The Committee’s Content Advisor read out the Committee Report on Department of Women, Children & People with Disabilities (DWCPD) Revised Strategic Plan 2013/14. The report gave an overview of the strategic plan, budget and objectives; the priorities over the medium term; a budget analysis divided by programme; observations; conclusion; and recommendations. The budget analysis noted that the budget had grown from R172.2 million in 2012/13 to R198.3 million in 2013/14 but in real terms the Department had less funding to work with than it had in the previous financial year.
The Committee Report noted that the Department had received the smallest budget allocation and that the budget had decreased by 3%. There was a decrease in the budgetary allocation for all DWCPD sub-programmes and the Committee was concerned about how the Department would be able to fulfill its mandate as a result of limited funding. This was especially so as the bulk of the funding went to administration, not core projects. No budget was allocated to the National Council Against Gender Based Violence and the Committee was concerned as to how the Council would implement its programme.
The Committee recommended that the Department should:
- strengthen its awareness strategy;
- speed up the finalisation of the Gender Equality Amendment Bill for introduction into Parliament [PMG note: DWCPD says approval for the Bill’s introduction into Parliament will be sought at the June Cabinet meeting];
- brief the Committee on the Bill
- brief it on the role, function, structure and budget of the National Council on Gender Based Violence;
- provide the Committee with a detailed account of all donor money received to date and an indication of what the deliverables were required in this regard.
In the discussion Members raised concerns about a lack of timeframes, staff turnover, donor funding, and the disproportionate allocation to the Administration programme. The report was adopted.
The Committee’s Content Advisor read the Committee Report on the Commission on Gender Equality Amendment Bill. The report stated that Committee, having considered the subject of the Commission on Gender Equality Amendment Bill [B36-2012], (National Assembly – section 75) reported the Bill without amendments. The Committee agreed that the Bill sought to effect technical amendments to the Commission on Gender Equality Act, 1996, and that the substantive issues raised in the submissions from civil society organisations would be dealt with at a later stage. The report recommended that the National Assembly adopt the Bill. Members clarified that various aspects of the Bill were in line with the Constitution. The report was adopted.
Committee Report on Department of Women Children & People with Disabilities Strategic Plan
Ms Kashifa Abrahams, Content Advisor, Parliament, read out the draft report of the Portfolio Committee on the Revised Strategic Plan of the Department of Women Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD).
The strategic plan was referred to the Committee on 13 March 2013 for consideration and report. The Committee, in performing its constitutional oversight mandate, engaged with the Department on 8 May 2013. The report gave an overview of the strategic plan, budget and objectives; the priorities over the medium term; a budget analysis divided by programme; observations; conclusion; and recommendations.
The overview of the strategic plan stated that according the Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) for 2013, the aim of the Department was to drive, accelerate and oversee Government’s equity, equality and empowerment agenda on women, children and people with disabilities, especially in poor and rural communities.
The Department’s priorities over the medium term were to coordinate and facilitate the process of establishing the National Council Against Gender Based Violence; mainstream women empowerment and gender equality, children’s rights and disability considerations into government’s policies and governance processes; monitor and evaluate the mainstreaming of women’s empowerment and gender equality, children’s rights and disability considerations; and coordinate institutional support and capacity development programmes for the promotion, protection and advancement of women, children and people with disabilities.
The budget analysis noted that the budget had grown from R172.2 million in 2012/13 to R198.3 million in 2013/14. Notwithstanding the nominal increase of 2.85%, the budget had actually decreased by 2.60% when inflation was taken into account. Thus, in real terms, the Department had less funding to work with than it had in the previous financial year.
The report then looked at the budget for each of the four programmes.
Administration Programme: The purpose was to provide effective leadership, management and administrative support to the Ministry and other branches in the Department. The programme had been allocated R91 637 million for the financial year 2013/14, amounting to 46% of the budget. 61% of the overall budget for this programme was allocated for the compensation of employees. This was a substantial increase intended to build capacity.
The Women, Children and Gender Equality (WEGE) Programme was to facilitate national and international instruments into empowerment and socioeconomic development programmes as well as overseeing and reporting comprehensively on the national realisation of women’s rights and the progressive realisation of equality. The overall budget for WEGE for 2013/14 was R82.9 million. The transfer payment to the Commission for Gender Equality amounted to R65.1 million, constituting 76.12% of this programme’s budget. This programme had three sub-programmes:
• Advocacy and mainstreaming for gender equality (R8.7 million)
• Institutional support and capacity building for gender equality (R4.8 million)
• Monitoring and evaluation for gender equality (R6.3 million)
The Children’s Rights And Responsibilities Programme budget was R9.9 million. The programme aimed to oversee the consolidation of the children’s rights agenda and the alignment of the conceptual frameworks and strategies across the three spheres of government to advance delivery. This programme consisted of three sub-programmes:
• Advocacy and mainstreaming for the promotion and protection of children’s rights (3.4 million)
• Institutional support and capacity building for the promotion and protection of children’s rights (R3.4 million)
• Monitoring and evaluation for the promotion and protection of children’s rights (R3.2 million)
The Rights of People with Disabilities (RPD) Programme was aimed at facilitating the translation of national and international instruments into empowerment and socioeconomic development programmes. It oversaw and reported on the national realisation of the rights of people with disabilities and the progressive realisation of equality. The programme was allocated R15.7 million for the 212/13 financial year. This financial year saw a decrease to R13.9 million. The programme consisted of three sub-programmes:
• Advocacy and mainstreaming for the equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities (R3.8 million)
• Institutional support / capacity building for equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities (R4.3m)
• Monitoring and evaluation for the equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities (R5.8 million).
The Committee made the following observations:
• The Committee noted that the Department had received the smallest budget allocation and noted that the budget had decreased by 3%. The Committee was concerned with the budget allocation. The Committee noted that there was a decrease in the budgetary allocation for all programmes of the Department and it was concerned about how the Department would be able to fulfill its mandate as a result of limited funding. There was no budget allocated to the National Council Against Gender Based Violence, the Committee was concerned as to how the Council would implement its programme.
• The Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill had not been finalised by the Department and the Committee was concerned about the time frames for finalising this Bill.
• The Committee was concerned by a lack of awareness of the Department’s activities and a lack of implementation.
• The Committee noted that the administration programme had a relatively large budget allocation as opposed to the significantly less funding for the other programmes which formed the core functions of the Department.
The Committee recommend that the Department should strengthen its awareness strategy; speed up the finalisation of the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill and introduce it into Parliament and brief the Committee; brief the Committee on the role, function, structure and budget of the National Council on Gender Based Violence; provide the Committee with a detailed account of all donor money received to date and an indication of what the deliverables were required in this regard.
A page of additions had been prepared for the Committee’s consideration. These additions included:
Observations: The Committee noted that the Department’s Revised Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan (APP) provided more of a theoretical perspective of the Department’s mission and vision. However, the requisite details insofar as detailed indicators and targets for the current financial year were lacking. The Committee acknowledged the filling of key vacancies such as that of the Director General, Chief Financial Officer, and others. However, the establishment and implementation of systems and procedures to mitigate the concerns previously raised by the Auditor-General were crucial. This was not clear in the APP.
Programme Disparity: The Committee noted with concern the disparity between the Administration programme and other programmes with respect to budgetary allocation and resourcing. Notwithstanding the importance of the functions located within the Administration programme, there were 152 posts, which comprised 73% of the Departmental establishment, yet the other programmes were under-staffed.
Human Resources: The Committee noted that even though the Department had filled 61% of allocated posts, there were still 12% of funded vacancies not filled and 27% of the allocated posts were unfunded vacancies.
Budget: The Committee noted that the Revised Strategic Plan and APP lacked the requisite details in terms of targets and indicators that linked to programme activities. As such, given the broad description of initiatives, the allocation of funding appears to be limited on account of the lack of detail.
Ms H Lamoela (DA) was concerned that time frames should be set in which to achieve goals. The Department had promised many updates or reports on what they were doing or implementing which they had not delivered. Administration was taking the biggest slice of the budget, which was very worrying. Seven to nine directors had been dismissed, which meant that continuity was suffering. The turnover of staff in the Department was of concern. Capacity building required that staff remain so that they could improve and move forward. The Committee still did not know what National Council against Gender Based Violence’s mandate or budget was. Did the programme on Advocacy and Mainstreaming for the Promotion and Protection of Children’s Rights include disabled children or people? What dates were set for when these programmes would start? The Department had been very wasteful in the past, it was known for its skewed spending patterns. Ms Lamoela had warned against this. Now the budget had been cut and she was concerned that they would not reach their goals.
Mr D Kekana (ANC) said that the issue that Ms Lamoela had raised about the percentage of funds going into the Administration programme kept coming up and it was an important one. He asked for clarification on the role of the Ministry. Was the Ministry supposed to do more coordination and get the other Ministries to do the implementation? In this case the 61% for Administration would be justified.
Ms Abrahams responded that the question was not the Department’s mandate; the problem was that the Department was supposed to be a driving force for its three main programmes, yet the bulk of the money did not lie with women, children and people with disabilities, it lay with administration. How would the three core programmes fulfill their targets when the money for the sub-programmes had been decreased?
Mr Kekana responded that when the Committee had questioned the relatively small allocation to the Department they were told that it was because the DWCPD’s mandate was coordination, and other departments should spend on implementation.
The Chairperson responded that the bulk of the budget had been spent on Administration for a long time and the Committee had always raised this as a concern. They had been told that the Department needed highly qualified people to execute monitoring and evaluation and this was the reason for the large sums of money spent on Administration. The Minister and the Deputy Minister’s salaries also fell under Administration.
Ms E More (DA) said that another aspect to this was that “what you put in, you get out”. 61% was being spent on administration, yet the output was poor. Value for money was not being obtained. The staff turnover rate was reducing value for money, because staff that had been trained and capacitated were being lost at a high rate.
Ms M Tlake (ANC) said she understood these concerns, but the Minister had initiated an investigation to find out what was happening with the human resources. The Fluxmans’ Report found that the organogram that existed then was not relevant. There was a lot of demand for the money allocated to Administration because the organogram did not tally with the budget. There was a lot of mismanagement and corruption going on in the Department. Processes had been instituted to correct this. Ms Tlake felt that the Department was trying to turn this around, which meant it was unnecessary for the Committee to overly concern itself.
The Chairperson asked the Committee to focus on recommendations. The last bullet under Observations dealt with the Administration’s budget. Was it necessary to add another one?
Ms Lamoela said that this was the fifth year of the Department. It was a much needed department. Yet the Director-General and the Minister had taken a long time to pick up on irregularities and corruption. Indeed the Department’s role was monitoring and cooperation and it needed the line departments to cooperate and assist. It was crucial for the Department to do this, yet it was not being done.
The Chairperson suggested that the report note concern about the staff turnover and that the Department should be more available to the Committee.
Ms Abrahams inserted into the report that “the Committee notes with concern the Department’s high staff turnover”. About the other concerns, she noted the report already stated that the Department should provide the Committee with regular reports and submit all outstanding quarterly reports timeously. Only then could the Committee ascertain the value for money of the Department. The issue of time frames would be noted under indicators and targets.
The Chairperson said that indicators and targets should be done properly because if these were not clear, then National Treasury would not allocate money because they did not have confidence that they would do what they had said.
Ms Lamoela said that the Committee was not getting the response it ought to on donor funding. She wanted to specify a timeframe for the Department to provide the Committee with a detailed account on all donor funding received to date.
The Chairperson suggested that the Committee write a letter to the Department asking for these details.
Ms Lamoela asked if the Committee could do more research on the legislation pertaining to equality, as she was concerned that the Woman Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill would duplicate or overlap with existing legislation.
Ms G Tseke (ANC) said that the Committee should not preempt the Department because the Bill had not been formally presented to the Committee and they had not been told the content of the Bill.
The Chairperson agreed that they could engage with the Minister about the Bill when it was presented.
Ms Petersen-Maduna moved to adopt the report. Ms Diemu seconded the motion to adopt. The report was adopted.
Committee Report on the Commission on Gender Equality Amendment Bill
Ms Abrahams read through the report which stated that the Portfolio Committee on Women, Children and People with Disabilities, having considered the subject of the Commission on Gender Equality Amendment Bill [B36-2012], (National Assembly – section 75 referred to it and classified by the Joint Tagging Mechanism as a section 75 Bill), reported the Bill without amendments.
The Committee reported the Bill further as follows:
1. The Commission on Gender Equality Amendment Bill was referred to the Portfolio Committee on Women, Children and People with Disabilities on 30 October 2012.
2. The Committee published a notice in the press on 3 March 2013, inviting the public to make submissions on the Bill by no later than 22 March 2013. The Committee received two submissions from civil society organizations and held public hearings on 17 April 2013. One organization, the Sonke Gender Justice Network, made an oral submission to the Committee on 17 April 2013.
3. On 24 April 2013, the Committee deliberated on the submissions received from the public and noted that some of the recommendations made by the public were beyond the scope of the Bill. Notwithstanding that, the Committee noted that the recommendations would be taken heed of in due course.
4. The Committee agreed that the Bill sought to effect technical amendments to the Commission on Gender Equality Act, 1996 and that substantive issues raised in the submissions would be dealt with at a later stage.
The report recommended that the National Assembly adopt the Bill.
Ms Lamoela sought to clarify that various aspects of the Bill were in line with the Constitution.
Ms Tlake felt that Ms Lamoela’s comments were out of order, as it was too late in the process of the Bill to be raising these issues.
A dispute about this ensued but the Chairperson allowed the question.
Mr Gary Rhoda, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, responded by pointing out the sections of the Constitution which were relevant to the Bill. All sections were compliant and none of the legal advisors had any comment or concerns.
The report was adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
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