The Minister spoke about the steps she had taken in submitting the Fluxman Report to the Public Service Commission, the Speaker and the Mpumalanga Premier.
Questions raised by opposition Members were what had been the financial implications of the report, what had happened to those other than the Director General who had been implicated, had some of those dismissed from the Department returned and if disciplinary hearings had occurred.
The Minister said she was not prepared to intervene, divulge or say anything in case she prejudiced the proceedings. She was here to clear the allegations against her that she had not written to the Public Service Commission and had misled the Committee
The Democratic Alliance distanced themselves from the handling of the Fluxman Report.
The Committee Legacy Report was then discussed and adopted. The Chairperson said that the idea of a Committee leaving a legacy behind was to highlight the key items that the new parliamentary committee in the Fifth Parliament would need to look at going forward. It highlighted the themes that the Committee had concentrated on in the Fourth Parliament and the challenges and outstanding matters. The themes in the Fourth Parliament had included violence in 2009, in 2010 survival and development, in 2011 economic empowerment education and skills development and in 2013 ministry machineries and a programme of action. The lack of funding to non governmental organisations was raised as was Muslim marriages and decriminalisation of sex work.
Challenges the Committee had experienced were the late arrival of documentation from the Department prior to meetings. Quarterly reports had not been submitted which hindered the ability to monitor the activities of the Department. In the last year all four quarterly reports had been dealt with in the last quarter. This meant that the Committee had been unable to head off possible challenges before they arose. Another was the lack of progress in studying the findings of the Kader Asmal Report. The Commission for Gender Equality and civil society stakeholders had continually emphasised the need to consider these findings. Key areas to be addressed in the future was violence as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons. Another was the inadequate funding of non governmental organisations who had been providing services on behalf of the state but who were taking a huge financial strain. The amount of donor funding coming to these organisations had begun to dry up. The funding of organisations dealing with women and children had been a matter that was to be tackled last year but had not been. This matter needed to be dealt with in the future. There were a number of key issues emerging from international treaties. The Committee had also identified Muslim marriages as an important issue as was the decriminalisation of sex work. Both had not been dealt with by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development yet, so the Committee could not properly engage on them. These were some of the key areas to be addressed in the future and she hoped the Committee would give some input on these.
The Committee slightly restructured the legacy report template as provided by the Committee Section management. The Committee emphasised that the Committee had run out of time in completing the tasks they had set out to do during their term. A mechanism was needed for committees that had a common purpose such as the Select Committee and Multi-Party Women’s Caucus, to have time to meet. Quarterly submission of reports by Department was crucial. The Auditor General had advised the Department that submitting monthly or quarterly reports helped in tracking what needed to be changed and to get a handle on challenges. Oversight trips should be highlighted to show who had been accountable. It was noted that the Committee had not taken a position on sex work and LGBTI persons.
Minister on referral of the Fluxman Report to Public Service Commission and progress to date
Ms Lulu Xingwana, Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, said she had excused herself from a Cabinet meeting in order to speak briefly to the Committee. She explained she had written to Chairperson of the Public Service Commission (PSC) on 5 February 2013 and informed him of the findings of the Fluxman Report and the Auditor General’s report. She had forwarded the documents to the Minister of Public Service and Administration, the Minister of Finance as well as submitted a letter to the Premier of Mpumalanga. The response from the PSC had been that the Premier should deal with the matter of discipline as the Director General was no longer under her jurisdiction. The letter had been written on the 5 and sent on 6 February. She had also written to the Speaker on 19 February, as the Chairperson had advised, requesting that the Report be tabled in Parliament. She showed those present the letter she written to the Speaker. The Fluxman Report had been tabled in Parliament. The Chairperson had then invited her to come and brief the Committee today.
The Chairperson said the purpose of the engagement was in reference to the Speaker’s letter and the Committee was waiting for a response from the PSC. The concern had been raised by a Member in the House about the nature of the investigation. As far as the Committee was concerned, no investigation was taking place.
The Minister replied that what had been asked of her was, ‘what had been done with the Report’. The Department had submitted the report. The PSC confirmed that it had received it and the Premier had been copied. The PSC had agreed that it was the Premier who should take action. The investigation had not been the issue, what she had done was send the Fluxman Report and the Auditor General Report to the PSC and the Premier for information.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) said she was not sure if this was a case of misunderstanding as she had thought that the Committee awaited a report from the PSC about whom was implicated as it had not only been the Director General. She proceeded to read from a PMG meeting report in which the Minister recalled that legal charges had been taken against the former Chief Financial Officer and Ms Bhengu as it had been found that they had had other sources of remuneration outside of the Department without authorisation. It had also been stated that the Department was still taking legal advice on these matters. This had been one issue that had been outstanding, for example. It had also been stated that the Committee was awaiting the PSC report and should wait to receive this report before taking further action. She wanted more clarity on what had happened to the other people who had been part of transgressions. The Committee had been waiting on a report that outlined these details. It had not only been one person but a whole host of people who had been involved in nepotism, corruption and the like.
Ms H Lamoela (DA) said there had been unclarified issues on the Report and it had also been promised that those who had been involved in the Fluxman Report would also have a chance to explain to the Committee what happened instead of having a one-sided view. She asked if some of the officials who had been dismissed had returned to the Department? She asked what had happened to these people and if there were any financial implications for the Department in terms of people being found guilty or not guilty. She asked who had been the chairperson at the disciplinary hearings and if some had been some handled by the Department.
The Minister interrupted saying that as a point of order this had not been on the agenda. The cases in terms of the Fluxman Report were on going. She was not prepared to intervene, divulge or say anything in case she prejudiced them. She was here to clear the allegations against her that she had not written to the PSC and had misled the Committee. Financial statements concerning lawyers fees and the likes. She emphasised that Cabinet was sitting and she needed to return to that meeting. This had not been on the agenda.
The Chairperson said that the matter of the Fluxman Report was closed for discussion. What would be discussed would be the letter to the Speaker and this matter had been tackled.
Ms Lamoela said the Democratic Alliance distanced itself from the Fluxman Report and any implications to follow and would not be liable for any costs that came from it.
Committee Legacy Report
The Chairperson said that the Committee had had time to engage with the Legacy Report and now was the time to bring recommendations.
Ms Kashiefa Abrahams, Content Advisor for the Committee, briefed the Committee on the Legacy Report saying that it needed to be seen alongside the strategic plan in order out pull out key issues, challenges and activities. The Report was meant to look at the work done by the Committee over the past four years. The first two years had sought to look at youth and the National Youth Development Agency had come before the Committee. Themes over and above oversight and the functioning of the Commission for Gender Equality had been in violence in 2009, in 2010 it had been survival and development, in 2011 it had been economic empowerment education and skills development and in 2013 it had been ministry machineries and programme of action.
On the violence theme in 2009, one of the key activities had been the public hearings on the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act 11 years after it had come into force. Oversight visits had been taken to follow up on the issues raised during the public hearings as well as by the relevant departments which had briefed the Committee on the matters emerging during the public hearings.
The strategy of conducting hearings had worked well and had been followed through in terms of the hearings on Children with Disabilities and within the CGE there had been a strong media strategy. This had raised awareness of the public hearings as well as the role of the Committee.
In 2010 there had been a focus on child survival and development and in that year the Department of Health and Minister talk to the Committee about Millennium Development Goals 3, 4 and 5, issues related to child survival and maternal health. In that year there had also been several oversight visits in which there had been a focus, not only domestic violence, but also child survival and maternal health. During these years the Committee’s work had begun to work in an integrated way.
Ms Abrahams said that in 2011 the Committee had focused on economic empowerment projects and even in this case there was an integrated approach as there was also a focus on workshops related to labour.
In 2013 the Committee had dealt with two key matters. The first was the Report on the Convention on the Rights of the Child that had been referred to the Committee. The intention of the Committee had been to hold public hearings but due to tight time frames the Committee had had to report in less than two weeks. The Committee had been able to engage with some civil society members as well as the Department. When the Report on the Rights of the Child had been produced, the Speaker had taken the Report and written to the Deputy President on the current status of issues that emerged in the report. The recommendation had been that departments look at their portfolio as it related to children and report back to Parliament. The other key issue had been the matters emerging from the public hearings on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The Committee had been firm about the recommendations to the Department and CGE about monitoring and financial reports so the Committee could monitor them constantly. There had been little time to focus on thematic issues as the Committee had underestimated the amount of time
She said that the idea of a Committee leaving a legacy behind was to highlight the key items that the new parliamentary committee in the Fifth Parliament would need to look at going forward. What had been noted was violence as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons. Another item was the inadequate funding of non governmental organisations who had been giving services on behalf of the state but who were taking a huge strain. The amount of donor funding coming to these organisations had begun to dry up. The funding of organisation dealing with women and children had been a matter that was to be tackled last year but had not been. This matter needed to be dealt with in the future. There were a number of key issues emerging about international treaties. The Committee had also identified Muslim marriages as an important issue as was the decriminalisation of sex work. Both had not been dealt with by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development yet so the Committee could not properly engage on them. These were some of the key areas to be addressed in the future and she hoped the Committee would give some input on these.
Challenges were the late arrival of documentation from the Department prior to meetings as well as different reports handed in on the morning of the meeting that had it difficult for the Committee to fully prepare. Quarterly reports had not been submitted which hindered the ability to monitor the activities of the Department. In 2013, all four quarterly reports had been dealt with only in the last quarter. This meant that the Committee had been unable to head off possible challenges before they arose. The Commission for Gender Equality and other civil society stakeholders had continually emphasised the need to consider the findings of the Kader Asmal Report. She noted that the Office of the Institutions Supporting Democracy within Parliament was attending to the matter.
The Chairperson said that the Legacy Report was not appealing to the eyes and the way it had been structured was confusing. She said the Report needed to properly reflect what had happened if this was to be a legacy left behind. She emphasised that there needed to be time frames in terms of the work to be covered in the future. They needed to point out that the Committee had run out of time in accomplishing all the work they wanted to do.
Ms Abrahams replied this had been the template given from ‘higher up’ in Committee Section and there was little room to change this. She said she would note the point about time frames.
Ms M Tlake (ANC) said the report needed to be restructured. The report had been extremely clumsy and it would be difficult to take a decision on this report. The purpose of the report only appeared on page 5 for example. As a Committee, a decision should be taken that they request that the report be restructured before it was adopted and finalised.
Ms Lamoela said that there was always room for improvement but she could not see anything wrong with this Report except on page 27 where one matter needed to be rephrased as only certain people had gone as representatives, and the Committee members had not gone. Perhaps more clarity could be given on this. This Legacy Report had taken a great deal of work to write and if Members had read through it then they would understand the report.
Ms Tlake wanted it emphasise that there had not been a problem with the content but the structure. The good work that had been done with the report needed to be commended. Disorganisation of the report would reflect on the Committee, as people often said that women were not organised and it would be good to have a report that challenged that.
The Chairperson said it would be good to have the report restructured in a way the Committee was used to.
Ms Lamoela again reiterated that the structure of the report did make sense. First a summary of the report was given and then the report followed a coherent pattern. If there was a problem with this report then the reports coming from the Department left a lot to be desired.
Members continued to emphasise the need to change the report so that it was easy to follow and that those who came after would be able to understand it.
Ms van der Merwe asked if changing the report to suit “our” needs might end up with the report being rejected. She had checked the internet for other reports and they looked very similar.
The Chairperson asked why then would the report be brought before the Committee to adopt? Why would they adopt something they did not agree with? If this was the case, then they should have just submitted the report without their input.
Mr Kekana said that if the substance remained then there would not be a penalisation. All that was being done to the report was to make the report easier to read. There was no need for Parliament to have a heavy ‘top down’ approach.
Ms Abrahams suggested a solution to the format of the template. The introduction would now appear first and the summary would be placed as an appendix.
The Members approved these changes.
Interaction with other entities
Ms Abrahams asked the Committee for recommendations on how to work with the Select Committee, Multi-Party Women’s Caucus and other committees?
The Chairperson said that time needed to be raised as an issue. A mechanism needed to be developed for committees that had a common purpose to have time to meet. Often this was discussed but it did not happen.
Quarterly submission of reports by Department
Ms Lamoela said it was of pivotal importance that reports were submitted to the Committee within strict time frames and this would help with the workings of the Department. The Department needed to stick to their timelines as well as submit their reports. If one continued to roll over tasks and time frames then nothing would be able to be done within the Department.
Ms Abrahams asked if there could be more clarity on the types of reports given to Committee.
Ms Lamoela replied that there needed to be penalties in place for not producing reports. The Quarterly Report of the Department was already three months late. This sort of report was needed to see which targets had been achieved and which had not.
The Chairperson said that the Auditor General had advised the Department that submitting monthly or quarterly reports helped in terms of tracking what needed to be changed and to get a handle on challenges. This needed to be one of the recommendations given by the Committee.
Ms G Tseke (ANC) asked if the oversight trips that had been taken by the Committee could be highlighted to show who had been accountable and the interactions such as the NYDA.
Position on sex work and LGBTI persons
Mr Kekana said on the issue of sex work perhaps the reason the Committee had not taken a position on sex work had been because it was difficult to take. There was a need to take a position on it and forward this position to the proper structures.
An ANC member said that there also needed to be a position taken on violence against lesbians.
The Chairperson said that a formalised position needed to be taken
Ms Tseke requested that any committee reports mentioned in the Legacy Report that had not been adopted yet, should be.
The Legacy Report was adopted by the Committee.
Committee Report on WEGE Bill public hearings
The Chairperson took issue that under observations no real observations had been noted, the submissions had not been noted and it had not captured the discussions. This report needed to be far more detailed to be understood by someone who was not present at the public hearings
Ms Abrahams said that the report showed what had emerged across all the submissions rather than continually repeating what each submission had said. If Members preferred that the report went through each and every submission and stated what each one said, then that could be done.
The Chairperson contemplated what would be the right path, whether to state each and every submission. She concluded that the general section had captured the issues well.
The report was adopted with amendments.
Consideration and adoption of minutes
The minutes were adopted.
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