The Parliamentary Research Unit gave an analysis of the 2011/12 Annual Report of the Department of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities (the Department), to assist the Committee in its interrogation of the Annual Report when it met with the Department. No detailed analysis was given of the Auditor-General’s report, but instead there was a focus on performance against the targets.
The Department was divided into four programmes. There had been substantial over-spending in three programmes and under-spending in one. Under the Administration Programme, it was noted that the Department had failed to draft the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill, giving the excuse that an official was ill, but it was apparent that no alternative plan was made. The Health and Safety Policy, ICT Governance Framework and Financial Procedure Manuals were still not produced, three years after they should have been. Research had not been completed, and strategies were not developed for stakeholder collaboration and participation, nor was an electronic monitoring system developed. The Department also had its international report outstanding. Under the Children’s Rights and Responsibilities programme, the mainstreaming strategy was not finalised, and it was not clear why this had not been done, a matter outstanding for over five years. In the absence of this, it was unclear what was guiding the Department. Although the National Plan of Action was listed as achieved, the document was in fact still in draft, with further consultation required. Insufficient detail on what had been achieved was given in relation to several campaigns, and there was no indication of their cost-effectiveness. Although the Children Rights Machinery Meetings were described as partially achieved, the meetings had in fact been held in the following financial year. Despite over-spending of R1.82 million on this programme, targets were not achieved, and although the overspending was attributed to travel, no details were given.
The Rights of People with Disabilities programme similarly was hindered by the fact that the mainstreaming strategy and responsive budgeting strategy had not been finalised, which meant, once again, that it was unclear what was guiding the Department, and that the draft legislation could not be completed. There was no indication given as to when the Disability Job Fund would be launched. The
Country Report was not submitted to the United Nations, in line with the Department’s obligations, and only one of the intended four National Disability Machinery meetings was held. The Economic Employment Policy Framework was not developed and implemented, apparently due to capacity constraints. Under-expenditure of R1.47 million was attributed to human resource shortages. The
Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Programme was intended to mainstream women’s empowerment and gender equality issues, but here too the gender responsive strategy had not been finalised. The roles and timeframes for the Decade for African Women had to be clarified. It was unclear how the monitoring and evaluation strategy would differ from the monitoring and evaluation subprogramme. The Department had failed to develop a gender barometer for the Job Creation Fund, despite high unemployment amongst women, and had also failed to meet targets around coordination of institutional support and capacity development programmes, claiming that, despite the fact that these were included as targets, they did not actually fall in its mandate. This programme showed over-expenditure. Members indicated their severe concerns, particularly in relation to the failure to meet 2% employment equity targets, apparently wasteful expenditure, without clear reasons, and expressed frustration at the lack of a mainstreaming strategy for all the Department’s programmes.
Department of Women, Children & People with Disabilities: 2011/2012 Annual Report: Parliamentary Research Unit briefing
Ms Crystal Levandale, Ms Kashiefa Abrahams and T Matthews, Parliamentary Researchers, presented their analysis of the 2011/12 Annual Report of the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD or the Department). They noted that they would not address the Auditor-General’s report in detail, they would consider the performance under the four programmes of the Department.
Part I: Administration programme performance
The researchers noted that the Administration Programme consisted of a number of sub-programme such as strategic planning, research and policy development, inter-sectoral and international coordination, internal audit, legal service, communication, financial management, supply chain management, human resource management, information technology and office accommodation. Given the number of sub- programmes there were numerous objectives, and the analysis identified the objectives, noted concerns in relation to targets not achieved, and set out some of the reasons for the non-achievement.
Objective 1 related to the drafting of laws and regulations for the Department. The Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill was not achieved, apparently because of the absence of the Chief Director: Legal Services for over ten weeks. Concern was raised that there were no contingency plans in place to handle the work in that person’s absence.
Three internal objectives were identified relating to the provision of comprehensive security and safe compliant accommodation, to implement ICT Information and Communication Technology governance and to improve budget planning. However there was not achievement of the health and safety policy for the Department, implementation of the ICT Governance Framework, and the development of a Financial Procedure manual. The Research Unit commented that these had been outstanding now for three years.
Objective 3 was to conduct, commission and analyse new and existing research towards evidence-based planning and implementation relevant to women, children and people with disabilities. Some work was done, but the research was not approved.
The DPWCPD had failed to develop, implement and evaluate strategies for stakeholder collaboration and participation. The Department also had its international report outstanding.
It was further noted that the Department had not yet developed an electronic monitoring and evaluation system. It was inefficient, and not cost-effective, to continue a manual approach.
In relation to the Administration budget and expenditure, the Research Unit noted that there was overspending, due to insufficient allocations having been made for compensation of employees. This meant that the DWCPD would start the new financial year with a large deficit and it was suggested that the Department be asked to explain how it would make up the deficit.
Part II: Children’s Rights and Responsibilities programme performance
Ms Abrahams said that this programme focused on advocacy and mainstreaming of children’s rights considerations, institutional support and capacity building and monitoring and evaluation in relation to children’s issues.
The first target related to finalising the development of the children’s rights mainstreaming strategy but this was not finalised. The reason for this was not clearly stated in the Annual Report. Ms Abrahams noted that the former Office for the Rights of the Child had also said that it would develop a child rights guideline, and monitoring and evaluating framework for mainstreaming children rights, but this was not achieved since 2007/8. This called into question what was guiding the DWCPD in relation to children’s rights.
The National Plan of Action for Children (NPAC) was described, in the Annual Report, as having been achieved. However, the Research Unit noted that the document was still a draft and required broader consultation, so in fact the process was not complete. A children’s participation strategy on the NPAC had yet to be developed through a provincial consultation processes;
The DWCPD also noted the Sanitary Dignity Campaign as an achievement, since it had held a session with departments and sent out information. However, there was no detail on what exactly had been achieved.
The Mother to Child campaign, Education campaign, International and National Children’s Day campaigns were also noted as achievements towards the Department’s role in establishing partnerships, participation and co-ordination. However, it was not clear what the tangible outcomes of these initiatives were, and whether the campaigns had contributed to the mainstreaming of children’s rights, nor how cost-effective they were.
The Child-Friendly Cities/Community Model was reported on previously as an initiative piloted in Tshwane, supported by Unicef and rolled out to 36 municipalities. However it was still noted as a “draft model” that required further consultation and it was uncertain whether there had been any developments in the last financial year.
The DWCPD noted that Children’s Rights Machinery Meetings were conducted, and that this was a “partial achievement” in that a Terms of Reference document was drafted. However, a Children’s Machinery meeting was scheduled only for May 2012, which fell into the current financial year, so that no meetings were held in the 2011/12 period.
The DWCPD noted the co-ordination of the 365 Days National Plan of Action as an achievement towards the concept document for the National Council Against Gender–Based Violence, as well as the collaboration that took place towards the 16 Days of Activism concept paper and calendar. However, it was unclear what the other tangible outcomes were, besides the input into a document, for institutional support and capacity building.
In relation to the financial expenditure for this programme, Ms Abrahams noted that the Department had over-spent by R 1.82 million yet had failed to achieve its targets. The Department said over-expenditure was incurred as a result of local and overseas travel for seconded officials, but had given no detailed explanation.
Part III: Rights of People with Disabilities
The Research Unit noted that this programme intended to mainstream disability considerations into Government’s policies and governance processes. One of the main targets was to finalise the Disability Mainstream Strategy and Disability Responsive Budgeting Strategy , but this could not be done as consultations were not concluded.
The Department noted that some targets under this programme had been “partially achieved”. It noted that the Disability Mainstreaming Strategy and guidelines were circulated. A similar question arose as with the Children’s Rights – namely, in the absence of a strategy, it was unclear what was actually guiding the Department. In addition, the Disability Responsive Budgeting was not achieved because the strategy and guidelines were still in draft. This also meant that the national disability policy and draft legislation were delayed. There was no indication as to the exact status of the proposed Bill.
It was acknowledged that the National Disability Summit had been hosted successfully and that recommendations were integrated into the National Disability Policy draft. However, the Research Unit noted that it was unclear as to how exactly the outcomes had been effected into draft policy.
The Researchers were also concerned that there was no indication given as to when the Disability Job Fund would be launched.
The audit of mainstreaming of disability considerations into policies and governance processes, and the drafting of the report, were not achieved. Eight provinces were still conducting the audit. The main reasons given for non-fulfilment was that financial year-end constraints had delayed the completion of questionnaires in some provinces. The Department noted that it would submit the survey report by end May 2012.
The Research Unit noted its concerns that the Country Report was not submitted to the United Nations, in line with the Department’s obligations.
The development and implementation of a Monitoring Tool was cited as a partial achievement, as the tool was still in progress.
Although four quarterly National Disability Machinery Meetings were supposed to have been held, it seemed that only one was held in 2011/12.
Although the Department noted its involvement in several campaigns, the feasibility and tangible outcomes of these initiatives were unclear.
The third objective under this programme was the coordination of institutional support and capacity development programmes in all nine provinces. However, the workshops were not conducted.
Similarly, the Economic Employment Policy Framework was not developed and implemented, apparently due to capacity constraints.
In this programme, there was under-expenditure of R1.47 million. The DWCPD attributed this to human resource shortages, as well as limited finances to achieve the planned activities.
Part IV: Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Programme (WEGE)
The Research Unit summarised that the WEGE programme comprised three sub-programmes of Advocacy and Mainstreaming, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Institutional Support and Capacity Development. However, the DWCPD had also indicated the National Council on Gender Based Violence as a sub-programme. The WEGE programme was intended to mainstream women’s empowerment and gender equality consideration into government policies and governance processes, to monitor and evaluate this mainstreaming, to coordinate support and capacity development and facilitate the establishment of the National Council Against Gender based Violence. 27 targets were identified, of which 10 had been fully achieved, 9 partially achieved and 8 targets not achieved.
The Decade for African Women had a 2010/11 timeframe for delivery and for finalisation of funding agreements with African Union. The Research Unit commented that the DWCPD had to clarify its role and timeframe. In relation to the need to “put a Monitoring and Evaluation System in place” the Research Unit commented that further clarity was needed, as there was already a M&E sub-programme.
Another objective was to put a monitoring tool in place for implementation of the gender responsive budgeting strategy. However, the DWCPD had not implemented the strategy, nor developed the tool, apparently because it had not received feedback from other departments. The Research Unit commented that this was a major concern, since it was supposed to be the lead department for all gender mainstreaming.
There was also concern about the failure to develop a gender barometer for the Job Creation Fund, particularly since unemployment was particularly high amongst women, especially rural women.
The Department had also failed to meet targets around coordination of institutional support and capacity development programmes, which would include ABET programmes, skills development for women in construction, cooperatives, waste management, farming, and Further Education and Training colleges. The DWCPD indicated that part of the reason it had not met these targets was that these activities fell within the mandate of other departments and institutions such as the Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy (PALAMA) and the Department of Higher Education and Training. This pointed to incorrect target-setting as it should never be specified as a target if it did not fall within the mandate.
In relation to this programme, there had been over-expenditure of R975 000. The main concern was that the Department should not duplicate the work done by other departments.
The Chairperson thanked the Research Unit team for this information, which would be useful in the upcoming sessions with the DWCPD.
Ms H Lamoela (DA) asked why the Department itself was not meeting the 2% employment equity target, and said that there was no specific response on this.
Ms Lamoela said that there were several ways in which the Department could have been more careful on its expenditure; for instance, it could have used IT to communicate, instead of travelling. She felt that the top officials were responsible for the failures of the Department.
The Research Unit also noted its concern about the expenditure. It was stressed that no clear reasons had been given for the over-expenditure, particularly in relation to the organisational organogram reflecting human resource capacity, funding allocations and outcomes relating to two major international events.
Ms G Tseke (ANC) agreed with Ms Lamoela that it was unlikely that this Committee would get satisfactory answers right now from the DWCPD regarding mainstreaming strategies. She voiced her frustration at the lack of a mainstreaming strategy for all the Department’s programmes, and stated that such strategies were key documents that the DWCPD had to have in order to influence other Departments to implement the required strategies.
Ms Tseke noted that she would reserve the rest of her comments, which related to the performance of the Department, for the briefing session with the Department.
The meeting was adjourned.
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