The purpose of the meeting was for the Portfolio Committee to have an in-depth evaluative look at the functioning of the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD), facilitated by the content advisor and two researchers attached to the Committee.
The documents discussed were, firstly, a report on an oversight visit which the Portfolio Committee paid to the head office of the DWCPD.
The next three documents were documents compiled by looking at the quarterly reports for the Financial Year 2012/13 and extracting the essential information from them, looking for consistency. These dealt with Programme 2, namely, Women Empowerment and Gender Equality; the Children’s Rights and Responsibilities Research Brief; and the Department’s Disability Programme.
The fifth document was titled ’Draft Report of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Children and People with disabilities on the implementation of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ (UNCRPD).
Committee Draft Report on oversight visit to the Department offices & workshop 26-28 March 2013
This oversight visit happened from 26-28 March 2013. The Portfolio Committee found the building to be unsuitable and dirty, with inadequate office space to accommodate all staff. There was a lack of security at reception. Offices lacked equipment like computers and filing cabinets with locks and documents were stored in boxes and on piles on the floor. The Deputy Minister‘s office was not located in that building and it caused friction between the Minister and the Deputy Minister. Generally conditions were not conducive to productive work. The Portfolio Committee then had a workshop with the Department at a hotel.
Members asked what memoranda of understanding (MOUs) the Department had with other government departments. Members asked for a list of donors from whom the Department had received donations in cash or in kind. Members asked why it could not be communicated to the Department of Public Works that the building was unsuitable and that another building had to be found. Members also felt that the oversight report was concise, comprehensive and coherent and would be perfect to use as a guiding document to work from into the future, as it contained all the outstanding issues that had to be followed up.
Departmental quarterly reports
These documents were summaries of the quarterly reports of financial year 2012/13 and they looked at the three programmes of the Department individually. The dominating common feature of these summaries was that for each programme the information provided was inconsistent. The Department would, for example, state in June 2013 that it had achieved 14% or its targets for 2012/13 (The report on Children Rights), only to change its mind a month later to claim that it had achieved 68% of its targets. There were numerous other examples (See documents). Discrepancies were found throughout these reports.
Members were unsure which data sets to believe, because they differed so much. Members started to question the competence of the Director-General to head this Department. Members also asked whether the officials in the Department knew how serious an offence it was to mislead Parliament.
Draft Report of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Children and People with disabilities on the implementation of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)
South Africa ratified the Convention and the Optional Protocol on 30 November 2007. The Convention made people with disabilities ‘rights holders’ and ‘subjects of the law’ with full participation in formulating and implementing plans and policies affecting them.
Given Parliament’s oversight role on treaty compliance and public participation, it was essential for Parliament to host public hearings on South Africa’s compliance with the Convention as the institution, through its oversight function, played a key role in ensuring respect for the human rights of people with disabilities.
The objectives of the public hearings were to identify progress made in implementing the Convention, to identify challenges in implementing the Convention from both civil society and the Executive, and to ascertain mechanisms that would aid the implementation of the Convention.
24 Submissions were received from organisation and individuals.
The main observations that emerged from the submission were that:
• Access to education remained a major concern for children, youth and persons with disabilities
• Employment and economic empowerment remained a challenge for people with disabilities
• People with disabilities were often the victims of sexual abuse, maltreatment and neglect
• Transport and mobility services to people with disabilities were inadequate or non-existent in South Africa and participants highlighted the fact that the Convention was weak in identifying transport services as a means of mobilising people with disabilities to be able to participate in society
• Accessibility to buildings and transport for people with disabilities would have to change drastically if the ideals of inclusive employment, education, health, recreation etc. were to become a reality.
• Negative stereotyping of and discrimination against people with disabilities had to change
• There was a general lack of awareness of the UNCRPD.
After processing the information gained from the public hearings, it became apparent that, although South Africa was a signatory to the Convention, in practice a huge amount of work still had to be done to implement the Convention. The Executive also needed to up-skill itself in order to be able to do proper monitoring and evaluation on the implementation of the Convention in South Africa.
Members decided to propose to the National Assembly that all departments should report to Parliament annually on what they were doing to mainstream people with disabilities, which programmes they implemented and the cost involved, as well as how close they were to the 2% target in terms of staff with disability.
The Chairperson declared the meeting open and welcomed those present. After meeting procedure formalities she handed over to the content advisor and researchers.
Ms Kashiefa Abrahams, Content Advisor, Parliamentary Research Unit – Committee Section, said the meeting would deal with two reports on the quarterly reports of the Department as well as outstanding minutes. The first report to be dealt with would be the oversight report that was done in March 2013. The reason was that it dealt with issues related to the turnaround strategy of the Department as well as input received from the Minister and officials about the Department. It seemed to be a good starting point because it reflected on the closure of the 2012/13 financial year (FY). After that the meeting would look at the quarterly reports looking at women and children vs disabilities. Members were free to make observations and additions as well as ask questions, as the meeting systematically worked through the issues.
Committee Draft Report on oversight visit to the Department offices & workshop 26-28 March 2013
The first report was titled: “Draft Report of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Children and People with Disabilities on the oversight visit to the offices and workshop of the Department of WCPD from 26-28 March 2013”.
Page 1 contained the background to the importance of the turnaround strategy and the objectives of the workshop the Department had with the Committee. It discussed the implementation of the turnaround strategy and engaged with its four key policies, namely mainstreaming, advocacy, institutional support and capacity building as well as monitoring and evaluation. It also reviewed the Department’s performance in relation to its quarterly reports over the four quarters of FY 2012/13. The intention of the workshop was to cover all the issues mentioned.
Page 2 contained a description of the oversight visit the Committee paid to the offices of the Department and the key observations the Members made there. The departmental offices contained the office of the Minister, the Director-General (DG), Research Unit, Supply Chain Management, Advocacy and Mainstreaming, the Children’s Unit and Human Resources.
Members noted with concern that:
Many offices were closed and staff members were absent and unaccounted for.
A toilet for persons with disabilities had been without a working light for more than a year.
Most carpets were dirty and the general conditions of the offices were not conducive to constructive work, with the exception of the third floor where the offices were clean.
The workshop was held at a hotel at great expense while the office had a big boardroom that could seat in excess of 20 people.
Equipment like computers was in short supply and had to be shared amongst staff.
The majority of offices had no efficient or secured system of record keeping because of a lack of equipment like filing cabinets that could be locked. Documents were stored in unsealed boxes on the floor and applications were kept in a pile on an office floor.
Security at reception was found lacking.
Faulty equipment was unattended to.
On page 3, the key issue that the Acting DG had highlighted was that the turnaround strategy had three phases, namely, crisis intervention, stabilisation and sustainability. There were timeframes attached to each. The details of each phase were spelt out and amongst these interventions was, as it stated at the end of page 3, that the Department requested and received an additional R12 million. [See report for details]
The Acting DG had also described some of the challenges around the implementation of the strategy. These included that no additional funding was available and that the implementation had to happen within the current capacity and budget. National Treasury (NT) also did not commit to funding the turnaround strategy.
Page 5 contained the observations by the Members.
The Committee was unhappy about the absence of the Deputy Minister at the workshop, and objected to it formally in writing.
The workshop was held at a hotel at great expense while the office had a big boardroom that could seat in excess of 20 people. The Committee questioned the wisdom of this decision and asked why workshop had not been held in the boardroom and the catering outsourced to a woman-owned catering service. The Committee asked for a breakdown of the expense of hosting the workshop at the hotel.
The Committee noted that the Department was talking about a turnaround strategy, but it was in direct contrast with what the Committee had observed at the departmental offices in the morning.
The Committee reflected on the development of the department and the intention was that the first year would be spent on getting the human resources (HR) in place. The second year would be dedicated to policy development and implementation, and the third year to getting its information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure in place. The Committee asked why the Department was still dealing with challenges that should have been addressed. It was also unclear which phase the Department was currently in. The Committee was worried about the morale amongst staff as well as staff retention in the light of the conditions of the offices it observed. It also wondered whether all staff had been consulted on the turnaround strategy.
The Department had responded that:
There was no space at the offices to serve lunch, which was why the workshop had been hosted at a hotel.
The Department indicated that it was in phase two of its developmental strategy, which ended in March 2013.
The departmental staff was consulted on the turnaround strategy during September and October 2012. A general meeting was held in December 2012.
Regarding ICT and the office environment. The Department had stated that laptops were provided only to senior officials and field workers. The rest had desktops.
Regarding the building, offices and cleaning services, the Department had stated that it inherited the building from the Department of Public Works and the cleaning service came with it. The cleaning contract ended in March 2013. The Department had complained to DPW, but nothing was done. The Committee found out that the cleaning service had not been paid regularly and had stopped rendering the service. The Department was not in the position to end the contract before it expired.
The Department had acknowledged that there was not enough office space to accommodate all staff and that some of the lifts did not work, which posed a security risk. The Department indicated that an Occupational Health and Safety Committee had been established, because it was concerned about working conditions.
The Fluxman report had been tabled by the Speaker of the National Assembly for consideration. The Minister had reiterated that the Fluxman Investigation was initiated because of alleged fraud and corruption. The following officials were suspended in March 2013 as an outcome of the investigation: chief director and director for HR, directors of strategic management and international relations, the driver and one of the deputy directors in the office of the DG. There were five resignations in total.
Regarding HR, the Committee was concerned about absenteeism, and asked whether monthly reports were being compiled in this regard. The Department had not known exactly how many people it employed. The Committee was dissatisfied with the fact that no skills audit had been done. The Department wanted to use a consultant to do the skills audit, while it had severe budgetary constraints.
Regarding staff wellness, the Committee was concerned that it involved only a once-off event. Staff wellness was an on-going matter and the root causes of staff unhappiness had to be uncovered. It was unclear whether the Department had a staff retention strategy.
There were more responses to some of the points of concern the Members raised. In some cases the Department had not had immediate response to the concerns raised. (See document)
Ms H Lamoela (DA) said she had asked for a list of the Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) the Department had with other department.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) asked whether the Committee could ask the Department to bring along the MOUs the next day.
The Chairperson said the Committee had asked for the MOUs numerous times to no avail. The Committee Secretary would ask the Department again.
Ms Van der Merwe said the Committee had to get clarity from the Department regarding MOUs, because she remembered the Minister saying that she only signed an MOU with the Department of Health (DoH) and she had suspended the process, because she was waiting for the Women’s Empowerment & Gender Equality (WEGE) Bill. In the quarterly reports it reflected that the MOUs signed were MOUs with other countries and not MOUs with other government departments.
Ms Neliswa Nobatana, Committee Secretary said that in November 2012 the Department had provided a list of MOUs, but not copies of the different MOUs.
Ms Van der Merwe said that the Committee Secretary referred to a list of MOUs, while she was only aware of a single MOU signed with the DoH. This was already a discrepancy. She asked that the Committee insisted on getting copies of the existing MOUs, in order to get to the truth.
Ms Lamoela said she had asked for a list of the private donors the Department had received donations from, but was not sure whether the information had been received by the Committee.
The Chairperson said that the list of donors that the Department had to supply also needed to include what the funds were needed for, what the funds were used for as well as the amounts received by the Department.
Ms Nobatana replied that the Department also provided a list of donors with the amounts they received, but not what they were used for.
Mr Lorenzo Wakefield, Researcher, Parliamentary Research Unit, replied that the Department did provide information on donor funds and he would talk about it in his part of the presentation.
Ms Lamoela said when she spoke to the Minister about donors and donorships, the Minister had replied that the Motsepe Foundation did not give the Department money, but that it paid for events. She asked that the donor information be forwarded to her.
Ms Crystal Levendale, Parliamentary Researcher, said the last presentation as well as the revised presentation for the next day contained information about donor funding the department had received. There was information for FYs 2011/12 as well as 2012/13. The Portfolio Committee still had to ask for information on the 2013/14 FY, which was the current one.
Ms Lamoela said she was not looking for information on the previous FYs, but on the current one. She was looking for information on donations that had been made since the oversight visit in March 2013. She had information and she wanted to check whether the information supplied by the Department matched the information she had. Some of those donor-ships stretched over three or five years. She wanted to know exactly what the current situation was relating to donations to the Department.
Ms Lamoela said she read that R19 million had been given to the Department of which R12 million went to the department and R7 million to the upgrade to the Deputy Minister’s office.
Ms Lamoela asked why this Department did not collaborate and form partnerships with its sister and line departments. Until it did not do this it would not achieve. It also had to monitor what these departments were doing in order to see whether its goals had been reached.
Ms Lamoela asked how the Committee would verify that the Department actually did what it claimed to have done in order to safeguard the Committee from future enquiries.
Ms Lamoela said that the Deputy Minister had asked her in 2012 to help to get the 200 000 disabled children in the Western Cape who were not in school to school. She asked the Deputy Minister where they were located and the Deputy Minister had referred her to the Department of Basic Education, which she felt was not how it had to happen. The Ministry had to know who the children were and where they were located.
Ms Lamoela had asked whether temporary workers had been appointed at any point in time, and at what price. She had not received any reply yet.
Ms Lamoela said that the Department was drawing the Committee into its problems, because it wanted the Committee to assist it to get more money from National Treasury. The fact that National Treasury did not want to give it more funding was telling.
Ms Lamoela asked who was the chairperson who presided over the disciplinary committee hearing the case of the officials who had left the Department. The reasons why she asked and did not receive answers would surface in the near future.
Ms Lamoela said, regarding the shortage of laptops and other ICT equipment, that she remembered the Acting DG saying the department had rooms full of equipment. The officials just had to ask. In her opinion, officials should be issued with equipment when they were appointed.
Ms Van der Merwe said that the building the office was situated in was unsuitable for the Department. It also caused a rift between the Minister and the Deputy Minister, because the Deputy Minister was accommodated elsewhere. She understood that this building had been allocated to the Department by the DPW, but if the building was unsuitable and did not fulfil the needs of the Department, this had to be communicated to the DPW and a suitable building had to be found.
Ms M Nxumalo (ANC) said she did not partake in the oversight visit, but the report was so informative that she felt she was there. She agreed that staff could not produce if working conditions were not conducive. She contracted sinusitis as a result of spending time in a dirty building.
Ms Lamoela concurred that the Committee had to ask the Department for all the outstanding information including the list of donors, MOUs and monthly reports.
Ms Lamoela said there were three women in the workshop who knew what they were talking about and where they needed to go. They were Sisulu Singape, Dr September and Ms Monyonela. The DG was less coherent.
Ms Lamoela asked why a new Bill on equality had to be developed instead of just implementing the previous one.
Ms Van der Merwe said the oversight report had to become the working document of the Committee in the future, as it was clear and succinct and highlighted the issues the Committee had raised for quite a long time, as well as the issues that was still outstanding.
Ms Van der Merwe said the document would assist the Committee to hold the Department accountable on the outstanding issues like the skills audit, monthly reports, updates on the equipment situation and its working relationship with National Treasury. The Department also needed to tell the Portfolio Committee whether it had done the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) workshop. If it did not do it, it did not bode well for the Auditor-General (AG)’s report.
Ms Lamoela said the Minister was evasive when asked for information and the quarterly reports of the department were vague and incoherent. She strongly proposed that the report under discussion be used as a guiding document to work from, because it was comprehensive and coherent and it grouped all the outstanding issues together in a way that made it easy to monitor the progress on each issue individually.
Ms C Diemu (COPE) thanked the researchers for the report, which she felt was a true reflection of matters as they stood. She said when these issues were raised at the budget vote, the Minister implied that the Members of the Portfolio Committee were lying. Timeframes set for the Department were never upheld.
Ms Van der Merwe said the quarterly reports were presented in a way that was not comprehensive, coherent or consistent. Nothing could be done to change them at this stage, because it was in the past. She concurred that the current document had to be used as a guiding document from which to take up and follow up on the issues. She agreed with Ms Diemu that timeframes had to be attached to the different issues and that pressure had to be put on the Department to deliver on time.
Ms Abrahams added that the Chairperson said there was a need for a follow-up mechanism. Based on the oversight report, she would list all the items the Members had requested and send a letter to the Department, requesting it. The Department had to respond in writing. In some cases donor money was not handed over to the Department and went through the donor’s books. In those cases the Committee would still want to know what other support had been given and what was the nature of the support. All of this information would be used to compile a checklist for the Department to tick off. She would design a form of template, which contained a list of the issues as well as the progress made in each case over time.
There were many other reports that the Department had done, which it referred to, of which the Committee did not have copies. It also linked to the issues of donors. If a donor donated money to the Department and the Department had to produce a report on the activity it did, the Committee also had to receive a copy of that report. This was her proposal for a follow-up mechanism.
The Chairperson said the question to ask was – ‘Where was the report now in terms of the Public Service Act?’ The Committee waited until the end of 2012 and it could ask the Department, in terms of the Act, whether it could proceed with its own report. The report had to be concluded, but it could not be done without engaging all those who had been implicated in the Fluxman Report, especially the DG. The Committee agreed that the report was one-sided and it had to hear for itself the different sides to the story in order to make a fair and objective assessment.
Ms Lamoela said the conclusion of the Report was urgent, because it had financial implications for this department.
The Chairperson said that the matter of the Fluxman Report would be discussed with the Department the following day after which the parties concerned would decide on the way forward.
Department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities – Quarterly Reports 2012/13 – Branch: Women’s Empowerment & gender Equality (WEGE) (Programme 2)
Ms Levendale presented. She said that:
Point one in this document set out how the objectives of the Department as it was reported changed from three in quarters one and two, to four in quarter three when another objective was added, to quarter four where only the first objective was the same as before, and three totally different and new ones were added, and the previously listed objectives numbers two, three and four were summarily discarded. (See doc)
Point two referred to targets and whether they had been achieved, partially achieved or not achieved. Here two sets of data were provided for the same period which was FY 2012/13. For example, for quarters one, two, three and four, in one set of data, the number of targets achieved were given as 12, 7, 10 and 16 for the respective quarters. In another set of data, the number of targets achieved was given as 10, 12, 13 and 13 for the same time period. It was obvious that both sets of data could not be correct. There was a third set of data for the same period. (See document)
Point three referred to the budget of the Department. The Department was allocated a budget of R21 million. Its expenditure was R18.4 million, but because it did not indicate its programme budget separate from the transfer payment to the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) it was difficult to gauge/measure actual expenditure.
Point four referred to concerns and questions that came up as a result of what had been observed. Amongst these were:
Why had there been a change /adjustment of programme objectives. What impact did it have on targets and activities?
What happened to targets not achieved? Were they rolled over to the next FY? If not why not. If yes, was there adequate funding available to complete these activities?
The branch indicated that it had a lack of capacity, skills and staff to undertake monitoring and evaluation (M&E) related work, yet it could take on supplementary activities and provide other support.
It also indicated a lack of funding to effectively implement its operational plan, yet R4 million was re-allocated from the WEGE programme to off-set over-expenditure and stabilise departmental finances. (See document for more)
Ms Lamoela asked what ‘partially achieved’ meant in the context of targets. In her opinion, if it had been ‘partially achieved’, it had not been achieved.
The Chairperson agreed that ‘partially achieved’ meant ‘not achieved’.
Ms Van der Merwe said that historical information like information of FY 2012/13 could not change. If it happened, it could not happen again with different results. This made her doubt the veracity of any information she received from the department, because what was true – the first or the second set of information.
Ms Lamoela said the Committee in future had to agree on dismissing the Department when it was obvious that the information was not worth anything. These data sets were from the previous FY and nothing could be done about it, but in future the Department could be held to account and could be properly monitored and evaluated with the help of the oversight report presented during this meeting.
The Chairperson agreed that the Department had to explain the disparities in their reports as pointed out by the researchers. The situation as reported by the researchers cast great doubt on the information provided by the Department as well as the competency of officials.
Ms Van der Merwe said if the Department could provide this quality of information to the Portfolio Committee, its oversight body, which quality of information would it give to the AG and with what kind of results. There would be a serious problem. She said, with respect to the Minister, if the Department could not produce a decent report, how it could run a department. It seemed that the Department had no clue what it was doing.
Ms Lamoela said she alerted the Portfolio Committee to R25 million spent by the Department on retrenchment packages and R14 million it spent on performance bonuses on its staff. She felt this Department did not deserve performance bonuses, because it was not performing. When the Minister was questioned about it, she said it was a printing error. How could it be a printing error when the budget was still balancing? The Minister and Department were misleading the Portfolio Committee.
Ms Lamoela said she refused to sink with the Department. She was alerting the Committee and was making notes about every time she warned and cautioned the Committee about irregular actions by officials in the Department. However, she was not taken seriously. She insisted that the oversight report was the document to work from in future.
Ms Lamoela said the Minister said there was R3 million allocated to the National Council on Gender-based Violence. The Minister wanted to appoint a CEO to head this council, but what would a CEO do without support staff and other resources? Also, there was no funding to acquire staff and resources. National Treasury did not want to give the Department more funding and the Committee could not motivate to National Treasury to give it more funding because the Committee itself did not agree with the way in which the Department operated. Did the researchers think the Committee should allow this appointment to go ahead?
Ms Abrahams said that when the Committee looked at Programme 1 of the Department a month before, it would remember that the National Council on Gender-based Violence resided in the Administration Programme, which was Programme 1. The researchers raised this as a problem, because surely the capacity to deal with gender-based violence resided in Programme 2, which was Women’s Empowerment & Gender Equality. When the Department reported on the first quarter of the 2013/14 FY, the Committee had to ask for a progress report on staffing the National Council for Gender –based Violence. Two weeks previously the Department had placed an advertisement in the Mail & Guardian newspaper inviting tenders for writing an over-arching plan to address gender-based violence in the country. This was based on donor funding. The content expertise was with Programme 2 while the finance was located within Programme 1.
Ms Levendale said it was true that the finances resided in Programme 1, but the physical human resources were provided by Programme 2. She asked what the impact would be on the existing work of Programme 2 as the National Council for Gender-based violence was additional work, separate from its existing functions.
Ms Levendale said that the CEO would not be appointed alone. There would be other support staff also.
Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities Quarterly Reports: Children’s Rights and Responsibilities Research Brief dated 19 June 2013
Mr Wakefield said he would deal with this document as well as the one dated 22 July 2013.
The document dated 19 June 2013 stated that the Children’s Rights and Responsibilities Programme (Programme 3) had the following strategic objectives within the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities.
To facilitate and coordinate the mainstream and advocacy of children’s rights considerations into Government’s policies and governance processes through the development and promotion of the national Plan of Action for Children and annual advocacy campaigns in partnership with government and other stakeholders.
To coordinate and facilitate an integrated approach to the promotion of capacity building and institutional support to enable key stakeholders in the in the sector to participate and contribute more efficiently and effectively in mainstreaming and monitoring of children’s rights at all levels of government and civil society; and
To monitor, evaluate and report annually on the realization of children’s rights in line with the constitution, national, continental and international obligations.
The next part of the document dealt with performance indicators and outputs for the 2012/13 FY which the Department could use to measure whether it was reaching its objectives. There were 14 indicators amongst which were the following (See document for full list)
To develop a national plan of action for children
To facilitate processes to integrate the mainstreaming of children’s rights into policies and governance processes
To coordinate the sanitary dignity campaign
To strengthen child participation and self-advocacy
Develop indicators for monitoring violence against children
Child-friendly cities/communities initiatives for the realisation of children’s rights facilitated and coordinated in three municipalities
These 14 indicators also dwindled down to 12 over the four quarters of FY 1012/13 without explanation. The indicators also needed to be thought through in order to make them more strategic. There was duplication of functions other government departments were already doing. Partnerships with other government departments would strategically make more sense in certain cases.
Mr Wakefield tracked the different indicators over time through the quarterly reports and rated it according to the progress made using green for achieved, orange for partially achieved and red for not achieved.
Using this rating system, the end result was that 14% of the targets were achieved, 50% partially achieved and 36% not achieved. This meant that the Department achieved 14% of its intended performance indicators for children’s rights and responsibilities during the 2012/13 FY.
The Portfolio Committee had requested information on donor funding for the 2012/13 FY. The Department provided information on donor funding for the 2011/12FY.
Most of the donor funding the Department received was for the Children’s Rights and Responsibilities Programme and mostly from UNICEF. Most of these activities were completed and reported on during 2012/13 quarterly reports as opposed to activities linked to indicators that was funded by the Department, which were mostly incomplete at the end of the FY. Was this due to contractual obligations to the donors? It was telling, because donor funds only comprised 1% of the Department’s total budget.
Key Questions for Consideration
When did the Department plan to present final versions of the following documents to the Portfolio Committee? :
National Plan of Action for Children
M&E Framework in relation to Children’s Rights
The initial country report on the implementation of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
How will the Department catch up with regards to the incomplete performance indicators especially the following:
Facilitate processes to integrate the mainstreaming of children’s rights into policies and governance processes
The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
Review and monitor indicators for Early Childhood Development (ECD)
What will the Department do in order to complete the following outstanding performance indicators, taking into account the fact that FY 2012/13 was over?
Develop indicators for monitoring violence against children
Compile one report on the progressive realisation of children’s rights
Coordinate a strategy for integrating children’s considerations in integrated public service delivery
Child friendly Cities/Communities initiatives for realisation of children’s rights facilitated and coordinated in three municipalities
Develop a constitutional framework
How many consultants were used to assist with certain performance indicators?
Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities Quarterly Reports: Children’s Rights and Responsibilities Research Brief dated 22 July 2013
The document dated 22 July 2013 was an updated version of the document dated 19 June2013. The reason for altering the document was that the Department sent a different version, containing different information, of the quarterly reports. There were discrepancies between earlier versions and later versions of the quarterly reports.
Indicators, like the performance indicator 13 on child-friendly cities/communities, were incomplete in all previous versions of the quarterly report. This situation changed inexplicably in the latest version of the presentation. Most targets had been met.
The Department had only achieved 14% of its performance indicators for the 2012/13 FY in relation to the Children’s Rights and responsibilities programme based on the information in the first presentation of the Department. This percentage suddenly changed to 68% in the latest presentation from the Department.
The amount of donor funding received were earlier indicated as R788 000.00, but subsequently changed to R1 246 447.
Key Questions for Consideration
Most of these were the same as in the document dated 19 June 2013, but numbers five, six and seven were added to the key questions.
How did the National Plan of Action for Children link to the 4 social campaigns that the Department coordinated?
Child participation activities should not just be tokenistic in nature, but should actually be incorporated in government plans. Therefore, how were the recommendations and discussions in relation to child participation and self- advocacy incorporated into the work of the Department?
How were the ECD indicators different to that developed by the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency?
Ms Lamoela said this presentation illustrated why it was important for Members to get documents well in advance so that Members had time to study them.
The Chairperson said it was a strategy by the Department to provide documents late so that Members did not have time to look at them in-depth. The information was ambiguous.
Ms Van der Merwe said that to mislead Parliament, as it seemed the Department was busy doing, was a serious offence. Information provided to Parliament had to be truthful. What was true – the previous information or the current information? How could the percentage of targets achieved, change from 14% to 68% between June and July2013, while it was information pertaining to FY 2012/13 which ended March 2013?
Ms Lamoela asked whether the DG leading the Department was competent. It was her duty to see that functions were performed and that presentations to the Portfolio Committee were taken seriously.
Department of Women, Children & People with Disabilities Programme
Ms Abrahams said a month ago she did a paper on the nature of the Disability Programme of the Department. She also had to update it based on the new information.
If one looked at the block around ‘Review of Achievements’ there were very few. It started off with 3-5 and in the third and fourth quarter, it became 2-2. The non-achievements increased over the four quarters.
On page two, the second bullet, was the disability awareness campaign framework. She looked at what the Disability Programme said about achievements. She listed for every key performance area what the indicator was which was listed as an achievement. On page one, ‘assessment reports on the national awareness and accessibility campaign was compiled’ was listed as achievement number three, but there was no indication as to what the outcome of the initiatives were. Surely the coordinating role the Department had to play was more important than the compilation of the assessment reports? The on-going awareness campaign was more important as well as the cost incurred. Also the specific role of the Department was important especially because its campaigns overlapped with campaigns by other departments.
On page two it stated that the Department was supposed to develop the disability awareness campaign framework. Her concern was that this was the third year of the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) cycle. How did it happen that the Department only developed a framework for campaigns in its third year? What guided the Department in the first and second years if it was only busy finalising it in its third year?
The third bullet point listed another assessment report on monitoring and evaluation. If the report was completed, why did the Department not submit it to the committee? The Portfolio Committee had not seen this report.
The Department listed putting out a statement at a conference as an achievement. In her opinion, putting out a statement was not an achievement. The achievement would rather be located in the contents of the statement for example community-based rehabilitation was very important in South Africa, but most donor funding from UN agencies was directed at HIV and AIDS Programmes. If the Department succeeded in channelling some donor funding in the direction of community-based rehabilitation, it would be an achievement.
Another listed achievement, institutional support and capacity building spoke to an intervention model around access to education for children. If one interrogated it thoroughly, it was more about the Department giving guidance and support for the development of one centre. There were no plans to roll out similar centres to the whole country. It was a once off event and the Department only offered guidance and support. What was the cost of providing guidance and support, if it counted as an achievement?
Another achievement listed was that an Institutional Framework was developed. The Department stated that the framework was finalised in the first quarter, but it was not clear what the cost implications were for implementing the framework and how this framework was going to be disseminated in government departments and municipalities, because part of an institutional framework was to say how this Department was going to work with other departments. The research unit had engaged with many departments and none of them were aware of the institutional framework for disability of this Department.
The discrepancy around this institutional framework was that in the initial presentation, it was cited as not achieved. In the updated presentation, a month later, it was cited as achieved. How did this happen?
It listed organising disability and joint machinery meetings and consulting stakeholders as an achievement, but organising a meeting was not an achievement. Again, it would be the contents of those machinery meetings that would decide whether they were achievements. The question was more, what did the stakeholders say, what was agreed upon and how was the follow-up going to happen? The reports of these meetings were very crucial, because delegates represent their respective provinces. The Committee had no indication of the contents of those meetings.
The presentation did not say anything about M&E, which was a concern. None of the achievements were evaluated.
She moved on to objectives that were partially achieved.
The presentation mentioned the universal access strategy, which was approved, but the reason it was not finalised, was that the Department was waiting for a task team to be established. In her opinion, a government Department, the experts in disability, could not wait for a task team to be established to finalise a strategy, which had to reside inside of the Department. A task team was an external organ.
On page three, under monitoring, evaluation and report, there was an indicator that looked at access to education for children and young people. There was talk about an audit of special schools for a long time, but the Department said it was still waiting for outstanding questionnaires and due to capacity constraints it was going to ask the Department of Communications to assist with the data capturing.
The discrepancy regarding the audit of special schools was that it was only mentioned in quarter one, and never again. There was no indication of progress on it during the subsequent quarters.
Another indicator was ‘Disability considerations integrated into government-wide M&E systems’. This was crucial because in order for government to mainstream disability, it needed a framework and indicators. After the Department being in existence for three years, there was still no finalised framework and indicators.
The Department had said it could not focus on this issue during the third and fourth quarter, because it was focussing on the country report, but the two issues were linked. When one finalised the M&E framework and had the indicators, it was directly linked to the country report. When the Department asked other departments to report back to it on in this regard, it needed to explain how they were mainstreaming people with disabilities, what their programmes were and how far they have come. All this information fed directly into the country report. It was thus a poor excuse.
In terms of United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) reporting requirements, the Department said in quarter one, that the country report had been submitted for approval, but national departments, provinces and districts had been unresponsive. In quarter two, there was a second draft, but the responses were still slow. In quarter three and four, this target was not reported on.
The discrepancy was that in the earlier presentation, this target was listed as not achieved. In the later presentation, quarter three and four was marked as ‘none’.
Still on partial achievements, for institutional support and capacity building, the Department referred to support intervention around equal access to employment and economic empowerment. Here the indicator was about developing models for outlying norms and standards for mainstreaming disability, considerations into skills development centres. What did this mean? It was vague. When one looked at what was done, the Department assisted in the development of only one centre. When one looked at the indicator, one had the impression that it referred to more than one centre.
The discrepancy was that in the initial presentation this target was listed as ‘not achieved’ while in the later version it was listed as ‘partially achieved’.
The document contained many other examples of discrepancies between earlier and later versions of reports on FY 2012/13. (See document)
Ms Lamoela said she thought the development of this Department needed to be workshopped. The current state of affairs was worrying. This Department did not offer value for the taxpayer’s money it was spending and the Portfolio Committee would be held accountable if it allowed the status quo to continue.
The Chairperson thanked the Content Advisor for the report and comments. She said the picture that was emerging was demoralising. This was a very important Department, because it dealt with these three target groups. This Department was needed and it could not be allowed to close, because it would put these target groups back in the position they were before. The Minister or the personnel had to change in order to make it work.
Ms Lamoela said that she wholeheartedly agreed with what the Chairperson said, but any business that did not become profitable within three years had to be closed. This government had spent more than R500 000 000 on this Department, and had nothing to show for it. Something had to be done. South Africa was the murder and rape capital of the world and women were killed at an alarming rate, and people with disabilities were suffering.
The Chairperson said the oversight report would guide the Department.
Ms Diemu said the Department was in existence and this should not change, but the Minister had to be replaced.
Ms Lamoela said that the Committee could not keep quiet about people who occupied positions they were not qualified for in terms of skills. The Committee had to be honest about it. The researchers would do a better job running the Department. The Minister had a negative attitude towards the staff in the Department as well as the Members. She was prone to have rage attacks when confronted with uncomfortable facts.
Committee Draft Report on the implementation of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Ms Abrahams did this presentation.
South Africa ratified the Convention and the Optional Protocol on 30 November 2007. The Convention made people with disabilities ‘rights holders’ and ‘subjects of the law’ with full participation in formulating and implementing plans and policies affecting them.
Given Parliament’s oversight role on treaty compliance and public participation, it was essential for Parliament to host public hearings on South Africa’s compliance with the convention as the institution through its oversight function, played a key role in ensuring respect for the human rights of people with disabilities.
The objectives of the public hearings were to:
Identify progress made in implementing the convention, to identify challenges in implementing the Convention from both civil society and the Executive and to ascertain mechanisms that would aid the implementation of the Convention.
24 Submissions were received from organisation and individuals.
The main observations that emerged from the submissions were that:
Access to education remained a major concern for children, youth and persons with disabilities
Employment and economic empowerment remained a challenge for people with disabilities
People with disabilities were often the victims of sexual abuse, maltreatment and neglect
Primary health care facilities in South Africa did not provide rehabilitation services to people with disabilities and access to therapists remained a challenge
Transport and mobility services to people with disabilities were inadequate or non-existent in South Africa and participants highlighted the fact that the Convention was weak in identifying transport services as a means of mobilising people with disabilities to be able to participate in society
Accessibility to buildings and transport for people with disabilities would have to change drastically if the ideals of inclusive employment, education, health, recreation etc, were to become a reality.
Submissions indicated that there was a need for strategies and an integrated plan and that people with disabilities had to be included in the planning and implementation of these strategies and plans.
There was a need for inter-sectoral and interdepartmental collaboration to provide services to people with disabilities
Negative stereotyping of and discrimination against people with disabilities had to change
The different forms of intellectual disability had to be highlighted as well as the different needs of people with these conditions
There was a general lack of awareness of the UNCRPD.
Outcomes and deliberations
During August to October 2012 the implicated departments were called to respond to the issues that emerged in the public hearings. After consultations and deliberations with the relevant parties, the Portfolio Committee compiled its report. It would be tabled as a basis for a discussion in the House. The report noted the key observations as well as the Committee’s suggestions for the way forward. The Committee was also engaging with the Department, which was responsible for the drafting of the country report on the UNCRPD.
Out of the process it emerged that despite South Africa being a signatory to the Convention, awareness of the UNCRPD was poor and the Executive as the duty bearers did not understand what its obligations were. The information required to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the Convention was not readily available. The environment in South Africa was not user-friendly for people with disabilities and the Department had a critical role to play in making South Africa user-friendly for people with disabilities.
The Committee noted the advancements that had been made in South Africa regarding the rights of people with disabilities, but the public hearings on the implementation of the Convention revealed the challenges which remained.
The Committee made a number of recommendations which dealt amongst other with making sure the country complied with the UNCRPD, monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the UNCRPD, creating and enhancing disability awareness, access, training and capacity building, education, health, economic empowerment and employment, child care and protection, justice, safety and security, and local government.
Ms Van der Merwe said the report was excellent and clear. Every year the DPW reported that it rolled over the money allocated to it to make buildings accessible and user friendly to people with disabilities, because it did not have the expertise to do it. The Pan South African Language Board (PANSALB) was also lagging behind in its work to make sign language an official language. These entities were letting people with disabilities down. Could pressure be put on them to do what they had to do?
Ms Lamoela asked whether timeframes could be attached to their required report backs.
The Chairperson agreed that these issues had to be concluded before the current government’s term of office came to an end in 2014. This was also why she asked for a mechanism through which all outstanding issues could be identified, tracked and concluded. She did not want to leave outstanding issues for the new incoming committee.
Ms Abrahams suggested that the Committee Secretary wrote letters to all the relevant departments regarding outstanding issues by the end of the current term. The Committee could look at the issues during the fourth term.
She also suggested that the Committee recommend to Parliament that, based on the outcomes of the public hearings, all departments had to report to Parliament on a bi-annual basis on how they were mainstreaming people with disabilities in their departments, which programmes they were implementing and the cost involved and how were they doing in relation to the 2% target regarding staff with disabilities.
The Chairperson agreed with the suggestion.
Ms Van der Merwe said she felt that the two-year cycle was a long time. She quoted a story in the news about a group of disabled people who were being exploited and ill treated in a sweatshop in KwaZulu-Natal to illustrate the urgency of the need for action in this regard.
Ms Lamoela said that this case was the result of a lack of monitoring and evaluation.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would follow up on the case.
Ms Lamoela said the cycle should be one year long and the meeting agreed.
Committee minutes: adoption
Minutes of meetings held on 05, 12, and 19 June 2013 were adopted
The meeting was adjourned.
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- Lorenzo Wakefield DWCPD Quarterly Reports: Children’s Rights & Responsibilities Research brief/summary 19 June 2013
- Lorenzo Wakefield DWCPD Quarterly Reports: Children’s Rights & Responsibilities Research brief/summary 22 July 2013
- Lorenzo Wakefield DWCPD Quarterly Reports: Children’s Rights & Responsibilities Research brief/summary 18 June 2013
- C Levendale DWCPD – Quarterly Reports 2012/13 – Branch: Women’s Empowerment & gender Equality (Programme 2)
- DWCPD Branch Children’s Rights & People with Disabilities Unit Rights of People with Disabilities Presentation
- DWCPD Branch Rights of Children & People with Disabilities Unit Children’s Rights & Responsibilities Presentation [undated]
- We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting
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