Department of Women in the Presidency 2014 Strategic Plan: Briefings by Committee section, Minister of Women and new Department

Women in The Presidency

01 July 2014
Chairperson: Ms T Memela (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Chairperson, in her opening remarks, appreciated the wide representation from different age groups, commented on the need to work closely with men and emphasise respect and proper understanding of the roles and importance of women in society. It was noted that the new Department of Women in the Presidency could be seen as a department in transition and the budget tabled in Parliament had been one drawn prior to setting up the new Department. The first strategic plan would be formally presented only at the beginning of 2015, but the new Department was continuing to work on targets and policies from the former Department’s Programme 2, whilst its programmes on children and people with disabilities were to be transferred to the Department of Social Development, which had both the budget and professional staff to handle these issues. However, it became clear from the later presentation of the Minister that the focus would be different.

The Committee Researcher, Content Advisor and Secretary gave a briefing to bring the new Committee up to speed on the issues that the former Department had dealt with, the budget process, and suggested some questions that needed to be clarified by the new Department, as they were not clear from the budget tabled prior to the setting up of the new Department. There was not yet an Annual Performance Plan. Some statistics on South Africa’s ratings and constraints and challenges were outlined. The Committee section requested a report from the new Department on the position of the recently-established Council for Gender Based Violence and the Commission for Gender Equality, and suggested that clarity was needed on possibly-overlapping functions between departments.

The Minister of Women noted that the final proclamations were yet to be finalised, and at the moment the new Department was working on programme 2 of the former Department. It was focusing on inequality, poverty and unemployment, which mainly affected women, children and people with disabilities. The Department was focusing on meeting the five priorities of government and the imperatives of the National Development Plan and State of the Nation Address. It would be focusing on monitoring legislation, policies and implementation of policies to advance women, and proper internal administration. It was intending to produce four quarterly reports, outlined its targets for payment of service providers, for 60% of women occupying senior management positions in the Ministry, and 2% disability employment. It was intending to focus on proper ICT availability and communication. Settling matters from the Presidential Hotline remained of prime importance. Four anti-corruption initiatives would be run in the year.

Members asked what the changes would be between the former Department’s programme 2 and the new Ministry’s approach, called for confirmation on the hand-over of programmes 3 and 4 to the Department of Social Development, and which department would deal with issues for disabled women, where the Commission for Gender Equality would fall and from whom it would receive a budget, and the position of the Council for Gender Based Violence. They asked what work was being done to ensure that disabled children were placed in schools, and why the department was running its own anti-corruption campaigns. Members asked what authority the new Department would have to hold other departments to account for reports, and for clarity on the roles of the new Department and this Committee to ensure corrective measures. They questioned whether the targets of the new Department were not perhaps too low, and for more information on the specific strategies to address the challenges, as well as whether the budget for gender-based violence would be supplemented from donor funding. Members wondered if it was not time now to revise the 2% disabled-employment targets upwards, and suggested that rather than concentrating on too many targets and fine-sounding policies, the new Department must focus on implementing programmes that changed lives significantly, including working with other departments to achieve economic development of women.

The Minister, amongst other issues, confirmed that the CGE would remain with her Ministry, that there was still ongoing discussion on budget shifts to Department of Social Development, explained the new mandate and focus of the new Department, said that its structure would change, and that there would be emphasis on proper skills in the Department. She further noted that the WEGE Bill was to be withdrawn, for further consultation, and there would be more focus on mechanisms to ensure proper and effective representation, as well as excellence, rather than emphasis on equal numbers alone.  
 

Meeting report

Opening remarks
The Chairperson asked that Members introduce themselves. She commented she was pleased to see a range of age groups represented. She noted her intention to work closely with men, to foster their understanding and respect for women, without whom they could not have been born, and their role. She said every woman should be a freedom fighter for the liberation of women internationally.

Ms D Robinson (DA) noted that the day’s programme had been adopted, understood that the Committee had to take some time to settle in, but wondered if a longer-term programme was yet available, and dates for budget debates.

Department of Women in the Presidency: 2014 Strategic Plan presentations: Content Advisor and Committee Secretary briefings
Ms Kashifa Abrahams, Committee Content Advisor, tabled the presentation on the 2014 strategic plan and Budget Vote 8 of the national budget process.

Ms Neliswa Nobatana, Committee Secretary, delivered a briefing on the processing of the budget vote (see attached presentation for full detail), noting that the presentation set out the key points around the budget cycle, the legal framework, the role players in the budget cycle, as well as the budget cycle itself. She said the Department of Women in the Presidency (the Department)was responsible for developing the strategic and annual plans. This budget process faces several potential challenges, like the short period between the establishment of committees, election of chairpersons and the extended public committees (EPCs), the revival of strategic and annual performance plans that had initially been tabled before the elections, and the fact that in this year, there was not sufficient time available for public comment because the committees had been given only two weeks to deal with the whole process.

She made some recommendations to mitigate the challenges. To address the time constraint, the Committee could consider receiving a broad overview of the Department’s strategic or annual performance plan, to be given by the relevant executive authority and accounting officer, and this could be considered with the relevant budget laws, analysis – such as by the Parliamentary Research or Content Advisors – consider the Budgetary Review Recommendations as adopted in 2013 and any other related information the Committee has access to. The Committee could then develop a report for tabling in the National Assembly. The orientation strategy of the Committee should be complied with, especially as many Members were new to this Portfolio Committee and oversight. According to the latest Parliamentary programme, the debate on the budget vote was scheduled for 16 July.

Ms Abrahams commented on the key issues. She said that previously the Department received the smallest portion of the national budget, and it would be interesting, given the new Ministry, to see how this may differ. She noted that Members would need to be acquainted with the legislation and legal framework administered by the Department. The Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) had, in the Fourth Parliament, prepared a paper on the work of the previous Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD) and government spending on these target groups, and she suggested that another might be prepared in the new six months. Many NGOs would be looking at the Ministry for Women, and if more time was available, they may be invited to present their expectations on the budget prior to the Departments’ presentation, which would give the Members an informed view of what civil society and other service providers had to say.

She noted that a request would be made to have the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) remain within the new Ministry.

In terms of the budget cycle, there would be continuous in year monitoring of the new Department through the production of quarterly reports and, towards the end of the year, the Annual Report of the Department would normally be tabled. For the year 2014/15, there would be a focus would be on Vote 8-Programme Two, and there was a need to ensure that the budget matched the nation’s means, with resources being availed. However the engagement of the stakeholder was very important to understand the issues emerging from the ground and match them with what government had prioritised.

Notably, the previous Department covered services to “women, children and persons with disabilities” but the new Ministry only referred to women. The new Ministry was tasked to produce a first strategic plan by 31 August and a second by the end of November to Cabinet. That strategic plan could only be tabled in Parliament once it had been fully finalised, which could be at the beginning of 2015.

Ms Abrahams noted that the UNDP looked at gender equality for many countries across the world and produced an annual report. Last year, South Africa rated 90th out of 148 in terms of the gender inequality index. By comparison, Namibia sank to 86/148 and Congo stood at 132/148. South Africa, in terms of parliamentary seats for women, was ranked at 41%. The number of women who reached secondary or higher education was at 68.9%, compared to 72.2%. Maternal and infant mortality rates showed that for  every 1000 births, 300 women died. The adolescent fertility was rated at 50.4% per live births. The female participation in labour markets was 44%. These statistics clearly showed the disparities and spelt out the challenges faced by women. Significantly, women made up 54% of the electorate in South Africa. Women faced numerous challenges like high unemployment, high levels of poverty, and being head of households responsible for children. Issues of land reform were key for women. Women suffered from a quadruple burden of disease as well as being burdened by taking care of sick members of the family.
There were many girl children attending school but only relatively few managed to do their matric exams to join tertiary education. Gender based violence was rampant, as often reported in the media, and affected women, children and persons with disabilities.

Every department of government should look at the issue of gender equality in the country, and the roles of the business sector, civil society and the media were particularly crucial for this sector.

There had been many improvements by government within this sector. Under political rights, women in leadership had signed several treaties showing how much government valued the importance of women’s rights. Various structures have been set-up specifically focusing on women in the country as well as incorporating them in the Constitution under Chapter 9. The President, in the State of the Nation Address, said the duty of government was promoting women empowerment; the purpose of ministries was to promote women’s social and economic empowerment and development and human rights. However, the question must be asked how exactly women were benefiting from the structures set up to support women and what impact they had on their lives, and how the priorities were dealt with under Vote 8 of the national budget process.

The Fourth Parliament had highlighted several important issues which remained still particularly important for the future, such as the Budget Review and Recommendations Report, the turnaround strategy from the previous department around issues of infrastructure, finance and human resource. There was a need to highlight the outstanding matters in the turnaround strategy, and resolve how they would be solved, and to deal with the issues for the year ahead. There was a need to clarify on what would happen to the Council of Women and Gender Based Violence under Programme 1, and whether the new Ministry would take care of it. In terms of treaty compliance, the Department had to apprise the Committee of the treaties which were due for reporting, and ensure this was done, and how the treaties had been complied with. The key question for consideration for the new Ministry was whether it was similar to the old Department; if not, to highlight the key issues, and clarify the position of the National Council and the CGE.

Ms Crystal Levendale, Committee Researcher, dealt with the portion of the presentation on the  budget vote and the Annual Performance Plan (APP) analysis. She reminded Members that the budget vote was prepared in February, when there was still a DWCPD, so all the numbers, targets and plans related to that structure at the time. Currently, there was not yet clarity on how some of the programmes would be dealt with, save for those that had been confirmed, like Programme 2 which was specifically attached to the new Ministry. Thus there was a high likelihood of changes in the numbers in the budget vote, and the Committee would have to rely on the Department to give clarity on this.

The DWCPD had a budget of R218 million. Of this, 42.2% was for the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality programme, but 72% of the budget was a transfer payment to the CGE, leaving the DWCPD with an actual budget for its own operations of 27.2%.

The programme for Women Empowerment and Gender Equality (WEGE) aimed to facilitate the translation of national and international instruments into empowerment and socio-economic development programmes locally, and to oversee and report on the realisation of women’s equality. A full budget paper set out programmes 3 and 4 of the old DWCPD, and that would be forwarded to members.

Of the R25 million of estimated budget for DWCPD, R14.5 million was allocated to goods and services and 10.1 million to the compensation of employees, but there were no specific items indicating exactly what the money was going to be spent on. Part of this problem was lack of a strategic plan at the time. Ms Levendale reiterated that the Strategic Plan would be available only in 2015, and some information was obtainable only from the new Ministry’s presentation. She concluded that the move from being a stand-alone department to a department in the Presidency had administrative implications for budget allocations which must be clarified by the incoming administration. She also repeated that there was a need to find out whether the Council for Gender Based Violence would be taken on by the new Ministry.

There was need for a review of the strategy and programming. The APP only looked at quarter one and quarter two strategies, not dwelling on others in detail because things were bound to change in the near future. This APP had been drawn up by the DWCPD, so the targets and plans were reflective of the work of that department. Although only programme 2 (WEGE) had been referred to the Committee for consideration, much of the former Department’s work and targets were interrelated. Currently, no information regarding the reconfiguration of the Department was available.

She suggested that questions needing to be considered included whether, in light of the fact that this was a newly formed Ministry, it was feasible to commit to the targets as outlined in the APP, how those targets would be met, and whether quarter 1 targets had been met. Other issues concerned the hand-over of completed and continuing projects, whether there were any risks which the new Ministry had identified which could impact on progress and delivery ability, and what risk mitigation measures were in place.

Ministry of Women in the Presidency briefing
Ms Susan Shabangu, Minister of Women in the Presidency, hoped that the Committee and her Ministry could work regularly together and looked forward to doing so. All Members of her team were new, and the team would present its annual report and annual financial report from the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, because of the transitory nature of the mandate. The proclamation and rearrangement of Cabinet portfolios was yet to be finalised, so the new Ministry was working n the basis of the work started by the former DWCPD.

Ms Modjadji Seasi, Deputy Director-General, Ministry of Women in the Presidency, outlined that the presentation would cover the background, the strategic overview, the Annual Performance Plan for 2014/2015 and performance and expenditure trends. It followed the guidelines from the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, and was based on the previous strategic plan. A new strategic plan would be developed and presented next year. The APP was developed on the basis of internal and external environmental structures within which the former Department had operated. It focused on inequality, poverty and unemployment which was known to mainly affect women, children and people with disabilities. Consideration was made for the five major priorities of government- education, health, creating decent employment, fighting crime and corruption and rural development and land reform -as well as the National Development Plan and the draft mid-term strategic framework (which was not finalised at the time) and the State of the Nation Address.

The Department had prioritised its outcomes-orientated goals. Its mission statement, fully defined, was to prioritise the rights of women, children and people with disabilities to be fully integrated in legislation and national policies; to focus on trends in the status of women, children and people with disabilities which should be monitored and reported on periodically according to national, regional, continental and international requirements, through the progressive development and maintenance of a monitoring and evaluation framework. The new Ministry was keen on ensuring proper internal administration, which would facilitate a clean audit at the end of the year.

The mid-term targets for the new Ministry had a three year outlook. As a compliance indicator, four quarterly reports had been prioritised, for proper accountability and audit purposes. The issue of payment of service providers was one of high priority even at the Presidential level, with reports n payments to be made to Cabinet. The department wanted to ensure that all service providers doing business with it were paid 100% within twenty days throughout the year. Budgeting was necessary because it enabled the planning for future price increases and fluctuations; however this anticipation, in an allocated budget, should not be more than 5%. The new Ministry had a target of 60% for women occupying senior management positions within the Ministry through all the years, and had adopted the Public Service percentage on employment of people with disabilities at 2%. It fully intended full compliance with all occupational health and safety standards at 100%, because this deeply affected the wellness of all the employees. For performance of its duties, the old DWCPD had relied heavily on the ICT system, which from time to time become unavailable due to maintenance related claims. However, the new Ministry expected to have ICT availability of 95%, ideally 99%. An annual communication strategy would be adopted by the new Ministry and reviewed, and in the third year an impact assessment would be done of it.

Three reports would be issued in alignment with the research agenda during the first year in office, and the same maintained throughout the later years. The new Ministry was committed to improving the response rate of complaints from the Presidential hotline on an annual basis, and this was receiving particular priority because in the past the DWCPD had always resolved complaints from the hotline. An anti-corruption initiative, comprising four campaigns during the year, was championed in a bid to sensitise employees about the dangers of corruption and know where to report it. DWCPD’s Programme 2 was aligned to the new Ministry’s strategic objective to promote, advocate and monitor women’s empowerment and gender equality and also to facilitate and coordinate the elimination of gender based violence.

The monitoring and evaluation performance indicator was set in terms of the number of status reports on WEGE.

The purpose of the DWCPD’s branches on children and people with disabilities was outlined. The Children’s branch was to promote, advocate and monitor the realization of children’s rights and responsibilities through government policies and programmes. Several performance indicators had been set to this effect. The purpose of the branch on the rights of people with disabilities was to facilitate and report comprehensively on the translation of the national and international obligations into empowerment and socio economic development programmes, towards the realisation of the rights of this group of people, and ensure they were given equal opportunities. Its strategic objective was improved universal access and meaningful participation of women, children and people with disabilities and several targets had been set. Two reports would have to be produced per year on the status of the people with disabilities. The financial statements were to be reported holistically, as a Department of Women, Children and People with disabilities.

Discussion
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) thanked the Minister and her delegation for the comprehensive report. She requested clarity on whether the new Ministry would just inherit programme 2, and, if so, whether the plans, objectives and aims would be adopted as they stood, or whether there were to be any unforeseen changes. She asked if it was correct that programmes 3 and 4 would be handed over to the Department of Social Development. She asked if  the CGE would still receive its funding from the Ministry budget, and what the Ministry was prepared to do in order to ensure that there were no overlapping functions between it and the CGE. She was grateful to see the Chief Executive Officer of the National Council for Gender Based Violence (NCGBV) present at the meeting and wanted to find out whether this body would still form part of the Women’s ministry.

Ms C Majeke (UDM) thanked the delegation for its informative presentation. She asked if the DWCPD had any analysis of areas where there were disabled children; she was referring in particular to her home area from the Eastern Cape, where there were disabled children who were not attending school because the neighboring schools were full. These children were very capable of handiwork like sewing, crochet and beading. She asked the relevant Department to look into this and ensure that the children were helped to attend school. The Department of Education was referring the problem to the Department of Public Works who was supposed to build the schools, but the issues were urgent and no doubt also affected other areas of South Africa.

Ms C Dudley (ACDP) asked what the Ministry would comprise; she had received the impression that essentially it would not change from the former Department, but wanted to know what differences there might be. She asked why the anti-corruption campaign would fall in the Ministry. She noted that the Ministry would have to deliver many reports but wondered what authority it had to hold other parties accountable, wherever the reports were going, and what the role of both the Ministry and Committee would be after such reports were delivered.

Ms D Robinson (DA) thanked the Minister for being present and indicating her willingness to be open to discuss the issues. The DWCPD had had a tricky history and she hoped that by the third term it would be really performing well. Following the question posed by Ms Dudley, she felt that this Committee would need to monitor more than actually implement, but this had been a challenge in the past, and it was in fact easier to have a department responsible for executing rather than receiving reports from others. She had always felt that disability was better placed under the Department of Social Development, and was happy about that change. She hoped the Committee and Ministry could focus well on women, the gender inequalities and gender injustice, which were very important to her. It was necessary to ask how the problems of someone who was a female but also disabled would be addressed, and the relationship between the new Ministry and Department of Social Development; would the former deal with the gender problem only, and then refer it on, or look at the disability which fell under the scope of the latter?

Ms P Chueu (ANC) had been under the impression that the budgets could only be changed at the end of the financial year, but this presentation was not clear on that point. She wondered why the targets seemed to be so low, a point also acknowledged in the presentation. The new Ministry aimed to deal fully with all complaints from the Presidential Hotline and she wondered why other targets were also not so ambitious. She was worried whether targets were stated low to ensure that performance was achieved, with the possible addition of performance bonuses, rather than striving for ideal high performance levels. She felt that it was not clear what programmes and strategies were specifically planned to engage with the three main priorities of unemployment, inequality and poverty.

Ms S Boshielo (ANC) wanted to refer to page 29 of the budget presentation. Whilst she was aware that the child issues were to be moved, the children’s budget seemed very low, despite the magnitude of challenges faced with children. She asked what was being done to deal with the budget issue and what assistance this Committee could offer to the departments implementing the programmes and giving service delivery.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) noted that there was a budget of R6.8 million allocated to gender based violence and wondered whether these would be the only funds made available for the matter and whether it had received any donor funding. There was a lot of work to be done by the Committee on GBV, with challenges and deaths facing women and children from violence each day. The WEGE Bill had not yet been finalised, but she wondered if there was any other tool to ensure the enforcement of gender equality on a 50/50 basis in either the public or private sector. The 2% disability employment rate had existed for years without proper implementation from other departments, and she wondered why the same percentage was still incorporated among the key performance indicators through 2014-2017, and whether it would be increased. The disabled were still complaining of being sidelined from employment. She requested that the new Ministry change the way of working; previously the DWCPD had passed one policy, while reviewing another, as well as consulting one another in consultative workshops among others but said it lacked programmes to actually change the lives of the people, as she had realised during door-to-door campaigns during elections that highlighted continuing challenges affecting women, children, people with disabilities and young people. She urged the new Ministry to come up with programmes which made real changes in the lives of the people, and to establish good working relationships with other departments, like the Economic Development Department and Department of Trade and Industry.

The Minister pointed out that due to recently taking office, she may not have all the answers, and would welcome suggestions from those who had served in the previous term who might be able to offer solutions. She would give a broad response, but would like the Ministry team to deal with specifics, on how the Ministry would act now. The Minister confirmed that the core function of the newly formed Ministry and Department was programme 2 of the DWCPD – issues relating to women. Transfers of other programmes were under way to the Department of Social Development (DSD), so this was essentially a department in transit. There was discussion on how DSD would absorb the budgets for the programmes on children and people with disability.

The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) would be remaining with the new Ministry, because it was relevant to the department’s work.

She noted that the issue of disabled children was a challenge for the whole country and not only the rural areas, and this explained the President’s decision to transfer the sector to DSD because the facilities to cater for this challenge, as well as the laws covering abuse of children, support, space and resources were mainly with that DSD already. It also had experts to help with the problems of children, such as psychologists and social workers. There remained some tension to ensure that this programme was adequately funded and taken care following the transfer. The new Ministry had inadequate resources to fund its own programmes, and if children’s issues remained with it there would not be resources to cater for them. In further support of the decision to transfer, she noted that the DWCPD had been unable to do much for children, because there was inadequate funding there, which further necessitated the move of those programmes. DSD had furthermore done a lot of work on child issues, such as trying to identify their status, and had sufficient funds to deal with programmes 3 and 4 of the former DWCPD and continue to look at the challenges. It was common knowledge that the DSD worked well with the Department of Basic Education and there was also government policy encouraging disabled children to integrate in schools rather than being kept separately, which could be achieved by such close links.

The Minister noted that the new department/Ministry would have a completely new structure. The current presentation was based on the previous Department’s work, and had been tabled to “close the chapter” but the future work would be different. The new Department would streamline gender issues and the socio-economic conditions of women had to be taken on board. It had agreed with the President to look into the economic conditions of women and social challenges, with a particular focus on the economic conditions because empowering women would change their lives. This meant the new Department would be included in the economic and employment Cluster. The plight of women would change if they were able to sustain themselves and this was the major focus. In addition, the mandate of the new Department would change to include overseeing how government departments were dealing with women’s issues, and she quipped that it was bound to be unpopular by overseeing its colleagues and ensuring that they were taking issues seriously. This would include looking into the budgeting and programming of other departments to see whether they were gender-sensitive, as well as monitoring the private sector on gender issues.

She explained that the targets were set from the previous DWCPD and its challenges, and it had never been given sufficient resources to deal with all programmes. The previously-tabled three-year programme would change with a different programme being developed, so that the new Department would be able to perform as expected. It had to build proper structures by getting people with appropriate skills to facilitate its objectives, otherwise it would be flawed. She emphasised that the new Department would not run programmes, but monitor what other departments were doing for women.

The WEGE Bill was to be withdrawn because it was tabled without sufficient consultation, and it would be re-tabled. The Chairperson had noted that times had changed and that the new Committee meant business. When the NCOP had referred the Bill back with changes to the NA, it was for strong reasons. The new Department was in transition, and would not deal with what was not relevant for it. Further consultations would be done on this Bill because the Minister wanted more groupings in South Africa to make an input and reach common understanding. The focus of the new Ministry would not be so much on achieving  numbers instantly but ensuring mechanisms put in place to achieve equal representation, and ensure that those mechanisms would empower all women. It was necessary to focus on equality and ensuring availability of quality. Women sometimes undermined themselves; for instance a benchmarking of 50/50 against men did not identify those men who were failing or poorly-performing and she believed that women should create their own targets and focus on excellence without necessarily comparing themselves to men.

The Minister noted that the figure of 2% employment of persons with disabilities in the public sector was a government policy adopted by all departments, and monitoring and evaluation, which would include National Planning Commission, would show compliance levels. The new Ministry would also monitor employment of women with disabilities. She reiterated that its focus would change and it was merely awaiting the final proclamation and restructuring of the department, before ensuring that it was correctly capacitated and positioned to fulfill its mandate and oversee that society as a whole perceived women in the right way.

Ms Seasi spoke to the issue of the anti-corruption campaign, explaining that because this was a requirement of the public service, the new Ministry must have a mechanism within itself. The targets were developed in line with the S-M-A-R-T principles which required the new Department to be realistic, although they may be perceived at the moment as low. She said that it was impossible to anticipate the kinds of information to be reported to the Presidential hotline and sometimes the issues would be beyond the control of the Department, but to date all issues had been resolved. However, a realistic target of resolving 60% of future issues was included in the strategic plan.

The Minister added that whilst the new Department would try to ensure settlement of 100% of issues reported, the turnaround time was critical element and the new Department wanted to move away from its previous track record and deal with issues speedily to ensure as much satisfaction in the community as possible, with resolution of problems.

Ms Canagwini Ntshinga, Chief Financial Officer, Ministry of Women, said there were areas of the Department’s programmes which were initially not funded, and an appeal was made to the National Treasury for funding from Treasury and the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) which catered for general budget support. The Department was also in partnership with United Nations which was funding projects like the “Safer South Africa” over a two year period and UNICEF had helped with funding especially under the office of the CEO.

The Chairperson asked Members to bear in mind that this was a department in transition, and things were bound to change, hopefully for the good of the people, not of individuals. The Committee would serve the most vulnerable – women.

Ms van der Merwe was pleased with the refreshing new approach of the Minister. Commenting on equality programmes, she thought the empowerment of women must start at grassroots level and build upwards, and she looked forward to working with the Minister, who seemed to be of similar mind.

Ms C Dudley (ACDP) was happy that someone had now listened to people’s concerns about not having sufficient consultation and interaction on the WEGE Bill. Her political party, the ACDP, was very concerned with children and people with disabilities and was glad to hear that its concerns had been heeded and a new Ministry established.

Ms Robinson said her party was pleased with the Department’s good intentions and hoped everyone would be strong enough to push the Department in the right direction. She agreed that her prime concern also was for women on the ground and their families.

The Chairperson noted that the new WEGE bill would be dealt with as a section 76 bill, and said that there was a need for sufficient time for consultation and there would not be fast-tracking. The Committee must fully understand how the Bill would be used.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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