Minister & Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities on its Annual Report for 2012/13

Women in The Presidency

09 October 2013
Chairperson: Ms D Ramodibe (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities presented its Annual Report for the financial year 2012/2013.The Department’s hard work had resulted in an unqualified audit report with emphasis of matter. The Department had achieved 70% (83 of 118 set targets), and not achieved 30% (35 of 118 set targets). The approval of the Risk Management Charter and Policy was welcomed.

The Committee was concerned that the Department had under spent on its budget. Fighting gender-based violence had become a very important area of work for the Department. The Minister stressed the need for funds to extend the reach of the Department in the area of gender-based violence to all communities who had been affected by it. The Department had introduced stringent measures to reign in over-expenditure and had been able to operate within the allocated budget.

The Committee was pleased that there had been significant improvements in the Department and thanked them for their hard work. However, they questioned reporting on the implementation of the In-Year Monitoring Mechanism because the Auditor-General’s Report and that of the Department differed. Staff morale and performance were of particular interest to the Committee and it was reported that the Department had conducted an Employee Satisfaction Survey that was in the process of being analysed. An Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) coordinator assigned the responsibility of a wellness programme in the Department. The Committee encouraged the Department to draw on its line departments to fight the scourge of gender-based violence and provide transport subsidies for disabled persons. The R25 million spent on travel and subsistence was questioned and a detailed breakdown of this expense was requested. The Committee asked why the Department was spending more on entertainment when training should have been of greater importance. Members asked for an explanation about the R17.7 million overdraft and if the Department had a policy on leave.

Members were pleased that no performance bonuses were paid as it showed that the Department was serious about putting things right. However, the large salary increases were questioned, especially in relation to the lack of performance bonuses. A goods and services transaction to the value of R500 000 was questioned. Members asked for clarity on property management fees, why six employees had been dismissed, why nine had been suspended, for clarity on the tax debt of R22 000, and why there had been a reduction in the amount for bursaries from R1.4 million to R311 00. The Committee also questioned claims against the Department, why they were unable to comply with the Supply Chain Management Policy, and why members of the Audit Committee failed to attend all the meetings.

The Committee asked about the current status of the skills audit and heard that the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) would assist the Department in this endeavor. The remarkable reduction in advertising fees was questioned, especially because branding was very important to the Department. The Committee expressed particular interest in the fact that the Director-General had signed off on a report when she was not authorised to do so.

Members were relieved to hear that the Department had a strategic risk register, which had been adopted in July, and a risk manager who was assisting the Department in compiling an operations risk register. The Department was asked to advocate for a 50% job fund for women. The Department was reproached because it had failed to include all of its activities in the Annual Report.

The Committee asked for a briefing on the investigation of irregular expenditure incurred in 2011/12. Funded and unfunded posts were explained, and the Committee heard that the Department was in the process of recruitment and selection.

The Committee discussed the Fluxman’s Report and its influence on the staff complement of the Department. The Minister added that the Auditor-General’s report also had an influence on the matter.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks by the Minister

Ms Lulama Xingwana, Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, highlighted the fact that a lot of improvement could be seen in this year’s report, especially in the Auditor-General’s report. From the report it was clear that the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD) had really improved. It was evident from the Auditor-General’s report the previous year that the Department needed leadership, critical personnel, and that it had no systems and lacked control. To use the analogy of traffic lights, the report was “all red”. In terms of leadership, the Department was at the green robot with very few stoppages. The Department had made substantial improvements in the areas of human resources, internal audit and risk. She highlighted the fact that the Department had received an unqualified audit with only a few matters of emphasis as opposed to the previous year when there were many. 

With regard to over-expenditure, the Department had tightened its belt and introduced stringent measures. Although there were some challenges, the Department had been able to operate within the allocated budget. Sometimes leaders were not very popular because people wanted to do nice things, some of which had to be curtailed. The previous year the Department had achieved 63%of its targets, but the Department had improved with the limited resources at their disposal. So much so that they had increased to 70% of their targets achieved. The next year held promise for even more improvements.

The Minister said that the Department had under-spent because the money given was allocated in December last year, and this was during holiday time and also towards the end of the financial year. The Department had to advertise and interview but by March people were still being interviewed and some of them had to work out their notice period. Therefore, the Department was unable to use the money to strengthen internal audit, risk and finance. There were still some challenges in terms of the budget. For example, staffing, human resources, and especially Gender-Based Violence (GBV), which was escalating in the country. GBV was of great concern and the Department was still going to negotiate with the National Treasury in this regard. There was the hope that the National Treasury would be able to support the Department, especially in those critical areas like GBV.

Department of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities Annual Report 2012/13

Ms Veliswa Baduza, Director-General, DWCPD, was pleased to announce that the Department had received an unqualified audit with emphasis of matter. In some instances procurement processes had been partially complied with and effective steps were not taken to prevent irregular expenditure. The Department had achieved 70% (83 of 118 set targets), and not achieved 30% (35 of 118 set targets). The approval of the Risk Management Charter and Policy was welcomed. The Occupational Health and Safety Policy was in place with Occupational Health and Safety Committees appointed, as well as representatives. The capacity of the Audi Committee was increased.

Ms Baduza said the under-spending on compensation of employees was due to the delay in recruitment processes in 2012/13, and the funding that was received in December 2012 from the National Treasury. The Department had spent 93% of its allocated budget and under spent 7%. Donor funding was received to assist in the implementation of some of the key performance indicators (KPIs).

Unfortunately, the activity of integrating disability considerations into all government monitoring and evaluation systems was not achieved, and disability monitoring and evaluation indicators for government monitoring and evaluation systems was not finalised as planned. Two key programme areas of activity were not achieved as planned: the National Disability Policy and the Universal Access Strategy. A Risk Management Committee was appointed and a Risk Management Charter and Policy were approved.

In terms of sector research and international reports, significant achievements included, among others: the African Union Declaration Report, the 2013 United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child/ African Union (UNCRC/AU) periodic reports and the Assessment Report on National Awareness and Accessibility Campaigns. A few highlights of significant achievement in the turnaround strategy were: an increase in the number of targets achieved (7%), no unauthorised expenditure, revision of the Strategic Plan and the Annual Performance Plan (APP) for alignment with the Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound (SMART) principles, and sustenance of the unqualified audit opinion.

Fighting GBV became a very important area of work for the Department. The highlights of significant achievement in the area of advocacy and social campaigns were through the National Council Against Gender Based Violence: a Gender-based Violence Summit (involving traditional healers and rural women); the Ride-on-Speak-out bikers campaign, where bikers rode through the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region to raise awareness on the war against gender-based violence, was used as a build up to the 16 Days Campaign; and the Access to Education for All Children Campaign was launched. (see document)

Discussion

The Chairperson thanked the Minister and Director-General for the comprehensive presentation. Most of her questions had been answered through the presentation, especially programme four, which reflected the least performance. When it came to persons with disabilities, the Committee felt that this was being neglected, but were pleased that there had been improvements in the past quarter. What happened in 2011/12 would not be repeated. The Committee also acknowledged the turnaround strategy and the fact that the Department was implementing it – evidence of which was visible. The Department was aware of the dangers of over-spending, but under-spending left a huge question mark. Especially when some of the reasons given were, for example, due to the compensation of employees that was delayed. Was the Department saying that there were no suitable people for the posts? This was one of the most crucial and critical areas in terms of reducing unemployment.

Ms P Petersen-Maduna (ANC) thanked the Director-General (DG) and the Department for their hard work. This was a young Department of only three years and even areas of governance and financial reporting had shown improvement. The area of children’s rights had also shown that there were no “non-achievements”.

Ms C Diemu (ANC) said that the Director-General’s report had indicated that the Department had achieved targets in the In-year Monitoring Mechanism that was implemented. However, the Auditor-General had highlighted that it was a target that the Department had not yet met.

She noted that the Department had not developed an employee’s assistance programme, and that suitable compliance accommodation was not secured. How did this impact on staff performance and morale?

Ms Thandeka Mxenge, Deputy Director-General: Corporate Manager, DWCPD, replied that she was unable to give an answer at this time. The Department had conducted an Employee Satisfaction Survey that was in the process of being analysed. This would show how the employees were feeling. The Director-General had said that a number of interventions were needed to improve the wellness of staff.

Ms Baduza replied that the Department may not have had an agreement to provide the full-on wellness programme, but did have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) coordinator assigned to that responsibility. The Department hosted wellness days and staff were responding. Virgin Active had come in to do promotions. The retention strategy would be developed as soon as there was a full picture of the situation. It was difficult to compete with the salaries of the “big guns” out there.

Ms Diemu expressed concern that after four years, the information communication technology (ICT) governance framework had not been implemented.

Ms H Lamoela (DA) said that there were still challenges in spite of what was achieved. She was pleased that the Minister also viewed GBV as a huge challenge. This scourge had to be broken because what emerged from the oversight visit was heartbreaking. It seemed that society was failing women. She made a special appeal to women in the House to honour the rights of women. Much could be done if women stood together, especially if the Department drew in its line departments. On its own, the Department would not be able to do it even with an enlarged budget.

Ms Lamoela said that another disappointing issue was the challenges faced by disabled people, as they were the most vulnerable people yet there was a huge vacuum surrounding disabled persons. This should not be allowed; economic empowerment was of pivotal importance because disabled people did wonderful things that kept them alive. It should be remembered that they had a triple challenge, and even though they received a social grant, they could not survive on it. The Department should develop something to assist disabled people.

Ms Lamoela asked for a copy of the analysis of the survey that was done for special schools. She said that R25 million had been spent on travel and subsistence. She asked for a detailed breakdown of this expenditure.

Ms Baduza replied that the Department would work on the detailed breakdown requested and submit this to the Committee. 

Ms Camagwini Ntshinga, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), DWCPD, replied that as Ms Baduza had indicated a detailed transactional report on how the R25m was made up would be submitted to the Committee.

Ms Lamoela said that training was a necessity in this Department, especially with regard to the shortage of skills and ordinary matters like not adhering to regulations.

Ms Lamoela said that on television recently programmes had been screened that showed government departments blaming lack of capacity for their failures. Something had to be done about this to make the Department function better. Ms Lamoela asked for an explanation about the R17.7m overdraft. There was a presumption that it came from the overdraft of the previous year of R23m. Why did the Department still have this overdraft, and were there any measures in place to level or erase it?

Ms Ntshinga replied that for as long as the Department had not received a condonement, that amount would remain there

Ms Lamoela said that any Department should have a leave register or policy about leave. This was one of the regulations that the Department was not adhering to. The Department should try to adhere to regulations.

Ms Mxenge replied that the Department did have an approved leave policy, and there was also a leave determination policy from the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), that applied to all public servants. The findings with regard to leave had to do with the administrative aspects of leave, not with the absence of a leave policy.

Ms Lamoela said that she was pleased that there were no performance bonuses in this financial year in the Annual Report because it meant that there was a serious attempt to “put things right” in the Department.

Ms Lamoela asked if performance awards were paid to any employees.

The Minister said that no performance bonuses were paid in her Department.

Ms Lamoela asked for clarity on property management fees and if the Department had it included in their contract, or if the Department of Public Works (DPW) billed the Department for property rates.

Ms Ntshinga replied that property payments were the amounts for rental of the building. The breakdown was included and Note 5.6 detailed what the items were and the amounts included in the invoice of the DPW. In the invoice it could be seen that the DPW had also included the rates.

Ms Van de Merwe noted that there was a huge increase in operating property payments.

Ms Lamoela asked for clarity about the tax debt of R22 000. This amount was

Ms Ntshinga replied that tax debt was incurred when salary payments were made to employees and a portion of tax was deducted that the Department had to pay to the South African Revenue Services (SARS). In some instances when a person left the Department the system had already closed and the cut-off period had been reached when the transaction was processed. This transaction would then lie in the suspense account. It would then need to be reversed. The Department either claimed it against that particular department, or against the person. This was how the tax debt came about and became part of staff debts.

Ms Lamoela asked for clarity about the claims against the Department.

Ms Ntshinga replied that claims against the Department referred to money owed to other departments by this Department.

Ms L Van De Merwe (IFP) asked the Department to explain why they were not able to comply with the supply chain management policy and what measures had been put in place to prevent this from reoccurring.

Ms Van De Merwe said it was strange that when the Accounting Officer was under review, the DG had signed off on this Report. This was not standard procedure.

Ms Van De Merwe said that some of the people who where appointed to the Audit Committee did not attend all the meetings. The Auditor-General had reported that the Audit Committee was not functioning properly. She asked why they had not attended all the meetings.

Ms Mxenge replied that in terms of the Charter the committee met four times. External people who determined their calendars well in advance were used in the Audit Committee. There would sometimes be special meetings that some members of the Audit Committee were unable to attend. The Department was comfortable that there was commitment from the Audit Committee. Additional members were appointed in November.

Ms Van de Merwe expressed concern that the National Council against GBV was still struggling to get funds. This was a very bad situation.

Ms Van de Merwe asked about the current status of the skills audit.

Ms Mxenge replied that the Department was late in its application to use the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) system for the skills audit as this system had already been locked. The DPSA had however agreed to assist the Department and had availed their instruments. However, this exercise had to be done jointly because consultants could not be used in this process. The DPSA was experiencing capacity challenges because they were assisting other provinces, but had agreed to work with the Department and would reply soon. In the interim the Department had compiled their own tools. This had been reported last week.

Ms Van de Merwe said that branding was very important to the Department and asked why there was such a remarkable reduction in advertising fees from approximately R6m to R1.2m.

Ms Ntshinga replied that it was partly for advertising events in 2011/12 that were done on behalf of programmes. The bulk of it, which was R4.8m, was for this.

Ms Mxenge replied that the last time the Department had come to the Committee it had reported that it was doing a brand evaluation. The Department was currently working on a communication plan and was doing an analysis. The report of this activity was due the following day, 11 October 2013.

Ms Van de Merwe asked why there was such a huge reduction in training and staff development.

Ms Mxenge replied that funding had been set aside for staff development in compliance with the 1%. The first group of staff had already gone for training. Staff development had now been prioritised. If Members could recall, the previous year the Department had said that it would find money to spend on staff development, and that had been done.

Ms S Paulse (ID) asked how the Department would ensure that its objectives, key performance indicators (KPIs) and targets were SMART in 2013 and 2014.

Ms Van de Merwe asked what the Department was doing to ensure that all targets were SMART and strategic.

Ms Mxenge replied that the Department was now working with the Auditor-General (AG) and drafts were also consulted upon with the AG. The Department itself was also looking critically at strategy and objectives to make sure they were SMART.

Ms More referred to the Deputy Minister’s statement that had mentioned talks about and with partners. The issue of partnerships was not mentioned in the report. She asked for an analysis of these partners and partnerships. The issue of partners mentioned in the Sponsorship Report should be included in the report. She congratulated the Department on the unqualified audit report. Disability programmes three and four had only achieved at 31%.

Slides 15, 16 and 17 had shown that no risk management register had been compiled. She asked what the status of the situation was now.

Ms Mxenge replied that the Department had challenges in this area. It did have a strategic risk register that was adopted in July, and had been endorsed by the Audit Committee. The Department appointed a risk manager in August. Subsequently there was agreement to review the risk register, and the risk manager was happy with it but felt that some risks had not been included. This was now included in the review process. The risk manager was also assisting the Department to compile an operational risk register.

Ms More asked the Department to comment on its stance on fraud and having anti-corruption mechanisms in place.

Ms Mxenge replied that the Department did have fraud awareness campaigns the previous year. There were some workshops and branding in the Department to assist employees with how to proceed as a public servant if they experienced fraud. The Department was now compiling its own fraud plan and whistle- blowing plan because the one it was using was the public service one.

Ms More said that it was not good that the Department did not have an Employee Assistance Programme. She asked what was going to happen with the completed UNCR report and if it has been submitted.

Mr D Kekana (ANC) cautioned the Department against under-spending and over-spending, as expenses should only be incurred for what they could afford. He appealed to the Department to avoid either of the two activities. With regard to under-spending, there were areas of need where the money could be spent. He said that the scourge of violence in South Africa would be around for a very long time. The root causes were poverty and unemployment. He asked the Department to try to manage as best they could and to try to sustain stability. He congratulated the Department on its achievements thus far.

Ms M Nxumalo (ANC) said that there was a duty to monitor the turnaround strategy and the action plan. The Auditor-General gave its report, which showed that the Department had improved.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) congratulated the Department on its unqualified report. She said that the Department should advocate for a 50% job fund for women. However, said noted that there were some activities that the Department was involved in that were not reflected in the Annual Report. The Department should have all its activities reflected in the Annual Report including partnerships. She asked the Department for a briefing on the investigation of the irregular expenditure of R6m. The Committee needed to know how this happened and who was responsible for it.

Ms Tseka said that the non-payment of performance awards had been reflected in the 2012/13 Annual Report on page 125. She asked for clarification from the Chief Financial Officer because certain monies had not been condoned. She asked how the unauthorised expenditure incurred in 2011/12, and the irregular expenditure for the same year would affect the Department going forward, especially since there had not been a condonement.

Ms Ntshinga replied that it would depend on the nature of the transactions. There were transactions that needed to be condoned by the Accounting Officer, National Treasury or the DPSA. Once the investigation of the irregular expenditure was completed and recommendations made to the Accounting Officer, then those transactions would be cleared. The Department was in the process of conducting those investigations.

Ms M Tlakle (ANC) congratulated the Department on its unqualified report. Although the National Disability Policy target was not achieved, a draft policy was being developed with internal consultations underway. She asked why this was not in the Annual Report as it was a good achievement.

Ms Tlake said that there were areas of achievement that had not been captured in the Annual Report, such as the progress with regard to the Universal Strategy and the new Gautrain wheel chair access. She asked why this had not been mentioned in the Annual Report. Previously, the Department had spoken about strategy and frameworks for gendering departments, but where were these frameworks that could act as a guide? She asked why the Department was hiding all these things, as they should have been celebrated in some way in the Annual Report.

Ms Lamoela said that monitoring and evaluating what was implemented was very important. Once there was monitoring, the challenges could be pinpointed.

The Minister’s responses

The Minister thanked all Members for keeping the Department in line. Most of the time the Department followed the agenda of the Committee and it was hoped that the Committee could provide a time to allow the Department to share what it was working on with regard to gender, budgeting, children, the action plan, and work with the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) on violence against children. In answer to the Ms Lamoela’s query, the Department had partnered with the Motsepe Foundation and produced a joint report on Gender Responsive Budgeting. A partnership had been forged with the United Nation Women’s campaign on GBV for the Orange Day Campaign, which had been run jointly and in all the provinces. The Department, in partnership with the National Religious Leaders Committee against GBV, had launched the Vikela Mzansi Campaign against GBV and run the Vikela Ogogo Mzansi campaign to protect elderly women who were under attack. Some campaigns had also been run with NGOs when possible.

The Minister said that there was agreement with Mr Kekana about the dangers of over-spending and under-spending, and the Department was committed to ensuring that neither of the two happened. The Department now had a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) who was able to monitor and look at priorities. With regard to accommodation, several letters had been written to assist the Department with their accommodation. Meetings had even been had with the Minister of Public Works, but there was still a separation in terms of how the Department was housed. The Minister pled with the Committee for assistance, and asked them to call the Department of Public Works to enquire as to why the Department of Women, Children, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWCPD) had not been attended to.

There was agreement with Members about the importance of the ICT strategy, and it was being looked at as a matter of urgency. The Minister agreed with the Ms van de Merwe and Ms Lamoela that there was a need for a coming together around the issue of GBV; this was why the Department had a Council with different Departments. The Departments of Police, Justice and Constitutional Development, Social Development and Health were therefore working with NGOs to fight GBV. The Committee was asked for assistance in this regard.

The Minister said that there were travel reports, particularly United Nations travel reports, which had to be presented to the Committee. There was also the matter of local travel in the provinces and it was not cheap to bring them together. This was the same when hosting events with children, because their chaperones also had to be accommodated. The next week was International Rural Women’s Day, which meant money had to be spent on travel, meals and accommodation. This was how most of the money was spent to service all three vulnerable sectors.

The suspension came about as a result of the Fluxman’s Report and also the Auditor-General’s report. It was recalled that the previous year’s report had been very bad and people were disciplined and fired. Some people resigned just before the audit or investigation had been completed. The Department could not do much because some of the people had jumped ship and it was not always possible to compete under those circumstances.

The Minister informed the Committee that a Deputy Director and support staff had been employed to assist the Department in relation to supply chain management, including the appointment of a CFO to ensure a focus on policy and control. The Department was making sure that it adhered to the regulations as far as tax clearance was concerned. The Department was also making sure that they paid out their debtors and were fulfilling their financial obligations.

There was agreement with the Mr Kekana that over-spending and under-spending were equally problematic. The Department was committed to working on this. Women were poor and disempowered and therefore often went back to the same abuser in their desperation for survival. The available funds should therefore be spent on empowering women. On the issue of poverty, the Department was working closely with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Economic Development was providing assistance for vulnerable women. This was in the form of working with this Department on projects that engaged rural women in construction work, for instance, training on how to produce bricks. The Department was also working closely with the Department of Human Settlements to ensure that they considered women when they wanted to build houses. This included collaborating with the Department of Public Works so that when they built clinics and schools they gave women opportunities. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform had been asked to give women land and farms, and also to provide a capitalisation fund for those women involved in agricultural projects. This would allow access to commercial agriculture as well.

The Department was working with the DTI to assist women co-operatives so that they could get into business, but also so that they were able to employ people. In a recent meeting with the new Minister of Human Settlements, serious concern was expressed about the issue of gender-based violence. The Minister of Human Settlements said that there was a need for inter-departmental collaboration to ensure that women had safe housing because in some cases in rural areas, the elderly lived in mud houses that did not even have proper doors. The Ministers were employing 10 000 youth and child-care minders to supervise child headed households. The Minister reiterated the call to prioritise the vulnerable.

With reference to Ms Tseke’s suggestion to fight for a job fund of 50%, the Minister said that it should be remembered that there was also the announcement by the Deputy President about the global fund and the Minister of Health’s focus on vulnerable groups and people living with HIV. The Minister suggested that because of the number of partners and donors working with the Department, there might be a need to come to the Committee with a full report showing what was asked for, and what has been done.

The Minister agreed with Ms Tlake about putting activities of the Department in the Annual Report. This was not possible at the time because the Department was working on a draft report on policy. This report could not be put it into the Annual Report yet because there were still some consultations being done with the disability sector.  This policy would also eventually lead to legislation that would emphasise attention on accessibility issues. The other achievements such as the Gautrain should have been written in the report. This situation would be corrected.

On the issue of the DG signing off on the report, the Minister said that at that time last year the Department had had an Acting DG for some time. The Department had thought that she was an Acting DG who was supposed to be a DDG. At the time the report was being processed and written, the audits were underway and the Auditor-General was being spoken to, the DG was already employed in the Department. So it was thought that the DG could sign-off the report.

Ms Tlake asked if something had been said about the Wage Bill.

The Minister said that the Wage Bill was already in Cabinet, and it would probably be finalised before the end of this month.

Ms van de Merwe asked if it meant that this Bill might not be passed in this Parliament. 

The Minister replied that she was not aware of the time frames, but the time was tight. It was known that with the Women’s Bill everyone wanted to have a say.

Ms Baduza said that the Minister had covered most of the broad questions especially those of a strategic nature. On 18 September 2013, the Committee had given the Department a four-page document with questions. Two lever-arch files with all the information requested would be submitted to the Committee. The Department had responded to all the questions given on 18 September 2013. The responses would be at the top and there would also be a lot of attachments. References had been inserted with a national plan document, and a strategy document and other documents had already been submitted. Ms Baduza said that the target had been delivered upon.

The Minister said that performance bonuses had not been paid to anyone in the Department since she had been there. There were financial constraints so this was not possible.

Ms Lamoela said that she was unclear about the overdraft because on page 135 in the 2011/12 Annual Report there was a consolidated paymaster general account on a bank overdraft of R22.3m. In the year under consideration, the amount had decreased to R177.5m. She asked for the reason for the decrease and if an amount had been paid.

Ms Ntshinga replied that the difference was R4.567m, and it was reduced at the year-end in March. The Department had requested money from National Treasury through funds requisition. It should be remembered that the Department had under-spent so its projects would have cost a certain amount, but it did not use all the money that had been requested from the National Treasury. The difference or balance between the money requested and the money used to disburse payments was what was reducing the overdraft. The overdraft would only be cleared once the condonement had taken place.

Ms Lamoela said that chaperones were an area of challenge for the Department. One of the line departments was the Department of Transport, hence she asked why the Department of Transport could not be asked to subsidise the transport of disabled persons. They did receive grants but they were insufficient to cover all their needs.

The Minister said that with regard to transport for disabled persons, the Department was speaking with the Minister of Transport. A meeting was going to be held and would include disabled persons who would then have the opportunity to raise their concerns around transport. The issue around transport for disabled people was not just a government issue because in most areas there was no government transport. There was private transport like taxis and other buses, but the Department had no control over this. This was therefore a challenge for all. The draft policy that the DG had referred to included accessibility for people with disabilities.

Ms Lamoela said the Department should take steps for the advancement of women with regard to housing. Houses were mostly in the name of the male partner and women continued to suffer the ills of disadvantage.

Ms Lamoela asked why special schools had been closed. They were especially needed for disabled children, and if the Department and the Committee were serious about them measures should be implemented to help these people.

Mr Kekana asked if it was possible in the future, and given that there was under-spending by the Department, if cross subsidisation could take place to allow for money to be allocated to programmes that lacked funds. 

Ms Van de Merwe said that what she was hearing was that the Department could not compete with outside companies or other departments. She asked if the Department had a retention strategy.

Ms Baduza replied that surveys had been sent out to staff to get an understanding of the issues and what needed to be resolved. Staff interviews were being conducted as well as exit interviews. This information was available in the lever-arch files submitted to the Committee and included an analysis of the exit interviews. Exit interviews were voluntary and the Department had included an element of engaging with the person.

Ms Van de Merwe asked when the supply chain management workshop was going to take place.

Ms Van de Merwe asked about funded and unfunded posts. She asked further how vacancies would be filled and if there was a plan for this.

Ms Baduza said that in the files submitted, 27 vacancies were indicated and that the Department was in the process of recruitment and selection. With regard to when vacancies could be filled, some interviews have taken place and information was provided in files about anticipated times for filling the vacancies. She expressed disappointment at the slow pace of the vetting processes and security clearances, but said that the Department was committed to the interviews and finalisation of the process.

Ms Van de Merwe asked what phase of the turnaround strategy the Department was in.

Ms Baduza replied that the Department was at the sustainability phase. Staff had been consulted and it was expected that the unions would come up with additional issues so it was at the bargaining chambers. The Department has also introduced a change management aspect with the support of Statistics South Africa. The Department had also spoken to the United Nations (UN) and from Monday they were sending people to assist.

Ms Lamoela asked why the total number of employees in 2011/12 was 126, but was 119 in 2012/13.

The Chairperson said that she did not understand the question because the Department had been asked to explain many times why there was a high staff turnover. She asked if the question was about salaries or the decrease in the number of employees.

Ms Lamoela said she was asking why there was a decrease in the number of employees from 2011/12 to 2012/13.

Chairperson asked if it was not the result of the Fluxman’s Report and also the reasons that were given there.

Ms Lamoela interjected and said that she wanted the Department to answer the question.

The Chairperson said that the Committee would not let the Department repeat itself over and over again.

Ms Lamoela said this question had not been asked.

The Chairperson asked Members if this question had been asked.

Ms Lamoela said that this question was not asked and she was entitled to ask the question.

The Chairperson interjected and said that nobody had said that Ms Lamoela was not entitled to ask and she would be allowed to ask if she was very pleasant in her manner.

Ms Lamoela said that this was not a pleasant question that was being asked, but she had asked the question in a pleasant manner.

The Chairperson asked the Department if they had responded to the question of the decrease of employees because of the Fluxman Report.

Ms Lamoela asked if it was because of the Fluxman’s Report.

The Minister acquiesced and said it was the AG Report as well. The Department had acted on people who were working during the Department’s time and earned money that they did not declare. Those were the people who were suspended and fired and found guilty. It could be the Fluxman Report as well as other reports. Some employees resigned because they got jobs in the Reserve bank.

Ms Diemu asked the Minister when the Committee was getting the Fluxman’s Report.

The Chairperson said the Fluxman’s Report was tabled and the Minister had said the report was with the Public Service Commission. This was the situation and that was what Ms Diemu was asking.

The Minister said that she did answer that question in the Committee. She told the Committee that she had submitted everything from the AG to the Public Service Commission because the Director-General was no longer under her jurisdiction.

Ms Tseke said that the Department had tabled the Fluxman’s Report with the Speaker of Parliament so reflecting on matters in this document would be a waste of time.

Ms Van de Merwe said that the concern was that this Parliament was in the process of wrapping up. The Minister came to the Committee the previous year on 10 October 2012, with the Annual Report, the Turnaround Strategy and the Fluxman’s Report. Now, a year later and the Committee as part of its oversight and monitoring role, was kindly requesting that those people fingered in that Report were brought to book. This matter was registered as a concern a year ago and this was why the Committee was constantly asking for updates.

The Minister was glad that Members had said that this matter was their responsibility. Members had the right as Parliament to summon any citizen in this country.

The Chairperson made a ruling on this that the Committee would close this and take it up with Public Administration Service.

Ms Lamoela asked if a time frame could be added.

The Chairperson said the time frame was before Parliament rose.

Ms More said that her question was not answered. She had asked if the report for the UN Disability Programme had been submitted, not just compiled.

The Minister said that the report had been submitted to the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, which submitted it to the UN. It was submitted to Cabinet and to Parliament. This included the Children’s Rights Report and the African Union Report.

Ms Lamoela asked about the R388 000 that was an outstanding payment. She asked if these outstanding accounts were settled or if they had they had been carried over into the next year.  

Ms Ntshinga said that the amount had not rolled over. The Department had asked for a rollover from the National Treasury but did not get it. This did have an impact on the current budget because debts had to be paid.

Ms Lamoela said that there were reasons for the Department not having enough money to perform on their programmes and the Committee should look at it that way.

The Chairperson said that it was a genuine concern because if that amount were rolled over it would affect the current budget.

The Minister repeated that her Department had not paid anyone a performance bonus.

The Minister said the correction with regard to the millions spent was raised in Parliament. She had brought a printed page, submitted it to the Speaker and corrected it in Parliament. It was tabled in Parliament. The amount that was changed was a printing error.

The Minister said that Mr Kekana was not present when the Department’s accommodation was discussed. The Department had written to the Minister of Public Services, a discussion had been had with him, and the Director-General had met with officials, but up until now, no results were forthcoming.

Ms Lamoela said with the regard to the printing error in the report – an Annual Report that she still had in her office – it was strange that the Committee had not received any clarification on what it referred to in the National Parliament. She asked if the Committee could get a copy from the Speaker so that this matter could be cleared up.

The Minister said that this was not true; the question was raised in Parliament. She had stood up in Parliament and answered that question. She did not understand why Ms Lamoela said the Committee was not given an explanation.

Ms Lamoela clarified that she did not say they were not given an explanation; she had asked if the Committee could be given a copy of what was submitted to the Speaker in writing. The Minister had referred to it as, ‘it was given to the Speaker in writing’.

The Minister interjected and said she had said all that in Parliament. She asked her staff if the correction was sent to the Speaker, who confirmed that it had been.

Ms Lamoela thanked the Minister for sending the message to the Speaker. She said that the Committee had never received any explanation.

The Minister said that this question was not raised in a Committee, it was raised it in the House. It was a question and she had replied. All the Members were in the House at the time including Ms Lamoela.

The Chairperson said that that was not the procedure. If a question was asked in the House the Committee did not need a copy. The question had to be answered in the House. She said that maybe Ms Lamoela could go to the Minister and ask her for that response.

Ms Lamoela thanked the Chairperson and said that the problem was that it was in black and white in an Annual Report and should be rectified in some way.

The Minister interjected and asked the Chairperson for a copy of the report.

Ms Diemu said that it was mentioned the day before to the AG who was going to take it up with the Office. She asked if the Department expected the Committee to assist them with regard to over-spending. This was worrying.

The Minister said that they had responded. She said the Department had under spent by R12m, which had been allocated to employment compensation of staff. The money was given to the Department in December 2012. It was well known that the Department was not active in December and January and could not advertise unless they had money in hand. The Department was crying out about GBV but needed support for this. Funding was needed to fight GBV.

The Chairperson said that this meeting was up in arms in the beginning but after getting some explanations the Committee had became calm. The Department was reminded to get reports consistently and send them to the Committee. This matter had to be agreed upon. Some responses had come in as drafts and thereafter were not seen again like the National Plan of Action draft and the Framework and Strategy. These were presented to the Committee in March. She appealed to the Department not to wait for the Committee to ask for reports. The Committee would not have sent long list of requests for reports, if reports had been sent timeously. 

The Fluxman’s Report, which explained the turnover in the Department, had been discussed, and the Committee would take it over. The Department should tighten its internal controls. This came up often in the AG’s report. Partnerships with other departments were crucial and this should be documented in reports. The Chairperson asked if the Minister could fast track the Wage Bill or it would not be passed. It was appreciated that now the Department had a strategic risk plan and an operational risk strategy, and a manager to facilitate these areas.

Questions which did not receive direct responses

Ms Paulse asked if the Department had signed any additional Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) since the nine that were indicated in November 2012.

Ms Lamoela asked why, if training was a matter of great importance to this Department, it was spending more on entertainment.

Ms Lamoela asked why there were huge increases in salaries, and if the performance bonus was perhaps included in the escalation of salaries. 

Ms Lamoela said that the Auditor-General had alerted the Committee to the goods and services transaction procured to the value R500 000 without obtaining the required price quotation. She asked who was liable and why had this occurred.

Ms Lamoela asked the Department to report on what was covered by donor funding.

Ms Lamoela asked about the termination of critical occupation posts in the Department. She had found a total of 19 such posts. She asked the Department to elaborate more on this issue. She asked further if the Department felt that it had a high turnover.

Ms Lamoela asked why nine employees had been suspended.  She asked for clarity on the employee statistics, as it was confusing, and why six employees had been dismissed.

Ms van de Merwe asked why there had been a reduction in the amount for bursaries from R1.4 m to R311 000.

Ms E More (ANC) said that the issue with the Accounting Officer was misleading. She asked for an explanation.

Ms van de Merwe asked why the Disability Programme was not performing.

Ms More said that slide 12 had indicated 100% was not achieved as planned for the Updated Movable Asset Register. The DG had however said there was improvement because a Director was hired in the Risk Management Department. She asked if hiring a person could effect an improvement. She also asked what the status of the situation was now. 

Ms van de Merwe said that she did not get a clear answer with regard to under-funding. She asked why the Disability programme had performed so badly. Clear and concrete answers were needed. 

The Chairperson said that she appreciated that with regard to the skills audit, the Department had a working partnership with DPSA. A reduction in use of consultants was the goal. The Department’s effort towards Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound (SMART) targets was admired, and the Committee appreciated line targets. The Department should appreciate the interaction with this Committee, as it was passionate about this Department. The Committee was thanked for its vigilance because it stood them in good stead in their efforts towards assisting the Department. The Chairperson thanked the Department and all the visitors.

The Minister thanked the Chairperson and all the Members. This had been a long year but it had ended with their meeting. There were still many challenges; everyone needed to work together and the Department was committed. She said to Mr Kekana, and the Chairperson that the Department would try its best not to under-spend again. The Committee was thanked for its oversight and for whipping the Department into line. Rural Woman‘s Day was on Tuesday, 15 October in Port St Johns. The Department was launching a joint program with the National Religious Council. The National Religious Council was a body of all religious leaders. The programme was going to be held in Gauteng and the Committee was invited to the event. This was the contribution of religious leaders to the fight against violence and rape against women and children, and to teach communities about responsibilities. 25 October was Orange Day so the Department was going to the Northern Cape. A conference looking at the needs of Albinos would be held on 26 and 27 October 2013.

The meeting was adjourned.

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