The Committee Report on the 2011 Strategic Plan of the Department of Women, Children, Youth and People with Disabilities was adopted as amended.
The Committee engaged on issues, some of which arose from the observations and recommendations of the Committee as contained in the Report. One of the concerns arising from the Report was that more than 50% of funding for the Department’s sub-programmes was being spent on the compensation of employees. Not enough funds were being spent on implementation. When Department programmes were set up, objectives that were set needed to be met. Funds needed to be available for monitoring and evaluation.
The Committee observation that the Department had been moved from the Governance Cluster to the Social Cluster was also discussed. What was the reason for the move? The Committee agreed that the members should be briefed on the reasoning behind the move as it was unclear.
The authority of the Department regarding its ability to enforce compliance by other dep
artments was also questioned. The Department did not implement or deliver, the question was how it was going to ensure that other departments implemented and delivered. The solution perhaps lay in legislation and the research unit was asked to look into the matter. The problem with legislation however was that it was not always implemented and the Committee wished this observation to be included in the Report.
Members observed that it was unclear as to what the relationship between the programmes of the Commission on Gender Equality and that of the Department’s programmes were. It too would be incorporated into the Report as an observation.
The recommendation in the Report that serious consideration should be given to the relocation of the Department to the Presidency was deleted by agreement amongst all members. This was because there was not any parliamentary committee monitoring the departments in the Presidency. The intention had been to locate the Department within the Presidency but it had not materialised. The Department was currently located within the Social Cluster.
Committee Report on 2011 Strategic Plan of Department of Women, Children, Youth & People with Disabilities
The Chairperson placed the Report before the Committee for consideration. The Report would be debated the following week in the National Assembly.
The Committee Secretary, Ms Neliswa Nobatwana, stated that members had to consider the Report before it could be debated the following week. The Report in essence was a summary of what had come out of meetings between the Committee and the Department of Women, Children, Youth and People with Disabilities. It contained the Department’s strategic objectives, its sub-programmes as well as observations and recommendations of the Committee. The Report was only a draft and members should feel free to add information to it.
The Committee Researcher, Ms Kashifa Abrahams, proceeded to take members through the Report page by page. She observed that it would seem that on all the programmes of the Department not enough funds were being spent on implementation but that much funding was being spent on employee compensation. More than 50% of sub-programmes’ funding was being spent on the compensation of employees.
The Chairperson noted that there seemed to be a contradiction; the Department was not an implementing department.
Ms Abrahams responded that part of the Department’s delivery was to go out and do things. Doing things required funds.
Committee Researcher, Ms Crystal Levendale, added that the staffing structure of the Department was approved some time ago. If by 2012 more than 50% went towards employee compensation then there was a problem. When programmes were set up, objectives that were set needed to be met.
Ms Abrahams asked what the point of having persons employed in a programme was, when the objectives of the programme were not being met.
Ms P Duncan (DA) noted that there was indeed a problem and it was concerning. Perhaps a re-look of the mandate of the Ministry was needed to decide on whether it was necessary to employ so many people. The Ministry need not be so large. Experts could rather be called in. She asked that the research unit investigate what the benchmark for employees versus the delivery side was.
The usual scenario was that departments were understaffed and underfunded. The Department on the other hand was overstaffed and underfunded where its programmes was concerned. She pointed out that the main focus of the Ministry was to mainstream. The Committee needed to make a recommendation regarding the size of the Ministry and Department’s programme staff complement. Funds needed to be available for monitoring and evaluation.
Ms D Robinson (DA) stated that there needed to be interaction and research to identify where the gaps were.
The Chairperson referred to the Committee observation contained in the Report and expressed concern about it: “The Department reported that it has been moved from the Governance Cluster to the Social Cluster in as far as the budget is concerned by National Treasury. The Committee raised the concern that this would have implications for issues pertaining to women, children and people with disabilities being seen purely from a social welfare perspective.” She was however relieved that the performance of the Department would not be affected by the move and that nothing would change.
Ms Duncan disagreed with the Chairperson’s sentiments. There was a difference between the Governance Cluster and the Social Cluster. What was the reason for the move from the Governance Cluster to the Social Cluster? She would have preferred that the Department stay with the Governance Cluster. The Social Cluster was seen differently. She asked the research unit to look into the issue.
Ms Robinson pointed out that the Department had stated that the move from the Governance Cluster to the Social Cluster had been for budgetary reasons. Perhaps the Department would receive more funding from the Social Cluster.
The Chairperson stated that she recalled the Department stating that there were more departments in the Social Cluster.
Ms P Lebenya (IFP) suggested that the Committee receive a full briefing on the reason for the move from the one cluster to the other.
Ms G Tseke (ANC) agreed with the Chairperson that there were many more departments in the Social Cluster that could assist the Department.
Ms Duncan stated that the issue was about the authority of the Department holding other departments accountable in three sectors. She asked that the research unit look at the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act as it could shed light on the issue. She personally felt that the Department should move back to the Presidency.
The Chairperson stated that the Gender Equality Bill would force compliance from other departments.
Ms Duncan disagreed and stated that the Gender Equality Bill was not going to give the Department the authority to hold other departments accountable. She felt that the Department and the Ministry was not taking the Committee seriously as far as its role of oversight was concerned. She asked the research unit to look into the Gender Equality Bill and how it was going to hold other departments accountable to the Department. The bulk of budgets lay with other departments. The Department did not implement and deliver. What assurances were there that funds were going to be spent on women, children, youth and people with disabilities. The Committee needed a breakdown of other departments’ budgets in order to keep a check on expenditure.
The Chairperson stated that when the Department spoke of its programmes it spoke about disaggregation.
Ms Robinson stated that legislation was good to have but how much of it actually got implemented? For example, persons with disabilities were still not being treated equally as able bodied persons were in the workplace.
Ms Abrahams agreed with what Ms Lebenya had suggested earlier. She stated that the Committee observation in the Report relating to the move of the Department from the Governance Cluster to the Social Cluster could be rephrased. It could state that the Committee was unclear about the reasoning behind the move.
The Chairperson asked what the difference between an Annual Performance Plan (APP) and an Operational Plan was. She had been made to understand that it was one and the same thing. What was confusing was that the Director General of the Department stated that the APP was still to be forwarded to the Committee. Yet the Committee was already in possession of the Department’s Operational Plan.
Ms Abrahams stated that perhaps the APP had procedural requirements attached to it.
Ms Manana (ANC) stated that Ms Robinson had made a good point in that legislation was not always implemented.
The Chairperson stated that the concern of legislation not always being implemented could be included in the Report as an observation of the Committee.
Ms Tseke asked where the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) fitted in.
The Committee Secretary stated that the CGE had apparently tabled its strategic plan on the 26 May 2011. The strategic plan had not yet been referred to the Committee. This fact did not preclude the Committee from interacting with the CGE. The strategic plan had been submitted late by the CGE.
Ms Robinson asked whether the CGE was not accountable to the Committee.
The Committee Secretary explained that all strategic plans had to be tabled in Parliament. It was the Speaker’s Office that referred strategic plans to parliamentary committees.
Ms Abrahams stated that the Committee needed to still engage on the CGE’s Strategic Plan. There was the issue of the synergy between the CGE and the Department’s programmes. She asked where the Committee wished this to be included in the Committee Report.
The Chairperson suggested that this be added as one of the Committee’s observations. It was unclear as to what the relationship between the programmes of the CGE and that of the Department’s programmes were.
The Committee agreed to the suggestion.
Ms Robinson referred to the recommendation made in the Report that “serious consideration should be given to the relocation of the Department to the Presidency”. She asked if the Committee in making the recommendation was not placing the Department in no man’s land. Who held departments in the Presidency accountable? There was no portfolio committee in Parliament that held the Presidency accountable. For example, to whom was the Planning Committee in the Presidency accountable? There was no portfolio committee which held it accountable.
Ms I Ditshetelo (UCDP) asked whether the Department had not previously been located with the Presidency. Or was it only funding which had come from the Presidency?
The Chairperson suggested the deletion of the recommendation stating, “serious consideration should be given to the relocation of the Department to the Presidency”.
The Committee agreed.
Ms Robinson stated that the problem was that it was not known in which cluster the Department ought to be. The Department was in transition and was finding its feet.
Ms Ditshetelo asked what the reason was for moving the Department to the Presidency.
The Chairperson explained that the intention was to move the Department to the Presidency but it did not happen. The Department was on its own like any other department. Legislation was being put in place to ensure that other departments were accountable to the Department.
The Chairperson noted that the Report would be debated on the 7 June 2011 in the National Assembly.
Ms Abrahams stated that the changes made by the Committee would be incorporated in the Report.
The Committee adopted the Report as amended.
The meeting was adjourned.
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