The Minister and Deputy Minister and Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD) presented the Strategic Plan, budget and Annual Performance Plan for 2012/13 to the two Committees. This Department operated through four programmes and the aims and programmes of each were briefly explained, as well as the risk management plans. There had, overall, been an increase in the budget, but the Department and Ministers raised the point, several times, that the Department was still under-funded for carrying out all its activities.
Members felt that there were improvements, especially in relation to the work on disability, but questioned whether there was a need for advocacy, or whether more implementation was needed. The DWCPD explained what it meant by advocacy, and said that this was used to reach implementation targets. However, there were still problems in coordination and monitoring, and these were explained, in order to answer questions from Members about the 2% disability targets. Members also questioned child rights and the status of the National Programme of Action for Children, and the consultation process with other departments in regard to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. They also asked about the status of the sanitary dignity campaign, the extra budgetary allocations to this, the reference to funding not used for a study tour, how the Department had involved children in drafting departmental programmes and budgets aimed at them, and suggested that DWCPD needed to obtain regular reports from other departments. The Chairperson asked why monitoring and evaluation under the Women’s Gender Equity programmes had deceased, what departments had signed Memorandums of Understanding, and the content of those. Further questions were asked about training of disabled people, the discussions with institutions of higher learning, including Further Education and Training Colleges, and the disability policies. A DA Member asked when the Department would cease to refer to “new” programmes, pointing out that this Department had been in existence now for three years, and although the Deputy Minister attempted to explain that processes to getting the Department organised, programmes gazetted, and transfer processes from the Office of the Presidency, the Member insisted that more details were required, and did not accept the ruling of the Chairperson that the question had been answered. She was asked to leave if she was not prepared to accept the ruling of the meeting in this regard. The Department was also asked to explain the figures of R1.4 million for Disability Month, and an incorrect figure for advocacy and mainstreaming was to be corrected.
Minister and Department of Women, Children & People with Disabilities Strategic Plan 2012
The Chairperson welcomed the Minister and Deputy Minister, and noted an apology from the Director General, who was ill,.
Hon Lulu Xingwana, Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, introduced the strategic plan of the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD). The mandate, vision, mission and aims were outlined.
Mr Mzolisi Tomi, Acting Director General, DWCPD, outlined the Annual Performance Plan and the programme of the Department’s activities. He noted that the Department operated through four programmes of Administration, Women Empowerment and Gender Equality (WEGE), Children’s Rights and Responsibilities, and Rights of People with Disabilities. He outlined briefly the purpose, objectives, institutional support and capacity building, monitoring and evaluation for each programme and the sub –programmes (see attached presentation for full details).
Ms Bahumi Matebesi, Chief Financial Officer, DWCPD, outlined the budget and finances for each of the programmes (see attached presentation for full details), noting increases in the budget overall and in respect of each of the programmes.
Mr Tomi finally dealt with the risk management plans for the Department.
Mr D Kekana (ANC) noted a great improvement in the presentation, especially in terms of those with disabilities. However, he questioned the references to “advocacy” of the Department and said that if advocacy meant policy making, then there was no need to include it, as the policy was already high class and of an international standard. He said that the challenge lay not so much in advocacy, but implementation, and asked for comment on this point.
Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, Deputy Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, replied to Mr Kekana’s comments around advocacy question, explaining that advocacy was an instrument to elevate and raise awareness for the campaigns run by the Department. Advocacy was also used to reach implementation targets, such as disability units at universities and to provide clarity on certain issues. She said that the DWCPD faced many difficulties and was considering the route of enforcement of certain policies and legislation for people with disabilities.
Minister Xingwana responded in relation to coordination and monitoring of the implementation of work in various departments. She said the DWCP faced many challenges, especially in ensuring 2% representation of the disabled in the workplace. The current status was not very good, as the figure stood at 1%. This was a priority area for the Department, as it was committed to reaching the targets by March 2013, and working with the disability sector in order to do so. The work with this sector also was directed to achieving what was set out in the United Nations (UN) Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD) and her Department was giving consideration to a Disability Act. This showed the Department was working with organisations on the ground while also monitoring other government departments.
Mr Tomi also responded that the Department was working hard to enforce the 2% target especially in the provinces and said the Department needed the cooperation of other departments in this regard. He appealed to the Committee to raise the profile of this target.
Ms H Lamoela (DA) expressed her dismay that the presentation documents were handed to Members so late, noting that is should have been given in ample time for the Members to work through the presentation to prepare their questions properly.
Minister Xingwana responded that a detailed document was circulated before the meeting, and the content of the presentation appeared in that main document.
Ms Lamoela asked about child rights and the status of the National Programme of Action for Children which should be drafted by the first quarter of the fiscal year, according to the Annual Performance Plan of 2012/13. She asked if it was completed and if a copy was available for the Committee. She questioned the consultation process with other departments in regard to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was also meant to commence in the first quarter. She asked if this had been followed and completed and, if not, how far the process was.
Minister Xingwana said the question of the National Programme of Action for Children (NPAC) status would be answered also in more detail by Mr Tomi, but she noted that the report had a deadline for tabling to the UN, of 2013, and whilst consulting with other departments, the DWCPD would ensure the 2013 deadline was met.
Mr Tomi added that the Department was working to ensure completion of the National Plan of Action for Children, but was frustrated by some lack of cooperation.
Ms Lamoela enquired about the status of the sanitary dignity campaign. She questioned what was included in the integrated strategy plan for the campaign and the additional allocation for this in the budget. She also wanted to know if the Department was still receiving funding from other parties. She asked why money was given to Kenya for its sanitary dignity programme, given the financial stress faced by the Department in relation to its own programmes in South Africa. She noted that the role of the Department was to coordinate the involvement of other departments in this campaign. She highlighted that these would include the Department of Correctional Services for the provision of sanitary towels to inmates, Department of Basic Education, Health, Trade and Industry, provincial governments, municipalities, women’s organisations, schools and communities who were working to accelerate the outreach of the campaign.
Mr Tomi questioned the figure that was raised by Ms Lamoela, and Ms Matebesi said that she was not aware of any money having been paid to Kenya.
Ms Lamoela said her question was where the extra budget came from, for the sanitary dignity programme.
Ms Matebesi said the money was originally set aside to fund part of a study tour for some members to Kenya, but this had not taken place, as it was subsequently found not relevant for South Africa.
Ms Lamoela asked how the Department had involved children in drafting departmental programmes and budgets aimed at them.
Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu added that Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child made child participation non-negotiable for state parties. She said the Committee should revisit the Children’s Parliament, and this was an activity the Committee could consider in its own programme.
Minister Xingwana also highlighted the work that the Department had done with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) during preparation for the Conference of the Parties (COP17) and said the Department consulted with children, in a number of provinces, though workshops, to get their input on environmental issues. She also emphasised the Children’s Parliament held in Gauteng on Nelson Mandela Day, which was aimed at getting input from children, especially those from rural areas, on issues such as education, sport and recreation, health and service delivery. Resolutions were taken from this event, and were sent to the relevant ministries and the DWCPD would monitor how they hade addressed the concerns raised by children.
Ms Lamoela said the Department needed regular reports from other departments, as they were not pulling their weight by submitting reports. She said this was an obstacle to the Department achieving its goals. She questioned what strategy or plan was in place to ensure these reports were submitted.
The Chairperson questioned the identified risks in the risk management plan. In terms of WEGE, she noticed monitoring and evaluation for this programme had been decreased, and she asked the reason for this. She wanted to know why some departments had not signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) and also asked what was in these memorandums.
Ms Lamoela requested copies of the MOUs signed with line or sister departments.
Minister Xingwana said the budget for monitoring and evaluation was small and the Department needed the Committee’s help in motivating for an adequate budget. She said the budget for mainstreaming looked large, because of the cooperation involved with all other departments to ensure for the capacity of mainstreaming. She said monitoring was critical and was done through consultation, working together with other departments and using technology. However, the budget for this was limited to reaching constituencies for mainstreaming. In general, for women, children and those with disabilities, the limited budget made outreach difficult.
Minister Xingwana added that new MOUs were not signed, as any gaps identified relating to the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation were now closed. She said MOUs already signed needed to be reviewed, to align them with the DWCPD’s own monitoring and evaluation strategy. Copies of these were available and would be sent to the Committee. She further stated that the lack of response from certain departments was a serious issue, which had been discussed by Cabinet, especially when looking at the fact that information required for international reports, such as the urgent one on the people with disabilities that was due in August, was not submitted. She said the input from certain departments was lacking, even though the Department had written and sent reminders to Directors General and Ministers.
A Member asked for the difference to be explained between “objective statements” and “statements in the strategic plan”.
Minister Xingwana said the objective and statement were the same and she did not quite understand the question posed.
Mr Kekana noted that whilst the Deputy Minister had explained the policy quite clearly, it was not so clearly presented in the written reports. He also said the Department should not neglect discussions around the training of disabled people at the Further Education and Training (FET) colleges, when discussing the advocacy of a disability unit at universities.
Ms Lamoela questioned a statement she read made by the Deputy Minister about the finalisation of the development of a disability unit whereby more than 7 000 disabled people would be enabled to graduate. She requested more detail of this unit, including when the plans would be finalised, how it would operate and how awareness of this unit would be raised and reported.
Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu said the disability unit was the same one already spoken about at universities and FET colleges. Once these units were established they would proceed to monitoring and evaluation. She said there had already been engagement with the FET colleges, as the President had a meeting with all FET principals, during which disability targets were highlighted, so these colleges and principals were brought on board. She confirmed that disabled people were participating in and graduating from artisan programmes, for instance, with the Department of Public Works. Through advocacy and mainstreaming, DWCPD was encouraging disabled students to go to FET colleges.
Ms Lamoela asked why the targets for WEGE were shifted. She asked if targets for 2011/12 were met and why not, if this had not in fact happened.. She expressed her concern that programmes and projects were only started in the 2012/13 financial year. She asked which units were involved in supporting these programmes.
The Minister said that the WEGE policy was ready, as three clusters were done, with one left to present, and the tabling of the WEGE policy in Cabinet was scheduled for May. She stated the Department faced severe limitations in terms of funding and Human Resources and some projects could not go ahead because of this. She added the Department did not have enough money to employee all the staff it required. This resulted in the delay of some projects.
Ms Lamoela also asked when the Department would stop referring to itself as a “new” establishment with “new” programmes as the Department was already in its third year.
Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu answered the question of why the Department was only implementing programmes now, and said a year needed to be given for the micro-reorganisation of the Department and for it to be gazetted. She said a new department could only be established once policy is gazetted, which happened in the first year, once it had physically migrated out of the Presidency, and once and technical details and support services such as those relating to IT, procurement, finance and Human Resources, were configured.
Ms Lamoela requested to discuss certain issues on which she needed further clarity with the Minister and Deputy Minister. She was concerned as to statements that the Department was only establishing itself now.
The Chairperson interjected and was adamant that that issue would not be addressed again; the Department and Ministers had given a response.
Ms Lamoela insisted that her questions and points be heard, despite the Chairperson’s ruling.
Ms Lamoela was asked by the Chairperson to leave the meeting if she would not respect the decision of the meeting.
A Member asked how the Department justified the R1.4 million set for Disability Month.
Minister Xingwana said campaigns implemented around mental health were coordinated with other departments and NGOs to raise awareness about this.
Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu said setting up the Department and its supporting functions led to delays. She said the allocation of R1.4 million was too little for the disability sector, and more was needed. Part of the challenge was that the issues were not really understood. The DWCPD therefore had a responsibility to explain matters around disability to communities. In the Disability Month, a lot of coordination between the Department and provinces was needed. This month would also celebrate the achievements of disabled people. The figure did not take into consideration the expenses paid to make buildings accessible, to provide accessible transport, and money for care givers.
The Chairperson asked a question around monitoring and evaluation 2012 and the cost of R27.5 million for advocacy and mainstreaming of gender equity. She wanted to know where this figure came from. If it was an error, she requested the Department to state that in writing.
Minister Xingwana said this was a typographical error that would be corrected, and the correct figure will be notified to the Committee.
The meeting was adjourned.
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