The Children’s Institute in association with Molo Songololo, the South African Disability Alliance (SADA) and the Women’s Legal Centre provided their presentations and comments on the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities strategic plan and budget for 2012/13 and 2016/17. The presentations generally centred on the biggest concerns of each organisation and were used as an opportunity to ask questions around clarity of the budget and strategic plan as well as provide the Department with recommendations and suggestions.
The Children’s Institute in association with Molo Songololo's presentation, which was collectively drafted by the Children's Institute and Molo Songololo with recommendations from Child Line South Africa, the Children’s Resource Centre, Disabled Action Research and the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference’s Parliamentary Liaison Office, centred primarily on Programme Three of the Strategic Plan – Child Rights and Responsibilities. The general concerns related to the late United Nations Country Reports, vacancies in the Department, low budget for the children’s sector and the monitoring and evaluation of child rights. The main recommendations highlighted were for the Department to do more to advocate for child rights, adapt the Department's mandate to define children with disabilities, for the Department to be more vocal about harmful traditional practices, and for policies to not discriminate against children because of their age.
The South African Disability Alliance’s presentation highlighted the sector's biggest concerns which were issues around transport, education, health, universal access, disability mainstreaming, definitions for disabled, disability employment targets for the public sector and the low budget for this sector. The main recommendations presented were for the Department to increase communication and consultation with the disabled sector.
The Women’s Legal Centre presented their its primary concerns which revolved around the enactment of the Gender Equity Bill, the low budget allocations for various important programmes, monitoring and evaluation of important issues around women’s rights, oversight visits, the Department’s international reports and institutional support and capacity building. The questions presented related to how the Department would thoroughly assert itself and coordinate with other departments, provinces and Chapter Nine Institutions. The most important recommendations made were for the better monitoring of important pieces of legislation, better assertion by the Department on women’s issues, prioritisation of departments in the social services cluster, and better campaigning especially against gender based violence.
Members raised concerns and questions of clarity that were also asked and highlighted in the three presentations.
The Deputy Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities responded generally to some of the questions and comments made by the three presenters and Committee Members but would provide only clarity on certain points as the Minister would go into greater detail on 25 April when leading a delegation on the Department's strategic plan.
The Chairperson welcomed all and trusted everyone had a good rest and enjoyed the Easter break. She remarked that everyone should be back with energy to take up the responsibilities with which the Committee had been tasked.
The Chairperson welcomed the South African Disability Alliance (SADA), the Children’s Institute in association with Molo Songololo, and the Women’s Legal Centre, the three organisations invited to share their perspectives on the budget and the strategic plan of the Department.
Ms H Lamoela (DA) interjected and asked if a quorum was needed.
The Chairperson responded a quorum was not needed as no decisions would be taken.
The Chairperson welcomed the Hon. Hendrietta Bogopane–Zulu, Deputy Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, and then proceeded directly to business of the day.
The Children’s Institute in association with Molo Songololo
The Chairperson welcomed the first presenter, Mr Patrick Solomons, Director, Molo Songololo, who would present his organisation's comments on the Department's strategic plan for 2012/13 - 2016/17 with a specific focus on the child rights and responsibilities programme of the Department.
The comments were drafted by the Children's Institute and Molo Songololo with recommendations from Child Line South
Mr Solomons welcomed the opportunity to comment on the strategic plan of the Department. He stated his comment would focus specifically on programme three of the strategic plan – child rights and responsibilities. He noted the Department was busy setting up its programme having only moved into its offices last year.
There were a number of imperatives around child care and child protection that could be reflected upon that could increase the opportunities of child survival, child care and development. The registering of births, immunisation, good nutrition, a safe and caring environment and security at home and at school were vital for the development of children and in turn to reduce crime against children.
Mr Solomons pointed out the importance of child education from basic education through to tertiary level. Parents, schools and the Government had a responsibility to ensure that the natural talent of children were nurtured, that they were educated, acquired knowledge and were generally prepared for adult life with the appropriate skills. This would ensure that children did not land up unemployed and unable to look after themselves and would give them a better start in life.
The very basic rights of children needed to be met such as a loving home and sanitation. All children must have equal access to the best that Government could offer.
Mr Solomons noted the issue of household income and how children in poorer homes were more vulnerable and did not get to enjoy their basic rights as they were dependent on the income of parents and primary caregivers.
He then expressed concern about the respect of children and respect for the rights of children. He felt that a respect for children was equal to investing in their futures and investing in the future of the country. He tied this to the concept of Ubuntu.
Mr Solomons proceeded to evaluate the state of the issues raised. By referring to the Ministry's February 2011 Report on South African Children: A Review of Equity and Child Rights, he said that childhood should be a happy time where children were loved, and learned and developed, and were free and active, were healthy and were listened to. The very same report painted a very bleak picture. The fact was that
These issues showed that laws and programmes in place were not working well. Interventions were not producing the desired results especially in terms of services to children in rural areas.
Mr Solomons felt it was the responsibility of the Department to promote, advocate and monitor the rights and policies relating to the most vulnerable group of
He pointed to section 9 of the strategic plan around child rights and protection and raised a concern around the participation of children and the children’s sector in drafting of the strategy.
Another concern came from the disability sector regarding the term people with disabilities. It was often assumed that 'people with disabilities' referred to adults so the question arose under which category children with disabilities fell. He pointed out that this needed to be clarified in terms of the Department's programme. He suggested the Department used the term 'children and people with disabilities'.
Mr Solomons went on to look at Part A of strategic plan which looked at the strategic overview and suggested that the Department's mandate was amended to include promoting, monitoring and facilitating the participation of women, children and people with disabilities in decision-making processes as these groups were often excluded.
He turned to 4.1, the constitutional mandate and suggested the Department highlight the constitutional obligations in relation to Section 28 and Section 28.2 of the Bill of Rights so that the rights of children were paramount in all programmes. He added that certain groups felt that non-ageism should be included as a constitutional value so that children were not discriminated against because of their age.
He suggested that, regarding section 4.2 of the strategic plan, the legislative mandate and framework, the Department include and highlight key pieces of legislation concerning the protection of children such as the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act (No. 32 of 2007), which protected children against sexual offences, the Films and Publications Act (No. 65 of 1996), the South African Schools Act (No. 84 of 1996), the National Education Policy Act (No.27 of 1996), the Refugees Act (No. 130 of 1998) , and the Immigration Act (No.13 of 2002).
He turned to section 4.4.2 and recommended the inclusion of the International Labour Organisation Convention under working forms of child labour,
He noted section 4.5, concerning court rulings, and the fact that no progress had been made for the provisions of Section 42.8 of the Children’s Act. He felt that the implementation of this legislation should be part of the response of the Department to ensure that its requirements are realised.
He went on to look at section 4.6 of the strategic plan, the planned policy initiatives, and said that the Department should include it as a key priority action point in each of the sector specific programmes so that it could be organised and highlighted.
In the situation analysis no reference was made to certain harmful practices with particular reference to female and male circumcision and the clashes his organisation had had with traditional authorities around these practices. He felt the Department needed to lead a discussion on such matters.
Mr Solomons raised issues around transportation of children to and from school especially children with disabilities. He felt that although the strategic plan highlighted violence against children as a target area, the document was largely silent on issues of corporal punishment. The Department should lead the discussion around the eradication of corporal punishment.
A gap in the situation analysis was the impact of HIV/AIDS on children especially in the cases of maternal and double orphans. Government did not have a thorough system of support in place concerning the care of these children. The child protection system around this issue was virtually on the verge of collapse.
Some of the commitments in section 5.1, the performance environment, needed to be part of the strategic objectives and be sector specific with clear deadlines identified.
Mr Solomons welcomed the intent and initiative to update the National Action Plan for Children.
Mr Solomons was concerned that Government had not submitted the UN Country Report on the Rights of Children.
He noted that greater clarity was needed on the role of the Children’s Advisory Council at national and provincial level.
Mr Solomons turned to Chapter Nine Institutions and felt there was a need for the Department to identify its interaction with these institutions and for it to be included in the strategic objectives.
He then looked at section 5.2, the operational environment, and raised concern about the lack of clarity of the Department’s funding model and concerns around the issue of staffing. He requested to find out how the Department intends filling vacant posts.
Mr Solomons expressed alarm around the budget for children being far less than the budget for people with disabilities and for women. He said this meant that the mandate of the Department to recognise the rights of children was marginalised and the institutional capacity of the Department to carry out its stated goals and targets will be hampered. He added the limited budget would affect the ability of the Department to monitor the delivery of services to children and to meet international obligations.
He raised issues out of section 9.1.1 and questioned whether the Department would have the capacity to facilitate and coordinate mainstreaming of the child rights programme.
In terms of section 9.1.2 Mr Solomons was concerned about the fragmentation and under-capacitated institutional mechanisms of the Department.
Mr Solomons highlighted section 9.1.3 and noted there was not a comprehensive child rights monitoring and evaluation strategy in place. He also said that
Mr Solomons felt that the strategic plan did not provide sufficient guidelines regarding risks as well as the effective monitoring and evaluation of the children’s rights programmes in Government.
Mr Solomons concluded by stating that the strategic plan fell short of being a plan that spoke to the challenges that children faced particularly that of violence at home and at school, lack of basic sanitation, lack of access to health care, lack of housing and the lack of acceptable education. He felt that more consultation was needed and an on-going process was needed to better the lives of South African children. He thanked the Committee.
The Chairperson thanked Mr Solomons for his input and asked if the Deputy Minister would like to comment before handing over the to the next presenter.
Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu remarked that she would comment at the end so as to wrap up all the presentations.
The Chairperson gave the other Members of the Committee an opportunity to make comments.
Ms Lamoela commended the entity on a very detailed report; however, she was extremely worried about the fact that the Department did not adhere to reports of its line departments. She questioned if these line departments submitted the required reports around issues of women, children and the disabled as she had not seen such a report. She also expressed concern as to why the Department was not meeting its extended deadlines in terms of special reports such as the UN Convention Report.
The Chairperson asked if any other Members would like to comment. She remarked that the Deputy Minister would address concerns raised at the end of the presentations.
South African Disability
The Chairperson welcomed the next presenter, Mr Muzi Nkosi, Chairperson, South African Disability Alliance (SADA).
Mr Nkosi thanked the Chairperson for the opportunity to present a submission to the Committee around issues of people with disabilities.
Mr Nkosi said that the majority of people with disabilities in
One of his biggest concerns was whether the Department would effectively monitor other, sister, departments.
An important issue was the challenge of the mainstreaming of disability issues into Government programmes.
Mr Nkosi remarked that another issue raised by his organisation was around the definition of disabled. He questioned whether the long definition used by the Department was properly work shopped and discussed with other departments. He felt that the Department needed to create awareness around this definition. This would help other departments to better understand who was disabled and who was not.
In 2005 Cabinet maintained and approved the 2% disability target in terms of employment in the public service to be achieved by March 2010. He was concerned that this target was far from being met. Currently the target was being set at 0.9% according to the Employment Equity Report. He questioned how the Department ensured that other departments complied with this target.
Mr Nkosi proceeded to raise the issue of transport and remarked that this issue exacerbated problems of employment. He wanted to know what plans were in place to make sure Government was taking this problem seriously. He felt that at the very least a guide or strategy for transport for people with disabilities should be in place.
Mr Nkosi strongly emphasised the one of the most pertinent issues was that of universal access. Although he welcomed plans by other departments to increase the number of buildings accessible to those with disabilities, he felt the Department needed to have a clearer strategy on how to deal with this challenge. He said that lack of access for those disabled would lead to their exclusion from society and would affect Government's reaching its disabled employment targets.
Another fundamental issue related to legislation. He questioned what plans the Department had to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He felt that Government needed to move toward a disability act.
Mr Nkosi turned to the issue of housing and stated that the requirements in terms of housing for people with disabilities from the Housing Act (No. 107 of 1997), was not being realised. He urged the Department to address the issue of housing as well as the issue of a model for a suitable house for a person with disabilities.
Mr Nkosi talked about the critical issue of education which was a stumbling block in ensuring the employment of disabled people. He acknowledged the 2001 White Paper on Special Needs Education but questioned the lack of its movement to becoming enforceable. In terms of the mainstreaming of disabled education, Mr Nksoi expressed concern over whether non-disabled people were sensitised to the issues of those with disabilities and vice versa. He added that perhaps the Department could would with the institutions of higher learning to create a database to track disabled graduates to assist in their employment.
Mr Nkosi raised the critical issue of health. He suggested that as part of the Department's monitoring and evaluation function, it should speak to the Department of Health to ensure issues were addressed especially so at local level. He further recommended that the Department, together with the Department of Health, set up an accessible complaint system to systematically address the concerns of those with disabilities.
Mr Nkosi felt the consultation process with the Department and the disability sector needed to be improved. This lack of consultation tied in with poor communication and raised an instance where the Department was absent from a disability summit because of poor communication. He felt that, for sufficient public awareness to be created around the issues of disabilities, communication needed to be improved.
Mr Nkosi remarked that the budget in terms of the disability sector was far too low. He felt the Department needed to unpack how it intended meeting its objectives with the budget provided.
The Chairperson thanked the second speaker for his well-structured input that could not be disagreed with or disputed. The issues raised would be used by the Committee to communicate with the Department and could be used to assist the Department.
The Chairperson requested any comments from the Members.
Ms Lamoela commented that she was deeply concerned and felt that the Deputy Minister, in her reply, should elaborate on the Department’s mandate to better understand how the Department fitted into the greater social service cluster. She strongly emphasised the monitoring of legislation relating to women, children and people with disabilities by the Department.
A Committee member asked the Deputy Minister to discuss the issues of access to transport of people with disabilities especially those in the rural areas who had long distances to travel in order to receive the services they needed. She also requested the Deputy Minister to highlight the human resources policy of the Department, in particular how it intended dealing with the filling of vacancies.
Women’s Legal Centre
The Chairperson welcomed the final presenter, Ms Sonja Bornman from the Women’s Legal Centre.
Ms Bornman welcomed the opportunity to make input into the strategic plan and the annual performance plan.
Ms Bornman congratulated the Department on its strategic priorities; however, her concern was that given the limited budget, these priorities and their detail were too ambitious. She also felt the strategic plan lacked detail on how to achieve the seven strategic priorities. She illustrated the point with the example of maternal health but a programme for this priority was not outlined.
Ms Bornman then turned to the proposed Gender Equity Bill and she cautioned against the Bill as it covered too many topics for one piece of legislation. She remarked that the Bill duplicated what was already contained in existing legislation especially in terms of employment issues which was already covered in the Employment Equity Act (No. 55 of 1998). She explained it would be easier to simply beef up existing legislation with amendments.
The Deputy Minister interjected stating that the Gender Equity Bill was not open for public discussion as it was an internal departmental document and although the Women’s Legal Centre had the privilege of being part of these internal discussion, it prejudiced the Department as the Committee had not seen or approved the Bill yet. The Deputy Minister explained that it was procedurally wrong to discuss something not yet in the public domain. She requested this section was skipped.
The Chairperson agreed with the Deputy Minister and asked that that part of the presentation be temporarily shelved.
Ms Bornman took the Deputy Minister’s point and skipped that section of her presentation although the issue raised was the idea of a Bill and less so the content of such a Bill.
Ms Bornman moved on to discuss existing legislation and felt that the Department had an important role to play in monitoring these pieces of legislation. Examples used included the Employment Equity Act 1998 and how it was used to benefit women and protect them against unfair dismissal, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act (No. 32 of 2007) which provided women with protection against gender based violence and the important detailed national directives it provided to the South African Police Service, the National Prosecuting Authority and the Department of Health on how these institutions dealt with sexual offenders, survivors and victims of sexual offences, the Domestic Violence Act (No. 116 of 1998), which protected women against intimate partner abuse, and the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act (No. 120 of 1998), which protected women’s resource rights. She felt the Department provided too little reporting and monitoring on the implementation of these instruments of legislation.
Ms Bornman then stated that she was concerned about how the Department would assert itself. This was particularly so when looking at the relation and coordination between the Department and other departments as well as the Department and provincial and local levels of Government. She felt the strategic plan did not provide answers as to how this cooperation would work and be recorded. She stated the strategic plan did not provide clarity on the overlapping roles of the Department and Chapter Nine institutions especially the Commission for Gender Equality.
She remarked the Department should not only monitor but make input into debates around issues that were strictly speaking in the realm of other departments. She said such pertinent debates centred currently around the Traditional Courts Bill [B1 - 2012], sexual violence in schools, the new national strategic plan on HIV/AIDS and women’s sanitation rights. She said the Department should do more than simply make suggestions around these issues to other departments but should make significant inputs.
Ms Bornman spoke about gender based violence and said the strategic plan lacked discussion on how the Department intended to deal with the issue of gender based violence. She felt the Department had a greater role to play in the oversight on gender based violence and the protection of victims. She suggested the Department take the lead in the social services cluster in coordinating the efforts in dealing with gender based violence.
Ms Bornman moved to the annual performance plan and commended the Department on the initiation of the national policy framework for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equity (WEGE). She questioned, however, the Department’s coordination and how the Department would implement gender mainstreaming into all of its programmes. She recommended that the Department first prioritise the departments of the social cluster before coordinating with other less direct departments.
Mr Bornman applauded the Government for the plan on engendering of the New Growth Path as it was a critical plan. She also commended the Department for targeting 50% of the Job Fund for women.
Ms Bornman questioned the programme on rural women’s development, which was aimed at the provinces, and how the Department would coordinate and sustain the programming and budgeting efforts of the three spheres of Government.
Ms Bornman expressed her excitement around the Department’s advocacy and social campaigns outlined in the annual performance plan. She questioned whom the campaign around increasing the economic opportunities of women would be aimed at - prospective employees or employers, entrepreneurs or those who fund entrepreneurs. She suggested the campaign linked the public with Government funding.
Ms Bornman felt that the Department should create a greater emphasis on preventing gender based violence and created a stronger message condemning perpetrators of gender based violence, raised awareness in the public and gave information and resources to survivors of gender based violence. She added to this by pointing out that the campaigns marked at recognising women’s rights needed to be stronger so that women were made aware of the mechanisms at their disposal to enforce their rights.
She expressed her disappointment at the fact that very little resources were allocated for one of the Department’s central oversight roles, which was monitoring and evaluation. She felt that for these resources to be utilised efficiently, the Department needed to prioritise which departments were monitored and evaluated. She stated that some of the most important departments were Basic Education, Social Development, the South African Police Service, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, Health, Labour, Public Works and Traditional Affairs.
Ms Bornman supported the idea of a gender auditing tool but she questioned how the Department would ensure the cooperation of the provinces in this area. She recommended that the
Regarding the creation of databases, Ms Bornman felt that the budget allocation was wholly insufficient for this task. She requested the Department relook the resource allocation for this item given the importance of databases in aiding in the monitoring and evaluating responsibility of the Department. As the databases would be provincially based, she questioned how the Department would ensure the cooperation of the various provinces.
Ms Bornman felt the budget allocated for monitoring visits by the Department was quite low which was worrisome as it provided the Department with critical interaction with the public and allowed officials to hear first-hand accounts of the everyday lives of women and girls and this in turn inspired officials to create programmes inspired by what is happening on the ground. She felt the budget allocation for oversight visits needed to be reconsidered.
Ms Bornman raised the issue of
Ms Bornman raised general everyday battles faced by women that the Department needed to address such as the fact that although crime in the country was generally going down, closer inspection of statistics showed that gender based was increasing. Other issues were
Finally, Ms Bornman discussed institutional support and capacity building and the need for the Department to clarify exactly what was meant by these terms.
Ms Bornman thanked the Committee for the opportunity.
The Chairperson thanked Ms Bornman. She said the presentation was another tool to assist the Committee in engaging with the Department. She stated the suggestions and recommendations made by the presentations could be used while others were not agreed on.
The Chairperson asked the Committee for any comments before she handed over to the Deputy Minister for her response.
Ms Lamoela said what was highlighted in the presentations was very worrying. She questioned what the reasons where for the failure of monitoring of the Department and asked if the problems were because of insufficiency, vacancies, incompetence, lack of will or a lack of cooperation of the Department with line or sister departments.
Deputy Minister’s Reply
The Deputy Minister said she did not plan to respond because the Minister would be leading a delegation on 25 April on the Department's strategic plan.
The Deputy Minister clarified her point on the Gender Equity Bill and explained that there was a working group that had the privilege of working on the Bill and felt it was unfair, as a matter of principle, that one organisation had the privilege of working on the Bill while others did not. She expressed that civil society groups should respect the private space and privilege of working on such an internal matter.
The Deputy Minister said that she would only provide clarity on certain points as the Minister would go into greater detail on 25 April.
The Deputy Minister commented on the Department's international obligations. It was important to remember that the Department was still a new one having only recently moved into its independent offices. She added that the Department had one of the greatest international obligations to meet yet the Department was always being criticised for its travels. She felt the budget needed to be understood in that context.
She remarked on the vacancy rates and questioned whether the structure of the Department was understood as the Department had a small number of staff for all three sectors. She said there were only four funded vacant posts in the Department for this financial year.
The Deputy Minister elaborated on the departmental mandate which was the promotion, protection and realisation of the rights of all three sectors. She felt that the responsibility of monitoring and elaboration also fell into the remit of the Hon. Collins Chabane, Minister in the Presidency: Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation and that the monitoring and evaluation of the Department needed to be understood in that context.
The Deputy Minister stated the Department simply did not have money, and the responsibility for this should be placed at the Committee as Parliament allocated the Department’s budget. She said the Department was doing the best that it could with the budget allocated.
With regard to outstanding reports, the Deputy Minister stated the children’s report was only due next year and it was being finalised. The African Union Council’s report on the Rights and Welfare of the African Child would be finalised and submitted once greater clarity was available; the disability report was being finalised and she accepted that it was late. She explained that some of the problems with reports were the result of a lack of money and the financial burden that consultation with organisations and provinces placed on the Department.
The Deputy Minister admitted that due to many constraints, the Department had not lobbied and advocated strongly enough for the rights of the three sectors.
The Deputy Minister then looked at the issue of transport. The Department had been in discussion with the Department of Transport. The Department had provided the technical know-how for departments to comply.
In answer to the question on whether children with disabilities were recognised as children or people with disabilities, the Deputy Minister responded that children were children first.
On the recommendation to prioritise the social service cluster, the Deputy Minister explained there were too many factors and it would be impossible for the Department to do so and the issues the Department dealt with were spread over all clusters.
The Deputy Minister concluded and said the Department was slowly finding and interpreting its mandate and said this mandate was well understood by line departments and various officials.
The Chairperson thanked the Deputy Minister for attending and providing clarity as the Office of the Minister and Deputy Minister were not formally invited.
The Chairperson raised the point of the prioritisation of the social cluster. The Department would be at a disadvantage when looking at issues outside of this cluster. She agreed that the budget of the Department was the responsibility of the Committee and noted that it was never adequate. She also acknowledged the discussion around the travelling of the Department but understood the Department had to consult with many groups.
Ms Lamoela posed a question to the Deputy Minister related to the budget and asked if the Department had the opportunity to request more funds from National Treasury as the budget was inadequate. She also asked why time frames where not applied to reports knowing that they needed to be scrutinised by provinces.
The Chairperson said the budget had been deliberated on extensively already and the Department had provided clarity to the Committee that the budget requested was cut drastically.
The Deputy Minister responded on the budget and emphasised that the Department started out as a ministry and not a department so all its support came from the Presidency. The Department had submitted to the budget roll over process. She added that time frames had been put on reports. There was currently consultation with the provinces on the reports.
The Chairperson thanks the Deputy Minister and all presenters.
The meeting was adjourned.
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