The Portfolio Committee had requested a meeting with the Department of Social Development at which the Department was supposed to present an overview of the programmes formerly located with the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities. However, the presentation did not take place, as the Department of Social Affairs had failed to submit the relevant reports and documentation to the Committee members prior to the meeting.
The Chairperson made it clear that despite an extension having been applied on the due date agreed upon, the Department had not honoured its obligations and had undermined the Committee. She said that the Department of Social Development “has failed us,” as it had not acted responsively to the issue of the plight of people with disabilities.
The Committee agreed that the meeting could not continue. It was going to entrench the policies, accompanied by a letter indicating that the Committee had been undermined, as it had granted an extension for the documentation, but it had still not been received.
Committee minutes were approved, with the recommended technical adjustments.
Chairperson’s Opening Remarks
The Chairperson said it was unfortunate that the meeting had to commence with an unpalatable statement. The meeting had been called to discuss the plight of disabled people, and the Committee had expected the requested report last week, prior to meeting with the Department of Social Development (DSD). However, none of the materials had been sent to the Committee within the expected timeframe. She said the Department “has failed us”. The Committee and the Department could not, at this juncture, fail the vulnerable group of people with disabilities. The Chairperson said that the Committee was being deprived of the information, and that the Department was expecting Parliament to take its word for it.
The Chairperson emphasised that it was Women’s Month and that women were the “pillars of the nation.” This treatment of the Committee was undermining the portfolio, and the Committee was not going to take this lying down. She emphasised that the Committee had not received the relevant documents prior to this meeting.
The Committee agreed that the meeting could not continue. The Chairperson indicated that the Committee was going to entrench the policies, accompanied by a letter indicating that the Committee had been undermined, as it had granted an extension for the documentation, and it had still not been received.
Dr Wiseman Magasela, Deputy Director-General: Research and Policy Development, DSD, responded that he did not know what to say, and said that this occurrence not in the Department’s nature. He would assume the blame because he was the accountable person. The Chief Whip was aware that Department did not undermine its obligations.
Ms Sinah Moruane, Chief Director: Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, said that the documentation had been submitted on time to the Parliamentary Officer, who was unfortunately not present to explain the lack of prior documentation. However, the members would like to be given an opportunity to present, as the delegates from the Department were prepared.
The Department approached the Chairperson to discuss this issue, aside from the members.
The Chairperson then indicated that the Department would be notified in due course regarding the date for a new meeting.
Adoption of Committee Minutes
The Chairperson asked whether the Members had any other matters arising.
Ms D Robinson (DA) indicated that there had been a typing error, and suggested a technical adjustment.
Ms P Bhengu (ANC) moved for the adoption of the Committee minutes. Ms Bhengu’s motion was seconded, and then accepted by the Chairperson.
Ms M Chueu (ANC) recommended a technical change and suggested that the phrasing be reworked.
Ms G Tseke (ANC) suggested a correction in the minutes.
Ms Chueu suggested a rephrasing of the minutes dealing with the irrigation systems in order to emphasis the seriousness of the item.
Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) referred to the minutes concerning land redistribution, and noted that ‘white land’ was included, and that state land was not. She asked that it be included.
Ms Chueu said gender focal points should focus on decision-making for career positions.
The Chairperson responded that women were desired in decision-making positions because they had the skills, and not solely because they were women.
Ms Tarabella-Marchesi said that the gender focal points should focus on the positions in the Director-General’s office, and at Director-General level, to have some influence.
The Chairperson reiterated that women should be placed in these positions, based on their capabilities.
Ms Tseke moved for the adoption of the Committee minutes, with amendments made. Ms Chueu seconded the proposal and the minutes were adoopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
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