protection Week. On National Children’s Day, DWCPD had provided sanitary pads to vulnerable girl children.

Rights of Persons with Disabilities Branch
Mr Benny Palime, Director: Rights of Persons with Disabilities Branch, DWCPD, said that the two performance indicators to protect and promote human dignity and equality of persons with disabilities were the National Disability Policy (NDP) and the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). The NDP was at the level of consultation with the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) Constituencies and the South African Disability Alliance (SADA). DWCPD had focused on popularising the UNCRPD and training of relevant stakeholders and was at the point of implementing the Plan of Action of the UN Convention. Quarterly reports had been evaluated at DG level and after SADA had issued its shadow report to the UN and after feedback from NEDLAC, DWCPD would engage with the Portfolio Committee on the report in a March 2011 workshop.

DWCPD had encouraged the Department of Public Service & Administration to participate in meeting the 2% employment equity target by providing guidelines and developing diversity management programmes. DWCPD had a strategy in place and had engaged with the Public Service Commission Report on employment equity and had published poverty indicators in the Presidency Indicator Book in June 2010 with the aim of creating an enabling environment, advancement and socio-economic development of persons with disabilities. The draft Economic Empowerment Concept Paper was moving toward policy.

DWCPD had consulted with financial institutions FNB and Standard Bank and met with secured sponsors such as Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), BP, McDonalds and Total on a quarterly basis. ACSA provided wheelchairs and supported DWCPD to a large degree.

The objective to prevent and eliminate all forms of unfair discrimination against persons with disabilities would be implemented once the monitoring tool was implemented. Quarterly reports from interdepartmental and provincial forums and compliance with UNCRPD would enable monitoring of unfair discrimination.

DWCPD had facilitated National Disability Month; a volunteers’ workshop on Disability Etiquette; International Day of Persons with Disabilities in Gauteng with the Office of the Premier; and further planned to create public awareness for children through education at theatres and schools.

Ms Ramodibe asked if the progress report related to the Strategic Plan.

Ms Nonhlanhla Mkhize, Director-General: DWCPD, declared that there was indeed a relationship between the report submitted that day and the Operational and Strategic Plan that had been approved.

Ms Mabe said that most members had only received the documents that day and it was therefore difficult for members to prepare for the discussion with the DWCPD.

Ms Mkhize apologised for the documents being received late and explained that the problem related to issues of capacity. DWCPD was committed to submitting documents on time going forward.

Ms D Robinson (DA) asked for a definition of the word popularisation of the UN Convention and exactly how it was used to achieve success.

Mr Palime said that popularisation involved the UN document and was used as core business for participation of constituents. The child friendly and braille version of the convention document was available. It was currently being translated into South African languages to popularise it extensively in South Africa.

Ms Robinson asked if there had been any progress in the size, style and motorisation of wheelchairs.

Mr Palime replied that ACSA partnered DWCPD with distribution of wheelchairs and motorised wheelchairs. CE Mobility Wheelchairs in the Western Cape assisted with sizing for the person or child. DWCPD was working on accessing more motorised wheelchairs but the challenge was that they were expensive.

Ms Robinson asked how tangible results were obtained for the success of Disability Month.

Mr Palime said that Disability Month had impacted on the public. The response from the public and media in terms of their interest in disability measures was how DWCPD measured the success of Disability Month. It was still on the agenda that DWCPD would use Mental Health Month, Eye Care Month and Deafness Month as approaches to measure the progress in awareness.

Ms Robinson asked if consultations with the NDM were broad enough and whether these consultations indeed represented the will of the people.

Mr Palime said that the NDM did not represent all people with disabilities but did have a large membership.  DWCPD went into communities and talked to self help groups and people with disabilities. DWCPD advocated consultative fora with SADA and NDM to represent the majority of people with disabilities rather than consultation through the media.

Mr D Worth (DA, Free State) said that he believed that the reports to the AU and UN on Children’s Rights Delivery and on persons with disabilities were late. He asked if this was correct and why this had happened and why another report on the study of killing of children had not been finalised.

Mr Palime said that it was correct that the UN Disability report was eight months late. The report was complete and DWCPD was in the final consultation with SADA, the Minister of the Western Cape, the Human Rights Commission and the Portfolio Committee.

Ms Mkhize added that the report on Child Killings was presented to the Committee at the previous meeting. However the DWCPD needed to verify the report with StatsSA before finalising the report.

Mr T Mashamaite (ANC, Limpopo) said that documents should be submitted to the Committee at least two days prior to meetings so that Members could prepare adequately. He asked why issues on the Strategic Plan were deferred to the following year’s Financial Plan.

Mr Mashamaite asked which departments WEGE had consulted with on mainstreaming of Children’s Rights imperatives and what the time frame was for the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the relevant departments.

Ms Mkhize acknowledged that the information provided did not specify how many departments were consulted and that information as well as the dates of consultation would be provided.

Mr Mashamaite asked why only seven provinces participated in the national events for Children’s Rights.

Ms Mkhize said that the Western Cape and Free State provinces had not been represented in the events because their position was that the money could be used for other activities.

Mr Mashamaite asked why training was conducted in Elias Motsoaledi municipality only and what the plan was for training of officials in other municipalities.

Mr Palime said that Elias Motsoaledi Municipality training in 2008/9 was pilot work on how best to implement the convention for training at all the municipalities.

Ms I Ditshetelo (UCDP) asked what had materialised since the previous meeting when DWCPD had indicated that a partnership would be established with the Department of Economic Development.

Ms Mkhize said that indeed there was partnership with the Department of Economic Development. The M&E tool was being developed for the purpose of partnership between all departments and was structured around the comprehensive Strategic Plan according to the five priorities and 12 outcomes for Women Empowerment, Children’s Rights and People with Disabilities. The Minister was intending to sign MOUs according to the seriousness of items which needed to be dealt with.

Ms Ditshetelo asked why nothing was mentioned regarding the Department of Economic Development and the Women Empowerment Fund.

Ms Mkhize said that UNIFEM was assisting with determining what funds were accessible for women and the Department of Economic Development and Department of Trade and Industry reviewed the funds to determine if they were working and if they were viable.

Ms Ditshetelo asked if DWCPD planned to distribute sanitary pads to girls in provinces other than the North West.

Ms Mkhize said that sanitary towels where distributed to vulnerable children in the NW Province during the launch of the Minister’s Children Protection Campaign. Research showed that learners tended not to attend school during their menstruation period. DWCPD was working with Department of Health, Social Development and the private sector to roll out the plan to distribute sanitary towels to children and women in poor communities across the country.

Ms Ditshetelo asked if the plan to address Ukuthwala and meet with the traditional leaders had progressed as the problem had not been solved, yet had been discussed repeatedly.

Ms Lulu Xingwana, Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, said that DWCPD had hosted a number of workshops with traditional leaders and municipalities. A task team between DWCPD and Department of Justice would be assigned to speed up the process for legislation which could make the harmful practice of Ukuthwala a criminal offence.

Ms P Duncan (DA) said that more information on the M&E systems for Women Empowerment would have been appreciated. She asked how much funding was received from the UN for the development of M&E systems and when the M&E framework document would be available. This was a critical document which needed to be completed as soon as possible so that the 36 government departments could be monitored and evaluated by DWCPD to ensure that women, children and people with disabilities could benefit from programmes rolled out by DWCPD.

Ms Reddy agreed that all relevant information on development of the M&E systems had not been presented.  DWCPD had started working on M&E functions given that its core function was M&E. International instruments as monitoring tools particularly by other departments within these sectors formed the core for monitoring. The UN Population Fund had an annual work plan for the DWCPD, as well as the Department of Social Development and the Department of Health. Given the challenges of the DWCPD in terms of funding, capacity and not meeting some core functions, R840 000 was given to the DWCPD for technical assistance to develop the Gender Equality Bill, Strategy and Implementation and M&E systems. Not all funds were used and the M&E development would receive the roll-over funds. The annual work plan for the upcoming year would be around R1 million which would be allocated more genuinely to the M&E plan which would be made publicly available in March/April 2011. The UN Monitoring Unit would assist with technical assistance at no charge for implementing the M&E system. DWCPD hoped to present an update at the following meeting with the Committee.

Ms Duncan commented that the National Gender Policy Framework has been in the pipeline for a number of years and asked when it would be ready and what bodies were involved in the reviewing of the policy.

Ms Reddy replied that the National Gender Policy Framework had been reviewed since 2008 but then the Ministry was established and the documents became outdated. It was decided that it would be better to spend money and focus on the Gender Equality Bill, which was more aligned with the new Ministry than the outdated document. However a National Gender Policy was still on the agenda and gaps in the policy were being addressed. Consultation on the Issue Paper would begin mid-March.

Ms P Maduna (ANC) asked if there had been any progress with the Rights of Children and People with Disabilities; what materialised from the National Women Conference; when it was held; and what cost was incurred.

Mr Palime said that there had been considerable progress in addressing the Rights of Children with Disabilities through Awareness Campaigns, infrastructure and working with different communities. According to surveys and stats, over 1 million people were receiving disability grants and matric results were improving.

Ms Mkhize added that regarding employment of people with disabilities, the target of 2% had not been reached. It was at 0.6%. However there were ventures to ensure job creation for people with disabilities.

Ms Reddy said that the National Women’s Conference had been postponed and thus there was no expenditure incurred on that conference. It would take place in the current year.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) asked when the Child Friendly Model on Children’s Rights would be rolled out and implemented.

Ms Kgothadi said that the action plan for the pilot was expected to be finalised at the end of the month and would thereafter be rolled out.

The Minister added that the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs were jointly participating with them in the Beautiful Cities Campaign for protection of children’s environments.

Ms S Rwexana (COPE) asked when the Committee would receive feedback on the CEDAW Report submitted to the UN on Discrimination against Women.

Ms Reddy said that the CEDAW Report was developed in 2008 and presented to then Portfolio Committee. It had also been distributed widely in National Machinery meetings. She suggested that DWCPD should present to the Committee a report on the outcomes of the January 2011 meeting and what should be done going forward. It was an oversight that reports were not sent to the Committee and that would be corrected.

Ms Rwexana said that the budget was aligned to the mandate of the DWCPD. She was concerned that since the functions and rules of DWCPD had not changed and monitoring of other departments was discussed in the presentation, it appeared that allocation from government would continue to be the same small amount and the budget debate would continue to be difficult.

Ms Ramodibe asked for information on expenditure by the DWCPD.

Ms Mkhize requested that expenditure be discussed during the presentation on the financial report.

Ms Mabe asked why there were a number of reports outstanding and when the Annual Report would be presented to the Committee. She also asked for time frames with regard to activities which posed a challenge to M&E of performance.

The Minister said that indeed the budget for DWCPD was too little. DWCPD was engaging with the National Gender Machinery to ensure compliance with the Women’s Movement and the Strategic Plan was in the process of being finalised. DWCPD would depend on Members to assist the Ministry with receiving adequate funding from Parliament.

DWCPD had also engaged with the Deputy Minster of Justice to speed up the process of finalising the Gender Equality Bill so that the position of women and representation of women could be entrenched in terms of legislation.

The Minister apologised for the Committee not seeing the CEDAW Report. She was under the impression that the Committee had endorsed the report by the late Minister Dr M Tshabala-Msimang. DWCPD would compile a report which incorporated comments from the UN and from the Committee.

Reports on Disabilities and on Children’s Rights were also long overdue but were being finalised by DWCPD and would be brought to the Committee for interrogation before being submitted to the UN. Once the Strategic Plan was finalised, DWCPD would report on the time frames for meeting the targets.

Ms Ramodibe said that the Committee hoped the report on expenditure would be presented in a manner that allowed measurement for monitoring of expenditure.

Ms Mkhize added that DWCPD would submit a separate Annual Report and would be audited independently from the Presidency.

Ms Ditshetelo asked when Acting Members of the DWCPD would fill the vacancies.

The Minister said that the new DWCPD was in the process of placing the necessary management in position and hoped to complete interviews for Deputy Directors General (DDGs) by the end of February 2011. By beginning of March, DWCPD hoped to have employed a CFO, Internal auditor and Chief Director of Legal Services. She added that the women of SA and all vulnerable groups had been waiting for transformation and DWCPD was under pressure to perform the work and meet the mandate.

Ms Mkhize added that DWCPD had acquired a building in Pretoria and renovations had been done for compliance with accessibility. She noted that in the records of the Portfolio Committee there was indication that the DDG posts had been interviewed and would go to Cabinet. However, Cabinet had taken a decision to review the structure of DWCPD and therefore delayed the onset of recruitment. Cabinet had declared that an organogram with five DDGs was top heavy for a new department. As the DWCPD workforce grew, it would be permitted to add DDGs.

Ms Duncan asked if the staff which formed part of the old structure could qualify internally to form part of the top management structure of the new ministry.

Ms Mkhize said that during the transfer from the Presidency to the DWCPD, posts had to be advertised according to the recruitment regulations and policies of the Public Service Act. Original staff were encouraged to apply as it was recognised that institutional memory was valuable for the DWCPD going forward.

Ms Ramodibe asked if DWCPD had its own bank account or if it was still under the Presidency.

Ms Mkize replied that DWCPD had started operating its own bank account on 1 November 2010 and started to pay back money to the Presidency with the aim of balancing the accounts before the financial year independent audit.

The meeting was adjourned.


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