Commission for Gender Equality on 4th Quarter Report January – March 2015

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

26 May 2015
Chairperson: Ms Grace Tseke (ANC) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

The Portfolio Committee on Women in Presidency was briefed by the Commission of Gender Equality on their fourth quarter (January – March 2015) report and their financial expenditure.

The Chief Executive Officer explained the programmes covering the four strategic objectives of the institution. The Commission had established several partnerships in order to achieve its targets, such as working with SABC radio stations to run campaigns and raise awareness on issues of domestic violence, gender-based discrimination and violence across the country. The CEO also highlighted that working with the provinces had made a difference in the achievement of gender equality, as they had aligned their policies and implementation to be more sensitive to gender issues in communities. The Commission complied with international conventions and had hosted the Gender Summit, where the outcome had been more advocacy for gender equality in the region. The challenges that the Commission still faced were not being able to deal with cases on time, the overflow of reported cases was increasing and due to budget cuts, employing more staff was impossible.

The Chief Financial Officer said that although the Commission has been allocated R67 million, the institution has spent up to R75 million, due to unplanned events and penalties from SARS. The Commission had received donoations and grants to make up the deficit, and most of the money had been spent on the compensation of employees, maintenance and professional services. The CFO assured the Committee that the institution had enough funds in this quarter to meet all its financial obligations.

The Committee raised concern about the clashing of Constitutional mandates between this institution and other entities, and there was a debate about the Commission’s response to the recent events of xenophobia, as well as the research output indicating the level of violence of young men across the country. There was also concern about the Commission’s website being only in English and not inclusive of other languages. Members felt that this made it almost impossible for many South Africans to engage with the website. 

Meeting report

Presentation by Commission for Gender Equality

Ms Keketso Maema, Chief Executive Officer, Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) said the presentation would examine the achievement of targets in the fourth quarter, and give an account of how the institution had performed for the financial year. The institution was mandated by Section 18 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, and was obliged to strengthen constitutional democracy by ensuring the attainment of gender equality.

In terms of oversight, the Commissioners had had discussions with political parties over the plight of women farm workers and children during February 2015. The key issues that the Commission had dealt with included engaging with the traditional leadership on gender equality, gender transformation hearings, sexual harassment in the workplace, the Marikana Widowhood legal clinic, forced and early child marriages, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) communities. The commission had also collaborated with various departments and international organisations on gender.

The strategic objectives of the Commission had included the creation and implementation of an enabling legislative framework that promoted the attainment of gender equality. Progress on this objective was the evaluation of gender equality, and policies and practices of the public and private sector, and a report back to Parliament. There had been the Gender Transformation investigation report, which had involved UNISA and the Department of Higher Education, to assess gender equality in institutions of higher learning. The gender barometer assessed the status of gender policies and practices in the private and public sector. There had been submissions on the Maintenance Amendment Bill, Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill and the Draft Firearms Control Amendment Bill. The Commission had conducted court monitoring of 14 cases across the country. These cases related to access and custody of minor children, sexual harassment, rape, domestic violence and murder (including witchcraft) and hate crimes.

The other strategic objective was promoting gender equality by engaging with relevant stakeholders to educate and raise awareness on issues of gender, challenging patriarchal perceptions and stereotypes, and to take action against the infringement of gender rights. The planned outcome was for South Africa to become a society educated on constitutional rights for gender equality, which demonstrated transformative behaviour and the obligation to respect and uphold gender equality. The Commission had received and dealt with 180 complaints, and had conducted a total of 25 legal outreach and clinics. In this quarter, 211 files of complaints had been opened, and 222 files had been resolved and closed. The Commission had also been involved in the judicial transformation complaint, sex work investigations and human rights campaigns. It had targeting various geographical areas and participated in 18 different community radio engagement programmes.

Some of the key issues that had surfaced through these interventions had included the registration of customary marriages, faith-based organisations not being eager to engage on issues of sexuality and sexual orientation, witchcraft killing surfacing in Limpopo, and widows facing challenges relating to inheritance and estates. Access to land ownership remained a challenge.

The last strategic objective was to monitor compliance with regional and international conventions and charters which had been ratified by the country. The Commission had printed and tabled country reports, such as the Beijing report, and engaged with the Ministry on Women. There had been a report on the Africa Gender Development Index – a status report providing perspective on the achievement of gender equality in the country. The Commissioners had attended an international event, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 59 in March 2015, and a report on that would follow. Strategic objective 4 was more internal to the operation of the Commission, and was not imperative for service delivery.

The Commission had not met its objective of running a full awareness campaign on the policies of the Commission, as not all provinces had been reached. The Human Resources Director had resigned from the Commission, and due to budget cuts, that position could not be filled. This had led to delays on some of the programmes of the Commission.

Mr Moshabi Putu, Chief Financial Officer, CGE, said the budget allocated by National Treasury for the full year from April 2014 to March 2015, was R67.2 million. However, the CGE’s plan amounted to R70 million, so there had been a need to find extra funding to cover the gap of R3 million. The budget had been spent mainly on Commissioners (R9.5 million), corporate services (R19.7 million) and maintenance and service delivery (R40, 7 million). Most of the budget had gone towards the compensation of employees -- a total of R44 million. Expenditure for this financial year had increased, especially on personnel costs.

Donor income had ensured the effective achievement of the Commission’s work in the 2014/15 financial year. The Commission had organised the Gender Summit, which cost R1,8 million, during the Human Rights month, to which the SABC had donated R635 000. The Commission had developed its new performance oversight mechanism, to ensure productive management and the achievement of its strategic objectives.

For the 2014/2015 financial year, the Commission had spent R75 million against an approved budget of R70 million. The over-spending included penalties and interest paid to the South African Revenue Service, amounting to R1.8 million.


Ms D Robinson (DA) asked about the subsistence expenditure by the Commission. Was there a way to save money on luxuries, such as where people stayed when conducting the business of the Commission, and was there a way to have fewer trips but still reach the same number of people?

Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) asked how traditional leaders were monitored to ensure they were in compliance with the work of the Commission, and was there a transfer of knowledge in the process? What was the Commission’s position of virginity testing? The Commission’s legal clinics were not very visible in the rural areas. What is being done to accelerate their visibility? On the Gender Summit spending of R1.8 million – how was it actually spent? What happened with the negotiations over the interest and penalties with SARS?

Ms D Robinson (DA) asked about the outcomes of legal clinics. Gender violence was a serious issue – was success being achieved? Was literature being given out to people? It was said that young men felt marginalised in the country, as the focus was on women and men. Was this true – was the Commission reacting to these statements? In terms of the cases being investigated, what outcomes were being reached.?

Ms M Chueu (ANC) asked why there was no data on the women who claimed restitution of land? On the issue of evictions, were there no statistics recorded? This should not be the case, as rural areas were very vulnerable. What did the institution mean by patriarchy and stereotypes?

Ms M Matshoba (ANC) asked for clarity on the issue of 180 clinics being conducted – when would these be finalised?

Ms P Bhengu (ANC) mentioned that this Committee visited the head office in Johannesburg. Were there any outstanding matters that had to be brought to the attention of the Committee?

Ms Tarabella-Marchesi asked what the Commission had done about the recent events of xenophobia. She said the website seemed not to be user friendly, as it was only in English. In terms of education, could it be determined that children who got a grant must be attending school, to ensure that the grant was beneficial to the children as well? Social Development should perhaps consider a plan in that regard.

Mr Mfanozelwe Shozi, Chairperson, CGE, responded that the Commission was poorly funded, so it was trying its best to cut expenditure on traveling and accommodation. In terms of the House of Traditional Leaders, there were times when there were disagreements, even with political parties as well. The issue of the website was important. The institution had created pamphlets in eleven languages that would be distributed across the country. This would be built into the website. The issue of illiteracy was also a major challenge.

Ms Tarabella-Marchesi asked about the accuracy of the number of cases being dealt with.

Ms Chueu referred to the statement that it was expensive for the Commission to accommodate all eleven languages in their communication strategies.

Ms Thoko Mpumlwana, Deputy Chairperson: CGE said that the institution was really battling to deal with this matter of language.

Ms Maema responded on the issue of the website and language. From a legal point of view, there had to be help desks at which people could communicate in their own languages. In terms of the cases, the files were categorised according to the nature and each province, so that the Commission knew that kind of cases they received and from where they had come. Outstanding complaints files would be handed over to the next financial year. They would be the opening balance for the first quarter. Sometimes the cases took time because of the applications and respondents’ active involvement in following legal orders.

In protecting gender equality, as stipulated in strategic objective two, the Commission would go out and undertake 180 legal clinics, to do work in the rural areas, 135 legal clinics had already been concluded, and the clinics were inclusive of all members of communities. On the issue of SARS, there had been a liability on the part of the Commission because of a failure to hand in a document. The commission had to negotiate with SARS to decrease the penalty amount.

Mr Putu responded that the SABC funding was meant to promote the Commission for Gender Equality mandate, through television and other promotional campaigns, and there had been no fiscal dumping at all. The Gender Summit had been funded by the Commission for Gender Equality, while donors had funded the conference itself. The human rights campaign had been sponsored by the SABC for promotional purposes.

Ms Robinson asked for clarification on the violence of young men.

Mr Shozi responded that the Commission engages with men’s forums around the country. All community outreach programmes included men – they were always part of the discussions, and there were programmes on manhood, brotherhood and co-existence. The Commission publicised its reports, and also used social media as a medium for communication and reaching out on important issues.

The Chairperson thanked the delegation and adjourned the meeting.


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