The Committee Content Advisor presented a draft report on the Annual Performance Plan and Budget Vote 8 of the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD) for financial year 2014/15. Budget Vote 8 had been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Women in the Presidency on 25 June 2014 for consideration. The Ministry was in the process of transferring Programme 3, which dealt with children, and Programme 4, which dealt with disabilities, to the Department of Social Development. As a new Ministry, the Department was waiting for the proclamation by the President and on 3 July 2014, the President had issued a statement that the proclamation for new departments had been made.
The mandate of the DWCPD was to promote, facilitate, coordinate and monitor the realisation of the rights of women, children and people with disabilities.
A synopsis of the budget allocation indicated the expenditure trends and medium–term priorities of the Department. It had allocated 42.2% of its budget to the programme for Women Empowerment and Gender Equality. 72% of the budget had been transferred to the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) and 27% of the budget was for the implementation of programmes focusing on gender equality.
Members had concerns about discrepancies in the expenditure estimates and questioned the 26% increase in compensation of staff at levels 13 to 16. They drew attention to the expenditure on consultants, and stressed the need for skills transfer and training to empower staff. They asked
who the providers of the goods and services were, and what the procurement policy was. They questioned whether the vision and mission would be changing now that only women were dealt with in programme 8, and were told that there would be changes because they would be concentrating on a certain sector, but they would not be turning a blind eye to what was happening to the disabled and children. It was crucial to work together with Social Development.
Committee Report on Women, Children and People with Disabilities 2014 Budget
Ms Kashifa Abrahams, Content Advisor to the Committee, presented a draft report on the annual performance plan and Budget Vote 8 of the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities for the 2014/15 financial year.
The Budget Vote 8 of the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities had been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Women in the Presidency on 25 June 2014, for consideration and report. The Ministry was in the process of transferring Programme 3, which dealt with children, and Programme 4, which dealt with disabilities, to the Department of Social Development.
As a new Ministry, they had been waiting for the proclamation by the President, and on 3 July 2014 the President had issued a statement that the proclamation for new departments had been made.
The mandate of the Department was to promote, facilitate, coordinate and monitor the realization of the rights of women, children and people with disabilities. The strategic objectives included:
* To contribute to the social, economic and political empowerment of women, children and people with disabilities;
* To improve universal access to development opportunities for women, children and people with disabilities;
* To promote a society free of violence and abuse against women, children and people with disabilities;
* To provide effective and efficient good governance for the realization of the Department’s mandate.
Ms Abrahams presented a synopsis of the budget allocation, the expenditure trends and medium-term priorities of the Department. The department had allocated 42.2% of its budget to the programme for Women Empowerment and Gender Equality, in anticipation of the implementation of the Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill. She said that 72% of the budget (about R 67.2 million) accounted for transfers to the Commission for Gender Equality, and 27% of the budget (about R25.1 million) for the implementation of programmes focussing on gender equality.
The aim of Programme 2 which dealt with women’s empowerment and gender equality, was to facilitate the translation of national and international instruments into empowerment and socio-economic development programmes, and to oversee and report on the realization of women’s rights and equality.
The sub-programmes for Women Empowerment and Gender Equality programmes were highlighted as follows:
* Advocacy and mainstreaming of gender equality, which promotes the mainstreaming of women’s empowerment and gender equality considerations into government policies and processes of governance. For the year 2013/14 this work focused on advocacy programmes aimed at accelerating women’s socio-economic development, as well as ending gender-based violence, and included the finalization of the Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill (No. 50 of 2013).
* Institutional support and capacity building for gender equality, which coordinated institutional support and capacity development by promoting synergy among government departments , civil society and the private sector.
* Monitoring and evaluation for gender equality, which monitors, evaluates and reports on the promotion of the realization of the rights of women within all government entities, to ensure compliance and to conduct impact assessments.
* Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), which is an independent non-statutory body that engages in advocacy programmes aimed at raising awareness of, and challenging, partial stereotypes. It aims to protect and enforce gender rights, attends to complaints made by members of the public and sanctions appropriate intervention in line with relevant policies and legislation.
It was noted that the overall budget allocation for the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality programme in 2014/15 is R92.3 million, of which R67.2 million will be transferred to the CGE. There will be an increase in the budget for the compensation of staff for the sub-programme on institutional support and capacity building, while the number of personnel over the medium term remains the same for this programme. The number of posts in each sub-programme, and compensation for employees, remains stable between 2013/14 and 2014/15. The number of posts for levels 1-12 and 13-16 remain the same, but the salaries for levels 11-12 will go down by 4%, and for levels 13-16 will go up by 26%.
Ms D Robinson (DA) asked why salaries for levels 13-16 had gone up by 26%.
Ms Abrahams responded by saying that the increase had been handled by senior management, and there was no indication as to why this had been done
Ms N Marchesi (DA) referring to pages 3 and 5 of the report under expenditure estimates, and raised a concern about R500 000 that was not accounted for.
Ms Abrahams said that in terms of the overall budget, she took note of the discrepancy.
She said that having met with the Department to scrutinise the annual performance plan and budget for 2014/15, the Committee made the following observations:
- It acknowledged that the budget presented was in relation to the Department of Women, Children and people with Disabilities, as it existed prior to the 2014 national elections.
-The Committee was concerned about the small budget allocations for Programme 3 ( children) and programme 4 (people with disabilities), and urged that there should be larger allocations within the Departments where these responsibilities now resided.
-The Committee was unclear as to how the objectives and targets in Programme 2 would be translated into activities that would address gender inequality, female unemployment and poverty in South Africa.
- It also noted that there was no clarity around the final location of the National Council Against Gender – based Violence, and this had to be addressed as soon as possible, given the challenges in dealing with gender-based violence in the country.
-The Committee acknowledged that the Department was in the process of transferring Programme 3 and 4 to the Department of Social Development, and retaining Programme 2.
-The Committee agreed that a more focused mandate for the new Ministry would greatly advance women’s economic empowerment and development in the country.
Having considered the Annual Performance Plan, the report concluded by stating the Committee’s recommendations. These were:
- More resources should be allocated to the Department to assist with the implementation of its programmes and the transition process.
- The Department must refine its objectives and targets to ensure that measurable outcomes are achieved.
- Clarity should be provided around the location of the National Council Against Gender-based Violence.
- The Department should speed up the process of transferring Programme 3 and Programme 4 to the Department of Social Development, and internal restructuring.
Ms Robinson commented that the report was very comprehensive and there is not much to do but highlight the need for certain measures to take place and focus on the fact that the Committee wanted implementation, action on the ground and not top structures.
Ms Marchesi raised a concern that there were staff members that were not empowered, and a lot of money was spent on using consultants. She asked if it was possible to provide bursaries for the staff instead of sourcing assistance from outside.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) said that before the Minister, the Hon Susan Shabangu, had left she had mentioned that skills would be the main focus in her Department. There had been a skills audit which was inconclusive, because it was undertaken when the Department was being initiated. Minister Shabangu had complained then they did not have enough skills in the Department, and if it was going to be empowered and able to do its job properly, it needed the correct skills.
Ms Crystal Levendale, Committee Researcher, responded that in the previous annual report it had been indicated that a budget that had been allocated for staff skills development, had not been used, and some of it had been transferred to other sections within the Department. In terms of up skilling and training development, there was money available, but it had not been utilized for staff and this was a cause for concern.
Ms Marchesi, in reference to the goods and services budget, asked which service providers were being used. Was the Department using women? What were the policies around procurement?
The Chairperson stated that she strongly believed women had to be empowered in all areas. It was a pity they were talking about employment, but if people were not cut out to do the work, some still did not come to the required level even if when they had the opportunity of exposure to training. She commented that “there were no shelves for blank pages.”
Ms M Chueu (ANC) asked whether it was possible to restructure the presentation so that when the researcher did the analysis, she did so before the Department came to the Committee. This would give Members enough time to study the information and come up with relevant questions when they met with the Department, and give direction regarding expenditure of the budget.
Ms Marchesi asked whether the vision and mission would be changing now that only women were dealt with in programme 8.
The Chairperson stated that there would be changes because they would be concentrating on a certain sector, but they would not be turning a blind eye to what was happening to the disabled and children. It was crucial to work together with Social Development.
Ms Abrahams said outstanding questions could be collated in a letter and sent to the Minister, with a copy to the DG, indicating that the Committee required information regarding the budget vote, and requesting the Department to respond in writing.
Chairperson welcomed the proposal, and noted that it could be done should not take more than three days.
Ms Robinson suggested Friday should be the deadline, as they needed the information to enable them prepare speeches, and at the moment they had little to go on.
Ms Marchesi requested clarity on the number of staff members, as it kept changing.
The Chairperson said that they should bear in mind that there would be transformation of the Department as well.
Ms Chueu moved the adoption of the report. Her proposal was seconded.
The meeting was adjourned.
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