The Department of Women in the Presidency reported that it had managed to achieve 14 of its 18 targets, which amounted to a 78% performance level. The total adjusted budget for the 2014/2015 year was R184.8 million, which included funds for the Commission on Gender Equality. The actual expenditure for the 3rd quarter was R129.1 million, against a planned expenditure of R143.1 million -- a variance of R14 million. The Department had spent 70% of its budget as at 31 December 2014. Details of the expenditure on the Department’s four programmes were given.
The Committee expressed disappointment with the Department’s presentation. It did not make sense for the Department to set high standards for themselves if they did not have the capacity to achieve them. They needed to re-evaluate their targets and set them accordingly. Members were concerned about the late payment of suppliers’ invoices, and the Department’s failure to fill vacant posts. They were also upset that the Committee was not being kept informed of the Department’s plans and events -- it seemed as if it was undermining the work of the Committee. The Department was taken to task for not being able to answer specific questions about staff vacancies and the provincial breakdown of targets that had been achieved. There were certain reports which the Department had not submitted to the Committee, and the Members wanted accountability for these omissions.
The Department contended that their role was only to provide oversight, advocacy and coordinate partnerships with other departments. The relevant departments, such as the Departments of Education and Trade and Industry, should have the actual figures, such as information on recruitment. However, the Committee countered that the role of the Department should not be limited only to oversight and coordination, and that they should demand statistical figures from the departments with which they worked. It was not acceptable that they did not have the information which the Committee was asking for. The Department responded that it agreed with the Committee, and had noted their views.
Ms Neliswa Nobatana, Committee Secretary, said that in the absence of the Chairperson, the Members would have to nominate an acting Chairperson.
Ms M Chueu (ANC) nominated Ms P Bhengu (ANC).
Ms M Matshoba (ANC) seconded the nomination.
Ms Bhengu accepted the nomination and opened the meeting. She explained the agenda for the meeting and handed over to the Department for the presentation.
Briefing by Department of Women in the Presidency
Ms Thandeka Mxenge, Deputy Director-General, said that out of the 18 targets set by the Department, it had managed to achieve 14. This amounted to 78%, and four targets had not been achieved, which represented 22%.
The total adjusted budget for the year 2014/2015 was R184.8 million, which included funds for the Commission on Gender Equality. The actual expenditure for the 3rd quarter was R129.1 million, against a planned expenditure of R143.1 million -- a variance of R14 million. The Department had spent 70% of its budget as at 31 December 2014.
Ms Mxenge gave details of expenditure on the Department’s programmes.
Programme One: Administration
Out of the nine targets it set out to achieve for the quarter, the Department had achieved five (56%) and four (44%) were not achieved. Total expenditure for the programme was R59.5 million, and 72% of the budget was spent. The expenses included the ministry, departmental management, corporate services, financial management and office accommodation. Under the sub-programme, departmental management, an internal audit report was developed on performance information and financial information, but only the report on financial information was tabled to the Audit Committee, so this target was not achieved. The Department had since tabled the report to the Audit Committee. Out of 1 037 invoices, 36 had been paid outside the 30-day target. The delays had been caused by the need for banking details, verification of invoices, supplier delays in resubmitting the correct information on invoices, and delays in certification by the end user. Although the in-year monitoring reports had been submitted on time for the reporting period, there had been a deviation of 10% on expenditure due to outstanding invoices and vacant posts in the department. In the future, to prevent this from happening, the Department would process all invoices before the end of 2014/15 financial year to ensure that there is no under-spending on the allocated funds. The corporate governance sub-programme’s operations and governance reports were produced and approved, and the legal service management and human resources reports were completed and signed. Status reports on facilities and security were developed and signed as well.
Programme Two: Social, Political and Economic Participation and Empowerment
The Department achieved all three targets. Out of the total planned budget of R63.8 million, only R59.3 million was actually spent - an under-expenditure of R4.5 million. The budget was spent on management of social and related functions, justice and public order, governance and administration, economic empowerment and Commission for Gender Equality issues. A report on the recruitment and placement of young women during the 2014 academic year had been developed and there had also been consultations with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) on diversity and job evaluation units. A report on the recruitment and placement of young women’s participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields had been developed, with a view to facilitating their access.
Programme Three: Research, Policy Coordination and Knowledge Management
All three performance targets were achieved, and expenditure of R5.7 million was R840 000 above the planned R4.9 million for the end of the 3rd quarter. A highlight was the development of a draft concept paper on the status of women’s socio-economic empowerment.
Programme four: Monitoring, Evaluation and Outreach
All five performance targets were achieved. The planned budget projection was R 9 million, while actual expenditure was R 4.7 million -- an under-expenditure R 4.3 million. The Department managed to compile four reports on regional compliance, and continental and international commitments. The reports were based on the solemn declaration for Gender Equality in Africa and the National Beijing report. Both reports were drafted, relevant stakeholders were consulted, and the reports finalised. Two reports on the country’s participation in multilateral strategic engagements were developed. The communication and outreach initiative saw the development of a gender-based violence communication strategy, which was implemented during the 16 Days of Activism campaign.
Ms D Rantho (ANC) said the Department had not given any relevant reasons why some targets had not been achieved in Programme One. She asked why the meaning of the acronym STEM had not been indicated, as it was not clear in the report. The report should have included the provinces in which the Department had targeted, and which women they had empowered. The Committee must be provided with these statistics. It did not make sense for the Department to set high standards for themselves if they did not have the capacity to achieve them. They needed to re-evaluate their targets and set them accordingly.
Ms N Tarabella–Marchesi (DA) asked which vacancies had been filled, and whether there had been any employee resignations within the past financial year. She also referred to the annual report which the Department would submit to the President on the status of women in the country, and asked whether they thought they had enough time to compile the report by August 2016.
Ms M Matshoba (ANC) asked what had caused the delay of invoices in Programme One.
Ms Rantho asked if the Department has already started to compile a rough draft of the status of women report that would outline some of the issues to be covered. If they had not done so, what made them think that the report will be done in time for August 2016?
Ms Ohara Diseko, Acting Director General, replied that the Department had a plan that outlined the issues that would be covered in the report. The report had been launched by the Minister on 8 March 2015 at an event in Langa on International Women’s Day. The whole idea around the gender focal point was so that the new mandate of the Department would require a review of the skills and evaluation of jobs for the advancement of women.
Ms Camagwini Ntshinga, Chief Financial Officer, said the Department was supposed to pay all invoices on time, but due to the failure of internal processes, that was sometimes not possible. In addition, the end user needed to be satisfied with the services they had received before the invoices could be paid. The certification within their internal processes needed to be improved – managers need to be held accountable. Although invoices had not been paid within the 30-days limit, all had been paid fully in the end.
Ms Mxenge said that for the 3rd quarter, the Department had failed to achieve only one target, and that one was related to the review of the management report. The reason they had not achieved this specific target was due to the lengthy process which the report had to go through, and not because of a lack of capacity. Programme One was a support function, and the under-expenditure in the programme had been caused by the number of vacancies which were not filled, and the backlog of the invoices. The Department normally presented the oversight report with the annual report, and they were thus unable to give the Committee the correct figures for the vacancies which had not been filled.
Ms Diseko said they had put the issue of unfilled vacancies on hold for now, until they have completed the restructuring of the Department and established the type of skills which would be needed after restructuring took place.
Ms Mxenge said STEM stood for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics field. The programme encouraged young girls and women to get into these fields of study, and the Department gave them support.
The actual figure for the vacancies which had not been filled, was around 14.4%.
Ms Rantho said the Department should at least have a general picture of how many people they had recruited and in which province they had achieved their targets for each programme.
Ms Diseko replied that they were not in charge of recruitment, but their role as a Department was to provide oversight, advocacy and coordinate partnerships with other departments. The relevant departments, such as the Departments of Education and Trade and Industry, should have the actual figures.
Ms Bhengu asked why they had under-spent on monitoring and evaluation.
Ms Rantho said the role of the Department should not be limited only to oversight and coordination, and that they should demand statistical figures from the departments with which they worked. It was not acceptable that they did not have the information which the Committee was asking for.
Ms Diseko replied that they agreed with the Committee and had noted their views. In the past, the Department had played a more functional role with the other departments, where they had looked at impacts and specifics.
Ms Ntshinga said under-spending had been caused by the compensation of employees and the restructuring within the Department. During the restructuring process, employees were being moved from one function to another. In addition, the salaries of employees had had to be changed.
Ms Bhengu said the Department had not presented the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) report to the Committee. What outcomes were they hoping to achieve, and when could the Committee expect the report?
Ms Diseko said the report which had been sent to New York was the CSW report, and in the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) report, the Committee would find that they had included the challenges, as well as the progress which they had made as a Department. She agreed that a presentation would have to be scheduled for the Committee to get clarity on the contents of the report.
Ms Bhengu said the conference which had taken place in Port Elizabeth had not been communicated to the Committee. She asked the Director General to explain why they had not received details about the conference.
Ms Diseko said the Department had also not been informed about the conference in Port Elizabeth.
Ms Chueu said the last time they had asked the Department to provide them with the report, they had said they had sent it to the Cabinet, and now they were telling the Committee a different story. If the Department had not drafted the report, then they must be honest. The report must be sent to Parliament first, because it represented the public. It seemed as if the Department was undermining the Committee, and it was unfortunate that women did not want to work together these days. Equality would not be achieved unless women start working with each other in all sectors.
Ms Bhengu said the whole Committee concurred with Ms Chueu’s view. They had not been consulted about the report, and had not even been told what to do.
Ms Matshoba said the Committee had not been made aware of the conference that had taken place in Langa on International Women’s Day.
Ms Chueu said there was no use for the Department to say they only played an oversight role when they did not carry out their functions accordingly.
Ms Diseko said the Department had noted the concerns of the Committee Members, and would take them forward to other relevant stakeholders with whom they worked on a daily basis. They would also follow up on the issues which the Committee had put forward.
Ms Matshoba said she did not see why the Committee should continue with the meeting, because they were not getting the answers which they had expected the Department to have.
Ms Bhengu said the Department had noted the Committee’s concerns, and would make follow-ups.
Ms Rantho excused herself from the meeting, as she had another meeting to attend.
Consideration and adoption of minutes
Ms Bhengu said the meeting could not continue because there was no quorum. The meeting would therefore be postponed to next week
The meeting was adjourned.
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