Multi Party Women's Caucus Legacy Report; Committee Planning

Multi-Party Women’s Caucus

15 July 2014
Chairperson: Ms R Morutoa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Multi-Party Women’s Caucus (MPWC) met to elect the deputy chairperson of the steering committee and an additional member of the committee.  Ms S Nkomo (IFP) was chosen as the deputy chairperson and Ms N Majeke (UDM) was chosen to be the additional member of the committee. Ms B Dlulane (ANC) was in attendance to assist and give guidance with the election of the positions and the handing over. She said she might not be attending all meetings as she was now chairperson of the Sports Committee, but she would come when possible.

There was a brief presentation from the researcher. She talked about the lessons learnt, which included previous events, the challenges and the opportunities of the MPWC. Events included a climate change workshop which was successful and a round table conference on gender-based violence. A major challenge affecting the committee was the fact that there was little time allocated for its meetings, as members served on other committees. Opportunities included the importance of provincial caucuses, mainstreaming gender concerns and advocating for gender issues.

Meeting report

Election of Deputy Chairperson
The Chairperson, Ms R Morutoa (ANC) said the Committee was supposed to establish a steering committee. The Committee discussed the need for a deputy chairperson from an opposition party and another person to be a member of the steering committee.  She noted that members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and African National Congress (ANC) were not present.   The steering committee was already eager to meet, but could not do so as there were two names needed for the positions of deputy chairperson and a member of the Committee.

Ms D Robinson (DA) said the whips were to interact with the other parties.  She was not involved, but her party recommended that she be on this committee.

Ms N Majeke (UDM) said was not easy to coordinate members, but the party had decided to choose Ms S Nkomo (IFP).

However, Ms Robinson said the position should go to the DA, considering it was the majority opposition party.

Ms B Dlulane (ANC) said the rules stated that the ‘opposition parties’ should come together, but not necessarily the majority party. Hence any woman from the opposition could be chosen.

Ms Robinson said the mandate from the group could not be valid as there was not a proper representation of all the parties, and notices had been sent to the wrong addresses of the DA chief whip, so they had not been informed. She had received the letter after the meeting had already been held. Therefore the fact that not everyone was present was not procedurally correct, as there were no representatives of the official opposition party.

The Chairperson said it was not a matter of numbers, as the member from the DA was putting it. It was about the rules stating that it should be a person from any opposition party.

On communication, the secretary said had he communicated to the parties, and the mandate could not be nullified just because the DA was not in the meeting.

Ms Majeke proposed Ms S Nkomo.

Ms Dlulane said the committee had a mandate to elect the deputy chairperson.

Ms Robinson said she had been proposed to be the deputy chairperson by the chief whip, to whom she had spoken, even though he was not in the meeting.

The secretary of the Committee said he had written to the DA chief whip and had questioned why the DA members were not there.   However, he had not responded to say who had been nominated.

Ms Robinson said a letter was sent to the Committee.

Ms Majeke asked if it was in order for the chief whip to nominate Ms Robinson. She needed clarity on whether the caucus involved the participation of men.

The Chairperson replied that it was up to the caucus to recommend a person, and it could not allow someone from outside to do the same.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) said one of the recommendations made at the previous multi-party caucus meeting was that the chairperson should facilitate a meeting with all the opposition parties in Parliament. Parties were expected to delegate a person from within their members to be the deputy chairperson of the steering committee.  She was therefore expecting a report from a collective of opposition parties in Parliament.

The Chairperson said that according to the previous meeting, it was agreed that members should go and meet with their parties. The secretary had spoken to the whips and they had given names and despite his efforts, he had not received any communication from the DA until the whip of the DA had given him a report.   Some parties which had been present were not there and the meeting had to go ahead, especially now that there was a name and the Committee needed a seconder.

Ms Robinson said she was in agreement with Ms Tseke, who had said that it was agreed at the multi-party that a meeting should be convened by the Chairperson, with or without the opposition party. Unfortunately, the DA had not received the communication, but the party had attempted to correct the situation.  Furthermore, it was the responsibility of the Chairperson, and not the secretary, to call the meeting of the opposition parties.  She suggested that the Committee go back and arrange that, but carry on with the meeting anyway.

The Chairperson said it was in the interest of the Committee that the opposition parties get to meet, and she had written a letter to the whips. The Committee would therefore accept the nomination of Ms  Nkomo, as enough had been explained.  If there was anything the DA felt had not been done adequately, it could come back to the Committee.

Ms M Chueu (ANC) said if everybody had been consulted and they had not responded, the Committee should carry on with the vote, but it was unfortunate for those who were not there. Those present had the right to choose people for the required positions on the steering committee.

Ms Tseke seconded the name of Ms Nkomo as the deputy chair of the Committee.

Ms Dlulane said the Multi-Party Caucus consisted of women of this Parliament and they must not be looked down upon.  However, parties -- and women leaders as well -- must guide and protect their role as women.

Ms Nkomo thanked the Chairperson and members of the Committee and said she had been involved in this type of committee and would work well to ensure the process went forward.

The Chairperson asked for a name of an additional member of the Committee.

Ms Robinson proposed herself. There was no seconder.

Ms S Nkomo (IFP) proposed Ms N Majeke (UDM), and was seconded by Ms G Tseke (ANC).

Ms Majeke accepted the nomination.  She said it was her first time and she would do her best.

The Chairperson said Ms Dlulane had been asked to come to assist with the handing over.  She knew best what the Committee had done and the duties to be carried out.

Lessons learnt
Ms M Tumi, the Committee researcher, said the documents in the file had all the reports since 2009 and a brief overview of what the committee had done. The MPWC had strategic priorities such as capacity building, political support, sufficient budget, the use of parliamentary tools and collaboration. There were also events which brought out the role of the mandate of the MPWC, which included the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs), climate change and the round table.

There was a climate change workshop that had been hosted by the Committee and the focus had been on the gender implications of climate change. In the year 2013, there was a round table on gender-based violence which was hosted in Parliament, with the theme “Calling for multi-sectoral interventions and actions on gender-based violence.”  The issue of violence was important, and such was the interest that the MPWC decided it was appropriate to hold a round table conference on how to deal with violence against women and children.

However, there were challenges.  One of the biggest problems facing the caucus was finding time for engagement. as most members had other meetings to attend, or meetings clashed. It was recommended that the caucus should do internal advocacy in order to resolve the time issue with the chairpersons of other committees.

As for opportunities, it was noted that the provincial caucuses were a way of carrying on the mandate of the caucus, and the representation was good, even though female representation declined at the local level.  Much had been done by going to the provinces, and the caucus should carry on as this would establish a network of women in the country, and create more political participation by women.

Another opportunity was its focus on mainstreaming gender concerns. The caucus was a place to lobby on women’s issues, and the caucus should use its strength of having women together and influence legislation. This could be done by women in the caucus taking back what they have learnt to the various committees. A relationship with the portfolio and select committees was very important.

Going forward, the caucus was urged to recognise that it was an internal committee looking at women’s issues. Whereas the portfolio committees were more external and should do more public participation, the caucus should make sure these committees kept women’s issues in mind whenever they met.

Ms Dlubane said she had read the report. She noticed that some workshops were not included in the report, as they were previously served by the tablings staff in Parliament. The Committee had gone to the House chairperson regarding the issue of time, but other committees still sat at times meant for this Committee. Problems of gender were important in any society, and she hoped the Chairperson would fight for women’s issues. The Multi-Party Women’s Caucus must to finish the task ahead, and the provinces, local government and stakeholders should involve them.  She noted that for the first time, the caucus had been invited to go to the United Nations (UN) and were to undertake a number of goals.   This showed that the caucus had capacity. She preferred not to be part of the Committee as she was chairing the Sports Committee, but she would still support it and attend meetings when possible.

The Chairperson thanked Ms Dlubane and said the Committee still needed to understand the role of young women, even in sport, and they would appreciate it if she could report back to the committee for progress. The issue of MDGs was an old issue, and was dealt with in the South African Development Community (SADC) and in Parliament. The Committee was to have been involved with this even before the issue of women’s development, as Parliament had many portfolio committees and thought women were not doing enough.   In health and education, for example, there was much to be discussed by the MPWC.

Ms Chueu asked if Members could be given a document to enhance their understanding of what had transpired at the workshop and the resolutions that had been taken.  The Committee must decide on an appropriate time and give it to the chief whip, or the person responsible for programming. The Committee should also present something educational, so that Members gained a better understanding of women’s issues.  Such presentations would keep the Members well informed.

Ms Nkomo noted that the document referred to the years 2009-2014, yet the business plan was done in 2009. Members should get involved in workshops and women’s meetings to learn and map the way forward, bearing in mind what had been done before.  From past experience, it was a painful process as there were challenges facing women, and it was harder to get support for ministries led by women. She was grateful to the enthusiasm shown by the women at the meeting, and thanked the presenter for the documents.

The chairperson noted the challenge in convening another meeting, and asked if there were documents from the workshops in the presentation.

The researcher said some of the documents and reports were already in the pack, but she will double check.  She had skipped the MDG reports, however.

The Chairperson said there had been no progress, and it seemed like the committees were still dealing with the very same items on their agendas. The Committee’s mandate was not to do oversight, but they were public representatives.  Matters like the issue of the MGD had been on the agenda of SADC for a long time.  She suggested each Member should identify important areas of concern.

Ms Chueu agreed with the need to raise consciousness by identifying concerns and speaking out in depth on how certain issues affected women.  Members should work on building a society for a better nation, and the Committee should be seen as a team that was growing. Members should go to the portfolio committees and raise issues that affect women. This would also attract the advocacy of men, who all needed to be educated on women’s issues.

The meeting was adjourned.


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