The Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) came to the Committee to report on the first quarter of the 2015/16 financial year. These were important years, as 2015 was the African Union’s year of Economic Empowerment of Women, and the year of the movement from the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2016, the CGE would have achieved 20 years of existence.
The CGE’s report provided details of its strategic objectives. Strategic objective one was to ensure the creation and implementation of an enabling legislative framework that promoted the attainment of gender equality. Within this objective, submissions had been made for legislative and policy enhancement, auditing the implementation of the Victims’ Charter, and the gender barometer report that assessed the status of gender policies and practices in the private and public sectors. There was also a gender transformation report and assessment of women’s representation in political parties.
Strategic objective two was to protect and promote gender equality by engaging with relevant stakeholders to educate and raise awareness on issues of gender equality, challenge patriarchal perceptions and stereotypes and take action against infringements of gender rights through the implementation of appropriate redress. 180 complaints had been received and dealt with in terms of the complaints manual, and legal outreach clinics had been conducted. Systematic investigations had been undertaken. There had been a coordinated programme on gender discrimination and a gender-based violence (GBV) campaign at schools, as well as a human rights and gender equality campaign.
The third strategic objective was to monitor state compliance with regional and international conventions, covenants and charters which had been acceded to or ratified by the Republic, relating to the objects of the CGE. Within this objective, there was the report on the African Gender Development Index.
Strategic objective four was to build an effective, efficient and sustainable institution that would fulfil its constitutional mandate on gender equality. Within that, there was a 20-year review of the CGE’s achievements and failures.
An overview of the budget was given and the liquidity and solvency of CGE came under scrutiny. In terms of cash flow, there was less money flowing into the CGE, hence there were major budgetary constraints. Despite that, CGE remained in a healthy financial situation.
Questions were asked regarded the economic empowerment of women in mines, the monitoring of the courts, and the varying bail and sentencing amounts. There was concern about the number of pending cases that CGE still had deal with, and how that would influence future performance, when the increased visibility of the CGE would lead to an increase in cases. There were also questions regarding the under-performance of a supplier which had affected an information communication technology (ICT) project for the CGE. The Commission asked what universities were doing to challenge GBV on campuses, and whether the Commission’s focus on the mining sector would lead to greater opportunities for women.
Ms Thoko Mpumlwana, Deputy Chairperson: Commission on Gender Equality (CGE), wanted it put on record that only two commissioners from outside were present, namely Mr Wallace Mgoqi and Ms Namasonto Mazibuko. She extended an apology from the Chairperson of the CGE, who was in Australia attending a speaking tour on gender equality. The representatives of CGE introduced themselves -- Commissioners Mazibuko and Mgoqi, Mr Mashabi Putu, the Chief Financial Officer, Ms Keketso Maema, Chief Executive Oficer, Mr Mofihli Teleki, Communications Manager and Ms Mpumi Mazibuko, personal assistant to the Chairperson.
Ms Mpumulwana said there was currently a review of Chapter 9 institutions and she hoped that it would come to a close soon so that the position of the CGE could be certain. Gender-based violence was emerging as an issue that needed a lot of attention, especially in the disability sector. The recent case of a woman’s body being found mutilated because of albinism was an embarrassment and a reminder of the work that still needed to be done to assist people in embracing the Constitution and the need to respect the rights of all South Africans. There was an increase in femicide. There were many cases before the nation resulting from pressures in families and relationships that affected women and children. There was one high profile case of a man killed by his spouse. Currently there was a reversal of gains in terms of gender equality in terms of fundamental beliefs and practices, and this was a concern.
The African Union had declared 2015 the year of economic empowerment for women and therefore there needed to be solidarity among the women of South Africa and the continent at large. The question was what the women of South Africa were doing. The CGE was getting a lot of visibility, communities were embracing and understanding their role, more people were accessing the CGE call centre, and many were going to the CGE for assistance, especially with estates and maintenance in terms of cultural practices.
2015 was also the year of moving from the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). South Africa was represented at the United Nations. One of the SDG’s dealt with women’s empowerment and gender equality. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) protocol was coming to an end and the question was, if there was a review, what South Africa’s plan was moving forward.
In 2016, it would be 20 years of existence for the CGE, and 20 years of the Constitution. It would be a year of reflection for the CGE. 2016 was also 60 years after the 1956 women’s march.
Ms Keketso Maema, CEO of CGE, said that the report spoke directly to the work done in 2015. It highlighted the work of the CGE, the targets that were able to be reached, and the issues encountered on the ground. The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) would take the Committee through the spending trends.
The CGE had worked closely with the Auditor-General (AG) in the first quarter to finalise the audit process which would be tabled by the end of September. It was a time when the CGE put on track plans, conceptualised prior to the start of the financial year, and engaged with a number of organisations on the ground to plan what matters could be collaborated on.
In the new financial year, one of the strategic decisions that had to be taken due to the fact that funding had been cut back, was to ensure that the CGE pushed their education officers and legal officers to work closely together, specifically when working on specific education campaigns. They needed to be part and parcel of the legal clinics because of the funds situation, and in this particular quarter, the CGE had seen the fruits of taking that particular strategic decision. Looking at the files that had been opened and the investigations that were being dealt with in this quarter, it could be seen that it was good decision and had resulted in the CGE being able to attract more cases. Having worked closely with communities and institutions on the ground had helped CGE to attract more cases.
Key issues surfacing across provinces still related to maintenance. In the last quarterly report, the CGE had highlighted this particular issue. It was ensuring that all the information gathered was channelled to the parliamentary unit, to ensure that as they monitored the progress of the Maintenance Bill before Parliament, and as engagement around the Bill continued, the issues picked up by CGE on the ground were included and highlighted.
Widowhood issues were still being picked up. The previous quarterly report had referred to estates and widowhood, but at that point the main concern was that women were being chased out of the matrimonial home as soon as the partner was deceased. This quarter, the issues were around accessibility and processes undertaken by the Master of the High Court. The CGE was working closely with the office of the premier in KZN, because as they were working on this matter, issues relating to tax laws were coming forward in terms of the deceased estates, and more and more widows were highlighting their problems. The CGE had started engagement with National Treasury on this matter, as well as the SA Revenue Service (SARS), just to find out whether anything could be done to take up some of the matters the CGE was picking up on the ground.
Gender-based violence (GBV) had increased in this quarter. Incidents in the Northern Cape and North West were on the rise, particularly femicide and domestic violence issues. In the Northern Cape there were harsh realities -- for example, the burning of spouses. In Gauteng, when looking at the trends, there seemed to be a battle with issues relating to sexual harassment and femicide as well.
The work undertaken in the last financial year around the international reports put forward, had seen a number of stakeholders who wanted to work with the CGE. There had been engagement with the office of the Human Rights Commission in Pretoria, which had appointed someone who was now working with treaty bodies across the human rights areas. He had indicated that he could train and engage.
The strategic objectives had been linked with the APP presented to the Committee during March. The first objective was to ensure the creation and implementation of an enabling legislative framework that promoted the attainment of gender equality. A number of sub-strategies had been put in place to support that strategy. The specific activities undertaken beneath this particular umbrella were to ensure that submissions were made for legislative and policy enhancement. There were about three submissions for this particular quarter and the CGE had engaged on the draft regulations under s43(3) of the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons, submissions had been made to the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) regarding the customary practice of initiation, and submissions had been made to the Presidential Remuneration Commission on the statement issued by the education sector.
The research department had taken all the Victims’ Charter reports that had been heard by the CGE. In previous years, it had been looking into the different departments and seeing whether they were fulfilling their responsibilities under the Victims’ Charter. This year, it was consolidating everything and then going back to the departments to assess whether they were actually using the finding and recommendations put forward by the CGE. For this particular reporting period, planning documents had been put forward and the CGE had drawn up some implementation project plans in terms of how that work would be carried out. In the second quarter, there would be roll out and engagement with all six departments that were under the Victims’ Charter document.
The gender barometer report assessed the status of gender policies and practice in private and public sectors. It assisted in seeing how far the CGE was progressing with gender mainstreaming. In different years, the tool was applied to different departments or municipalities. In this particular year, it wanted to focus on the private sector, specifically assessing gender mainstreaming within the mining sector. In this particular quarter, it was just assessing which mining houses they would be administering the tool to, introducing themselves to them and introducing them to that particular tool. There would be a progress report as they went along about what had been discovered in the mining sector.
The CGE was still assessing the national action plan on gender-based violence and engaging with other support structures. There were tools available and departments were being identified. Civil society would be engaged to see how far the processes had been taken.
One of the issues that had arisen the previous financial year, while specifically looking at gender-based violence, was that the Department of Social Development was doing a lot of work in that particular area, so the CGE would be engaging with them to see how far they had gone and whether the structures they had put on the ground were working.
Another activity that fell directly within this strategic objective was court monitoring. The CGE normally came separately to engage with the Committee on their court monitoring processes. In this quarter, it had monitored about 18 cases across provinces, relating to matters of access, custody of minor children, gender-based violence, rape, domestic violence, murder, and murders which, in the case of Limpopo and the Eastern Cape, were often still related to witchcraft and hate crime. It was encouraging to see that some provinces, like Limpopo, took intimate partner killings very seriously. It was seen in terms of trends, in cases monitored for the first quarter, specifically for Limpopo, that bail amounts set by the courts were hefty, as were the sentences imposed, which really sent a message as far as this crime was concerned.
Policy dialogue would be conducted on the research document that the CGE had finalised in the previous financial year. There would be dialogue with policy makers as usual, and it would be engaging on the gender barometer of the previous year, which had just been finalised at the end of March. The GBV report would also be engaged on. For this quarter, it was putting policy briefs together as usual. The CGE took into account that it was not always feasible for policy makers to go through the thick documents that they put forward, so at the beginning of every financial year, there was normally a policy briefing which highlighted what was contained, the method used in research, and the findings and recommendations. The policy briefs for those two specific policy reports and the meetings were scheduled to begin in the second quarter.
In the previous financial year, there had been some employment equity hearings focusing on gender transformation, looking at institutions of higher education and some of the departments in the provinces. In the first quarter, the CGE had gone back to engage with them in order to check whether they were on track in terms of the recommendations put forward. It had engaged with the University of South Africa (UNISA) and the Department to check how far they had come, and whether the structures put in place were working. It was happy to see that there had been progress on the recommendations put before them. There were still some documents in draft form, and it was checking them all. All institutions of higher learning were to be engaged in November, and part of the planning in the first quarter had been to get documents from these institutions to begin analysing.
There had been a report on the assessment of women’s representation in political parties. The CGE had to highlight and thank the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) which had allowed it to have a slot in the party liaison committee, because it had been difficult to engage with the parties. Some parties had taken steps forward and wanted to engage on a one-on-one basis on some of the issues highlighted. In 2016, the CGE would be looking into local government elections and already some work was being done around that. It would be assessing women’s participation and representation during the local government elections. The main aim was to assess and examine the extent to which political parties which would be contesting the local government elections would prioritise gender issues and gender mainstreaming through their election manifestos, party nomination processes and candidates’ lists for local councils. The CGE had begun work on this and wanted to ensure that the report was finalised at the right time with the hope that as parties prepared for that particular process, they had something to guide them.
Strategic objective two was promoting and protecting gender equality. In each quarter, there were a specific number of cases that CGE wanted to open, and for each quarter it had decided it would deal with 180 complaints. In this quarter, it had been able to exceed that and open 200 cases, and had resolved 268 cases. This represented a high growth, looking at the previous quarter. 523 files had been brought over, and now there were 525 pending.
For legal outreach and clinics, there were 34 conducted in this particular quarter. The CGE tried to focus more on rural areas, and 22 clinics had been held in rural areas across the country. A consolidated legal clinic report had also been provided to ensure the Committee Members could go through the people who could be engaged on issues of race or gender, etc. The CGE was still primarily attracting black women, and was looking at employing a strategy to get a number that really highlighted the rainbow nation. Targeted strategies were being devised with non-government organisations (NGOs) to garner a broader base as far as this work was concerned. The legal department had reached its target, and had been able to open 67% of new files and had undertaken 34 legal clinics as opposed to the target of 27. The cases that were received by province, and the nature of the complaints, were highlighted. The issue of maintenance and labour cases, as well as discrimination cases, were taking the main chunk of the pie chart.
Systemic investigations had also been undertaken. Three systemic investigations had taken place. In terms of transformation of the judiciary, the CGE had finalised a report and given it to Presidency and the Department of Justice, giving them 21 days to comment, and then it would be finalised. The Presidency was happy with the report and the CGE was just waiting on the Department of Justice.
In terms of decriminalising sex work and maternal health, the South African Law Reform Commission was busy with a working paper on this particular matter. They had given the paper to the Department of Justice, who had returned it satisfied with the contents. The CGE had decided to just hold off and wait for the document to come out first.
In this particular quarter, the CGE had come up with interventions looking into women’s economic empowerment. There were some provinces looking into the GBV in schools campaign, which had been finalised within the last quarter.
The majority of the work related to public education was around engaging with all the relevant stakeholders and coming up with specific and targeted programmes to ensure work was done collaboratively in order to have a specific impact in the regions or provinces. The CGE had a number of partnerships as far as this was concerned. In Mpumalanga, for example, it was trying to help set up their men’s organisations and forums. The men’s forum had been launched in June and it had been able to help them with that process. In other provinces as well, it either had meetings with men’s organisations that were already there and formed partnerships, or engaged with them to see how they could be helped.
In provinces such as Gauteng, meetings had been held with the Department of Arts and Culture which had yielded a partnership to roll out workshops on human rights, talking about the role of men in promoting gender equality and combating gender-based violence. Meetings had also been held with traditional councils and the religious sector. Discussions with these stakeholders looked at creating specific, targeted activities focused on early child marriages, forced marriages, problems experienced by women married under customary law, gender-based violence and discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) persons.
Despite the collaborative meetings, there were still challenges, so it had come up with programmes that looked into issues of customary marriages, registration of customary marriages, and inheritance. There had also been a few matters where people had an issue dealing with the new Home Affairs regulations in terms of how they affected women, single or divorced.
Part of what was being done by the CGE was ensuring that public education and information worked closely together, to ensure that some of the programmes that had been run separately previously, were dealt with as a concerted effort. There had been a number of engagements through the Public Education and Information (PEI). Entities had come forward requesting that the CGE train them around issues of gender mainstreaming, and that work had been done by the PEI. Training had been done for Rand Water and Eskom in that particular quarter. The Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) had also been trained during this quarter. They had been worried because the CGE had said they would be contacting them in November, so they had been proactive and called the CGE to train them on gender mainstreaming so that by the time the CGE visited them in November, they would be ahead in terms of work done in that particular area.
There was also a community radio programme being run under the PEI. 16 community education programmes/interviews had been held through the partnership with the National Community Radio Forum (NCRF) programme. These interviews’ content was based on the theme which the unit was dealing with for the quarter, which was women’s empowerment and human rights. The focus was on minority languages in particular this quarter, including isi–Swati, isi-Ndebele, xhi-Tsonga and tshi-Venda. Radio slots had been taken on the following radio stations: Makhado FM, KFM, Kangala Community Radio Service and Radio Bushbuckridge
An education programme had been conducted through SABC Education and had yielded 28 radio programmes. The focus was again on vernacular and English-medium radio stations, which included the following radio stations: Thobela FM, Phalaphala FM, Munghana Lonene, Ligwalagwala FM, and Ukhozi FM.
The Committee had been interested in the people that were reached through the public education programmes run by the CGE, so the numbers had been tabulated in the report by province, and the total was 2 007 for this particular quarter. The table also highlighted the listenership of the radio stations mentioned previously, which had been involved with the education programmes. The CGE also utilised the newspapers, and encouraged its staff and commissioners to write reports on issues of gender equality.
In terms of the geographic areas covered for the quarter, this information had also been tabulated. Provinces were highlighted, specifically districts, reached in this quarter and whether those areas were urban and/or rural. Provinces had worked hard to ensure that the targets for the quarter were met. There were quite a number of issues in provinces, coming out of some of the outreach and legal clinics, that the CGE had been able to take up as far as legal and PEI were concerned,. Different provinces had highlighted different issues that they had experienced in this quarter, but there were some issues that were predominant across the board, which related to gender-based violence, widowhood and LGBTI community matters. In provinces like the Western Cape, the CGE offices had been able to do a lot of work to penetrate correctional facilities and try to sensitize the inmates. The Western Cape CGE offices had achieved a breakthrough in communicating with the Department of Correctional Services, and being able to communicate with inmates on constitutional rights and the like.
Early marriages and inter-generational marriages were still an issue. KZN and Mpumalanga had always experienced these issues, but now a few had been detected in the Free State province as well. This was an indication that there was still a lot of work that needed to be done, to lobby the key stakeholders within these provinces to devise local strategies to mitigate such social ills. There had been breakthroughs in KZN, where the CGE had been able to set up a task team made up of Social Development, the Office of the Premier and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), so that when these matters arose everyone was able to work on their mandate as quickly as possible to ensure great results.
Strategic objective three was about assessment, and for this quarter in terms of international instruments, the CGE was really carrying on to engage with various stakeholders on South Africa’s Beijing and Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) reports. The Women’s Ministry had now put forward the country’s draft report and the CGE was part of that engagement. That report had now been gazetted. It was hoped it would be finalised soon and then the CGE could look at it closely, putting it against its own primary report, to see whether they had found the same issues that it had found on the ground.
This year it was looking into the African Protocol on Human Rights and the Rights of Women, and had begun putting together the various tools to engage with the departments, to see how far South Africa was in terms of that Protocol. A draft report for the African Gender Development Index had been finalised just before this quarter. The report had focused on highlighting and filling the gaps found. Once completed, it would give a good sense of the women in the country. There was no attendance at international or regional events owing to budget considerations.
For strategic objective four, an annual performance plan (APP) document was attached. Strategic objective four was a support strategy, to ensure that there was a functioning institution able to run its mandate. However, under strategic objective four, not really support-related was the fact that the CGE was starting work on its 20-year review of its achievements and failures. This would be able to give a sense of what needed to be changed. It was trying to ensure that it was not run solely by the internal research department. It wanted it to be objective, because this review was supposed to be useful in giving an idea of what the CGE should be putting forward and the things that should be changed. The APP had been attached because it was helpful to see the actual APP as put before Parliament, and to see the progress made there.
When the CGE produced reports like this, it went back to previous reports to check whether it was improving. Looking at the previous quarter of the last financial year, it could be seen that there had been tremendous improvement in terms of the report for that particular year.
Mr Mashabi Putu, Chief Financial Officer: CGE, said that the finance report was in accordance with the Constitution, which promoted accountability and transparency as values. The Public Finance Management Act required that the CGE promote accountability through the efficient use of resources, and account for the budget appropriated by Parliament, and by extension this Committee. At the beginning of this financial year, the CGE had received approval of the budget by the Committee.
In the first quarter, in accordance with the APP, the Commission was consolidating its work plans, and setting up structures and systems to give effect to the activities as approved by the Committee. Having dealt with spending activities, it was prudent to also report to the Committee on the general financial health of the institution.
The CGE’s was full budget came to R67.7 million, and had been adjusted by around R2 million. The spread of how the money had been appropriated was indicated by strategic objectives. The background to the CGE budget was that at the time of planning, there had been serious pressures, and there had been insufficient funds to appropriate for the core activities, or those mandated by the CGE Act. During that presentation, it had been indicated that most of the budget would be spent on the salaries of key staff members who really pursued the CGE mandate -- legal officers, education officers and research officers. It had been limited in terms of planning space, so only around R9.7 million could be made available to fund the core strategic work. Despite this limitation, the work of the CGE had continued, strategies had been devised to clump programmes together and move away from a strictly functional approach, and rather have a dynamic redeployment of resources. By so doing, the CGE had accessed efficiency gains which were already showing.
The medium-term allocation showed how the budget would be spent. Compensation of employees accounted for the greatest portion. Professional services, which included all services rendered by third parties, including the Auditor General of SA (AGSA), came to R4.8 million. Audit work by AGSA was budgeted for around R2.4 million. Training by third parties was included in that particular budget. Budget had been set aside to engage with third parties for the CGE’s 20-year review as well.
Although CGE spending was driven by compensation of employees (COE), most of the salaries were allocated to its core activities. CGE did not outsource, so it stretched the rand and utilised its own people. Looking at this particular budget, there was little space for a variable budget which management and the CGE could plan around and respond to issues that could occur outside of the APP.
In the statement of financial performance, for this particular quarter, the income recorded by CGE had been R17 million, compared to R18.2 million in the previous financial year. The key driving factor was that in this financial year there had been budgetary reductions from National Treasury and therefore there would not be any material increase in terms of transfers from National Treasury. In the previous year, there had been donor incomes from partners which had participated in the Gender Summit, hence the R1 374 376 as “other income,” whilst in this year there had been only R166 412 as other income. This money was interest that had been earned by the CGE’s positive cash balance. Expenditure in total had been R16.8 million, while for the same period last year, it had spent R17.7 million. The Gender Summit had been the key differentiator.
Last year at this time, the CGE had reported a surplus of R838 511, while this year CGE was reporting a surplus of R270 562. As a matter of emphasis, reporting the surplus impacted on the activities of the APP. The revenue was evenly spread, but that spread may not be responding to seasonal issues. The first quarter had been mainly concerned with planning and getting structures right. Seasonal issues, such as the Women’s Month, fell into the second quarter, so there would be planned activities. This meant the surplus being reported would be consumed by future activities.
COE was one of the key drivers of expenditure. The CGE was now operating on a nearly fully populated structure, except for positions that had to be removed from the budget, as had been discussed when the budget was presented to the Committee. There had been a salary increase adjusted according to the cost of living for staff members, which effectively came to around 7%, and for senior managers came to around 5.5%. Commissioners had an increase of around 6%.
75% of the current quarter expenditure was for salaries, while the rest was for goods and services. For the quarter under review, the commissioners’ spending made up 16% of the total expenditure compared to last year, when the commissioner’s spending had been 23% for that particular quarter. Effectively, the commissioners’ current spending was what had been budgeted for. Corporate services remained the same, using around 33% of the total spend for the year. The core service delivery consumed most of the resources, as budgeted. Last year in this quarter, the CGE was spending 48% of the resources -- this year it had improved by 4%, spending 52%.
In the CGE business model, there were provincial offices. Each province consumed around 4% of the budget, which had been around R610 000 for this particular quarter. Finance as a department, because of the activities around audit, had consumed around 35% of the resources. This had amounted to around R2.7 million, against an annual budget of around R7.8 million. A project had been introduced to revamp the information technology (IT) infrastructure, so IT was a key driving factor.
The CGE was still a financially healthy institution, despite the budgetary pressures. The balance sheet indicated the total net assets last year at R6.4 million, and this year they were at R5.1 million, which was still a healthy state of affairs. Using ratios, it could be seen that CGE as an institution was still solvent, and although that solvency was changing, it remained healthy. In terms of liquidity, there was cash in the bank, so it would be able to service its obligations when they became due. Looking at the balance sheet, in June 2014 it had had around R21 million in cash resources, while in June 2015, there had been R11 million. What was happening was that the CGE was changing that cash into assets. In the latter part of last year, it had acquired a fleet of vehicles. The fleet had expanded by around R5 million. The balance sheet and asset base was growing, but the cash was decreasing. The impact was that the CGE was no longer as liquid as it used to be. However, it was investing in assets that would enable them to roll out their plans and strategies.
An underlying fact to be looked at when analysing these figures was that there was spending pressure on the institution, there was a decline in liquidity, and the risk of cash flow management needed to be effectively handled. The CGE was under tremendous budgetary pressure. R18 million in cash had been generated last year, and this year R17 million had remained. Payments amounted to R16.3 million last year, and this year it had been R22.7 million. This was a good indicator, as there was a public policy that suppliers needed to be paid as quickly as possible, so effectively CGE was adhering to the 30-day supplier payment rule. This year, it had paid out more than it received by 5.575%. Last year there had been a positive net difference between what had been received and what had been paid out. In addition, money had been utilised for investment activities.
In terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), the CGE was required to have a system of risk management. It had begun incorporating risk management into normal management activities, into corporate governance activities, so effectively they had compiled a risk register where they had identified the areas where the CGE was exposed to risk. The policy documents communicated that as an institution, it would not have a high potential for risk.
A summary of the financial risk assessment that had been done at the beginning of the financial year showed that one of the high risk areas was funding and spending pressures. It was a risk that had been identified and communicated, but it was a risk that the CGE had done everything possible to mitigate. Among other things, it was implementing cost containment methods, and overstretching the rand. Basically, the CGE was addressing the issue and keeping an eye on it.
Physical security was also a risk inherent in every business, especially when using items such as IT and the like. This risk had been identified in the various offices and provinces, including the head office. The intervention made to mitigate that risk during this quarter under review was to procure insurance for a premium of R250 000. It was all-business cover, which included the office contents and the fleet as well. This risk would be present until the project on the ICT network was finalised, which should be completed in October.
A common risk affecting all South Africans was electricity supply, which had an impact on business continuity. This was being addressed with the landlord to have back-ups like generators, so there were strategies and plans to try and mitigate this risk.
Accommodation risk also contributed and some of the risky areas that had been identified were the messaging, and content and what was being communicated. As the CGE’s area of operation was gender equality and women’s rights, the message had to be proper, and it was mindful of that. This risk had been taken up to say that as the CGE was changing people’s perceptions, it had to ensure that nothing went unnoticed.
In terms of the supply chain management issues, one of the big transactions that CGE was involved with was the procurement of new desktops and laptops. The bulk of it had been procured in 2005/06, so now they were renovating. That transaction had come to R1.7 million in total. To ensure that governance was improved, and that financial information was accurately and timeously provided to those tasked with oversight, the CGE was improving the accounting system, which had cost R74 000. One of the big transactions in this financial year would be procurement of travel and conferencing. The CGE had a contract with a travel agency which would be ending in December of this year, so a new procurement process would be initiated.
A defective performance by a supplier of servers had also contributed to the ICT hold up. Performance management had had to be reported on, because it and contract management were included in supply chain management. In the interests of transparency, it had been put on record that there had been defective performance by one of the service providers. However, these defects had subsequently been addressed.
In terms of logistics, the CGE was utilising resources in accordance with the PFMA.
Office accommodation had been looked at under risks. The CGE was renting, and the administrator of its leases was the Department of Public Works. There were a number of leases that were coming to an end. However, since there had been pressures in the administration side of Public Works, National Treasury had given a blanket dispensation to say they could extend their expired leases for a period not exceeding three years, where the escalation of rental fees did not exceed 6%. The CGE had therefore agreed to the extension of the last leases, except for Pretoria, where alternative space had already been found in the central business district, so it was more accessible to members of the public. The CGE had also requested a total renewal of the head office lease, basically on a one year extension, so those offices may move, depending on where it found accommodation. The Free State’s lease was still effective until 2019, so there was no need to follow up on that. The Eastern Cape office was problematic -- the CGE wanted to vacate the building because it was not habitable and was not accessible to the public.
Lastly in this quarter, the CGE had undergone the regularity audit by the AGSA. That report had been concluded and the outcome would be tabled as part of the annual report. The CGE still continued to implement action plans to remedy the challenges that had been alighted in previous reports, and was taking all recommendations as they came. So as far as financial management was concerned, there had been improvements and continuous oversight and communications related to those action plans.
Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) asked about the South African integrated programme on gender-based violence and wanted to know, under social development, what the position of the CGE was on that? In terms of the strategy on gender-based violence, the CGE was part of the committee -- what position was the CGE taking?
Going through the functions of the organisation, it was interesting that the report spoke about Northern Cape and North West and the increase in domestic violence and femicide there. Could the CGE ascertain the causes of that increase, and for the increase in sexual harassment in Gauteng?
Oversight had been done in Limpopo and various mines had been visited to ascertain the economic development of women. This did not seem like a primary objective for the CGE, yet it had mentioned that this had been declared by the UN as the year of economic empowerment of women. She knew the CGE had been waiting for the declaration of the UN year before making plans, but when it came to equity and the empowering of women and employment equity, it was challenging to be able to pinpoint positions women could take within mining. The challenge was that miners would say there were only heavy duties, so it was difficult to ask what roles women were taking in the mines -- women could be making the tea. It was about not having an understanding of how mining worked, so she wanted to find out what route the CGE had taken in discovering what mining was really like, especially in provinces like Limpopo and North West, where mining was prevalent, and whether the CGE actually had the intention of pushing that through, as she thought was taking a fairly slack approach to this.
Regarding court monitoring, it was good to see provinces like Limpopo increasing bail and sentencing. She wanted to know the specifics of this information -- the actual amounts -- so that when it went to other courts, the CGE could actually enquire about their amounts and question whether they could be pushed to more, and what it was that caused courts to have different bail and sentencing amounts.
The CGE was distributing R610 000 per province per quarter. She asked how that amount was determined, because each province had different problems.
Had there been any discussions in regard to the decriminalisation of sex work with the South African Legal Reform Commission?
The IT issue was being discussed a lot and yet no solution had been reached. How long would it take for the IT issue to be dealt with completely?
Ms G Tseke (ANC) said she appreciated the work done by CGE in collaborating with other departments and the IEC on women’s rights. The presentation had referred to the ratings of legal clinics and Limpopo had been ranked number one, and this was appreciated, because there were young men and women in Limpopo who were very active and committed. In Limpopo there were few staff, but they were committed to doing their work. One of the issues raised had been resources, but this had been handled. The CGE had a good relationship with the Office of the Premier.
She asked why the Eastern Cape had not submitted their report on provincial employment.
Regarding women representatives in political parties, she thought the CGE was behind in its schedule, because her particular party had already started with nominations and candidates for the local government elections. She asked for concept documents and what would now be enforced differently from previous years and what would be done if the parties refused, especially those parties which she knew refused to attend the meetings.
There was an issue with pending cases. The work done of merging outreach and legal was appreciated especially with the limited budget, but there were too many cases still pending, though there was progress. Surely that would affect the CGE in the upcoming quarters? Did the CGE have either medium or long term plans to deal with that?
She appreciated the collaboration with community radio stations. When she was in Limpopo, the event had not been that big but there were two community radio stations there because they had wanted to see the work done by the CGE and wanted to publicise it.
There had been a vacancy for a legal officer in Mpumalanga – had someone been appointed already and if not, when? How far was the Nomboniso Gasa litigation case?
Ms P Bhengu (ANC) wanted to know what the scope the focus on the mining sector had been, and the criteria for selecting the mining companies. What had been examined at those mines, and were there any outward-looking plans, for example, in terms of equity and ownership? What factors had been taken into consideration for the compliance report, and was the CGE working with the Women’s Ministry?
She asked whether the table that included pending cases, included cases reported during the legal clinic processes. Since there was no support unit, she queried what the alternative plan was regarding the issue of pending cases?
Ms Tarabella-Marchesi said she was worried about the 500 cases, and the CGE’s plan for closing the cases, because there were so many of them in the courts. A plan needed to be finalised because as soon as people realised that the CGE was pushing, the message would be out there, and the CGE would have a lot of cases coming in.
When it came to supply chain management, the CGE had reported being let down by a service provider in the supply of servers. The CGE had withheld R781 000 – was it the same service provider now, or a different one?
The CGE had reported that it had conducted hearings with different universities. As it had personnel and finance problems, was it not possible to send questionnaires to different universities to ask the questions regarding policy, documents, equity and their labour plans, and so on? Once the responses got back to the CGE, it would be able to ascertain which universities needed to be met in person and where they had issues that needed to be addressed.
The Chairperson added that in respect of the universities’ problems, what were the strategies to address the killing of female students, which was spreading like wildfire. Not only women were being killed, but men too, and there was non-committal by those in charge of addressing this situation. Had the CGE considered doing oversight in these areas and roping in others to look more deeply at the issue?
MsTseke referred to the business model and review project, as she was not sure what that entailed. There were plans to employ consultants to do the 20-year review of CGE -- how were they linked?
Ms Mpumlwana thanked the Committee for the affirmation it had given, and stated that they were very committed to the work of the CGE.
There were two separate business models. The 20-year review was to ask in the 20 years of existence, what had been the impact, what could be learnt and what was being said about the CGE, and what could be done better. The business model was about delivering better. An example was the experiment, which was working very well, of both legal and education and communication working together, so when the CGE went into communities, they must see it as a unit. People wanted the information, but when they were told about the CGE mandate and the constitution they should also be able to bring cases before it. Hence one was a long term reflection, while the other was practical.
The CGE wanted to send the message that it was here to stay, and in terms of the so called Kader Asmal report, that would be dealt with as it happened, or else people would be reluctant to work. Staff had been told to continue to do their work as normal, and they should await a verdict from higher management. The impact, therefore, was that the CGE was going to continue their work as normal. The constitution had created it in 1996, and they did not want to believe anything until the outcome.
The other issue was around higher education and mining. The approach of the CGE to its work was that issues were taken on the basis of the sample that it had, then it would write a report that was intended to influence across the board. If there was a trend in higher education where they did not have proper policies to deal with employment equity, or the sexual harassment of young women, then when it wrote the report it also went to present to the Minister concerned, and the professional body that worked within that particular sector. For example, in higher education, it was the body that brought together all higher education institutions.
What was encouraging was that the Department itself was starting to send out feelers. The Department did not necessarily have the power to make them do anything, but the CGE suggested that the Department should guide the higher education institutions, and where they were weak should send them to the CGE if they were not doing the work they were meant to constitutionally. The CGE was trying to work more collaboratively, so they worked with the Department, the bodies and individuals where necessary.
In the mining sector, the same approach was used. Some of the targeted mining houses had come because of cases that had been received, while others were those that were in the public space and whose issues were visible. The CGE had heard from the trade unions and the women in the mining sector that there were issues. The suggestion of sending general questionnaires to all of them may be something worth considering
Commissioner Mgoqi spoke about the possible causes of femicide cases. He had full responsibility for the Northern Cape. In order to get to grips with the magnitude of the problem, they had asked a local newspaper, the Diamond Fields Advertiser, to give them a list of cases of femicide over a 12-month period. They had given the actual stories of each incident. There had been about 14 cases. It gave a good sense as to the details of the issue. To cut to the heart of the matter, it was realised that when one of the partners in an intimate relationship reached a point of wanting to eliminate the other, it was actually a reflection of the failure of both parties in dealing with conflict. Marriage was an institution where this kind of thing happened. Society did not pay attention to preparing people before marriage or post marriage. Counselling was not there, and people sailed by the seats of their pants in dealing with conflict. It was a critical area for scrutiny. The CGE was busy engaging with political structures in the Northern Cape, including the Premier, to bring this matter to the attention of institutions to help. It was an area that needed raising of awareness, as well as programmes for helping people, like wellness programmes that equipped people to deal with, amongst other things, the resolution of conflict. It was work that was ongoing and required a nationwide approach.
Regarding the pending cases plan, speaking as Chair of the Legal Department, he said the CGE was not an implementing agency but one that was primarily monitoring. In cases like this, the CGE was playing a lobbying and modelling role. The South African Law Society had a large number of lawyers who had a pro bono system, where monthly they could allocate a certain number of cases. Bigger institutions with more resources needed to come on board to assist. Many only provided access to justice on 9 August, or Women’s Month, which was not good enough -- it ought to be throughout the year. Ultimately the CGE wanted to bring them on board so they could share part of the load.
Ms Maema dealt with the question about the mines and issues of equity, and whether the CGE was working with the Women’s Ministry on that. This year it was focused specifically on mining. The whole idea was to engage and see where the difficult areas in terms of women’s participation were, and what could be done. It had had engagement with Eskom on similar issues to mining, and some of the things were an eye opener, where women’s jobs entailed climbing up electricity pylons that were still live, and do work there. However, despite that work being difficult for men, there were still women who enjoyed and wanted to do that work. So it was important that women got a choice -- no women should be closed off from particular spaces.
Looking into mining, there had been a number of meetings. There were organised institutions -- for example, the Benchmark Foundation that did mineral research, specifically looking at iron ore in the Northern Cape. There were matters that they wanted to further investigate, so the CGE would be looking into that.
In terms of court monitoring, she would have to look for the actual numbers for bail and sentencing. They were looking at a number of cases in Gauteng, which were being monitored, where lesser sentences had been put forward and lower bail amounts than in Limpopo in the first quarter.
In terms of consultations with the South African Law Reform Commission on the decriminalisation of sex work, the CGE had engaged with them and they had indicated that they were still working on the paper, and that the paper had been given to the Justice Department in December of last year. It had also engaged with the Deputy Minister, Mr John Jeffreys, and he had also indicated that the SA Law Reform Commission had given them the paper, but there had been specific issues that they wanted the Commission to look into, so the paper had been returned to the Commission.
Regarding the political parties, it was ongoing work. It was important that the CGE had been able to engage with all the parties that sat on the Party Liaison Committee (PLC) with the IEC, because the whole idea was that as much as it was a national committee, they were setting the standards as far as local governments were concerned. The CGE was hoping that they engaged with some of the recommendations and findings put forward. It would be seen whether some of the political parties would follow through with their commitments. Commitments had been made at the PLC meeting by party representatives to say that they would definitely want to engage with the CGE on a one-on-one basis. Even with those parties that had pulled out, there really was a positive feedback in terms of them wanting to engage with the CGE further, and it would be following through with that. These particular meetings had happened in August. For local government, it had looked at the party manifestos put together and analysed them to see, after putting forward the national report on women’s representation in political areas, whether some of those things had been taken into account. The CGE was also physically there to see whether the IEC took into account things like disability and pregnancy on the day.
She understood the concern of the pending cases, but the CGE was closing 535 cases. In the next quarter, there may be only half of those cases, but also because of the new cases, the numbers would be higher. The CGE pushed to close as many cases as possible. It had to be remembered that cases were lengthy, with engagements between respondents and applicants, so the turnaround time was not as quick as was wanted. The CGE was trying to develop further strategies to ensure that cases did not stand open for too long.
The Chairperson wanted to know what yardstick was used to prioritise cases, because the cases before the CGE were not the same.
Ms Tarabella-Marchesi asked what the plan was regarding speeding up the processing of pending cases. Her worry was that there were 500 cases now, and next year there could be 1 000. If the CGE did not have a plan now, did did it plan to create one for the future?
Ms Tseke said that the CGE’s collaboration with the Law Commission and other relevant entities was what was wanted. In the annual report, there had been cases that were pending, and as the CGE became more publicised there would be more cases, which was why the Committee had wanted to know about this.
Commissioner Mazibuko said that over and above that, it also depended on the length and difficulty of the cases. It had been found that cases were not summarised as quickly as they were seen, and people were coming up with more cases, and most of the cases were not reported. The Justice Department was trying to find where the appeal system was not helpful, and to settle issues quickly. The CGE was monitoring those cases and could identify which cases were taking long, especially in Gauteng, where most of the cases of femicide were not easily resolved. The Justice Department was divided itself on those cases.
Ms Maema said that the CGE had a specific gazetted complaints manual, which gave details of procedure if it was a specific applicant or respondent, or a certain nature, and they had a certain number of days to respond. There were urgent matters like domestic violence, where the CGE had to be proactive to deal with the parties immediately. There were guidelines on what kind of process had to be followed. The CGE also looked into those cases where there was imminent danger.
The legal officer in Mpumalanga had been appointed. As far as the Free State office was concerned, that office’s work was reported under head office. Head office was supporting and doing the work of the Free State because an officer there had been suspended and disciplinary processes had take place there. These had been finalised, and the position had been advertised, so that head office no longer had to take on the work.
When hearings were undertaken with higher education institutions, even with specifically legal departments, there was a specific pro forma questionnaire that the CGE sent to them. It was important that they were called, because often the CGE was unaware of who was actually responding to the questionnaires, and at face value it may seem like all the information was there when it was not. The accounting officers in particular had to come forward so that the CGE could question and probe. Sometimes a short answer was given in a questionnaire and it did not give enough information for a report to be drawn up. Extra information was also requested in the questionnaires, and some people just ignored the questionnaire, but when people were present and had taken the oath, the CGE was able to probe.
In terms of universities and GBV, when the CGE had started a process in 2011 where they had engaged with all the vice-chancellor’s of the universities, there had been nothing on paper that bound them to do something about GBV happening on campuses. The CGE had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with them. The Minister of Higher Education had been very happy with that process. The CGE had wanted to come up with research that gave them an idea of what was happening and what universities were doing to allow the CGE to come up with a policy document and to ensure that that was pushed through by all the universities. Higher Education was going to fund that, but later on they had said they did not have the resources for that. The CGE had been engaging with partners like the Ford Foundation and others, especially in the KZN region, really wanting to take this plan forward. There were some programmes run by universities, like at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), and the CGE was monitoring those programmes to see if they were working. It hoped it got the funding to push the policy document and push universities to respond to the issues.
Regarding Ms Nomboniso Gasa, the CGE had decided to have a meeting with her to see what it was that she could pay. In terms of court process, the litigation date was being awaited. However, about a week ago, the chairperson had been tasked by plenary to meet with her and see exactly what she could pay. As much as the CGE knew that PFMA required the money to be retrieved, the CGE did not want to throw too much good money at bad money, and not be able to recoup. That meeting had happened last week on Friday, so the CGE awaited the result. The CGE also had two court orders in terms of interlocutory applications. In a matter before getting to trial, there may be a few things that were fought over -- for example, one party may need more information. Part of what the CGE was saying, was that when Gasa thought about how much she could pay, those applications could not be ignored. So CGE was just awaiting the outcome of the meeting to see if they were going to continue or settle, and then she could make those payments.
Ms Mazibuko clarified, in relation to the question relating to what would be done differently with regard to political parties, that the CGE had signed MOUs in the different provinces and had sensitised the parties about why it was important that they comply and work towards having women in their political parties. If there was going to be a woman president, work had to start. In the North West, a meeting had been conducted and it was agreed that there would be a national conference this weekend. The CGE was on top of the work, especially when it came to sensitising women and giving them the right attitude and confidence to take their place.
Mr Putu responded to the question regarding the defective performance, and said it was the same service provider. The CGE had imposed the contractual provisions and subsequently the service provider had met the service expectation linked to the ICT project. The under-performance had impacted the schedule as the timelines had moved -- the original anticipated conclusion of the project had been the end of July, but that had been moved to the end of October.
Regarding the resourcing of provinces, they were effectively resourced equally. Unfortunately, largely owing to the limited resources of the CGE, internal departments were largely taking the budget given to them, and there was not enough room to allow flexibility for accommodating provincial issues. It had been tried here and there, but there was a constant fixed amount per province. The number of human resources allocated were five on average per province, except for Cape Town, which also had the parliamentary unit. Otherwise, a typical province had a provincial manager, a legal officer, an application officer and two administrative and support staff. Provinces were budget takers. Each province had a small Polo vehicle and Combis which were new, and were in response to putting strategies in place. Previously, when there were large numbers of members travelling, the CGE had been compelled to hire transport, but this was not necessary now.
Ms Maema explained why the Eastern Cape was lagging behind. When it came to processes of employment equity, sometimes the directors-general and heads of departments defaulted in terms of giving the Commission information. The Eastern Cape was a problem province. At one point when the CGE had gone to the Eastern Cape to hold the hearings, they had not come and it had had to subpoena them to go to the head office. However, they had defaulted again after that, which was why they were lagging behind. The legal officer was putting pressure on the commissioner there to ensure the necessary information was given.
Ms Tseke asked for a list of all the fleet vehicles purchased, and how they had been allocated to provinces, to be provided at the next meeting.
Ms Tarabella-Marchesi asked why the head office was in Braamfontein. It was not central and the CGE’s clientele was mainly black women, who did not live there.
Ms Mpumlwana stated that in 1999, when all the Chapter 9 institutions were beginning to accept their responsibilities, CGE had originally been located in Braamfontein. The Chapter 9 institutions had come together and said this place would be the embodiment of the concept of constitutionalism. All Chapter 9 institutions had been requested to relocate to Braamfontein. There had been various discussions, and some had refused. Many had put their provincial offices there. The only institution that had taken the decision seriously had been the CGE, because it was a symbolic place to put it there. The provincial office was downtown in Pretoria which was central, so the national head office was on Constitution Hill.
The Chairperson added that the main reason was that the women’s jail was located in Braamfontein, hence CGE was also located there.
Ms Tseke asked what a minority language was, because all the languages mentioned the presentation slide were official national languages.
CGE apologised and said that they were supposed to be “marginalised” languages, not “minority,” and that would be corrected.
The Chairperson congratulated Ms Mazibuko on her new position as a commissioner in the presidency. It was a great accomplishment, and many of her family, because of the colour of her skin, were marginalised and trodden on, especially in the North West, where this was prevalent. In-depth analysis had to be done on albinism, because they were being killed under the “correctional” guise. Men needed to change their attitudes. There was a case at the moment of a man who had killed his four children, but a child had been able to tip off the mother so she escaped. He had tried to kill himself, but had survived. It was hard to imagine why someone wanted to kill their own innocent children.
The meeting was adjourned.
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