Department of Women Strategic Plan & Annual Performance Plan 2015/16 & response to State of Nation Address; Oversight reports to Department & CGE

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

17 March 2015
Chairperson: Memela, Ms TC
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Women (DoW) in the Presidency presented its strategic plan for 2015 to 2020 and Annual Performance Plan for 2015/16 to the Committee. It described itself as a new department in the sense that its mandate was changed by Presidential Proclamation in November 2014, with functions originally handled by its predecessor in relation to disabilities and children being transferred to the Department of Social Development, while it would henceforth focus on women only, which meant that its programmes, budget and functions were re-aligned. It was now concentrating on championing the advancement of women’s socio-economic empowerment and the promotion of gender equality through mainstreaming, advocacy, monitoring and evaluation. It would not be an implementing department but would monitor others. It administered only the Commission for Gender Equality Act, but there was a wide range of legislation, regional and international commitments that had a direct impact on its mandate. It aimed to empower women in the socio-economic sense, by improving their  economic participation, education, social protection, health and access to basic services. The historical context had marginalised women and they remained unequal in several respects. The Department had an establishment of 121 posts, of which 102 were filled and 19 were funded vacancies. It was running under four programmes, and the goals, focus and budget for each were outlined.

Members expressed their dissatisfaction with much of the presentation, highlighting areas where issues were raised but no detail was given on how the plans would be achieved. A suggestion was made that, in light of this Department acting as overseer rather than implementer, Programme 2 could be collapsed under Programmes 3 and 4. They felt that the framework was not well enough outlined, and tangible figures were not given. The need to focus on getting a clean audit was emphasised, and for this, the Department also needed more clarity on the targets, where conversations would be held, what steps were to be taken to promote gender equality and how the implementation plans would be developed and seen through. Members were worried that so far only planning and not implementation seemed to have happened, and pointed out that this was not actually a new department, and that there should have been pre-existing plans for functions that it took over. Members wanted clarity on numbers and skills, asked for the organogram, which had been requested before. One Member was particularly emphatic on the need to increase the uptake of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) by women, how exactly this would be encouraged, and whether the Department would do this itself or work through the Departments of Education, and she also stressed that not enough attention was being paid to those girls who fell pregnant and dropped out of school, the majority of whom were probably African. She stressed that this Department should be actively pushing for change for it would not happen by evolution. Members asked if the Department actually had sufficient human resources to monitor others, and said its progress was not yet visible. Another Member felt that the Department ought to concentrate more on addressing poverty and violence, access of women to police stations to report incidents, and a need to ensure that where basic services were installed, they were actually working. She felt that the Department had to be seen to be doing more for women in rural areas. However, by contrast, another Member felt that perhaps over-emphasis was given to the rural areas, and that this ignored the rapid urbanisation and its deleterious effects on women, particularly when they were living in informal settlements. Members asked for more detail on the travel expenses, which seemed very high, wondered if more should not be put to research and wanted more details on whether bursaries to women were being granted, and the reasons for those that were refused. Further questions on the difference between Women's Day, the 16 days of activism and the new 365 days of non-violence against women were asked, with Members again commenting that more specifics were needed. They pointed out that previous programmes had also involved men, but clearer and more tangible steps were needed. They asked if the Department had approached National Treasury to get more funding, and how it planned to achieve the targets with the limited budget.

The second presentation was on the Annual Performance Plan, which set out the programmes, sub-programmes and budget for each, taken from a study of where government was with women's empowerment at the moment. In this year, the Department was focusing on food security. Members again commented that this presentation raised questions around the levels of planning and implementation, again cited omissions in promoting STEM education, suggested that the Department needed to compel the Departments of Basic and Higher Education to draw in more women to their specific programmes, and that women should be allowed to return to school so the age limits should be lifted. They noted that the Committee was a stakeholder, asked how the Department perceived the Committee, and questioned which reports should be brought to the Committee for approval. Specific questions were asked about the approval of the reports for the Convention of Status of Women and Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women, and copies were requested. They asked about the involvement of the UK in programmes, on what terms and why it was specifically chosen. They questioned the status of internal policies, and by whom they were to be approved.

Meeting report

Department of Women Strategic Plan 2015-2020
Ms Ohara Diseko Acting Director General, Department of Women (DoW or the Department) thanked the Committee and the Chairperson for the opportunity to present the Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan. The President announced the establishment of the Department in May of 2015 and it was later established on 8 November through Presidential Proclamation 49, which re-configured that Department to focus only on women, while the functions related to support for people with disabilities and children in its predecessor were now transferred to the Department of Social Development (DSD). This meant that there was a realignment of the functions of the Department in order to fit in with the new mandate.

She clarified that the new mandate is mainly to champion the advancement of women’s socio-economic empowerment and the promotion of gender equality through mainstreaming, advocacy, monitoring and evaluation. While the DoW did not administer any legislation, apart from the Commission for Gender Equality Act, there was a wide range of legislation that had a direct impact on its mandate. South Africa is also a signatory to several regional and international commitments on women’s empowerment and gender equality.

This Department aimed to empower the socio-economic position of women through improving their economic participation, education, social protection, health and access to basic services. Through the Departments’ situational analysis, it was clear that the historical context marginalised women to inequality which was still felt to the present day. For instance, there were more women than men who had no formal schooling, they earned less than men and they were also more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions. The DoW had developed a budget and programme to enable it to reach the strategic objective of empowerment as described.

The start-up organisational structure was approved by the Minister for Public Service and Administration on 1 October 2014, with an establishment of 121 posts, of which 102 were currently filled and 19 were funded vacancies. In the next five years, the priority of the Department will be to ensure that women’s socio-economic empowerment and women’s rights are main-streamed across all the sectors of society, through different avenues such as monitoring of policy implementation, evidence based research and outreach initiatives. Various programmes had been set up to do so:
- Programme 1: Administration
- Programme 2: Social, Political and Economic Participation and Empowerment
- Programme 3: Research, Policy Coordination and Knowledge Management
- Programme 4: Monitoring, Evaluation and Outreach.

Each different programme has its own strategic goals and focus which are meant to facilitate the different objectives the Department has set for itself. Furthermore, they have their own different budgets and resource considerations which were further outlined in the document (see attached presentation for full details)


Ms M Chueu, (ANC) thanked the Department for its strategy plan presentation. She referred to page 9 where the issues were outlined that had been highlighted from the National Development Plan (NDP), such as measures to be put in place to increase basic services to women. She wanted to know to know how this would be achieved so that women’s lives were improved. She wondered whether Programme 2 could also be integrated into programme 3 and 4. She reminded Members that the Minister had said that this Department would not actually be implementing programmes, but would instead have a focus on oversight of other departments, so this would seem to indicate that there was no need for it to have its separate Programme 2. She stated that the framework on page 22 was not adequately outlined, and wanted to know details on those involved, where, what percentage they represented and how the impact would be seen. Overall, she commented on the need to display tangible figures.

Ms Chueu was worried that there were now only three years to go of the plan, with the Department already into the second year, but still it did not seem to have specific time frames. She commented that the Department in fact did not have five years to implement these plans from today's date.

Ms Chueu commented on the figure of 20 internal reports cited, and commented that for three years  there should be less than that. The Department must commit itself to achieving clean audits.

Following up on her earlier comment about the need for more clarity, Ms Chueu noted that she needed clarity on who the targets and departments were, and with whom the multilateral conversations would be held. Other departments already had their budgets and programmes. She asked how Programme 2's aims on slide 30 would be achieved. She again commented that the Department should be sharing more details with the Committee. She wanted to know exactly how gender equality was to be promoted. The Department had said that ten intervention plans were to be implemented, but she wanted to know which, and which had been developed this year, next year and over the next three years. She asked how the Department had reached the figure of 30% of the national departments, which departments they were and how they would be made to increase participation.

Ms Chueu wanted clarity on the numbers, in terms of human resources. She commented that in relation to the State of the Nation Address (SONA) responses, the Committee needed to know in which departments the budget for women's empowerment would be monitored, and exactly how; she again repeated the need to know "when, where and how". Similarly, she wanted to know how increasing the update of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) would be done, and whether the Department would itself get down to ground level, or engage with the Departments of Education, and particularly asked how women were to be incentivised to take on these subjects, since they were not compulsory. She reminded the Department that there was still a problem of women leaving schools, falling pregnant, and even at tertiary level they were not well enough represented, particularly not in these subjects. There was a need for programmes to be implemented, and for the Department to monitor. However, people needed to be forced to change as they would not do so themselves, so she felt that this Department bore some responsibility for suggesting programmes to others. She suggested that there needed to be Memoranda of Understanding entered into between the ministers. She said the budget must be clear, and women must be given resources through specific plans.

Ms Chueu asked a direct question whether this Department had the necessary human resources to monitor other departments, as this was needed. In three years, progress had to be visible. Since she had been serving in the Committee, she had heard of plans being made, but in the meantime she wanted to know how the human resources were being focused and trained. If this was not done, only plans would be produced every year but there would be no implementation. She said that although the State of the Nation Address set out plans, they were implemented, but nothing had been produced to the Committee that displayed how the Department had taken action on last year's SONA.

Ms C Majeke (UDM) thanked the Department for the presentation and for getting the documents to the Committee on time.  Acting DG for the deliberation and getting the documents in on time. She also thought the document was lacking in stating exactly how implementation would happen and she could not see any reference to measures in place to implement. She commented that it apparently took a year to develop plans around the functions exchanged between this Department and DSD and asked whether there were no plans already in place for those functions and why these were not simply taken over. She asked what types of programmes or campaigns were done in provinces to facilitate the oversight.

Ms Majeke pointed out that in regard to page 9, she wanted to address poverty and violence towards women. The Department claimed that it was going to support women in all areas of society. She wanted to know, therefore, what message could be taken to women in rural areas on their empowerment, such as accessing basic services. There was a need for basic services; for instance, in her area, taps had been installed but were not working. She asked what the Department was going to say to women who had difficulty in accessing police stations to report incidences. One person had killed three women and never been brought to account. She noted the reference to increasing STEM uptake, but asked what programmes were in place for young women in the provinces. Overall, she asked what she could say to people in the rural areas about what this Department would be doing for them.

Ms N Marchesi (DA) wanted to find out more about the skills, pointing out that nothing had been mentioned on skills development and research. She also wanted to know more about employees. The Department said that there were 19 vacant funded posts, but already about R60 million of budget was going to salaries and the Department was working on a tight budget. She noted that the Committee had not been given any HR reports, and asked if these would be shown. This was not a new Department; it had been in existence for some time, although the name had changed, and it already had satellite offices, and so she wanted to know what their responsibilities were and if they would still be dealing with provincial issues?  She asked if there was a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with different departments. She too wanted to know what tools and measures were used to meet requirements of the different programmes.

Ms C Dudley (ACDP) stated that a lot had been said about rural issues, but wanted to stress that around two thirds of women in the country were living in urban areas, including informal settlements. There was a major concern around urbanisation, with protests over service delivery and urbanisation issues, and she thought that not enough focus was being given to the urban areas and the rapid increase in numbers. Most people did not want to stay on agricultural land and she felt not enough attention was being paid to projects dealing with the pace of urbanisation.

Ms Chueu also wanted to comment on the budget items for travel, included under every programme, and for HR, and asked for information where the staff were travelling. She wondered if this was useful and whether it would not be possible rather to put the money to research. The monitoring and evaluation units needed to increase their skills, and so did research policy and knowledge. She commented that bursaries would be given only when certain criteria around levels of skills were satisfied and said that everyone needed to improve their skills, and money needed to be allocated properly for each and every programme.

Ms Cheu noted that there was an interim organogram, asked the implications of this, and what measures were in place to deal with any problems, and when the final one would be ready. The Department had noted lack of capacity and limited resources. Last time the Department presented, it was noted that people had been resigning, and she wondered if they had been replaced. In addition, there had been concerns about non-compliance with supply chain management, and she asked what practical measures had been put in place to avoid future transgressions.

Ms  Diseko noted that some of the points made were comments on the concreteness of the strategic plan more than questions, but it did go to how the goals would be achieved. In relation to the comment that this was not a new department, she felt it important to note the context around the establishment of the Department in July. Once the Proclamation was made, there had been implementation of the transfer process between departments, governed by the Public Service Act and Labour Relations Act, so this was not a question of mere paperwork processes between the two departments. The unions were also involved. This had been a time consuming process, but she could confirm that this was now at an end. After the establishment, there had been national macro organisation of the state, which was done with the Department of Public Service and Administration,a the the DoW and DSD would have to be re-aligned. DSD would proceed with all programmes concerning people with disabilities. DoW remained with the mandate concerning women. She noted that nine months was not sufficient time to implement, and reminded Members again that there was a need to negotiate with the people concerned.

Despite its limited capacity, the Department had managed to host National Women's Day on 9 August, and the 16 days of activism against violence towards women and children. The Minister had directed the Department to have a paradigm shift from hosting events to putting in place programmes that were outcome oriented. The extent of these was not yet known but the Department's focus had also changed from concentrating on women only, to including men. Women's empowerment was seen as a societal issue. The Department had mobilised all churches to become involved in the days of activism. On 11 November, following up on the President's announcement that 9 August should not be seen as a one-off event, the Department had launched the #365 days of no violence against women, on which there was collaboration with Crime Line.

It was recognised that this Department could not work alone, for instance on issues involving education.

Ms Diseko spoke to the questions around the capacity of the Department. It worked with the allocated budget and used it as best as it could. The task the Department was meant to do, derived from the mandate, was huge, and required high end skills. The Department had looked into what it had at present, what it was likely to be able to get, and what could be consolidated into higher posts, so that it was able to recruit high end skills. She felt that the Department was almost where it wanted to be, but could not pronounce on a figure. High end skills did not necessarily offer themselves at administrative level, but would have to be recruited, which was a challenge faced by the Department. She commented that at the moment the Department was still working on strategy but when doing the fourth quarter report it should be able to say where it was as a result of the whole process undertaken.
She conceded that this was a five-year plan, and the first year would be completed in April, but technically, the Department still had a further four years to reach all achievements.  Ms Chueu asked about specific programmes, but the socio-economic mandate was broad and the Department was consulting with various departments - for instance, it had a relationship with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, working together on programmes, and was trusting that the broad agenda would not get lost. She pointed out that any engagement had to be done without losing sight of the fact that the department being targeted still had to focus on basic services, but did take note of the points raised.

Mr Llewellyn Louw, Director of Finance, Department of Women, began his response by dealing with the questions around bursaries and training in the Department. This was centralised in the HR unit, which would then roll out programmes to ensure equal distribution of funding, and make sure that relevant processes were followed. The travel and subsistence budget was a high level allocation in the Estimates of National Expenditure, and did not relate to HR alone. He could give a further breakdown in writing if required.

Ms Thandeka Mxenge Deputy Director General, Department of Women, noted that the internal audits reports were created four times a year, and that was where the figure of 20 reports was taken.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) asked about the organogram and whether this would be provided to the Committee.

Ms Chueu said that she did not see much difference between an event and programme; an event would also involve consultation with stakeholders who then would come to the event. The Department said that this year, 9 August was a different event to previous years, and although she was not aware of what precisely it had in the other years, she wanted more details on the #365 programme. She saw it in the same light as any other event. She asked if the Department was essentially saying that the event would continue to run until November, and what was expected to happen. She commented that unless the programmes had a specific impact, this would suggest that the events were in fact the same. She had made the point to the Department last year that if it said it had a tangible event, then people dedicated to those events must deal with them. She asked how and where these were taking place; if they were not happening, then she could not see what was being done that was different to the previous year. She stressed that the country needed to push for non-violence against women all the time. She wondered if the groups that were being organised with institutions such as the churches were being taught any differently, and stressed the need for re-education to produce change. That group, once re-educated, could become the measurement, but at this point she saw no specific programmes. She wanted to know more about how the 365 days of non-violence would be achieved. Men had been included in programmes before, but clear and measurable programmes were needed.

The Acting Chairperson pointed out that the Committee had not been specifically informed of the 365 days programme. This information was required, as Members needed to report back to their constituencies.

The Acting Chairperson made the point that the Committee had, several times previously, requested the organogram, and hopefully this would be the last time that it was requested as it should now be provided.

The Acting Chairperson noted that this Department had received the smallest budget of all departments, asked how it planned to meet targets with the limited funding and whether it had been lobbying for further funding from National Treasury; if so, what the response had been.

Ms Diseko commented that the 365 days of action was different from the former 16 days of activism, because it was being positioned as a societal issue.

Ms Chueu interrupted to say that the difference was surely one of content.

Ms Diseko said that she took the point. Attitudinal changes required longitudinal studies, and twelve months will not be enough to show how behaviour was changing.

Ms Diseko said she was not aware that the Department had previously been asked for the organogram and would ensure that it was delivered to the Committee.

Department of Women Annual Performance Plan 2015/2016
Ms Thandeka Mxenge, Deputy Director General, Department of Women, presented the Annual Performance Plan (APP) for the 2015/2016 financial year, which set out the different programmes in their own categories. She said she hoped that some of the Committee Members' earlier questions would be answered by her presentation.

In relation to Programme 1, the Department had mechanisms in place to see where the government was overall, and had used this to plot to improve. In relation to the systems overall, there were quarterly targets in place and it was hoped that this would help the Department to receive a clean audit. In this programme, there were various sub-programmes, namely; Departmental Management, Financial Management and Corporate Management.

She noted the earlier recommendation to incorporate Programme 2 under programmes 3 and 4. The sub-programmes were Economic Empowerment, Justice and Public Order, Governance and Administration, Social and Related Functions.

Under Programme 3, the sub-programmes were: Research Management and Policy Analysis and Consideration. Under programme 4, there were sub-programmes for Stakeholder Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation and finally a Communication and Outreach Initiative. She suggested that Members wanting to take a message back to rural women should emphasise the focus on food security in this year.

Ms Chueu thought this presentation again raised issues around the level of implementation and planning. It was clear that the Department was, even in this year, still planning.

Ms Chueu thought that there were serious omissions in relation to promoting STEM, and repeated that the Department had omitted to mention girls dropping out of school due to pregnancy, but the Department needed to focus on them. She also wanted to comment on page 13, which identified a problem that African women showed the highest incidence of being without any formal schooling. However, the Department should be focusing on trying also to address the fact that very few African women were taking STEM subjects and reiterated that it needed to focus on African women falling pregnant whilst still at school, saying that they also represented the highest percentage. The research must be very precise. The Department needed to compel the Departments of Basic and Higher Education to draw in more women to their specific programmes, and the age limit should be removed for schooling, so that women could work themselves out of poverty.

Ms Chueu asked who were stakeholders of the Department, whether this included the Committee and how the Department perceived the Committee, to whom it reported, and what it saw as the roles of the other stakeholders.

Ms Chueu asked, where approval was referred to, who would be responsible for approval of the reports - this Committee, Cabinet or the Minister, saying that she was asking this to avoid rhetorical questions where reports were, if they did not need to come to the Committee. For instance, she wanted to know who had approved the Convention on Status of Women (CSW) report to the UN.

She noted the intervention plan, and she had understood that it would be within one department where the programmes would be running, but the report made reference to departments in the plural. She asked if they had funding, and what the Department of Women would do when it knew that another department did have funding. It was not supposed to implement, but she wanted to know how it would incentivise other departments to use their funding for the benefit of women.

Ms Chueu thought the APP was not clear, and did not set out precise targets. She wanted to know how many women were being targeted, but the Department had merely answered that this would be ascertained through a situation analysis. Even then, it should have been clear on how many women must be targeted. Even if the Committee did not have to specifically approve the intervention plan, she would hope that it would be brought to the Committee,  and that the Committee could evaluate whatever it was expected to. Perhaps, by the end of the year, the Committee would be able to ask deeper questions and the Department would have the answers.

Ms Chueu asked why there was reference to consultation with the United Kingdom (UK) and what South Africa was expecting to learn from this country.

The Acting Chairperson pointed out that the Department had not said anything about new development of internal policies, in relation to HR, including staff training and capacity building of the staff.

Ms Mxenge dealt with the questions on the need to focus on STEM and on women dropping out because of pregnancy, and agreed that the Department had taken the point. It would be consulting with the Departments of Basic and Higher Education.

Ms Mxenge said the Auditor-General had also raised issues around internal reports; the Department still needed a protocol on who was to approve the policies but it would usually be done by the accounting officer, depending on the nature of the report.

Ms Mxenge confirmed that the Department would look at different institutions with access to funding and grants, and would also do more research on reasons why women's applications were being turned down; if any commonalities were apparent, the Department would be able to manage to address them and help women. It would be looking to different institutions and trends and commonalities. She noted that often, women struggled to bring formal appeals and plans, and it was necessary to  get various people to work with these women. The Department was attempting to negate the systemic challenges.

Ms Mxenge noted that the UK was chosen as a partner who had shown interest in working with the Department, and also with Lesotho. The country had historical partnership ties with the UK.

She reported that UN/Cabinet level approval was needed for a country level report such as the CSW Report.

She noted that the HR people were not included but the full HR report would include this information.

Ms Chueu asked if any conditions were attached to the UK funding.

Ms Diseko noted that whatever the Department did, it would abide by the relevant policies already in place; in this instance, those of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). Certain processes must be followed to get funding, so that no department would be tied into funding that could compromise the country as a whole.

Ms Tseke asked whether the Department was in possession of the latest CSW Report submitted to the UN, and, if so, asked that it be submitted to this Committee. She noted that under the portion of the presentation dealing with international engagement, when the quarterly report on the UN Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) would be finalised and approved.

Ms Chueu noted the comment that reports would normally be approved by the accounting officer, or Cabinet. Cabinet answered to Parliament, so it was surely that the Committee must approve, and this meant that the country reports needed to come to the Portfolio Committee to be approved as a country report.

Ms Diseko said she had taken note of comments raised and would convey them to her principals.

Ms D Robinson (DA) still wanted clarity on Ms Tseke's question and asked what the process was for reports that should surely have been seen by the Committee before being submitted to the UN.

Ms Diseko said that it was important to put this in context. A country report was tabled at the UN, but it had not been signed off by the Minister or Cabinet, or even consulted upon by civil society. The Minister raised concerns with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, and asked that it be re-called as it was not a correct representation of the true situation. The Department then consulted with civil society, although there might still be some omissions as the time was now very short to prepare and submit the report. At this stage, the report was work in progress as civil society had indicated that it wanted to comment.

The Acting Chairperson said that the Committee remained concerned about reports. The Committee had been given the indication that the report was with Cabinet, not that it had been re-called, and surely it would have to be tabled still to Cabinet.

Ms Diseko said that she had perhaps not been quite clear; the report was recalled for whatever reasons. The report did have to go to Cabinet.

The Acting Chairperson thanked the Department and reminded the presenters that the Committee was a stakeholder, wanted to add value to the work done by the Department and work hand-in-hand with the Department. It hoped that it would not again be faced with problems about reports not being handed in on time.

Other business: Approval of Minutes
Committee minutes from previous meetings were approved.

The meeting was adjourned.


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