Departmental briefing on 1st to 4th quarterly 2013 reports on Children, Disability and Gender

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Meeting Summary

The Department of Women, Children and People with Disability (DWCPD) briefed the Committee on the 1st to 4th Quarterly Reports, 2013, in respect of programmes 2, 3 and 4. A brief overview of performance information was given and the DWCPD would consolidate the information into one slide reflecting all the four quarters. The information had been audited. It noted that although the SMART principles on performance information had not always been followed in this year, it would be done in future, to lead to a better audit result.

In respect of Programme 2: Women Empowerment and Gender Equality, it was noted that there had not been particularly good performance for workshopping with national and provincial departments, but there were workshops on the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill and input into the Traditional Courts Bill. A full framework to inform the gender mainstreaming strategy would be in place by year-end, for all sectors of government. A gender audit was done in three provinces. In some cases the Department was hampered by no implementation plans being submitted by the provinces. There had been engagement with rural women, and engagements on the New Growth Path would improve. Advocacy campaigns were conducted as expected. The Department was busy with a  database on women’s involvement and monitoring of national departments strategy was being prepared. The Technogirls Project showed good performance.

Programme 3: Rights of Children and People with Disabilities, noted that the National Plan of Action for Children was approved by Cabinet, and the draft of the mainstreaming framework had been produced. The sanitary dignity campaign was proceeding. Social campaigns included those on access to education for all children, and children were being given opportunities to strengthen their participation and self-advocacy, through Children’s Parliament.

Members asked when the final versions of documents would be presented, and commented that although it had been said that the DWCPD was doing well in participating with other departments, it was not following up what those departments were actually doing to implement and report. Members questioned why some information had changed between one report and the other, asked for comment whether the Turnaround Strategy was successful and an update on challenges previously mentioned. They wanted to know when the WEGE Bill would come to Parliament, an update on the National Council against Gender Based Violence, and appointment of its secretariat, how the outcomes of the campaigns were assessed and captured. Specific feedback was requested on the campaigns on the Rights of Children and People with Disabilities, and what was spent on those. A DA Member expressed disappointment that five years down the line the real implementation and achievement was not yet apparent, with only 14% of targets having been achieved. She questioned whether there was proper spending, asked for a detailed list of donors and how their money was spent, a request echoed by other Members, and a full report on the Department’s staff structure and what it cost, per programme. A report was requested on consultants and temporary employees. There was criticism that the disabled, including children, could not access departmental programmes. Regular progress reports were needed on the audit committee and how DWCPD would deal with outstanding targets. Members were particularly concerned about the failure t reach Quarter 3 disability targets, noted general underspending, and wanted more detail on where child-friendly communities were. The Department was asked to detail when its Universal Access Strategy and National Disability Policy would be finalised. The Committee wanted the Policy on Children’s Rights and asked if all departments were aware of the National Programme of Action on Children. The Chairperson asked if the DWCPD was following up on resolutions at international conferences, wanted to know about exit interviews of staff, and the vacancy rate. Many questions were addressed, but others must be finalised in writing by the following week.

Meeting report

Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD) : quarterly performance reports on Programmes 2, 3, and 4 for 1st to 4th quarters 2013
Ms Veliswa Baduza, Director-General, Department of  Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD or the Department) noted that although the Department had presented on the quarterly performance for 2012/ 2013 for Programme 1, Members had been concerned abut the bulk o f documents presented and had asked for a tabulated comparison of the work in the four quarters. The DWCPD had agreed to consolidate the information into one document reflecting all the four quarters She noted that the information had in the meantime been audited.

In this year, given the relative newness of the Department, the personnel were reporting internally at the conclusion of each quarter, considering their performance, and reporting to the Minister. Now, there was also an internal audit unit in the Department, and that had been capacitated, so in practice the information would, in line with best practice, be audited and verified prior to the information being presented to the Audit Committee, the Minister, National Treasury and the Portfolio Committee.

The information now being presented had been audited by end July 2013. The Department was presently finalising its Annual Report, which would be tabled to Parliament by the end of this month. Although performance information had been audited by the Auditor-General (AG) the audit opinion did not include it in the audit report, although it would make recommendations to the DWCPD. On performance, she conceded that although the SMART principles had not been followed as strictly as they should, there had been improvements since, so ensure that when performance was included in the annual audit the DWCPD would obtain a good report.

Programme 2: Women Empowerment and Gender Equality
Ms Seabi Modjadji, Deputy Director-General: Women Empowerment and Gender Equality, DWCPD, said that she would summarise how the Department had fared against its performance indicators for this Programme. The first indicator related to the workshopping of the national and provincial departments on national policy. With regard to that, it was accepted that there had not been good performance, mainly because of the poor response and attendance of the departments invited to the sessions. However, there was better performance in relation to holding of workshops on the national policy behind the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality (WEGE) Bill. There had been input on the Traditional Courts Bill.

Ms Modjadji said that the second performance indicator related to workshopping departments on gender mainstreaming. The internal drafting of the mainstreaming framework to inform the gender strategy was started prior to this, and by the end of the year the DWCPD would have developed a mainstreaming strategy across all sectors of government.

The third performance indicator was on the New Growth Path (NGP), which showed partial performance. In the first quarter, when the NGP and Jobs Fund were initiated, not much was achieved, but there had been engagement with departments since.

The fourth indicator related to rural women’s programmes, and there had been several engagements with rural women in terms of economic empowerment, raising awareness on opportunities, assisting women in forming cooperatives and getting assistance from Industrial Development Corporation and Small Enterprise Development Agency.

There had been good performance also on advocacy campaigns, having convened the Women’s Day in August, convened the Women’s Month, and convened the International Women’s Day. In the first quarter there were engagements with women on the Traditional Courts Bill, empowerment and other celebrations were held in the third quarter, as outlined in the presentation, including Women’s Day, Women’s Month and 16 days of Activism. International Womens Day celebrations were convened in March.

On the next performance indicator, establishing a database to monitor the involvement of women, it was doing well, having compiled a database of women sitting on Sector Education and Training (SETA) Boards, women in mining, and women in tourism.

The monitoring of national departments had begun, with the development of a monitoring an evaluations strategy, but it had not actually implemented it.

Ms Modjadji said a gender audit had been done in three provinces, and some plans had followed to implement some plans there, but other provinces failed to submit implementation plans. Finally, the TechnoGirl Project was running in terms of the integrated institutional mechanism for the empowerment of young women, which showed good performance.

Programme 3: Rights of Children and People with Disabilities
Mr Mzolisi Tom, Deputy Director General: Rights of Children and People with Disabilities: DWCPD, said that the first performance indicator, to have the National Plan of Action for Children approved by Cabinet, was achieved. The second indicator was the integration of a mainstreaming strategy into policies and governance processes, and here a final draft of the mainstream framework had been produced.

The third performance indicator related to the sanitary dignity campaign, and the approach had been to ensure that whatever was done was actually benefiting the children, and that manufacturing of sanitary pads would be done locally.

The fourth indicator related to the social campaigns, which included access to education for all children, in conjunction with the Department of Education in various provinces. He referred members to reports on this.

The fifth indicator was to strengthen child participation and self advocacy, to ensure that children were given an opportunity to participate in the Nelson Mandela’s Children’s’ Parliament held in Mpumalanga. This even was \gaining momentum and provinces were fairly supportive.

The Chairperson asked the Department to explain its role in Technogirls.

Ms S Paulse (ID) asked if, and when, the DWCPD would present final versions of documents mentioned, such as the National Plan of Action for Children, the Institutional Framework Report and others.

Mr D Kekana (ANC) noted the statement that the DWCPD had done well on the key performance indicators for inter-departmental performance, but said that on the ground, these other departments had very far to go in implementing policies around women, children and people with disabilities. Different departments knew they had to do various things, but some did not even bother to report on the imperatives. He felt that the statement that inter-departmental performance was good was questionable.

Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) was pleased to note that in quarter 1 and quarter 4 there was some progress. However, in relation to the statement that the targets were not as SMART-compliant as they could have been she asked if the Director General had been expecting a worse audit opinion. She reminded Members that the issue of SMART targets had been highlighted in a previous meeting, and the Department was asked to explain the changes in the targets, and to clarify which achievements had been changed, and why.

Ms van der Merwe wondered whether the turnaround strategy had been successful, and what phase this had reached. She also asked for an update on matters previously cited as impediments to the turnaround, such as lack of funding, and the need for a skills audit to check that the turnaround would be effective.

Ms van der Merwe asked the current status of the WEGE Bill, and whether it would be brought to Parliament soon, or whether it had fallen by the wayside.

Ms van der Merwe wanted an update on the National Council against Gender Based Violence, which, according to previous information, should by now have lobbied for funding, and have appointed a Chief Executive Officer .

Ms C Mosimane (DA) asked how the Department captured the outcomes of the campaigns, how it marked its success, and how much it spent for campaigns. She asked for specific feedback on the outcomes of the campaigns on the Rights of Children and People with Disabilities, and what was spent on those.

Ms H Lamoela (DA) was extremely disappointed with the Department, pointing out that, five years down the line, and millions spent, she was still not seeing implementation and achievements. The Committee needed to know exactly what had been done with the budget and some positive returns should be seen. The Department achieved only 14% of the targets and she did not believe there was proper spending.

Ms Lamoela asked for a list of donors, and a detailed explanation of how the budget was spent. Taxpayers still did not know how their money and the R19 million budget was used. She asked the Department to provide the number of people employed, with a number breakdown by programme, and the total cost for each programme. She also asked why consultants were employed, and at what cost. She also wanted to know if there were temporary employees, and if so, in which programmes, the reasons, and the outcomes.

Ms Lamoela asked why there was no access and employment opportunities for the disabled people. In particular, she wanted to know whether children with disabilities had access to the Department, pointing out that her information showed that 200 in the Western Cape alone had no such access.

Ms Lamoela was pleased to hear of the establishment of the internal audit committee, and wanted to get regular progress reports on its activities.

Ms E More (DA) asked for more details on donor funding. Previously, the Committee had heard of R388 000 but then the second presentation mentioned R1.2 million. She also needed details of the names of the donors, how the funding was used, whether to benefit children or the disabled.

Ms More noted the outstanding performance indicators and asked if the DWCPD had specific plans how to address this, and whether there was budget to complete the projects.

Ms More was concerned that the Department had not achieved its quarter 3 targets for disability spending, and that the Department still needed to meet with the Cabinet for the assessment of the funding from the Ford Foundation, called for a detailed report on whether the Ford Foundation was willing to play a role. If not, then the Department should move on and look for other funders.

Finally, Ms More wanted the Department to explain the slide on budget and expenditure, noting that the budget seemed sufficient, and that although sometimes, there was the impression created that the budget was insufficient, but still there was underspending elsewhere.

Ms P Petersen-Maduna (ANC) commented that she did not appreciate the fact that some delegates did not appear to be listening carefully to the questions. She was not sure how the Department would ensure proper spending and was concerned about the pattern of underspending.

Ms M Tlake (ANC) said that she was concerned that there was partial or non-expenditure for people with disabilities. She asked how much was allocated for people with disabilities, in the overall budget.

Ms Tlake noted that whilst some cities and communities were stated as child friendly there were no performance indicators in this report, and wanted more detail on where those communities were.

Ms Tlake also questioned the lack of a mention in this report on the National Council against Gender based Violence, including an update on its Secretariat, that was supposed to assist it to function.

The Chairperson asked the Department to specifically address when the Universal Access Strategy would be finalised, for people with disabilities, and when the National Disability Policy would be finalised.

The Chairperson noted the mention of state party conferences. She asked whether these were as concerned with implementation as with merely making statements, and how the DWCPD was following up on implementation of resolutions.

The Chairperson also asked for a copy of the policy on Children’s Rights, which specified also the monitoring and evaluation instruments, and the indicators. She wondered if all departments, national, provincial and local, were aware of the National Programme of Action on Children. She enquired as to the outcome of the Child’s Rights Machinery meeting that the Department had held.

The Chairperson agreed that it was very important to answer the question that Ms van der Merwe raised; as to why the information changed in different documents presented to the Committee.

Ms Lamoela asked the delegation to speak to the exit interviews that were conducted by the Department.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) asked the Department to explain the vacancy rate in the Department, given the apparent underspending across the board.

Ms Baduza apologised for the conduct of the officials, and said that she would take up with them why some of them had not appeared to be taking the Members and the meeting seriously.

She confirmed that she would put timeframes to the information that had been requested by the Committee. She had requested her team to develop documents and provide them to the Committee. The National Plan of Action on Children for instance, had been prepared and approved, and this was an indicator that things were being done differently.

Ms Baduza noted that she had given Members a bulky document, which contained all the country reports that had been submitted, on the status of women (UNCSW), on rights of people with disabilities (UNCRPD), and all three country reports on children’s rights (UNCRC). All the documents would be on a disk if Members wanted to read them electronically.

Other documents that were still coming through were documents that related to all the strategies discussed, such as the Integrated Mainstreaming Strategy, which was presented to Members in March 2013, the Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy, the Advocacy Strategy, and the Institutional Support Strategy. The next set of documents that she would provide would include these.

Ms Baduza noted that a report had been prepared also on the Sanitary Dignity Strategy, and it would also be included. Gender Responsive Budgeting was also going to be part of the information in the documentation. The survey that had been conducted on Special Schools would be included, as also the Study on Violence against Children. All would be made available in a bound form.

Ms Baduza had taken note of the information that had been requested by Members in terms of the exit interviews and the analysis and her Deputy Director General would be working on that. It was not possible to force people to engage in exit interviews, although a document had been developed for completion by those leaving. The information available would be submitted to Members. She confirmed that in general, the DWCPD had turned around and would provide Members with information, as it had undertaken. The Department took this Committee seriously, understood its oversight role, and accepted it.

As the turn-around proceeded, the DWCPD would do things differently, and for the better. The National Treasury expected the DWCPD to submit quarterly reports 60 days after the end of the quarter, so after the end of June 2013 and by the end of August 2013, it was expected to submit an audited quarterly performance report. This was expected to not only state what had been done but substantiate it, by way of supporting documents. This was why, although there was mention of draft documents, the targets were reflected as “not achieved” until the documents had been approved. Whatever Members were seeing now was the same as National Treasury received.

Ms Baduza said that the Audit Committee met with the Minister on a quarterly basis to report on the state of governance in the department. The Audit Committee had committed itself to assisting the Department to work to its goal of a clean audit. The report submitted to the AG would be signed off and also sent to the National Treasury, after auditing, and the Portfolio Committee.

Ms Baduza noted that the WEGE Bill had been submitted to the Cabinet Committee, and was hoping that it would shortly be approved and taken to the Parliamentary processes.

Ms Thandeka Mxenge, Deputy Director-General (DDG):Corporate Management, DWCPD, reported on the Skills Audit. Here, the DWCPD consulted with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) and the government used the HR connect system. The DPSA was willing to assist, but unfortunately the DWCPD had missed the cut-off time for populating the system with information for analysis by DPSA. DPSA would thus not do the skills audit, but would advise on what guidelines could be used, to do it internally, as the DWCPD was reluctant to use a consultant. It also had to take its staff fully on board, to explain the nature of the audit, and what would happen should staff not be found to have the necessary skills. The template had been developed by DWCPD, each employee’s qualifications were examined, but this was not yet checked with management. It would be finalised at a forthcoming HR workshop. The relevant questions to ask each employee had been identified, that would eventually highlight relevant information on posts and people, and expected outcomes on what was available and what was needed. The HR Unit would be rolling out the skills audit

Ms Mxenge also said that the turnaround was showing positive results on improvement of the financial management. Last year, there was unauthorised expenditure but this did not recur in this year. One of the targets was to achieve a clean audit. That was not possible in this year, but the audit outcome had improved.  Irregular expenditure was reduced from R35 million to R6 million. She acknowledged that no irregular expenditure should happen, but at least in this year it had reduced substantially. She also reminded Members that in this financial year, the DWCPD was still operating with limited capacity, the staff capacity was smaller, yet performance was improved by 6%, which was a positive.

Ms Mxenge also referred to the exit interviews. This was not a perfect system, and employees were asked to fill out forms rather than having an interactive process, but the report would be provided. A quarterly HR report was being prepared, to indicate how many people were appointed per quarter, how many were promoted, how many were disciplined, and how many had grievances. This output would also be discussed in the forthcoming HR workshop.

Ms Mxenge said that the environment in the offices, in terms of cleanliness and space, had been improved, but the DWCPD was limited in exactly how it could re-organise the building, and the landlord had not given approval on some matters. Proper cleaning of carpets was done, and cleaning services, over and above what the landlord was providing, had been hired. Carports were to be erected.

Ms Mxenge noted that at the moment she did not have information on the number of employees, but it would be in the Annual Report, and she would send it to the Committee.  In quarter 1, the vacancy rate had been reduced by 1.1%, against a target of a 2% reduction. There was a problem in resignations and it was constantly monitoring to keep the vacancy rate at an acceptable level.

Use of consultants had been addressed, by a recent Parliamentary question. In relation to contractors and temporary workers, the Department, when trying to improve its capacity, had used some of the savings under Compensation of Employees to hire temporary workers to assist with urgent work and within Supply Chain and Asset Register functions and in Internal Audit. This was a laborious process. The Audit Committee had met three times in the year, so there was improvement and it had a standard agenda item for asset management reports and other matters on which the DWCPD had to focus.

The Chairperson thanked the delegation. She requested that the Department must forward the quarterly reports and responses to the outstanding questions, such as the issue of campaigns, costs, temporary workers, details on donors, by the following week, when the Department would meet again with the Committee.

The meeting was adjourned.


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