Commission for Gender Equality on its 2nd Quarter 2014/15 Performance

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

11 November 2014
Chairperson: Ms T Memela (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) spoke about second quarterly 2014/15 performance: The National Gender Summit was well attended, and further financial details would be provided later. General under spending was reported. New developments involved budget reductions as noted by Treasury. A new business model was also being reviewed, as a risk existed for the financial year 2015/16. Travel and accommodation was also an expense deemed noteworthy. The leave provision had increased. Challenges existed around procurement practices that were included in the report. In terms of risk management, the maturity assessment was completed and a favourable score of three was achieved, which indicated being reputable and competencies were developed. The two pending litigation cases remained of concern and a review was to be undertaken as to whether the cases were worthwhile pursuing.

Members noted abuse of women and children still continued and questioned how these vulnerable groups were being assisted by the CGE. They noted 80% of the CGE budget was being used for salaries and wanted to know why its old vehicles were not auctioned. They asked how the 20% left over from the CGE budget would be sufficient to cover its strategic objectives. They questioned accommodation and travel expenses, if the Gender Summit had brought any grassroots change; who funded the CGE Chairperson’s Indian trip; where the CGE statistics on gender violence in line with those of the South African Police Service; how many women had been empowered through CGE programmes.

Meeting report

Parliamentary pre-briefing on Commission for Gender Equality 2nd Quarter 2014/15 Performance
The purpose of meeting prior to the briefing by the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) served as preparation and Ms Crystal Levendale, Parliamentary Researcher, and Ms Kashifa Abrahams, Content Advisor, briefly noted concerns about the CGE Second Quarter Performance Report.

Ms Abrahams noted that the targets in strategic objective three were not achieved. In terms of strategic objective four most of the plans related to ICT were not achieved and were planned for the next quarter. Overall most of the strategic plans were met but the concern was whether the financial resources of the CGE were sufficient to achieve the roll over targets.

Ms M Khawula (EFF) said she was challenged to follow the discussion, as she was not fluent in English.

Ms C Majeke (UDM) complained that the Member’s speaking through her interpreter was disturbing, and requested that they sit in the corner.

The Chairperson asked which corner and asked for understanding from Members and a re-shuffling.

Ms M Khawula and her interpreter moved to the one end of the seating arrangement.

Ms M Chueu (ANC) made a suggestion that a larger meeting venue be secured in future.

The Chairperson replied that a larger venue could not be secured and called for tolerance.

Ms Abrahams continued with the presentation. Targets from the second quarter were rolled over to quarter three. The request previously was around the Commissioners’ portfolios and what the officials were responsible for. The pending files regarding litigation were noted and most were referred to the Equality Court. The question remained whether all those cases were referred to the court, or some referred elsewhere. Some of the cases appeared to be in the Western Cape and others in Mpumalanga and the question was whether there were cases in the other provinces.

She noted that the document was e-mailed late the previous day. She questioned how transgressors would be dealt with and it appeared that about 80% of the finances were being spent on employment. A further question remained as to how the CGE research report findings would be made available to civil society.

Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) asked whether the ICT system would be nationalised.

Ms Levendale answered that the physical systems had not yet been upgraded and implementation remained a challenge.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) noted that the upgrade started in 2013 but remained incomplete; what was the reason for the delay?

Ms M Matshoba (ANC) referred to the transformation hearing in the provinces but only noticed Mpumalanga mentioned in the document.

Ms M Khawula was concerned about children who were being raped by their fathers, and the conflict the wives of chiefs and kings were experiencing. How were these women and children were being assisted?

The Chairperson was concerned about approximate 80% of the Commission’s finances being utilised on salaries. The previous request made by the Commission for money to purchase new vehicles was also noted.

The delegates from the Commission arrived.

The Chairperson greeted and welcomed all.

The Deputy Chairperson from the Commission for Gender Equality introduced the delegates from the CGE and tendered apologies on behalf of the Chairperson who was in India attending a summit, and the Chief Executive Officer who was on sick leave. The presentation would be delivered in three parts. It was further noted that the CGE was looking forward to presenting on 18 November 2014 and to the Committee visit from 24 to 28 November 2014.

As the report was in three parts the Chairperson asked that the financial report be delivered first.

Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) briefing on 2nd quarterly report July-September 2014
Mr Moshabi Putu, CGE Chief Financial Officer, presented the financial report. The summary of the report was highlighted which included the interest income in the second quarter. A conditional grant was received and this had to be recognised according to GRAP accounting principles and was recorded as such though no actual income was received. The National Gender Summit was well attended, and further financial details would be provided later. General under spending was reported. New developments involved budget reductions as noted by Treasury. A new business model was also being reviewed, as a risk existed for the financial year 2015/16. Travel and accommodation was also an expense deemed noteworthy. The leave provision had increased. Challenges existed around procurement practices that were included in the report. In terms of risk management, the maturity assessment was completed and a favourable score of three was achieved, which indicated being reputable and competencies were developed.

In terms of Information Technology the old infrastructure was to be replaced. Auditor General South Africa (AGSA) completed an audit, which was one of the projects completed in this period. Issues of governance were concluded, which was also consistent with recommended practice and compliant with AGSA recommendations. The asset management system had migrated from manual. The two pending litigation cases remained of concern and a review was to be undertaken as to whether the cases were worthwhile pursuing. A whistle blowing policy existed for staff to report fraudulent activity and reports were received. However, no fraud had been reported, except for theft in the North-West and a smash and grab incident close to the Union Buildings. An account received from the South African Revenue Service (SARS) was being queried.

The Chairperson was concerned that salaries comprised 80% of the CGE budget and questioned whether that fell within the prescribed principles. She requested clarity; deficits were mentioned yet money was invested. The benefit of the website was questioned. The type of vehicles purchased was also questioned and who the vehicles were purchased for. She asked if CGE had insurance and whether the old vehicles were auctioned. The mention of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was questioned including its lifespan.

Ms D Robinson (DA) requested that travel and accommodation expenses be explained, including the delay in transfer from the Ministry to the CGE, and whether this delay was from the Ministry or Treasury. The reason for the purchase of property noted on Page 19 was also questioned.

Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi referred to procurement and whether women were empowered by being given business. The member also wanted to know for how long money would be spent on ICT and whether the previous computers were donated. She also questioned whether the media, especially television, was being used efficiently.

Ms C Majeke asked since 80% of the budget was spent on salaries would the 20% be sufficient to complete the roll over left from objectives one to three.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) requested that the CGE delegation be reduced in number as money was spent on accommodation and transport. The parliamentary services could also be utilised. In quarter two the high cost drivers was due to leave taken, she asked for an explanation.

Ms L Van der Merwe (IFP) expressed concern about money spent on travel and accommodation and suggested that engagement with service providers be undertaken to negotiate a reduced price. The protracted litigation case started in 2009 was noted as being expensive. It was also questioned whether the Gender Summit brought grassroots change. Was the Chairperson’s India trip funded with state money?

Ms M Khawula questioned whether money allocated was being used for the correct purpose’ and why people were not employed although money was available.

Ms P Bhengu questioned whether the gender based violence statistics were in line with those of the SAPS. It appeared as if reported cases were low.

Ms D Robinson requested that in future the Committee be informed of events such as the Gender Summit so that the Committee could also attend.

The Chairperson thanked the members for their questions and handed over to the Commission.

The Deputy Chairperson responded that the last Gender Summit was held in 2004/5 and felt that 20 years into democracy would be the ideal time for hosting another summit and all political parties were invited, including the Committee. Three invited political parties attended the Summit and the invitations were sent in April 2014.

The Chairperson asked whether the invitation was sent at an appropriate time?

The Deputy Chairperson replied that the CGE Chairperson would return from India with a report and it was felt that it would be proper for him to be present at the meeting in India as all the important men involved in gender issues would be present. Not all the officials were from outside the province and the delegates were rotated, as everyone wanted to have the opportunity to engage with leadership. The budget was very small and the CGE only met once quarterly otherwise engagement was via teleconference. The youth were being reached through the website. When inviting people to engagements food and caterers were needed, which meant expenses. In the rural areas mostly only one person catered but according to the rules three quotes were needed by the CGE before a choice could be made.

Another delegate illustrated how money was being saved; she hitched a ride instead of using her own car when engaging in rural excursions and once she purchased KFC for the rural inhabitants with her own money. The delegate also noted the wide listenership reached via community and vernacular radio stations. The MoU was challenging but engagement with traditional leaders was made possible owing to these understandings and a good relationship was maintained. The delegate was saddened by the death of her helper who had worked for her for 20 years and broke down crying.

The Chairperson mentioned an incident when an uncouth man from the CGE had grilled her. The Chairperson offered condolences to the delegate who had shared her loss.

Ms L Van der Merwe wanted to know the roles and responsibilities of the Commissioners in the various provinces.

The Chairperson stated that she had not seen the CGE organogram.

Another Commissioner addressed the Committee on the pending cases. The litigation process was quite lengthy and depended on the behaviour of the litigants. The courts only prioritised urgent matters. And only eight Legal Officers were available as one resigned. An access to justice initiative was also suggested for pro-bono work in communities, which could hasten the process. The delegate was responsible for the Northern Cape. Gender equality should also involve men and the ‘One woman one hectare’ initiative to empower women was noted.

The Chairperson mentioned that men could not speak on behalf of women and goals of women empowerment could not be reached in this manner. “No man has the right to speak on my behalf”

Ms C Majeke was disturbed that the delegate mentioned she was hitch hiking for work purposes and suggested that a critical perspective be adopted about money saving.

Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi wanted to know if women who received land were expected to farm or grow crops on that land and if they received farming implements.

Ms M Chueu noted that men should be included in speaking on the oppression of women. The process of women empowerment would then move faster, but women were still encouraged to continue speaking about women issues.

Mr Putu noted that the AG was concerned about the internal auditing work and hence external auditing services were sought. Larger vehicles were purchased for mass transportation and the fleet was being increased. A VW kombi was also purchased and the old vehicles were not auctioned. In the Office of the CGE Chairperson the vehicle was for protocol-arranged transportation and not for private transportation use.

The Chairperson specifically asked about the vehicle in the Office of the Chairperson.

Mr Putu stated that the vehicle was the equivalent of a BMW 3 series but it was also a VW.

The CGE deputy chairperson interrupted to explain the reasons for purchasing the vehicle.

The Chairperson wanted clarity on the brand of the car; a proper description was needed.

Mr Putu responded that the old vehicles were to be kept and the mileage and associated maintenance cost were considered. It was further noted that the old cars were relatively new and as these vehicles aged, maintenance costs would increase.

The Chairperson said she was aware of the car being spoken of and the issue continued on why purchase a new car and not trade in the old one for a deposit. Previously when the CGE asked for money to purchase cars then Golfs were mentioned as the cars of choice.

The CGE deputy chairperson agreed, the cars in Limpopo were Golfs. If many members of staff were to be transported especially in far flung regions, then a larger vehicle was needed for the terrain, the staff and for the resources. The CGE would appreciate feedback to improve on their management of the purchase of vehicles.

The Chairperson again questioned why the old cars were not to be sold.

The CGE deputy chairperson stated that only two cars were at the office while the remaining vehicles were in the provinces. But if the Committee advised that the vehicles were to be sold then the CGE would follow the advice.

The Chairperson stated that the CGE need not get rid of all the vehicles but mentioned that she was only asking as a concerned citizen.

Ms D Robinson stated that a case study may be needed for future presentation, as the matter of the purchase of the vehicles may not be resolved instantly, it remained a complex matter.

Ms M Chueu noted that the CGE is increasing the fleet to accommodate staff and facilitate their work.

Mr Putu noted that vehicles would no longer be rented as that proved expensive. The small vehicles would be for shorter trips such as trips to the post office.

The Chairperson noted that the price of the vehicle in the Office of the CGE Chairperson was about R439 000.

Mr Putu stated that the purchase of cars was made possible through Treasury. The MoU came to an end after conclusion of the Gender Summit, as it was an agreement undertaken specifically for the Summit. The accrual accounting method was used, which involves acknowledging any transaction whether cash was received or not. The accounting approach of government departments differed. The leave balance increase caused a liability for CGE and would be recorded as such. The book entries would change as circumstances changed. The delay in the transfer was unknown, and the money was received.

The Chairperson asked whether the CGE was aware that the transition would affect it.

Mr Putu said that the CGE was unaware that the transition would affect it and only vehicles were purchased and no property was purchased, and it was only accounting principles being applied. A BEE certification included women empowerment and previously disadvantaged groups. A special discretion was not needed as it was already prescribed. The funding was inadequate, hence the reviewing of the business model. Goods and services were also under funded. The virements as conducted were in line with the provisions. Litigation was dependent on litigants conduct and CGE was assessing whether the case was worth pursuing or settling out of court.

Ms de Klerk noted that 533 cases were pending and a plan was devised regarding a turn-around strategy and a community radio education programme was in place, while 33 radio interviews were conducted.

The Chairperson noted the value in radio utilisation.

Ms M Khawula agreed with the Chairperson that the cars be sold and possibly impact positively on the balance sheets of CGE. The Member wanted to know whether BEE was still operational and that all languages were to be used, especially the indigenous ones. She asked how women that had to cross the river carrying luggage on their heads, could be assisted

The Chairperson answered that the BEE was part of the programme.

Mr Putu stated that the vehicles would be used and not left parked and unused. An arrangement existed with the community radio stations and the brochures were also printed in all 11 official languages. BEE was part of the procurement framework and procedures were in place on how BEE was applied as part of government strategy.

Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi wanted to know how many women had been empowered.

The Deputy Chairperson stated that the statistics would be sent to the Committee regarding the number of women assisted. The CGE was ‘selling’ the idea of “One woman, One hectare” and in Tanzania the matter had gone to the constitution but in South Africa the initiative is still in its infancy.

A delegate stated that if it were found that women who wanted to farm were without implements, especially in the rural areas, they were assisted.

Ms G Tseke proposed that the meeting be closed and noted that another report had still to be delivered at a later date as a plenary meeting is scheduled for 14:00.

Ms M Khawula agreed to the proposal of ending the meeting.

Committee Programme
The Committee Secretary announced the planned oversight visit to the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal, but the hearing in Johannesburg had to be attended before the visit.

Ms D Robinson asked for further clarity regarding the dates.

The Committee Secretary provided clarity on the logistics including the planned dates.

Ms M Chueu suggested a surprise oversight visit to the Department of Women in the Presidency.

The Chairperson concluded that the second CGE report could be delivered during the oversight visit as it could not be presented that day due to time constraints. This was the presentation by Ms Joan de Klerk, Head of Department: Public Education and Information of the Commission for Gender Equality.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

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