The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) told the Committee its national accomplishments included the promulgation of anti-discriminatory laws such as the Employment Equity Act, the Sexual Offences Act, the Trafficking in Person’s Act, the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, the Maintenance Act, the Choice of Termination of Pregnancy Act and the Protection from Harassment Act. The CGE had produced a position paper on the decriminalisation of sex work in South Africa and had been conducting a series of employment equity (EE) hearings within both the public and the private sector since 2010. Legal clinics had been established in all provinces in 2013/2014 and there was a concept note to guide the process, with the focus on community advice centres and women’s support centres. Other achievements were the facilitation of the ‘Thohoyandou Declaration on Ending Witchcraft Violence’, the production of several publications available on the website and the memorandums of understanding signed with the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape Houses of Traditional Leaders.
Challenges to the Commission were the broad mandate, but insufficient funding. Insufficient funding was a strategic risk, because the CGE would not be able to deal adequately with patriarchy, gender-based violence (GBV), international instruments such as the Beijing Platform of Action, the South African Development Community (SADC) Gender and Development Protocol, the All African Union (AU) Gender Related Protocols and other substantive gender equality concerns. The reports tabled in Parliament by the CGE had not led to the necessary engagement between the CGE and relevant stakeholders.
The CGE had four strategic objectives. Strategic Objective 1 was to ensure the creation and implementation of an enabling legislative framework that promoted the attainment of gender equality. Strategic Objective 2 was the promotion and protection of gender equality by engaging with relevant stakeholders to educate and raise awareness on issues of gender equality. Strategic Objective 3 would monitor state compliance with regional and international conventions, covenants and charters which had been acceded to, or ratified by, the Republic, relating to the objects of the Commission. Strategic Objective 4 was to build an effective, efficient, visible and sustainable institution that would fulfil its constitutional mandate on gender equality.
Ongoing work by CGE involved looking into submissions on legislation before Parliament. The Commission indicated it would like to engage with the Committee on the assessment reports on women’s representation in political parties and the effective functioning of the GBV Council. The CGE would continue with the monitoring of courts (equality, domestic violence, sexual offences and maintenance) and would hold policy dialogues on the gender focal persons report and the gender barometer report. The CGE planned to conduct 108 legal clinics in all provinces to educate the public on gender rights and obligations and the roll-out of a coordinated programme on forced marriages and early-child marriages.
National Treasury, through the MTEF process, had approved a baseline budget adjustment from R63.1 million for the 2013/2014 financial year to R67.2 million for the 2014/2015 period. The CGE outlined the under-funded programmes, which included the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA) (R6 million), an adjustment to the Outreach budget (R5 million) and R2 million to consolidate the National Gender Machinery.
The Committee expressed disappointment at the lack of detail in the CGE’s presentation, especially on specific programmes. Members asked questions about the status of gender equality and EE in the police and the military, which were known to be male-dominated institutions. There was discussion on the economic, social and patriarchal aspects of the custom of ukuthwalwa, and what role the CGE could play in addressing this problem. The Committee also asked about the status of the CGE’s investigation into the issue concerning the SABC’s Chief Operations Officer, Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng, for allegedly receiving a woman as a gift. CGE reported that the National House of Traditional Leaders in Venda had disassociated themselves from such reports and said it was not a Venda tradition to give women as gifts. The Committee raised concerns on how the Commission’s vacancies would be funded, the size of the budget allocated to Outreach and Visibility (8% of the total), and the status of gender equality in government departments.
Introductory Comments: CGE Chairperson
Mr Mfanozelwe Shozi, Chairperson of the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), gave an introductory overview of the entity’s constitutional mandate. Section 187(1) of the Constitution stated that the CGE should promote respect for gender equality and the protection, development and attainment of gender equality. Section 187(2) stated that the CGE had the power, as regulated by national legislation, necessary to perform its functions, including the power to monitor, investigate, research, educate, lobby, advise and report on issues concerning gender equality.
National accomplishments of the Commission included the creation of gender entities in all spheres of government. Anti-discriminatory laws had been promulgated, such as the Employment Equity Act, the Sexual Offences Act, the Trafficking in Person’s Act, the recognition of Customary Marriages Act, the Maintenance Act, the Choice of Termination of Pregnancy Act, and the Protection from Harassment Act.
In the celebration of 20 years of democracy, CGE had hosted a gender national summit where the different constituencies on gender fraternity had got together to discuss strategies on the challenges that were hindrances to gender transformation in South Africa. The summit aimed to address such challenges as a collective body, and had developed a plan of action and a declaration to which all the constituencies had committed. CGE had produced a position paper on the decriminalisation of sex work in South Africa and had been conducting a series of Employment Equity (EE) hearings within both the public and the private sector since 2010. The rationale was to ascertain the extent of gender mainstreaming in the work place as provided for in the National Gender Policy Framework, in compliance with international standards.
The CGE had established formal legal clinics in all provinces in 2013/2014. There was a concept note to guide the process, with the focus on community advice centres and women’s support centres. A series of policy dialogues on a number of reports that had been produced, were held with the aim to engage policy makers on the recommendations. Other achievements were the facilitation of the ‘Thohoyandou Declaration on Ending Witchcraft Violence’, the production of several publications available on the website and the memorandums of understanding (MOUs) signed with the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape Houses of Traditional Leaders.
Challenges to the Commission were the broad mandate, but insufficient funding. There was a risk that the CGE would not be able to adequately deal with patriarchy, gender-based violence (GBV), international instruments such as the Beijing Platform of Action, the South African Development Community (SADC) Gender and Development Protocol, the All African Union (AU) Gender Related Protocols and other substantive gender equality concerns. The reports tabled in Parliament by the CGE had not led to the necessary engagement between the CGE and relevant stakeholders. Despite the land study report, there had been no engagement with the Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform. Similarly, the “1 Woman 1 Hectare of Land” initiative had elicited no support from the Department or Portfolio Committee of Rural Development and Land Reform.
CGE Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan 2014/2015
Ms Keketso Maema, CGE Chief Executive Officer, said the CGE had slightly altered its organisational structure to support its three main functions. These were Legal Services, Policy and Research and Public Education and Information. Each of the nine provincial offices had a Provincial Coordinator with two line function officers and three support and administration staffing personnel.
Strategic Objective 1 was to ensure the creation and implementation of an enabling legislative framework that promoted the attainment of gender equality. The planned outcome was continuous improvements in legislation and practices to advance gender equality.
Strategic Objective 2 was the promotion and protection of gender equality by engaging with relevant stakeholders to educate and raise awareness on issues of gender equality. It would challenge patriarchal perceptions and stereotypes and take action against infringements of gender rights through the implementation of appropriate redress. The planned outcome was a society educated in constitutional rights, and the ensuring of the transformative behaviour necessary to respect and uphold gender equality.
Strategic Objective 3 would monitor state compliance with regional and international conventions, covenants and charters which had been acceded to, or ratified by, the Republic. The planned outcome was the assessment of state compliance with regional and international commitments that promoted gender equality, with CGE recommendations tabled before Parliament.
Strategic Objective 4 was to build an effective, efficient, visible and sustainable institution that would fulfil its constitutional mandate on gender equality. Each objective’s supportive sub-strategies were outlined.
Ms Maema said the 2014/15 Annual Performance Plan (APP) related to the strategic objectives. The CGE would conduct follow-up consultations with stakeholders on gender transformation hearings and investigations on gender transformation at tertiary institutions. Ongoing work by the CGE was looking into submissions on legislation before Parliament, and the Commission would like to engage with the Committee on the assessment reports on women’s representation in political parties and the effective functioning of the GBV Council. The CGE would continue with the monitoring of courts (equality, domestic violence, sexual offences and maintenance) and would hold policy dialogues on the gender focal persons report and the gender barometer report. The CGE planned to conduct 108 legal clinics in all provinces to educate the public on gender rights and obligations, and roll out a coordinated programme on forced marriages and early-child marriages. Some of the reports to be developed included the Beijing Platform for Action and the Africa Gender and Development Index.
The CGE’s funding over a five-year period had remained at the same level, despite an increased mandate and public expectation on the Commission to perform at higher levels – for example, no additional funding had ever been granted to the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA). Numerous applications made via the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) process by the Secretariat of the CGE had been without success, and the situation limited the Commission’s ability to deliver on its legislated mandate.
Budget April 2014 to March 2015
Mr Moshabi Putu, CGE Chief Financial Officer, said National Treasury, through the MTEF process, had approved a baseline adjustment from R63.1 million for the 2013/2014 financial year, to R67.2 million for the 2014/2015 period. It was an adjustment of 6.6% year on year, mainly to cover inflation driven by the compensation of employees. The spending plan, detailed in the APP was further funded from internal resources – for instance, the R1.7 million surpluses retained from prior periods arising from interest income. The surplus reported arose mainly from compensation of employees (COE) under-expenditure, but the vacancies were now being filled to ensure optimal functioning of the CGE, although this placed a risk of spending pressures on current operations.
Operations were run primarily through the three main programmes -- Governance, Corporate Support and Main (or Core) Service. The top three spending drivers were compensation of employees (68%), professional services such as litigations and audit fees (6%), and outreach and visibility which was core to the Commission (8%). Over 90% of the total spending was made up of unavoidable expenditure. Strategic Objective 1 was allocated R8.1 million, Strategic Objective 2 (R18 million), Strategic Objective 3 (R14.2 million) and Strategic Objective 4 (R29.6 million).
A challenge to the budget was the unfunded PEPUDA mandate, and under-funded operations had to be funded by savings from vacancies. The funding priorities included a focus on the core programmes within the allocation, to improve cost controls and to access savings from efficiency gains. The CGE aimed to raise funds from other agencies such as the United Nations (UN) to enable effective delivery on its mandate.
Mr Putu outlined the unfunded programmes, which totalled R28 million. Some of these long and short-term projects included PEPUDA (R6 million), an adjustment to the Outreach budget (R5 million) and R2 million to consolidate the National Gender Machinery.
Ms P Chueu (ANC) asked how the CGE explained their statement that there would be no interference from organs of state, as per the Constitution, but the Commission was accountable to the Committee. She asked why the CGE reports that had been tabled in the National Assembly had not been seen by the Committee. The CGE went overseas regularly to make presentations, but the Commission needed to account on what they would present before they went overseas to coordinate statements made on behalf of South Africa. She asked why the Commission did not use non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to subsidise their field work. She referred to oversight over departments, especially the police and the military, which were historically male-dominated departments. She asked about the inhibiting uniforms women in the police service had to wear, as well as female train drivers that were at an increased risk of sexual assault because of the shifts they had to work. It was the responsibility of the CGE to exercise oversight over departments so that the Committee could hold departments and companies accountable, based on the commitments they made to the Commission. It was not clear from the presentation what progress CGE had made, because it was not a biological issue, but rather an attempt to empower women to participate in the economy of South Africa. It would be difficult to lobby for an increase in the budget allocation, because the progress was not clear.
Mr Shozi said the CGE would present its annual report in September 2014 which would provide a more detailed explanation on the status of the specific programmes. Documentation in support of the presentation would be forwarded to the Committee.
Ms Lulama Nare, CGE Commissioner, said the CGE had significantly increased it collaboration with NGOs and had a comprehensive database which broadened its outreach. The CGE had conducted assessments and had reports on the police and the military. Women were mostly warrant o,fficers and the Commission had raised this concern with Provincial Commissioners in the South African Police Service (SAPS). The military had contacted the CGE to assist them on their gender issues. Eskom had been subjected to an employment equity (EE) hearing and it had been found that women were mostly in the succession plans in the private sector, because the older employees still occupied most of the senior positions and it slowed down transformation. There were a lot of young women in Eskom doing very complicated and technical work and the Commission was especially interested in the working conditions of women doing night shift work. Eskom was exploring the issue of night shift work for women and the Commission was satisfied with their efforts. The CGE had feedback from some municipalities that cited political interference as a reason for the male dominance in some districts. The Department had decided unilaterally what the budget allocation to CGE would be, which was a challenge affecting all Chapter Nine institutions.
The Chairperson asked if the CGE had information on the political interference.
Ms Nare said the Commission had gone to a particular province, and the Head of Department and the Mayor had indicated that their adherence to the CGE’s recommendations was being undermined by political interference. There was a report available to the Committee, and the CGE was available to have a meeting with the Committee to discuss this concern.
Ms N Marchesi (DA) asked why the strategic objectives had remained unchanged since they were last published, and if there was a matrix or report that showed how the courts were monitored. She asked why the alleged matter of the SABC Chief Operations Officer, Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng, receiving a wife as a gift had been referred to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), and not to the CGE. She asked what the status of monitoring state compliance with regional and international conventions was. The CGE had been in existence for 20 years, but was still developing and spending money on policies which should have been in place. She wanted to know what the 108 legal clinics to be conducted would focus on, and what activities were planned for Women’s Month in August. The CGE was asking for an increased budget, but was spending 68% of the budget on salaries, but only 8% on outreach programmes, and this required clarification.
CGE Commissioner, Mr Mbuyiselo Botha, said the case of Mr Motsoeneng had actually been referred to the CGE and had been investigated. The House of Traditional Leaders had said the event did not happen as reported, and that it was not part of Venda culture to give women as gifts.
Ms Nare said court procedures were usually very long processes, and the Committee would get a report or matrix that showed CGE’s progress.
Mr M Dirks (ANC) said this Government had been vigorously pursuing gender equality since 1994, and the existence of the CGE was testimony of the ruling party’s commitment to gender equality. He echoed Ms Marchesi, and said the CGE had been in existence for 20 years, but the presentation had lacked substance. An economically empowered woman would never be a victim of ukuthwalwa and the focus should be on the causes of gender inequality, which proved to be mostly economically based. He asked whether gender equality had been achieved in national and local government departments, because he had never met a female municipal manager in KwaZulu-Natal. The Commission should focus on monitoring and implementation, and the impact on the lives of women, especially in the rural areas, should be clear.
Ms Fundi Nzimande, CGE Commissioner, said there were social and patriarchal aspects to ukuthwalwa that should also be considered. It was initially a custom that was utilised when the families did not consent to a marriage, as a way to ‘force their hand’. It was a custom used by consenting adults in a relationship, but currently it was even used by mothers for economic gains.
Mr Botha said what was happening in South Africa with GBV and the disempowerment of women was in fact representative of where society and women were. The lack of women employed in senior and management positions was a representation of how women were viewed and regarded in society.
Mr Shozi said the mandate and legislation did not allow CGE implementation of recommendations. CGE set up public hearings calling on institutions in both local and national government departments to assess and report on their gender equality statuses. Without actual numbers, it was safe to say that most municipalities were actually going backwards in attaining gender equality. The CGE wished to engage with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and the Ministry on this matter. The CGE was committed to making an impact in rural areas and the documentation that would be sent to the Committee would support that.
Ms D Robinson (DA) said the Committee needed better insight into the work of the CGE, and asked for clarification on the court processes monitored by the Commission. She asked what activities or programmes were planned for Women’s Month and where the information manuals were that would educate women in rural areas on the presence of the CGE. She asked what the term ‘gender machinery’ meant.
The Chairperson said the budgeting showed that the field workers, who did the most work, got very little money. She asked why the field workers that had been working in the provinces continuously had now been moved, as this left a vacuum. She asked how the vacancies would be funded. The current structure of CGE meant that more money would be spent on travelling. She emphasised the importance of empowering women and asked the CGE to join the Committee in its commitment for gender equality.
Mr Shozi said the field workers and the legal officers were still stationed in the provinces and only the researchers had moved to the head office. However, they still liaised with education officers and field workers on the ground.
Ms Nzimande said the CGE was committed to work with the Committee toward achieving gender equality. It was worrying that women owned just 2% of the economy, and economic development would be addressed by the CGE in collaboration with other role players and stakeholders.
Ms P Bhengu (ANC) asked if CGE provincial offices were adequately resourced to deliver on its mandate and if there was a list of focal points in rural areas that showed CGE’s visibility, as well as the NGOs with which the Commission worked.
The Chairperson said the Committee members would have to be excused, because of their commitment to a plenary session. She asked CGE to make themselves available to continue the deliberations, but written responses should be forwarded to the Committee.
Draft Committee Minutes
The Chairperson said the consideration and adoption of the outstanding minutes would take place at the next Committee meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Commission for Gender Equality Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan 2014/2015
- Budget linked to Annual Performance Plan for financial period 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015
- Introductory Comments by Chairperson of Commission for Gender Equality
- Commission for Gender Equality -Listing of Unfunded Projects & programmes
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