Department of Women in Presidency on 2nd Quarter Report July–September 2014, with Minister

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

24 February 2015
Chairperson: Ms T Memela (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee was briefed by the Department of Women on its 2nd Quarter Performance Report, Financial Report and Strategic Plan 2015-2020. The Minister of the Department of Women attended the meeting. The Director of the Department had resigned, hence the Department was without this position, but had an Acting Director- General in place.

The Committee heard that out of the 39 targets planned for the second quarter, the Department had achieved17 targets (44%), while 22 targets (56%) were not achieved. The Department had placed a moratorium on the filling of vacant posts, the reason being that when the Department was restructured there was a new mandate to first look at available skills to have a clear understanding of the skills needed.  The Committee asked if that would be done by the time the organogram was finalised; asked for more details about the manual the Department was working on Gender-based Violence; why suppliers were not giving the Department the correct banking details; under expenditure in the Department; why the high staff turnover; the CEDAW Report; how the target of 10 000 women had been achieved; and details of gender mainstreaming guidelines.

The Committee suggested that it could have public hearings to get a feeling of the impact of the Department on civil society. The Department explained how it had come about that suppliers were not submitting the correct banking details; why Coca Cola and INTEL had been used in skills development initiatives for young women, and what had happened to the National Council of Gender-based Violence (GBV).

The Committee impressed upon the Department to submit reports about events like 365 Days of Activism timeously.

Meeting report

Briefing by the Minister of the Department of Women

This briefing was done in Zulu interspersed with an English sentence here and there. The few English sentences used have been recorded below.

The Minister of the Department of Women, Ms Susan Shabangu, said she could not stay for the entire meeting as she had to present some Cabinet Memorandums.

The Minister first announced that the Director General (DG) of the Department had resigned with effect 1 February, therefore the Department was now without a DG, and had an Acting Director General.  The Department was in the process of filling the post. The Department had transitional arrangements and asked permission to present these to the Committee when completed so that the Committee would be informed about where the Department was in its process. The Department was in the process of finalising to meet a deadline at the National Treasury.

The CEDAW (Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women) Report would be ready at the end of April. The Minister asked the Committee to bear with the Department because even though the Report was late, the Department would rather submit a report that was correct than one with errors or one for which there had been no consultation.

With regard to the CSW (Commission on the Status of Women), there have been consultations and agreement on the processes.
These issues needed to be clarified. The process of dealing with the challenges which this Department faced were not events, they were so very complex and difficult, but the Department was managing to deal with them, it was making sure that the work of the Department was normalised.  The Department was also making sure that engagement with the Portfolio Committee became better and moved with a common understanding.

The Chairperson thanked the Minister for the clarification; the Portfolio Committee had not known where it stood with regard to the transition. The explanation had paved a clear route for the Committee to proceed.

The Acting Director General, Ms Ohara Diskeo, requested the Deputy Director General Corporate Services to present the 2nd Quarter Performance Report of the Department of Women. 

2nd Quarter Performance Report briefing
Ms Thandeka Mxenge, Deputy Director General Corporate Services, Department of Women, said of the 39 targets planned for the second quarter, the Department had achieved 17 targets (44%), while 22 targets (56%) were not achieved. The total Budget for the year 2014/15 was R218 530 million, which included funds for the Commission on Gender Equality, and the Actual Expenditure for the 2nd Quarter was R87 666 million.

Ms Mxenge added that out of 17 targets planned for the second quarter of the 2014/15 financial year, Programme 1 (Administration) achieved 6 targets (35%), while 11 targets (65%) were not achieved.  With regard to the percentage of service providers paid within 30 days, this target was not achieved. 827 invoices were received from 1 July to 30 September 2014. 14 invoices (1%) were paid after 30 days. Invoices were held back due to incorrect banking details. There had been a 10% reduction of the vacancy rate, which increased to 15.2%.

Targets regarding the finalisation of the Research Agenda and implementation were not met. The target was not achieved because the research agenda was not approved. The target for the Approved 2014 Communication Strategy was not achieved as it was based on the old mandate and could not be implemented. The target has been revised to align with the new mandate.

During the first quarter Programme 2 achieved 3 (43%) out of 7 planned targets, and in the second quarter achieved 6 (67%) of the targets out of 9 planned targets. The Department has drafted guidelines on norms and standards, and facilitated gender mainstreaming on economic empowerment with Coca Cola and INTEL.

In Programme 3: Children’s Rights and Responsibilities, community needs were discussed and issues of children were identified. The Department participated in the community profiling exercise on 21 August to identify community issues and issues affecting children.

With regard to Programme 4: Rights of People with Disabilities, the transfer of this Programme to the Department of Social Development resulted in internal processing delays.                                                                           (See document)

At this stage the interpreter joined the meeting.

Ms Diseko added to the reasons given on the slide regarding the increase in the percentage of the vacancy rate. Apart from the termination, the Department had placed a moratorium on the filling of vacant posts. The reason was that after the Department was restructured there was a new mandate to look at the skills and do a skills audit, and have an understanding of the competencies required.

On the slide 21, Ms Diseko said that the DDG, Ms Mxenge, had slipped up when she said that ‘the draft agenda had been approved’ because it had not been approved as yet. It was also a process, because the Department had to be very specific about the research agenda it was undertaking as a Department, and it also had to be matched with the capacity of the Department.

Ms L Van der Merwe (IFP) said that the previous Department, before they went into the transitional period, was also dealing with a skills audit, it was uncertain whether that skills audit had been finalised. She asked if the skills audit the Department was now dealing with would be done by the time the organogram was finalised.

The Minister replied that she was aware that the skills audit had been done. The process followed the last time did not provide an outcome that allowed the Department to move forward. Unfortunately the Department had to get external people to provide assistance. This exercise was not just on the basis of a skills audit, but also on the potential of individuals. The skills audit had to be linked to job evaluation, and it also had to assess how well people could adapt in terms the capacity to perform or not. This also provided information on the kind of support that was needed. The Department hoped the report would be available by April 2015. 

Ms D Robinson (DA) thanked the Minister and the Department for the honest report, and urged the Department to go forward as fast as possible. She expressed interested in the manual on Gender based Violence the Department said it had been working on and asked for more details about it.

Ms Robinson was concerned and found it odd that suppliers were not giving the Department the correct banking details. She asked that the Department check that the people it worked with were up to standard.

Ms Robinson said that the under expenditure in the Department was very worrying. Having money and not using it was something the Department had to really focus on to make sure it could get into full production quickly.

Ms Camagwini replied that it appeared that the Department had underspent in the second quarter, but the Budget was inclusive of CRR and the RPD so therefore the percentage that was done for projects was a percentage that was inclusive of four programmes. When the Department started spending after the transfer of the functions, the calculation was based on the four programmes and the other two programmes were not necessarily under the control of the Department. The Department had underspent 8%, which it had not paid in the cut off period. This had only been done for one month. Subsequently it had paid immediately.

Ms Robinson raised the issue of resignations; there had been quite a high staff turnover, which also made it difficult to move forward. Had the Department conducted exit interviews so that if there was a systemic fault one could then try to solve the problem? Stability was needed; the Department has been in a state of turmoil for too long.

The Minister replied that some people moved on to find better prospects. Some people who had been dismissed were reinstated.  The related appeals would have cost the Department dearly so it was decided to deal with this matter internally. This matter was related to the skills audit. There had been issues of unfairness on procedural grounds hence the people were reinstated. The Department was looking at remedial measures to normalise the Department.

Ms Robinson noted that the Department had mentioned reaching a target of 10 000 women. She asked how this had been achieved and if there was something solid so that the Department could say they had made a difference.

Ms Robinson commended the Department for having popularised much needed material for women about women’s rights.  She asked if the Department could please provide an example of what it had been putting out as the Committee wanted to be involved and to know what was happening and how it could help the Department to take forward the agenda of getting women to be in a situation where they knew what their rights and responsibilities were.   

Ms Robinson noted that the Department had mentioned that norms and standards had not been finalised. She asked about gender mainstreaming and guidelines and if the Committee could have details about this.

Ms Camagwini said that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) facilitated gender mainstreaming in economic sectors so that the economic empowerment of women could be done.  The Department was going to assess where the DTI was in actually rolling out or ensuring gender mainstreaming.

Ms C Dudley (ACDP) said it appeared that the Committee was hugely bogged down with all the reports that it had to keep up with, and she asked if it would be helpful to have public hearings and invite organisations to come and share what they would like to see the Committee and the Department doing to impact practically on the work that they were doing on the ground. She did not have the feeling, when speaking to organisations, that this Department was going to impact on them in any real way. She had raised public hearings because that was what she knew about, but there could be other ways to interact with people.

The Minister said that nothing prevented the Committee from inviting civil society organisations to Parliament. It was very important for Parliament to make sure that various groupings shared their stories but the Department would also share its story on the basis of what it was doing as government. The Department could not do everything; everyone had to work together. The key was working together and the Department wanted the Committee to do its work because oversight could enhance the work of Department.

Ms M Kwahlua (EFF) thanked the DG and Minister. There were major problems on the ground and the Committee should focus on doing more oversight. In Ward 1 in Sepuna the conditions were appalling. Some of the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and NPOs did not seem to be doing much work. Some received funding but there was no evidence of what was being done with those funds. Those NGOs should be called to Parliament for the Committee to do oversight, so the Committee could see what they were doing and what assistance was required.  

Ms Kwahlua raised the following issues of concern:
There was an area called Fraser where the children there were playing in grave sites.
An individual who did not want to be named had invited her to a compound where the water used there had chemicals in it.
Disabled women were being raped with the promise that they would be given food.

The Minister’s reply was partly in Zulu. On NGOs, she said that this Department did not have money; the bulk of funding for civil society was located with the Department of Social Development. This Department’s responsibility was to assess the effectiveness of what was done. So if money went to NGOs this Department had to see if those NGOs were doing their work in terms of the mandate. The Department of Social Development dealt with disability and rehabilitation. This Department’s responsibility was to see if women were being empowered.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) thanked the Minister and the Department for their inputs. She thanked the Minister for the information about the CEDAW Report especially that the process has been started. The reporting history of this country with regard to CEDAW Report was very bad. The Committee had confidence in the Department even though it was understaffed. Unlike the situation with the second and third reports, the Department was not going to be late this time as there would be more improvements.

Ms Tseke said the situation with service providers with regard to whether they had been paid and whether they had managed to submit the correct banking details had to be checked.

Ms Ntshinga Camagwini, Chief Financial Officer (CFO): Department of Women said that on the issue of invoices and payment within 30 days, 827 invoices had been received. Of the 827, 14(1%) were not paid within 30 days, but after the 30 day period.  The reason had to do with the verification process of banking details so suppliers had to change their banking details. Controls had been put in place so that suppliers could get the relevant form to be stamped by the bank immediately to facilitate verification.

With regard to facilitating gender mainstreaming in economic development, Ms Tseke asked what the reason was for prioritising Coca Cola and INTEL.   

Ms Camagwini said that the engagement of young women was to broaden dialogue. Coca Cola was not selected as a standalone initiative. A programme was introduced to the Department through United Nations (UN) Women. The Coca Cola’s initiative in the country was called 5by20 where they looked into empowering women in the country in different provinces so that they could become entrepreneurs and open their own stores and sell Coca Cola products. Young women were upskilled in this way. INTEL was the same. UN Women also advocated upscaling the engagement of young women in science, technology and mathematics. INTEL was one of the companies that were doing that with young women. 

Ms Camagwini said that there were notices about two things: one was that July 18th was Nelson Mandela Day. The other one was that Porterhouse Women’s Shelter for abused women was identified for a Skills Development Programme. A service provider went to the shelter to teach women there how to make blankets. The Department did have a register of the women who attended.

Ms Van der Merwe thanked the Minister for her frankness about the skills audit. The previous late reports had led to great anxiety about the situation. Honesty was welcomed about the way it will be dealt with. In Programme 1: Administration, two targets had not been achieved because of the National Council of Gender based Violence (GBV). There was some anxiety because the Department of Social Development had scaled back on some of the funding that had been allocated for gender based violence. It was important that the Committee knew where this council was currently located and if it was it was doing anything worthwhile.   

Minister replied that the process, which led to the formation of the GBC Council, was flawed. Normally one developed policy first. There were never policy guidelines or a framework to establish the Council. This was the challenge.  The Department has gone back to relook at the space and would come and report to the Committee about the kind of mechanisms required. The efforts of the existing tools had to be analysed to see if they lead to the formation of a Council.  So the Department had a challenge with the Council. It has been parked in the interim. 

Ms Van der Merwe said she could actually bail the Minister out on the issue of the National Council Against Gender based Violence, This Committee had actually warned the previous Department that it was a skeleton with no vision, no resources, and no Programme of Action. There never were the tools or real commitment to make it work.

Ms Tseke agreed that the previous Committee had fought a lot about it. She said the National Treasury had allocated donor funding, and asked if that money was still there.

The Minister replied that the donor funding had been used to pay the salary for the CEO for one year. The CEO had resigned. Part of the money was put into 16 days of Activism. She said she was not sure if all the money was used. This matter has been parked and the Department would consult broadly about it in terms of the way forward.

Ms Van der Merwe asked if the Framework on Gender Responsive Budgeting had been completed. She asked further if the Department was planning to popularise it, if any Departments were implementing it, and if so, could an update be provided on which Departments were using it.

The Minister said that the Department planned to relook at the issue of Gender Responsive Budgeting. This had to be informed by research so that it was a proper reflection of the situation. There was a need to engage with people in the area to be able to understand the status of women economically. 

The Chairperson reported that the Department of Justice had asked that the Department to visit all the Thuthuzela Centres with immediate effect;

Ntsiki Sisulu – Singopi, Acting Deputy Director-General: Department of Women said that in terms of distribution of information for advocacy work, monitoring the impact of the distribution of the information was integrated into the outreach programmes.  A lot of the work in terms of distribution of information was to advocate and share information and that was the purpose there.

Women’s Month was in KwaZulu Natal so the material was distributed throughout the year. For Women’s Month it was a combination of urban and rural women in terms of distribution and access to information. Old and young women and the provinces were given information.

Ms Tseke asked where the young girls were who were involved in the blanket making skills development initiative, and whether these young girls had been linked with the Department of Small Business Development so that they could take up the project.

Ms Camagwini said that the young women were in the transitional centre. The centre itself was linked rather than individual women who are in transition. She would check to see if those women were still there. The Department engaged with management of the centre in linking them with this Department and would continue to support them.

Ms Kwahlua said the issue of the 10 000 women had to be addressed. Women who sold alcohol illegally should not be arrested because sometimes these women could not make ends meet so they went against their principles and ended up selling illegal alcohol. She felt that the Committee should call all these women using illegal routes to survive and discuss it with them. There was no other way to make a living. Another point was about social workers who were often not going out and visiting people in the areas. The law should be more lenient.

Strategic Plan 2015-2020: Department of Women
Ms Mxenge said that this was basically the report of the presentation the Department had done when the Committee visited the province during strategic planning process. It would therefore be a repetition if dealt with again. 

The Chairperson said that there was therefore no need to present it again. 

Financial Report for 2014/15 financial year and National Macro Organisation of the State (NMOS) Process 

Ms Camagwini said the financials were covered by the DDG when she was doing the 2nd Quarter Performance Report.  What was included in the pack was the National Macro Organisation of the State (NMOS), but as Minister had said that it should not be discussed, the NMOS discussion fell away. 

The Chairperson asked the Department to ensure that all reports were submitted timeously so the Committee was informed about all events.

The Chairperson asked that all requests put to the Department be dealt with amicably.

Questions asked but not dealt with
Ms Robinson asked how the 10 000 people were identified and if there was an even distribution throughout the country for both urban and rural areas.

Ms Kwahlua asked if women from rural areas were being empowered and supported.

Ms Tseke asked how many girls had been identified to be part of the Skills Programme and what criteria was used to identify the young girls for this programme. She asked further if girls had also been identified from rural areas.

Ms Robinson said that the Department had mentioned that norms and standards had not been finalised. She asked about gender mainstreaming and guidelines and if the Committee could have details about this.

The meeting was adjourned.


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