Analysis of Women Sector: Committee Section briefing; Audit Outcome of Department of Women and Commission for Gender Equality: AGSA briefing; Department of Women on its 2013/14 Annual Report

Women in The Presidency

14 October 2014
Chairperson: Ms G Tseke (ANC) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee's Researcher presented her report on the Annual Report of the Department of Women for 2013/14. The report identified there were still 18 vacancies in the Department of Women, there was a considerable staff turnover in the previous financial year, a marked improvement in staff training opportunities, questionable issue of performance bonuses, questionable use of donor funding on core programs as well as a failure to attain targets in some of the programmes .

 Ms Kashifa Abrahams, Content Advisor, for the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women in the office of the Presidency presented her report on the preparation for the Budget Review and Recommendation Report. This document would assist Members when they attended to activities, and examined, amongst others, whether the organogram of the Department of Women would remain the same, the status of the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill, effectiveness of the programmes of the Department, whether there was any remedial action pending, the handover of donor funding in programmes to the Department of Social Work, and also looked at recommendations by the former Portfolio Committee on Women, Children and People with Disabilities.

The Auditor-General South Africa reported on the audit outcomes in the 2013/14 Annual Report of the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities 2013/2014. The report focused on certain areas, predetermined objectives, human resource management, IT strategies, material errors and omissions, drivers of internal control, the Combined Assurance Model, the most important root causes for difficulties, as well as the oversight model. Once again, AGSA noted that the key challenges lay in slow  responses by senior management and lack of consequences for poor performance. The oversight model was described for the Committee, and the main considerations that the Portfolio Committee should identify when monitoring performance were set out. Members expressed appreciation for this report and asked AGSA to comment on whether the Department was providing value for money and whether there needed to be consequences for the actions of Department staff.

The Department of Women presented on their 2013/2014 Annual report, describing the four programmes being run.. Despite challenges, including difficulties with the legislation, this Department had achieved some of the targets.  The Department presented on their 4 main programmes. The Department achieved targets for some of their Programs despite several challenges the Department faced such as compliance with legislation. The Department also highlighted some of their achievements. The members of the committee were not pleased to begin with about the late submission of relevant documents by the Department. Furthermore, the members raised concerns about the Department such as its failure to perform, being economic with information, failure to implement effective programs, failure to have tangible and sustainable outcomes, fruitless and wasteful expenditure, failure to have objectives that meet the SMART criteria, misleading reporting of information amongst other constraints. Ms N Tarabella – Marchesi (DA) however noted that the Department had done well to try and furnish the committee with statistics in their presentation. The members formed a united front in demanding performance from the Department and ensuring they meet their mandate. The members posed pertinent questions to the Department which they requested should be addressed by the Department if it is to function effectively. Mr M Dirks (ANC) hammered on the point that there would be no way in which the Department would escape consequences of the actions of its staff members in the 5th sitting of Parliament.

Meeting report

Opening remarks
After adopting the programme, the Chairperson asked why the Annual Report of the Department of Women (as it was now called) was not received on time.

Ms M Cheu (ANC) stated that in her view, a late report meant that the meeting should have been postponed. Not all the Members had been given sufficient opportunity to read in depth through the documentation. She stressed that the late receipt of the report could not be ascribed to the Committee Secretary, but the Department should take responsibility.

Ms C Dudley (ACDP) said that she did not mind getting the report on the Monday preceding the meeting, although others may need it sooner.

Adoption of Minutes

Minutes of the previous meeting were adopted, with some technical amendments.

Department of Women (Children and Persons with Disabilities): 2013/14 Annual Report: Committee Section briefings
Ms Crystal Levendale, Committee Researcher, stated that she would present on the entire document as given in hard copy before the Committee. The first point provided in the report related to the previous Department, and she noted that there was no clarity on the matter as that specific content relating to children had been moved to the Department of Social Development (DSD). She referred the Committee to page 2 of her document.

Ms Levendale noted that there were151 approved posts, 133 of which had been filled, but 18 vacancies still remained. She said that consideration had to be given to the structure and the staff composition. 111 of the people employed were situated in the Administration Programme, making this a top-heavy programme that also spent R40.7 million of the budget. More than half of the money was being spent on the administrators at senior level. Looking at the turnover, she then reported that 19 persons had left, six resigned, five were transferred, one was released due to misconduct, and there was one on suspension. The spending on consultants amounted to R1.5 million. She stated that the Department had also only given a breakdown on one project where it was indicated that it had employed the services of eight consultants. In terms of staff development, in the previous year, only 53 training opportunities had been realised. In the current year however, there was a marked improvement with 83 training opportunities being realised.

Ms Levendale noted that the performance report indicated that only two people had received performance bonuses, each of whom received R43 500. Questions need to be asked on why this was the case. To date the Department had not been able to implement an employee assistance programme. The Department had not managed to advertise posts despite the lapse of six months after they had fallen vacant. Only six senior staff had signed performance contracts. There was also no culture of performance management, as the management in the new entity had alluded to. Questions had to be asked about the nature of the work being undertaken by the sixteen people appointed in 2013, and to what positions they had been employed. She reminded the Committee that the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA), in a previous presentation, had highlighted the need for skills transfer from the consultants to the Department, but to date no details had been given whether this had happened.

Ms Levendale turned to matters of governance. The Department had been able to appoint a director for risk management, so progress, albeit slow progress, could be noted. The Department also failed to meet the SMART principles as previously expanded upon by the AGSA, and she reminded the Committee that this required that a department's objectives must be specific, measurable, agreeable, realisable as well as time bound. She suggested that questions be asked as to why this had not been done.

AGSA's report indicated that there were internal control deficiencies. The quarterly reports of the Department had also not been submitted. The AGSA said that internal reporting was still not well capacitated. The Department had made significant strides in terms of supply chain management. There were also instances where contracts were awarded against a different set of criteria from the original criteria as indicated during the bidding process. Some of the key questions that needed to be asked were whether the Department had any corrective implementation plans and what measures had been set in place to ensure that they were carried out.

Ms Levendale noted that R63 million had been transferred  to the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE). Donor funding of R5.1 million had been received, which was a significant increase from the previous period. The Department, in its figures, had erroneously indicated this amount as R5.7m. The annexure to the report noted that money had been received from UNICEF. The total amount of money from donors thus amounted to R5.4m.The National Lotteries Board was the largest donor contributor in the financial year under review.

In order to secure sufficient funding, the Department had tried to establish partnerships with external stakeholders. This was very commendable but it had received extra money for activities already budgeted for in the core activities.

Ms Levendale reported that the Department had managed to receive an unqualified report. Statements submitted for auditing were not compliant with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) requirements, although they were subsequently corrected.

There were still vacancies in the Department, that to date had not been filled. The Department also had irregular expenditure. In terms of expenditure, R3.9 million of the budget had been spent on travel agency fees, supply chain and human resource management. The figure was high, especially the amount relating to travel expenditure. Questions had to be asked as to the mechanisms that had been put in place in order to combat challenges on the irregular expenditure.

Ms Levendale turned to the targets. The targets not met included the fact that the 365 day plan of action had not been realised successfully. The entity had noted a challenge arising from the fact that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) joined the Department only in the middle of the financial period. All targets not met were deferred to the second quarter. The question however was whether there was enough capacity for these challenges to be met, and questions had to be asked about the current status of these challenges. 

Three of the targets under Programme 4 had not been met. Questions needed to be raised on what the Department had done to address capacity constraints. The Department, in the past, had consistently underspent on Programme 4.

Committee section report in preparation for Budget Review and Recommendation Report
Ms Kashifa Abrahams, Committee Content Advisor, stated that the Committee had this week and next to sort out its programme and she said that her document would assist the Committee in the procedure for the following week.

It was important to look at whether the mandate, vision and mission of the new Department of Women would alter substantially from the previous department. She noted that, in respect of the transitional arrangements, there was still no clarity on how the Department would be handing over to the Department of Social Development (DSD) and the question to be asked was therefore, how the DSD would ensure that it picked up on the recommendations that had been given to the Department of Women.

It would also be interesting to see whether the organogram of the new Department would stay the same.

Ms Abrahams noted that in respect of unmet targets, recommendations had been given by members of the Committee. The Department needed also to provide solutions on how it intended to catch up on targets not met in the previous financial year and quarter 1 of the current financial year.

Ms Abrahams turned to the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality (WEGE) Bill and said that the National Assembly had deliberated on the Bill, after which it was referred to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) who should come back to the National Assembly, so this meant that the process on this Bill was not yet complete. Questions must be raised on the current status of the Bill and on whether there were any further consultations needed for the consideration of the Bill.

Ms Abrahams noted that there were various campaigns being implemented by the Department, and suggested that the Committee needed to look at the impact of these campaigns, a point emphasised by the previous committee in the Fourth Parliament. This needed to be done, bearing in mind questions such as how the Department was monitoring and evaluating these programmes, what the Department's reach was and how it intended to get through to rural areas.

She then noted that the Annual Report 2013/2014 referred to claims against the Department, and suggested that the Committee should seek clarity to determine whether there was any remedial action still pending. The Annual Report refers to the Fluxman Report as a process that had been completed with a briefing to the former Portfolio Committee of the Fourth Parliament, but at that time, there was a report that certain processes were still under way and needed to be completed. The former Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities had indicated that the investigations were complete, but some issues needed to be finalised, and that was different to what was in the current report.

In terms of donor activities in relation to matters related to children and people with disability, there was a need to find out what  the handover process for donor activities and reports would be to the Department of Social Development.

She noted that when reviewing the Budget Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) for 2013, there were many questions needed on the use of consultants. Funding had been received for core activities, which was further supported by donor funds. This begged the question as to what the consultants were doing and what was the Department doing.

She summarised the recommendations that had been made by the former Committee.  In terms of financial performance, the Department was encouraged to submit monthly reports to the Committee as this would aid in oversight. All outstanding matters relating to the Turnaround Strategy must be reported to the Committee on a monthly basis. Further, the Department must implement and adhere to stringent daily and monthly financial controls. The Department must ensure that all funds that were appropriated were utilised optimally to avoid under expenditure and over-expenditure. The Department was also requested to provide the Committee with regular reports for activities that incurred travel and subsistence costs. These initiatives should clearly indicate the purpose of the trip, the size of the delegation, the cost incurred, the outcomes of the trip and an action plan as to how resolutions would be implemented.

In terms of the report of the AGSA, complete and accurate reporting of monthly reports was also needed . In terms of human resources, the Department needed to be questioned on whether it would propose a new organogram and whether it was going to employ more workers.  The status of the skills audit needed to be considered, and what capacity the reformed Department of Women would require in order to operate optimally and give effect to its mandate. Questions thus needed to be raised on how the Department would capacitate the existing staff members. In the previous year, it was proposed that all officials should go for training. In terms of performance development plans, the Committee should ask how many staff members had benefited from funds allocated for personal development, and, furthermore, whether all staff had a performance plan that was linked to their performance, and, if not, why not.

In the previous year the Committee observed that the Department was top heavy. Ms Abrahams suggested that the current Committee should thus inquire into the inequity in the numbers of support staff versus core staff, and noted that 97 of the present staff complement of 111 were core staff. In terms of infrastructure, the Department should continue its discussion with the Minister of Public Works to expedite all matters related to accommodation of all staff within one building. All outstanding matters as noted in the Committees oversight report pertaining to the visit to the Department's offices should be addressed.

In the previous year there were also concerns on visibility. On a positive note, the Department had improved its cooperation and collaboration with the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) in order to prevent a duplication of activities. The Department also needed to strengthen ties with the Public Service Commission and the Department of Public Service and Administration.

There was a need for consideration of monitoring and evaluation, and whether the findings made an impact. It was important to note, in the Annual Report for the current year, that the first policy was said to have been made in 2014, yet it was presented in 2013. She pointed out that policies could only be given effect to if they were costed. The disability policy of the Department had since been finalised.

Looking at treaty compliance and framework and time-frames, the Department must ensure that a plan was in place, and communicated with other departments well in advance, as to what information would be required in the form of data or indicators in preparation for the upcoming Country Reports. This plan must be made available to the Committee and reflect in the next Annual Performance Plan and revised strategy. In addition, the Department must make every effort to ensure compliance with treaty deadlines as well as submit Country Reports to Parliament in advance to enable adequate time for the Committee to engage with the content.

The Minister had promised to investigate the position of the National Council on Gender Based Violence (NCGBYV), . It had to be asked whether the Council would remain with the Department of Women or be relocated. She noted that the Committee would also need to look into the findings of the 2014 year of the NCGBYV. Looking at mainstreaming, she said that questions must be asked on how the Department had  been able to mainstream the research and development of the plan, monitoring and evaluation and advocacy initiatives in Programme, 2, 3, and 4.

Discussion

The Chairperson thanked the Content Advisor for the report and indicated that the information would be vital in assisting the Committee in finalising the BRR report. She asked for any comments or inputs. She agreed with the report, but also wanted to find out if the Department did not have a good story to tell. It seemed as if not everything was up to scratch. She asked if there was anything positive that could be presented in the BRRR, and said that the Committee should try to share the positive stories with the public. The failure of the Department could also be said to be a failure of the Committee.

Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities: Audit outcomes for the 2013/2014 financial year: Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) briefing
Mr Ahmed Moola, Senior Manager, Auditor General of South Africa, outlined the mission and reputational statement of the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA), which had a constitutional mandate, and, as the supreme audit institution, existed to strengthen the country’s democracy by enabling oversight, accountability and governance in the public sector, through auditing, thereby building public confidence. He noted that the purpose of the presentation was to provide Members of Parliament with the necessary information and guidance on the audit outcomes for this Committee to effectively execute its oversight function.

The audit outcomes for the Department remained unqualified. He tabled a summary, and said that ideally what was highlighted in yellow (see attached document) should move to green. There had, generally, been a  stagnation in audit outcomes. There were, however challenges with compliance with legislation.

He then set out considerations of the key focus areas for this Department.

The Department of Women did not comply with the supply chain regulations. The CGE also had numerous chain management irregularities. In the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, contracts and quotations were awarded to bidders based on points  for certain criteria. However, those differed from those stipulated in the original invitation for bidding and quotations, in contravention of Treasury Regulations and the Preferential Procurement Regulations. This was because management did not have sufficient monitoring controls in place to enforce compliance with laws and regulations. A recommendation was made that management should implement monitoring controls, whereby the procurement specialist would review all awards to ensure that the necessary Supply Chain Management (SCM) documents had been obtained prior to making an award, in order to detect instances of non-compliance by the relevant officials.

The CGE, on the other hand, did not take effective steps through its accounting officer to prevent irregular expenditure, as required by the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and the Treasury regulations. Quotations were awarded to bidders who did not submit a declaration on whether they were employed by the State or connected to any persons employed by the State, which was prescribed by Treasury legislation. Recommendations were made to the effect that the accounting officer should take effective and appropriate steps to prevent irregular activities and expenditures by ensuring that SCM legislation was complied with. On a monthly basis, the procurement officer should prepare a list of expenses which may constitute the statements as required under section 38(1)(h) of the PFMA and Treasury Regulations.

The Department of Women had no problems with predetermined objectives, but the CGE showed no improvement in its problems with the predetermined objectives. There were material misstatements in the annual performance report submitted for auditing on the reported performance information. These were, however, subsequently corrected. The root cause of the problem was that the entity did not implement a process to ensure that the annual performance report was accurate, complete and supported by reliable information. The crux of the problem was, however, that the issues continued to appear, one year after another. The real problems lay with the action plans and AGSA thus recommended that the Department needed to follow up more stringently on these action plans.

Turning to the report on predetermined objectives, Mr Moola noted that the CGE had material misstatements in the annual performance report submitted for auditing on the reported performance information. These were subsequently corrected. It was recommended that the CGE should implement a process to ensure that the annual performance report was accurate and complete and supported by reliable information. This would ensure that no material adjustments would have to be made to the performance reports, after submission for auditing.

In terms of human resource management, funded vacant posts were not filled within 12 months as required by the Public Service Regulations. This was due to lack of monitoring controls being put in place to ensure adherence to the requirement. It was recommended that a process should be implemented for filling of posts, that was effective and efficient. Critical vacancies had to be prioritised and filled immediately.

The IT strategy of the Department was not aligned with the corporate strategy. Dormant and inactive users were not deactivated in a timely manner on BAS and LOGIS systems. The IT security policy was not approved on time, and management did not have defined appropriate processes to ensure that IT resources, skills and infrastructure were being utilised in accordance with the organisation's objectives. The role of the IT director had not been filled, and management had not been able to implement adequate governance structures around IT due to resource capacity constraints. It was recommended that a newly appointed ICT strategic committee must revisit the existing IT strategic plan and evaluate it against the strategic objectives. There should be formalised process for the administration of inactive and dormant user accounts to be followed in BAS. The IT policy should be approved in a timely manner and IT skills resources and infrastructure should be managed in a manner to ensure that the strategic objectives were met. Backup controls around the Department's  servers had to be implemented as well as formal user access processes. A Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) had also to be implemented, and financially significant systems and networks should be protected from unauthorised access through the implementation of an automated solution for monitoring and logging of security breaches and attempts.

In terms of the CGE, Mr Moola reported that the information technology governance framework had not been designed. It was recommended that the IT manager should facilitate the development of an IT governance framework and ensure that this was aligned to the organisation's objectives. Compliance with processors should be monitored, and IT should be seen as a priority by leadership of CGE.

Turning to material errors and omissions, Mr Moola noted that the financial statements of the Department, when submitted for auditing, were not prepared in accordance with the prescribed financial reporting framework as required by section 40(1)(b) of the Public Finance Management Act. Material misstatements of accruals and unauthorised expenditure were identified by the auditors in the submitted financial statement, but these were subsequently corrected which resulted in the Department receiving an unqualified audit opinion. It was recommended that management should ensure that annual financial statements were prepared regularly.  It was critical that a full and proper set of financial statements (including all disclosure notes) were prepared on a monthly basis. These annual financial statements should be reviewed by the governance structures. The annual financial statements should be adequately supported by substantiating evidence, to corroborate validity, accuracy and completeness. There were,however, no adverse reports on the financial health of the Department.

In terms of drivers of internal controls, the CGE had two areas that need to be focused on - namely the oversight responsibility and compliance. With regards to other matters of interest, Mr Moola recommended that the Committee needed to take a look into fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

Mr Moola then went on to detail the purpose and nature of the combined assurance model, which was broken up into three levels of assurance - namely, management assurance, oversight assurance, and independent assurance. The combined assurance model was a useful tool in exercising oversight roles.

Mr Moola summarised the comments and commitments made by the previous Portfolio Committee. The Committee had committed to monitor progress against the annual performance plan, on a quarterly basis, and said also that the Portfolio Committee would track implementation of action plans to address issues previously identified  by AGSA on a quarterly basis, and that the Portfolio Committee would track the progress to ensure that the internal audit was fully established and capacitated so that it could deliver against the internal audit plan.

AGSA had summarised the most important root causes of the deficiencies identified. The AGSA tried to do an in depth understanding of the problems. Two main root causes were identified - namely, the slow response by management and lack of consequences for poor performance and transgressions. These had remained unchanged over the past financial periods, and so it was recommended that further investigation was needed into why these matters recurred.

Finally, Mr Moola noted that in regard to the oversight model, there were certain steps key to the process:

- Policy development - to identify the desired impacts
- Operational planning and budgeting - specifying performance
- Implementation and in year reporting - set targets and allocate resources
- End of year reporting - to monitor and take corrective action and accountability, then assess and adjust

Discussion

The Chairperson noted slide on the most common root causes and said that this summary would be particularly helpful in assisting the Committee to conduct its oversight role.

Ms P Bhengu (ANC) thanked the AGSA and said that it was a pity the CGE was not present, because the Committee would want to find out from this entity why the matters identified were continuously happening and maybe needed to speak to the members of the CGE, individually.

The Chairperson said that after the BRRR adoption, the Committee would interact with the CGE. She noted also the need to interact with the CGE at some stage before the Committee adopted the budget recommendations, and agreed that this Committee should try to seek a way to change matters in order to assist the process.

Mr M Dirks (ANC) stated that he would not repeat what the previous two speakers had said and said that the report by the AGSA was very clear. There were no consequences being imposed, but in the Fifth Parliament the Committee, in his view, had to say that there would be consequences, and MPs could not continue to shield the officials.


Ms D Robinson (DA) said that she thought the Committee needed to interrogate the departments. It bothered her that the Department had a top heavy administration and a lot of money was being spent on salaries of people who were incompetent. She alluded to the fact that employees making mistakes must take responsibility for their actions and suggested that the Committee should focus more on spending money on services.

Ms N Tarabella – Marchesi (DA) said that her point also related to value for money. Questions needed to be asked on whether the entities were actually achieving the goals and whether these goals matched with what the Committee wanted money to be spent upon.

The Chairperson asked what had been the audit outcome for the CGE.

Mr Moola said that both entities received unqualified audit opinions.

The Chairperson asked the AGSA to address the question on value for money.

Mr Moola said that he had focused on key areas and management should be able to speak to the Committee as to what each of the entities would be able to do. The Department had, as its main challenge, the need to receive a clean audit in the near future, and settle most of the issues. CGE, on the other hand, had a lot of problems on supply chain management and had to implement the recommendations. With regard to value for money, he thought that this was closely linked to consideration of the strategic objectives. The entities needed to focus their money and efforts on the objectives stated, and he repeated that the Committee would have to consider whether the targets were stated in a SMART way.

Ms Corne Myburgh, Business Executive, AGSA, said that the entities should be able to have the right people in the right places and that consequences should be followed.

Mr M Dirk (ANC) asked why the CGE was not present at the proceedings. Furthermore, he asked whether, when this entity came to the Committee in the following week, it was possible for the AGSA to be present.

The Chairperson said that the CGE was coming to present in the following week and asked Mr Moola and his team about their availability.

Mr Moola agreed to be available in the following session.

Minutes and Committee programme adoption
The minutes of the meeting on 9 September 2014 were adopted, with no amendments.

The minutes of the meeting on 16 September 2014 were adopted, with no amendments.

The Committee's Third Term programme was adopted, with amendments.

Department of Women: 2013/14 Annual Report for the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities: briefing

An apology was conveyed from the Minister, Susan Shabangu, that she was not able to attend.

Ms Veliswa Baduza, Director General, Department of Women, firstly apologised for the late presentation of documents to Parliament, and the failure to submit an apology to the Speaker of Parliament in relation to the Annual Report not being submitted on time.

Ms M Cheu (ANC) said that the Director General and the Minister should have taken the Committee into consideration before submitting the documents late, although they had valid reasons. She noted with concern that the Committee was not satisfied with what had transpired.

Mr M Dirks (ANC)  asked if, in order to save time, the Department should not present upon the vision and mission of the Department. This was known to the Committee already.

The Chairperson said that the Committee would accept the apology of the Department. She pointed out that, normally, if documents were not received timeously, departments would be sent away, but this was not possible, in view of the time constraints facing the Committee. However, she said that such mistakes would not be accepted in the future.

The Chairperson noted the suggestion by Mr Dirks and suggested that the Department move straight into the main body of its presentation, unless there were any specific remarks to make first.

Ms Baduza said that it was worth mentioning that the turnaround strategy was implemented in 2012 to put the Department on a trajectory, and the 2013/14 financial year had seen it become stabilised, strategic objectives were clearly laid out and monitored, and she was happy to say that there had been significant and marked improvements. The Department now had proper controls and financial management in place although there were still  areas that it needed to improve on.

She noted that, in terms of performance information, the Department had achieved 82% of the targets achieved and only 18% were not achieved. Considering the comparative analysis of the performance over the past four years, the targets achieved moved from 40% to 82%. Looking at the comparative analysis of the programmes there had been progress, except for Programme 4. The Department spent 95% of the budget in order to realise this performance.

In terms of risk management, she reported that the Department put in place a risk management unit, and had a specialist appointed, as well as putting in place mechanisms to ensure that the Department performed against its mandate. The Department even boasted  its own fraud and corruption policy, as well as a hotline where people could report.

In relation to the human resources, she noted that the vacancy rate was at 11.9%, down from 15.8% in the previous year. In terms of equity, the Department had a lot of African women, and was doing well in terms of representation. The Department’s senior managers were mainly women.

In terms of progress on the National Macro Organisation of State Project, (NMOS), she wanted to report that 24 posts had been transferred to the Department of Social Development. A transfer agreement had been signed between the two ministries. The Department of Women would remain with two of the programmes. A functional structure to take women employment forward was being developed. However, the funding for the new department was still not yet confirmed, and negotiations with staff and labour were still under way for a smooth transition.

Ms Baduza moved to the description of the main programmes. In relation to Programme 1: Administration and financial performance, she noted that in respect of the financial information, the Department would be engaging with the National Treasury because there was now a singular mandate.  She described the targets and said that the Department only failed to achieve in terms of 365 Day Plan of Action (POA) coordinated. The budget used amounted to 92% of the total budget for realisation of the targets. She noted that monitoring and evaluation would be key.

In relation to Programme 2:  Women Empowerment and Gender Equality (WEGE), the Department achieved 100% of the planed targets. 99% of the budget of the programme was spent to realise the outcomes.

Programme 3: Children’s Rights and Responsibilities (CRR) had managed to achieve 91% of the planned target. However, the Department failed to achieve the target on Institutional Support and Capacity Development. 99% of the budget was  spent to realize 91% of the targets.

Programme 4: Rights of People with Disability, had already achieved 40% of the targets and had spent 80% of the budget.

Ms Baduza highlighted the following significant achievements:

- Unite campaign to say no to violence against women was popularised in all provinces, culminating in the launch of the Orange World and the signing of the Western Cape Declaration.
- Annual Stakeholder Forum was held with focus on Early Childhood Development (ECD) and Responsible parenting in Diepsloot
- Techno Girl Alumni, which allowed for support to be provided to the girls to enter tertiary institutions and supported to continue their studies in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields with the aim of assisting them with job placements, thus ensuring a sustainable initiative
- The Department, in association with the Airports Company of South Africa and Wheelchair Tennis South Africa, held a media conference to welcome back South African US OPEN QUAD champion, Lucas Sithole
- The Department, in partnership with MTN Foundation SA, handed over an accessible computer centre to Bartimea School for the Blind and Deaf.

Discussion

Mr M Dirks (ANC), warned the Department to make a service delivery performance review, study the allocation of existing resources, social economic needs of the country and the responsiveness of  Departments, and said that the strategic alignment of the Department to national objectives should have been shown. When looking at how the Department’s money was spent, he commented that it was not possible to get a proper understanding, so that the Committee could make proper decisions. During elections the ANC as the ruling party and majority party made a lot of promises on the issues relating to women. Now that they had won the election, it was up to the departments to align their policies to what was promised to people, so that five years from now, the people would not say that they were cheated of their promises.

Ms Canagwini Ntshinga, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) responded by saying that in terms of transgressors, and those implementing irregular procedures would have to pay.

Ms M Cheu (ANC) said on the issue of corruption, that the Department had said it would make the transgressors pay, but was not saying whether any criminal action would be taken, or any dismissals followed. 

Ms Baduza said that the Department had a strategic objective and was clear on what mandate it was given by the President and the staff were clear about what their roles were. The focus of the Department was rather to monitor and evaluate programmes of government. For instance, in August, the President said that he wanted a status report on women by 2015. This Annual Report was for a Department that is no longer in existence.

She added that, in terms of the programmes, already this new Department was going into the next phase of the Techno Girls programme. Some of the girls did not even have  R300 to apply for bursaries. The Department also wanted to ensure that as it increased the numbers it could sustain them. The Department had worked with the Department of Trade and Industry and adopted the currently named Techno Girls Programme, which was a problem as it created questions on whose programme it was.

Mr Dirks said that this was the kind of report that the Committee was expecting today. The Department had to be strategically linked to the national strategic objectives. The report was needed in order for the Committee to make recommendations. There must be a clear programme on how we could safeguard and protect women, as a country. The Members also wanted a report where they could engage and make recommendations.

Ms M Cheu (ANC), said that the findings, according to AGSA, were that posts were not filled in twelve months and there were no monitoring controls. She asked the Director General to specify what the Department had not done. Looking at risks, the AGSA found out there were no daily and monthly controls. If the risk officer was present, then the question must be asked what that person was managing. She  asked if the Department had internships and learnerships. Another factor that puzzled her was the huge number of resignations. She wanted to find out what the person who was dismissed had done. Further, for those whose contracts had expired, she enquired if the Department had sufficient personnel to cope with the tasks that they had performed.

Ms Thandeka Mxenge, Deputy Director General, Department of Women, responded  that the Department did not have a budget for internships prior to this, but did in the current period, and had recently recruited interns. Further, the Department assigned mentors and most of these were in monitoring and evaluation. Before placing the interns, the Department ran a mentorship course to train the interns to know what to expect in the relationship, over three days. One intern was assigned in Human Resources, four were assigned to the Department of  Monitoring and Evaluation. Interns had a learning contract. The Department monitored the contract outcomes against the quarterly benefit so that the interns derived value out of the placement.

Ms Baduza answered the other questions, noting that there were some employees who had contested their dismissals, so the Department could not fill their posts until the final outcome of the processes. Some of the contracts issued were intervention contracts that had expired. The employee dismissed was dismissed on the basis of the investigation that started in 2012, over allegations of fraud and nepotism. She further explained that in relation to the terminated contracts, sometimes the Department extended the contracts and the fact there was a termination did not mean the Department did not fill the vacancy.

Ms Thandeka Mxenge added that there were a number of vacancies and this meant that the Department was not able to fill some of the posts in 12 months. For example, with the filling of the post of the Chief Financial Officer, there were no skilled candidates in the first round. In other rounds, some processes took longer, for example because of verification of qualifications through an external agency. The Department did, however, have a monitoring process, but because of the use of external agents it could not expedite it.

Ms G Tarabella – Marchesi (DA) said that she agreed with the previous speaker that it was not yet possible for the Committee to be able to make proper recommendations. Members were particularly keen to see real cases of how women are being empowered, with numbers and figures, not just statistics on women put through business degrees as students.

Mr Mzolisi Tom, Deputy Director, General of the Department of Women, said that it was correct that Members should be concerned that the Department was not event driven but there should be actions and outcomes driven. Diepsloot had problems. In particular, when those incidents happened, the Department had to go in and to make sure that when it left, there was sustainable capacity.

He added that when the Department attended the African Union, this was one of the issues that was raised, that South Africa was not able to elevate the efforts  in terms of children it empowered, maybe because in Africa South Africa was seen as the benchmark. There were good programmes, such as Techno Girls and the Department was able to do this with various government departments, and he suggested that perhaps regard must be had to how the Department was making sure that children also were able to take responsibility for what they wanted to do with their lives. There had been an elevation. Churches and other organisations had been working with the Department to sustain its work.

Ms Tarabella – Marchesi said she just wanted to stress that the Committee should be given figures - an example being that of Techno Girls. She asked whether the programme had a website, in order for more clarity in the minds of the public.

Ms Robinson said that the comment had been made that the Department did not have sufficient controls and asked what actions were being taken against transgressors. She asked who was doing the work, since the Department was top heavy. The figures given were also not accurate. She wanted to know what was actually achieved through the Department's various events. She asked whether the Department was really being effective. If the Department could apply the efforts it could institute as a result of these questions it could see a marked improvement.

Ms Mxenge said that the appointment of people at a senior level was guided by how much the Department had. The Department had to abolish some posts in the pasts. Looking forward, the Department was looking at a scheme where it would have more people doing the actual work.

Ms  Cheu wanted to make a follow up on Ms Robinson's remarks, stressing the need to know whether the Department made a follow up on its own interventions, and what the impact of these interventions was. All that information was necessary to feed into creating better programmes and to evaluate if the Department was making a difference in women’s lives. The last five years should have given the Department insight on how to assist women. She therefore questioned exactly what impact he Department was making. She asked whether the Department was taking its beneficiaries out of poverty, or maybe even making efforts to encourage the government to make laws that helped improve lives.

Ms  Mxenge said that the Department engaged with some communities more than once. For example in Diepsloot, when the Department got there, it had identified other issues, and then collaborated with the Gauteng Province and Department and Home Affairs, culminating in other events in a series of engagements .

Ms Cheu said that, on the issue of Diepsloot, the Department should have said how many ECDs were developed. The Department had talked about churches, but should also be specifying which churches it had partnered with, so that they could be provided with funding and could become accountable to government, and so that this Committee could perhaps go and monitor them, unannounced. There was no need to defend the Department, because government "gets the bashing". Over the five years, this Department would have to demand action from other departments and insist that they take action on whatever was stated in the legislation. If that was not happening, then implementation was lacking, and that would be a failing of this Department.

Ms P Bhengu (ANC) noted the comment by AGSA, and asked if the Department had any mechanisms in place especially with regard to fruitless and wasteful expenditure. She also asked what the Department had done to improve non-compliance.

Ms Ntshinga concurred that the report of AGSA indicated that there were financial misstatements. She asked the Committee to recall that in the past, the report would have been worse. Around August 2013, when the Department implemented the new controls, some of the transactions had already gone through, and those could not be subsequently corrected. The Department learnt from this mistake and now did a pre-audit. In terms of payments, the Department had also since improved and there were far less transactions that were incorrect than had been reported last year. She added that the fruitless and wasteful expenditure was incurred in terms of flights that were cancelled when the Department had to attend to other matters.

The Chairperson said that this Department had always underperformed. The Deputy Minister had done a lot of work, and it must be shown, and the Committee should not have to force the Department to tell the good stories.

Ms  Cheu stated that the problem with this Department was that it was "very economic with information". Even sitting in the Committee, she still did not understand exactly what the Department was doing. There had for instance been mention about Techno Girls but she had only ever seen this in relation to the Department of Trade and Industry. She noted that women had fought for the Department and the Department was not assisting women to have legs to stand on to continue to prioritise their matters. The Department had even failed to provide internships, although it was now doing so, and she wanted to know if the Department was also taking in any learners, and, when there were vacancies, whether it was giving permanent contracts to the learners and interns.

Mr Tom said that sometimes the Department was stuck with a particular template on which to report, and that was something that did constrain it, so that the reporting followed a certain expected pattern.

Ms Bhengu asked if the  target of 2.5% has been met, because there was a high unemployment rate.

The Chairperson asked about the progress of the WEGE Bill. She further wanted to know what the Department was doing so that the officials were attending to their own work, rather than leaving this to the consultants.

Mr Tom reported that the WEGE Bill had been done under the old Department. The Department had anticipated that the Bill would be passed. However, now that it had lapsed, the Minister was clear about what was needed going forward.

Mr Tom agreed that the 2% employment of disability target had not been achieved, either by government departments or the private sector. The Department was debating its approach.

The Chairperson said that this was essentially a package.

Ms Baduza noted that in regard to the performance assessments, only two staff assessed were eligible for performance bonuses, and she explained that this was a process that involved looking at the agreements with the supervisor, and going through a moderation committee.

The Chairperson said that the R46 500 was very high, and asked what exactly these individuals had done. She asked for comment on the skills transfer from consultants to staff.

Ms Robinson asked what had been done about the Council for Gender Violence.

Ms Baduza said that the National Council on Gender Violence was launched in 2012. The Council was never adequately funded, and this was one of the challenges that it faced. The Government gave a little bit of funding to fight gender-based violence, and some donor funding was also secured to assist in the programme. However, it was known that donor funding was not sustainable. The Minister had asked for time to apply her mind on the matter, to come up with a sustainable solution.

Ms Bhengu asked why people were not being employed with reasonable accommodation for their disability.

Mr Tom responded by saying that the Department had been supporting the Department of Public Service and Administration, and would be able to make a presentation on reasonable accommodation for employment.

The Chairperson asked whether the Department was still housed in the old office.

Ms  Mxenge said that the Department was in consultation with the Department of Public Works to look at whether the latter could secure alternative accommodation.

Ms Baduza noted that the Department of Public Works had certain plans for government departments in the City of Tshwane, in a bid to upscale Tshwane's city centre infrastructure. The Department was also stuck in a long term lease and needed to find an alternative tenant. However, it still felt that better space was needed and was working with its legal team on whether it would be possible to withdraw from the current contract, particularly since the current landlord was not helping to fix  the building.

Ms Ntshinga said that the Department might have to settle or pay. She also commented on the other contingent liability figures. The Avis car was hired and was involved in an accident. The claim from Avis was for R212 000. There was also a claim from the Presidency. When the Department was formed it did not have an account, and had thus incurred debts, on behalf of the Department, which needed to be paid. Thus the Treasury had to decide on the matter. There was also a debt of R3m which was transferred to the Department by the Presidency, which should have been written off. Treasury said that the Presidency must pay back. The figures, when balanced out, showed that the Presidency owed the Department the sun of R500 000.

Ms Cheu said the Departments were treated the same.

Mr Dirks noted that since the proceedings at the meetings were reported and urged that those answering the questions must be quite clear about their responses.

Ms Ntshinga said that there was a challenge on human resources. There were certain accounts under which the Department was trading that had existed before the accounts for the new Department being opened.

Ms Cheu said that each Department must develop a brochure to review the work that the provinces are doing.

The meeting was adjourned.

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