The official starting time of the meeting was delayed by approximately 80 minutes, as the Committee was performance report for the 2nd quarter 2014 was still in the course of being prepared. Members of the Department arrived at different times, and after the Director General had arrived, Members took issue with the delay and voiced their extreme dissatisfaction at the manner in which the Department in the Ministry had treated the Committee. On 14 October 2014, the Department had promised that this report would be made available, and yet it was still not apparently completed. Furthermore, the Minister was not present, and this was another source of disquiet to the Committee, since there were certain matters on which the Members wished to hear from the Minister. One Member suggested that a letter be addressed to the Speaker, and another suggested that the Departmental officials not be allowed to present, but should be sent away and should be asked to pay the costs of the meeting.
The Director General attempted to apologise, saying that the report had been somewhat complex because of the split of functions between the former Department and this one, with responsibility for children and people with disabilities moving elsewhere. Members were not prepared to accept that, asking when the transition period would be deemed to end, and called for further meetings between the Chairperson, the officials and the Minister. It was noted that the public was asking questions of the Committee which they could not answer, and clarity was needed on what exactly was happening. The lack of clarity, lack of synergy, and apparent lack of sufficient respect were not allowing the Department and Committee to move forward. However, she was prepared to concede that the Department would not be charged for the meeting expenses. The officials were dismissed and would be re-called to present the report on another occasion.
Department of Women in the Presidency: 2nd quarter 2014 performance report due for presentation
The official starting time of the meeting was delayed by approximately 80 minutes as the Committee was awaiting the second quarterly report from July to September 2014, and the intent was that a closed meeting would take place prior to the briefing by the Department of Women in the Presidency.
At a point, the Chairperson welcomed and greeted the officials who had arrived, but noted a request for a further five minutes to allow the Department of Women in the Presidency (the Department) to finalise the report. The Director General arrived later.
After the lapse of some further time, Ms G Tseke (ANC) indicated that the Committee had still received no report on the 2nd quarter 2014 performance. She pointed out that the Department had indicated, on 14 October 2014, that the report would be delivered. A written apology from the Ministry was requested. She further suggested that the Committee should not allow the Minister and Director-General to present, as they had left the Committee waiting for such a long time. It was unfortunate that time and money were unnecessarily wasted.
Ms P Bhengu (ANC) agreed with the previous speaker and stated that the Minister and Director-General should take the Committee far more seriously.
Ms M Chueu (ANC) was very sorry to note the manner in which the Committee was dealt with by the Department, and requested that a letter be addressed to the Speaker of Parliament regarding the matter. She further noted that if the Cabinet had called the Minister to a meeting, she would most certainly attend, but when the Committee called upon her, it was remarkable that she did not.
The Chairperson called on the Director-General to explain the reasons for the delays even after the Director-General had arrived. She referred specifically to the discussions that had taken place prior to the arrival of the officials from the Department.
Ms Veliswa Baduza, Director-General, Department of Women, thanked the Chairperson and Committee for the opportunity to address the meeting. She explained that the new Department was established without the addition of portfolios for the children and people with disabilities. The report which was compiled initially had undergone a combined assurance process before being brought before the Portfolio Committee. The transition period also proved challenging, and at the end of the quarter 60 days were provided for finalisation.
Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) advised that the Department put timelines in place, and reiterated that the Department had promised, on 14 October, that the report would be completed and ready for presentation.
Ms Chueu questioned the level of respect towards the Committee, pointing out also that the Department failed to respond to the Committee's letters. She repeated the suggestion that the Department should be sent away, and should itself bear the responsibility for all the expenses of this meeting and the costs involved in bringing people here. She was not prepared to accept that apology.
Ms Bhengu noted that she was in agreement with the previous Committee member and also did not believe the apology was acceptable. She further pointed out that the meeting should not proceed in the absence of the Minister.
The Chairperson noted that the current atmosphere was tense, and added that previously the Committee had also been disappointed by the Ministry. The Director-General was identified as a public servant of the State and she noted that the Department should work with the Committee, or the portfolio would suffer a combined failure. She further noted that the Minister was responsible for decision making and this posed a challenge, as the Director-General cannot make decisions independently of the Minister. The question of new developments was noted, but she asked "when will the umbilical cord be cut?" and the Department proceed. She said that there were concerns that people living with disabilities would be pushed into the Department of Social Development. The Committee was being asked several challenging questions by the public, which it could not answer, and clarity was needed from the Department. The Minister should have been present at the meeting to indicate when the transitional phases would end. The Committee wanted to move forward with full understanding and build the Ministry to be viable. She said that the Committee called on the Minister to avail herself as soon as possible to address the Committee and resolve some issues.
Ms M Khawula (EFF) addressed the Committee in Zulu, expressing her agreement with other Members regarding the manner in which the Department within the Ministry had dealt with the Committee.
Ms Ntsiki Sisulu-Singapi, Acting Deputy Director-General, Department of Women, thanked the Chairperson and Committee members for their input. She identified that there were challenges but also mentioned that plans were in place, including a structure for direction. The Departmental officials would have a conversation with the Minister regarding the grievances of the Committee. She tendered an apology on behalf of the Minister.
The Director-General mentioned that the Ministry and Department were not disrespectful of the Committee. A note was made to return and brief the Committee on the position of people with disabilities and children. The strategic plan of the Department was completed, and the Minister provided guidance into that. A response should have been sent to the Committee and time-lines should be in place. The Department would now leave and report to the Minister, and then wait on the Portfolio Committee to invite the Department to a future meeting. She requested that the Committee be lenient and not penalise the Department for the meeting's costs.
The Chairperson asked for a response from the Committee members.
Ms C Dudley (ACDP) thanked the Director-General for the response and stated that the challenges were noted. She added that the Committee looked forward to better interaction with the Department.
Ms Bhengu stated that there seemed to be a problem within the Department and wanted the Director-General and Chairperson to meet.
The Chairperson identified that there were ‘murky’ waters and this affected the ability to swim clearly to the other end. There was also a lack of synergy. She relented and said that the Department would not be charged for the meeting and related expenses incurred.
The Chairperson asked if all Members were satisfied with the conclusion.
Ms G Tseke said that she had already given her input. She noted that departmental reports were to be submitted to the National Treasury, and if these were not submitted, then that would mean that no department existed. There was an urgent need for change and a focus on re-branding of the Department . The report from July to September 2014 was requested. She noted that still, this Department seemed to be regarded as secondary and was not being taken as seriously as others.
The Chairperson thanked all Members. She noted that a clear message was conveyed, and that none of the Members was prepared to continue in this way. She excused the Department's officials from the meeting.
Consideration and adoption of Committee minutes
Members considered the minutes of the meeting on 23 October, agreed that they were correct, and adopted them with no amendments.
Members also agreed that the minutes of the meeting on 28 October were correct and adopted them with no amendments.
The meeting was adjourned.
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