Commission for Gender Equality on 4th Quarter 2013 & 1st Quarter 2014 Performance

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

09 September 2014
Chairperson: Ms T Memela (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) reported that the fourth quarter (Jan-March 2014) was marked by heightened activities towards the realisation of the Gender Summit, as well as the adoption of planned activities and the budget for the next financial year. The CGE, through its various departments, had implemented several programmes aimed at improving service delivery. The legal department had made significant strides in increasing accessibility of their services to their clientele, by opening 30 additional clinics across the country.  200 new cases had been opened with the CGE.

The CGE had continued with its efforts to engage on matters affecting women’s rights and had been involved in two important proceedings involving succession to disputed chieftainships.  The aggrieved parties had been women who claimed they had been denied the opportunity to lead as a result of their gender.  The CGE had also engaged with various stakeholders, such as the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), on the slow pace of transformation in the judicial sector, where few women were still being appointed as judges in the courts.  Complaints levelled against SAPS by sex workers had also been considered. 

Public education and training programmes embarked on by the Department in the present year entailed holding workshops, dialogues, campaigns, information sessions, seminars, exhibitions and radio talk shows.  The Department oversaw the communications unit which was responsible for the transmission of key messages relating to gender equality, awareness, gender transformation, brand management, publicity and public relations. The communications were done through both print and electronic media.

In its efforts to make a contribution and increase visibility, the CGE had made contributions to several bills before Parliament -- -- the KZN Traditional Leadership Bill 2012, the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill [B35 2013], the Employment Equity Amendment Bill [B31 2013], and the draft Traditional Affairs Bill.
As at 31 March 2014, there were no solvency or liquidity challenges for the CGE.  In the 2012/2013 financial period, the CGE had received an unqualified audit, and in the current financial year, it was working on receiving a clean audit.

Members asked the CGE about its opinion of the 50-50 policy and questioned its cost saving strategies.  They criticised the lack of proof reading of its documents, the lack of coherence in its presentation, and the failure to align its presentation to its own strategic objectives. The Chairperson also questioned the contents of the financial presentation and asked for certain aspects of the presentation to be unpacked by the CGE’s chief financial officer.

Meeting report

Briefing by the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE)
Ms Keketso Maema, CEO, CGE, said that she would present on the performance of CGE in the fourth quarter of 2013/14 and the first quarter of 2014/15.  This would cover the introduction and finalization of pre-year activities.

The work represented in the last quarter indicated a consolidation of the work undertaken since the development and implementation of the annual performance plan (APP).  For the reporting period, there had been no significant development in the organisation, although all departments had striven to fully achieve targets set out in the APP.  The quarter was also marked by heightened activities towards realisation of the Gender Summit, the finalisation and adoption of planned activities and budget for the next financial year, and heightened engagement with various bills that the fourth Parliament was bringing to finalisation.  During the quarter, the Commission had submitted the annual financial statements and draft annual report.  In the period in question, the CGE also put together an observer toll that saw the participation of all internal stakeholders in observing and monitoring the election.

The legal department focuses on complaints handling, litigation, and access to justice, monitoring legislative developments and making inputs.  200 new cases had been opened by the department for the last quarter reporting period.  Furthermore, during the current period, the          CGE handled a total of 651 cases which included walk-in and telephonic complaints. Of these cases, 451 were cases brought forward from the previous reporting period.  Noteworthy to mention was that 185 matters were finalised and closed, while 466 were pending.

One of the projects of the legal department had been the access to justice project, where 30 legal clinics had been opened across the country. With regard to litigation, several matters were of significance. The Chiloane matter dealt with a dispute with regard to chieftainship, where the complainant sought the removal of her brother from the throne and in turn, her appointment in his place.  

In a similar matter which dealt with Xhosa lineage, Princess Nomaxhosa Sigcawu had laid a complaint with the CGE’s Eastern Province office. The basis of the claim was that she had been deprived of her right to become queen on the basis of her gender. An unfavourable ruling had been given against the princess, which ruled that King Xolisizwe was not a regent but rather a proper king. Throughout this process, the CGE accompanied the complainant during the hearings. There had been a professor who was helping her, but it became clear that when trial started, he did not want to come forward as a witness.

A judicial transformation complaint had also been lodged with the CGE. This related to the slow pace of transformation within the judiciary. The Department had then engaged with the Judicial Service Commission and all the relevant stakeholders. The unit further engaged the South African Judicial Education Institute in providing support and training to female legal professionals, and assessed the impact the training had had to date in preparing women to apply for vacancies on the bench.

A sex work complaint had also been lodged with the Department, involving reports against members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) by sex workers.  These complaints sought a change in the regimes in terms of the law. A legal opinion had been sought from an advocate on whether the case of the State v Jordaan could jeopardise such changes.  

In addition, a South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) complaint had also been brought before the Commission. The relevant Minister had not responded to the letter written by the Commission, and so the Commission intended to litigate the matter in court. The Department had also made inputs into four bills through parliamentary submissions -- the KZN Traditional Leadership Bill 2012, the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill [B35 2013], the Employment Equity Amendment Bill [B31 2013], and the draft Traditional Affairs Bill.

For the 2013/2014 financial period, the department had focused on a couple of projects, including the gender focal person research project, gender barometer, monitoring and evaluation of the National Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Council, policy briefs and dialogues, assessment of women political participation and representation, and the  African Gender Development Index (AGDI).  The unit had held 24 dialogues across nine provinces, while engaging with various policy stakeholders. These dialogues had focused on the findings and recommendations of the Victim’s Charter reports, gender barometer, and Gender Equity in Education. The African Gender Development Index Project sought to assess South Africa’s compliance with international obligations to promote gender equality and gender mainstreaming in line with global gender frameworks and policies to which the country had assented, and in particular the  compliance of African countries with the provisions of international gender policy frameworks. The AGDI had a primary focus to put systems in place, and to provide training with the assistance of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) officials to members of the National Advisory panel and project staff, pending the sourcing of funding for the project.

Public education and training programmes embarked on by the Department in the present year entailed holding workshops, dialogues, campaigns, information sessions, seminars, exhibitions and radio talk shows.  The Department oversaw the communications unit which was responsible for the transmission of key messages relating to gender equality, awareness, gender transformation, brand management, publicity and public relations. The communications were done through both print and electronic media.

In terms of interventions, 16 days of activism were undertaken in partnership with the SABC and the National Electronic Media Institute of SA (NEMISA). The main purpose of the activity was to monitor police stations and analyse the outcomes, considering issues such as victims withdrawing cases that had been opened, the availability of doctors with rape kits, and investigators that took too long to complete cases.  A memorandum of agreement (MOU) was entered with the National Community Radio Forum (NCRF) to facilitate the provision of a platform for the CGE to discuss various topics on community radio stations with the aim of sensitising the public on issues surrounding gender and elections, the principle of 50/50, gender education, human rights and gender equality, and the 16 days campaign on No Violence Against Women and Children. The Department engaged with various lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities with various interventions scheduled in the quarter.

In the first quarter of the current financial year, the research department had focused on long-term projects that had already been identified in the strategic document.  Five projects would be undertaken:
- Assessment of women’s political participation and representation;
- Assessment of gender mainstreaming through the gender barometer tool;
- Assessment of effectiveness of the national GBV Council;
- The African Gender Development index (AGDI); and
- The drafting of policy briefs and undertaking policy dialogues.

The legal department had made inputs into several legislative frameworks. 23 legal clinics had been conducted by the Department in the period.   Three matters were being litigated in the courts, while 13 courts were monitored in the current period. The public information and education department hosted a Gender Summit from 9 to11 April, and also conducted a meeting with the Houses of Traditional Leaders and religious sectors.

The CGE engaged with the SABC to explore a number of opportunities of common interest.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) commended the CGE on their turnaround strategy. She sought clarity in terms of cost saving mechanisms.  She raised the point that almost the entire CGE office was at Parliament for the session, and wondered why they needed such a big delegation. She asked the CGE about their views on the 50-50 policies.  She indicated that the CGE presentation on the day was not aligned to their strategic plan. She requested the CGE to rate their service, as a service provider.  Many people had no idea of the CGE as an organisation -- what steps were being taken to address this issue?

Ms M Chueu (ANC) commented that the CGE presentation document was not well proof-read. She made reference to the fact that in its report, the CGE failed to note the difference between cultural and forced marriages. She said the only way people could unite was to integrate different aspects of different cultures. She referred to a story in the Sowetan newspaper about how a female at the University of Zululand had been harassed by other students for wearing a mini-skirt. She considered this example as a metaphor that could be used to show how, over the past 20 years of independence, very little had changed about people’s attitudes towards women, if young adults could still engage in such behaviour against women.  She wanted to see the Commission tackling more issues that affected women directly.  A lot of people still did not know what gender equality really meant.

Ms M Matshoba (ANC) said she was worried when she read the CGE document, because it missed a lot. An example was children, including girls, who were exposed to social ills like dagga.  She proposed that the Committee work in partnership with the Department of Social Services to address the matter. She called on Members to take a moment and dedicate it to Judge Thokozile Msipa, who would deliver the judgment at the Oscar Pistorious trial.

The Chairperson directed a question directly to the legal team, asking them why abuse, as dealt with by CGE, considered mainly black people and did not also consider the coloured, Indian and white communities. The Chairperson said that with regard to the succession dispute involving Princess Nomaxhosa Sigcawu, the Commission should have been aware of the upheaval in the family and the previous deposition of the rightful heir to the throne.  She humorously commented that she hailed from Kwazulu-Natal, where it was not an issue for a woman to become a princess.

Briefing by the Chief Financial Officer
Mr Moshabi Putu, CFO of CGE, made a presentation on the financial management of the organisation. The content of the presentation touched three key areas: the financial performance and position for the quarter ending 31 March 2014; the financial performance and position for the quarter ending 30 June 2014; and other general financial matters.

In the quarter ending 30 June 2014 all income receivable from the Treasury, totalling R15.8m, had been received.  R224 723 was received from other sundry sources, R220 0555 of which was interest income from positive bank balances in the CGE current account. Total expenses were R17, 4m, which was higher than the quarterly average of R15million. The increased spending could be attributed to expenditure undertaken in the fourth quarter to meet the APP target from previous quarters. Thus, up to March 2014, a deficit of R1, 4m had been recorded.

The results for the full 2013/2014 financial year indicated a a net surplus of R2m, with interest contributing R876 654 of this amount, and the balance attributable to savings from vacant positions.   Total revenue for the twelve month period amounted to R63, 96m. This was 1% above the allocation of the National Treasury. No material variances existed between the actual expenditure and adjusted budget. In terms of expenditure, compensation of employees accounted for 64%, travel and accommodation accounted for 13%, and professional services amounted to a combined contribution of 8%.

As at 31 March 2014, there were no solvency or liquidity challenges. The financial position remained strong, but planned recapitalization projects would diminish the liquidity strength in the near term. Compared to the previous financial year at the same point, the non-current asset base had fallen from R1.7m to R1.5m. Included in the cash balance was the R8.5m conditionally approved by the Treasury to be used to recapitalise CGE assets.

Considering other general financial management matters, management had conducted workshops where the risk register had been updated and corresponding risk treatment plans had been devised. No instances of fraud had been detected or reported to management. Furthermore, there were no new litigation matters, with the two matters of CGE v Gasa and Axolute v CGE still to go on trial.

There were also investment activities under way in the form of fleet acquisitions, IT infrastructure and assets disposal.  11 vehicles at a cost of R4.3m had been acquired. These were procured through a National Treasury-supported transversal contract. Receipt of the vehicles was expected to be in the third quarter of the current financial year. An estimated R4.2m was expected to be spent to support the ICT strategy and implementation, which was being finalised internally. Capital expenditure was expected to be funded by an R8.5m conditional grant from the National Treasury. In terms of the audit status, a turnaround strategy was in place to move from an unqualified audit by the Auditor General (AGSA), to a clean audit for the 2014/2015 period.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) asked the CGE when it intended to fill the vacancies in its offices.

The Chairperson asked who the people referred to as “professional service providers” in the budget were. She asked the CFO to unpack the financial position as at 31 March 2014, as well as the budget deficit provided for in the financial information. She also asked for clarity on contingencies and asset disposals. She wanted to know the gender statistics of the CGE employees.

Ms Marissa van Niekerk, Head: Legal Division, CGE, responded that there were two men and seven women.

Ms M Chueu (ANC) made an observation that women’s African attire was very expensive in retail outlets, and measures must be taken to reduce the price.
The Chairperson noted that some Members had to attend other meetings and thus the meeting had to be terminated prematurely. She proposed that some of the matters be dealt with at the oncoming strategic planning workshop, as the Attorney General (AGSA) would also be there and they would have an opportunity to make a contribution.
The CGE indicated that it would be happy to furnish oustanding responses to the Committee in writing.

The meeting was adjourned.

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