Department of Women & Commission for Gender Equality on their 2014/15 Annual Reports & FFC input

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

14 October 2015
Chairperson: Ms P Bhengu (ANC) (Acting)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

[note: Commission for Gender Equality 2014/15 Annual Report email]

The Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) briefed the Committee on the performance of the Department of Women and the Commission on Gender Equality. The FFC explained that the Department was not performing well in many categories, because they were still dealing with the ramifications of their restructuring earlier this year. The CGE, however, has improved.

Members were concerned that the analysis was too numbers based. Many members would have liked to know the real world impact of what is happening so that they could make better recommendations.

The FFC explained that their function is to analyse financial and fiscal functions; therefore it was not their place to put the numbers into a real world context. However, if the Committee wanted a different version of the analysis, they could ask for one.

Next the Department of Women presented on its annual performance. It explained the challenges faced when the department was forced to restructure, and highlighted its achievements. In addition, it outlined its plans moving forward.

Members were concerned that the period of restructuring should have come to a close, so the department should already be in a better position. In addition, they worried about the small budget given to the department.

The Department of Women assured the Committee that they would take the Committee’s recommendations moving forward. The department representatives agreed that their budget was small, and that was a major challenge, however they are doing the best that they can to move forward with their work.

The Commission for Gender Equality presented its annual report. Members were pleased with the progress that was being made, but were nervous that the Commission still had not achieved a clean audit.

The Commission explained that there had been some misunderstanding about the reallocation of funding in relation to private funds, which had been a shortcoming on the audit.

One member was concerned about the large number of men employed by the Commission and urged them to employ more women so that they could empower more women.

Commission representatives replied that they were doing their best to employ women in vacant positions; however they did not want to fill them with unqualified individuals just because the only qualified candidates were male.

Meeting report

Financial & Fiscal Commission briefing on Department of Women & Commission for Gender Equality
Mr Bongani Khumalo, FCC CEO, and Dr Thembie Ntshakala, Program Manager: Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations, gave the presentation.

Mr Khumalo explained that the FFC provides analysis of departmental budgets that look back three years into the previous budgets, and where the departments can go three years into the future. He explained that their figures and growth rates take inflation into consideration, and that they evaluate nominal versus real growth rates. In addition, the FCC distinguishes between various categories of current and capital expenditure.

Dr Ntshakala gave the analysis on the Department of Women (DW). She explained that the purpose of the DW is to “advance, develop, and protect the rights of women through mainstreaming, lobbying, advocacy, awareness raising, empowerment, and monitoring compliance in government and all relevant sectors”. The DW was created from parts of the disestablished Department of Women, Children, and People with Disabilities (DWPCWD), because functions for children and people with disabilities were transferred to the Department of Social Development.

Dr Ntshakala explained the goals for the department in four programme areas: Administration; Social, Political and Economic Participation and Empowerment; Research, Policy Co-Ordination and Knowledge Management; and Monitoring, Evaluation and Outreach. Then she broke down the progression of programme spending from 2011 to 2018. She noted that there has been an increase in the spending for research, policy coordination and knowledge management; but consequently, the share of the core was somewhat declining. In addition, she noted the rapid increase in the cost of employment.

In conclusion, she explained that it should be noted that DW has put more resources on women’s empowerment programmes. In addition, there has been consistent over spending on social, political and economic participation and empowerment. The DW has also been budgeting more for the costs of employment, but spending less in this area. Dr Ntshakala told the Committee that the FFC has made recommendations on gender budgets, which have been accepted. Among other things, the FCC found that there is a weak translation of gender equality commitments into fiscal commitments in the local sphere.

Mr Khumalo presented the analysis of the CGE, explaining that there was total revenue of R64 million, which was recorded against a total expenditure for R62 million in 2014/15, leaving a net surplus of R2 million. This surplus was mainly the result of vacancies in funded posts.

He broke down the CGE budget, and the CGE funding gap. FFC had conducted an investigation of the current funding of CGE with the purpose of arriving at concrete proposals aimed at assisting funding of CGE. These findings show that to close the funding gap for the CGE, their funding needs to increase by 37%.

In conclusion, he explained that the growth in transfers to CGE is slow and expected to be eroded further by budgetary restrictions, which will risk many CGE operations. In addition, the surpluses that had been recorded should not re-occur, because all vacancies have now been filled. Finally, Mr Khumalo asked the Committee to note that the CGE annual funding is not commensurate with its mandated legal obligations. This poses a risk to the sustainability and continuity of the CGE’s operations. Therefore, it is important that funding for CGE be reviewed so it can continue to function effectively.

Mr Khumalo presented the FFC research on gender. He explained that gender responsive budgets are an important tool for reducing gender inequality and improving food security. He presented the FFC recommendations on gender budgeting.

Ms M Chueu (ANC) thanked the FFC for the presentation. She is not entirely sure that the FFC is going to be able to assist the Committee, because her understanding is that DW should decrease the problems that affect women. She thought that the Commission would analyse the way DW budgets to prioritise the issues that affect women. She was not satisfied with the FFC analysis. She hoped that they would be able to explain these issues to her in words, rather than numbers so that she could understand the underlying factors.

Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) said the gender based budgeting should be the framework for the FFC recommendations, and the National Development Plan does not line up with the empowerment of women. She would have liked a conclusion based on impact, rather than just numbers.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) agreed with Ms Chueu and Ms Tarabella-Marchesi. She did not believe that the FFC recommendations are very clear.

Mr Khumalo explained that the role of the FFC is primarily to make recommendations on an annual basis on the equitable division of revenue to ensure that each department has the finances to execute its mandate. Further, the mandate of the FFC is to advise Parliament  and lower levels of government on these issues. Since the mandate of the FFC is around financial and fiscal matters, the methods of the FFC stay within terms of numbers so that they can be correct.

Mr Khumalo said that he was prepared to talk about the recommendations that the FFC made around gender, including gender-based budgeting. He explained that budgeting at the local level is especially important, to pilot these gender based budgets. Even within the FFC, they are working on issues of gender. He was sad to say that the FFC has only one female commissioner.

Ms Tseke asked the representatives from the FFC if they have any powers in making sure their recommendations are implemented, because it is clear that implementation is very poor across the board.

Mr Khumalo explained that the FFC does not have the power to enforce their recommendations. After they make the recommendations, it is up to Parliament  to ensure that they are enforced.

Ms P Bhengu (ANC) said that the CGE used to request more funding, but had not been doing that as much lately. She asked why, then, the FFC would say that they could not execute their mandate on their current budget.

Mr Khumalo replied that he has presented a report of what is actually happening. He hopes that it is helpful to the Committee.

Ms Bhengu asked if the R50 million given to DW could be in line with their mandate.

Mr Khumalo informed her that the R50 million could be in line with DW’s mandate. However, this is a difficult question, because of the restructuring of the department. He is not sure how the current baseline was determined, but that is a matter that can be explored going forward. DW was allocated this much money, because it is important not to start a new department with too large a budget. This way, DW can establish a new, growing budget.

Ms D Robinson (DA) brought up the fact that the FFC seems happy with the money allocated in the department to research and training. She disagrees, because there is so much money being spent on Administration when there has not been a skills audit. The budget for its mandate needs to be prioritised. Therefore, it would be in the department’s best interest to appoint highly qualified people, rather than spend money on training.

Mr Khumalo agreed with the spending on research and training, because the training is targeted. People provide certain services to the departments, and it is important to train them to understand the nature of their position. Even highly qualified people will need to be trained to fully understand the environment they are working in.

Mr Khumalo noted that this presentation briefed the Committee on exactly what the Committee asked the FFC to brief them on. In future if the Committee wishes to have more specific information, they should ask for it. That way the FFC can better engage with the Committee.

Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) said that she thinks it would be a good idea for the Committee to engage with the FFC once the Committee has finished the annual reports. She is concerned with the limited funding that DW is getting, because DW has such an important mandate and R50 million does not seem like enough.

Ms Chueu agreed with Ms van der Merwe that the Committee should engage more with the FFC. In addition, it is important for other departments to understand the responsibility of gender-based issues and financing so that South Africa, as a country, can work on women’s issues.

Mr Khumalo said that the FFC would be very happy to come again and have a more robust and detailed conversation. The FFC has already engaged with the Higher Education and Training Portfolio Committee, in addition to the Standing Committee on Appropriations, to deal with some of the challenges that are related to funding. The Committee raised some very important concerns about finances.

Department of Women briefing on its 2014/15 Annual Report
Ms Jennifer Schreiner, DW Director General, introduced her delegation and explained that the past year has been an enormous year of change, which has greatly impacted many aspects of the department.

Ms Val Mathobela, DW Chief Director of Strategic Management, explained that during the period under review, the department was reconfigured following a Presidential announcement to this effect on 25 May 2014. The President announced that DW was mandated to lead, co-ordinate and oversee the transformation agenda on women’s socio-economic empowerment, rights and equality. During the period under review, the Department was allocated the lowest amount of money for any department, especially considering that R67.6 million of DW’s budget has to be transferred to the CGE.

Ms Mathobela explained the vision and mission of DW, saying it aimed to place the country’s citizens at the centre of its work, by treating them with respect and conducting its work with integrity.

She highlighted DW’s significant achievements. While the transfer of functions to the DSD during the 2nd and 3rd quarters impacted the department’s performance, the transfer was done in accordance with an agreement entered into between the Ministers of the two departments, and all remaining staff was transferred to DW. She highlighted the work that DW did during Women’s Month. In addition, the department intensified awareness of gender-based violence through its 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence campaign, which turned into the #365 Days of Activism campaign. This was successful in igniting conversation into social media on gender based violence.

Ms Mathobela broke down DW’s performance as at 31 March 2015 in its four new budget structures: Administration; Social, Political and Economic Participation and Empowerment; Research, Policy Co-Ordination and Knowledge Management; and Monitoring, Evaluation and Outreach. Out of the department’s total of22 targets, only 8 (36%) were achieved. She attributed this to the restructuring of the department and the resignations of some staff in key positions; which resulted in a rise in the vacancy rate.

Ms Mathobela told the Committee that DW is working on developing a budget programme structure that will enable it to achieve its strategic objectives. Additionally, DW is planning to continue to work with other departments to further its mission. The DW is planning to finalise its skills audit and the matching and placement of existing staff, and will engage in an intense recruitment drive to build the capacity of the department. Additionally, Ms Mathobela provided oversight of the governance and human resources functions within DW.

Ms Camagwini Ntshinga, CFO of DW, presented information from a financial perspective. She explained that as of 31 March 2015, the department had spent 99% of its budget. She discussed the implications of the small budget and the current status and progress of DW.

Ms Schreiner said that the analysis given by the FFC is very important. She thinks that challenges are being compounded by the mandate change and restructuring of the department. Due to all of this, DW has not had time to sit down and completely refocus the budget. It is important for DW to engage more intensely with Treasury, however, for now they must do what they can with the resources they have. On the top heavy nature of DW, she said that it is important for the Committee to recognise that DW is not an ordinary service delivery department. To a large extent, if DW wants to achieve the highest level of impact, they must employ people with the proper skills and level of experience.

Ms van der Merwe thanked Ms Schreiner and her team, and said that it is exciting to see their passion and commitment to their department. While she understands the challenges they are facing in light of their restructuring, she is sad to see that they are the same challenges that DW faced last year.

Ms Schreiner said that in terms of the audit findings, DW has developed an action plan. Previously, DW developed an action plan but it was not tracked. However DW is making sure that management is going to track and engage with the action plan. DW is willing to provide the Committee with regular updates.

Ms Mathobela pointed out that she believed that the mistakes raised in 2014/15 were different from those raised in 2013/14. She sees improvement. However, corrective actions on the findings raised are being taken. One of the biggest disadvantage that DW has faced is the loss of their deputy director general.

Ms van der Merwe asked why 64% of the targets have not been met, while 99% of the budget is gone.

Ms Mathobela said that she would be happy to send a more detailed analysis of how the budget is structured. The budget is small and focused mostly on the payment of employees. She would prefer to send the Committee a more comprehensive report in writing so that she does the answer to this question justice.

Ms van der Merwe asked why DW did not hire anyone to do a self-audit, because if they do not fill key positions, DW is setting itself up for failure.

Ms Schreiner said that building capacity has been a serious problem, however DW is taking steps to fill the vacancies. She is aware that they need someone who can perform self-audits, and said that DW is taking this issue seriously moving forward.

Ms van der Merwe asked if the skills audit had been finalised, and if so, could the Committee get a copy. She said that if DW is not sure of what skills they need to work on, how could they keep up on training programmes.

Ms Schreiner replied that training is an important part of helping the department run smoothly. Currently, there is a generic training programme for everyone in the office, in addition to recommendations for specific individuals.

Ms Tarabella-Marchesi recognised that DW is a very top-heavy department. They now have an opportunity to address that, so they should consider distributing personnel among the different programmes.

Ms Schreiner said that part of the process of shifting into a restructured department is the top-heavy administration. The DW is still trying to figure out what the new department will look like going forward.

Ms Tarabella-Marchesi asked where DW’s priorities lie, because she did not see that they are aligning themselves with the National Development Plan mandate.

Ms Schreiner replied that the department is planning to align DW with the National Development Plan.

Ms Tarabella-Marchesi pointed out that South Africa is rated 4th in the world on gender equality policies, but Parliament  always has to check if those policies are in place. There must be enforcement of these policies by the Minister. She asked if DW has had any interactions with the Department of Justice to review legislation.

A representative from DW said that she will ensure that the policy analysis team works closely with the Department of Justice on legislation. As far as this part of DW is concerned, they are not really off the ground yet. However, in the future there are plans to work with the Department of Justice and do a more thorough review of policies and the enforcement of those policies.

Ms Tseke asked about wasteful expenditure. She noted that part of this was due to the reprinting of the annual report, and wanted to know why this had to happen.

Ms Mathobela explained that the reprinting of the annual report was due to a dispute between the supplier and the site official that was involved.

Ms Tseke said that the representative from Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) noted that there is an investigation underway in DW run by an independent consulting firm. She asked if this investigation has been completed, and if not, when it will be completed. She wondered about the audit outcomes, and what actions were being taken.

Ms Schreiner indicated that the investigation is at the final stages, however there is no final report on it. When it is completed, it will immediately be submitted to Parliament.

Ms Tseke asked why certain members of DW were not signing performance contracts. She noted that a lot of employees had received awards, and asked how they were scoring these people. She asked if the reward recipients had signed a performance contract.

Ms van der Merwe said that during the previous day’s meeting with the AGSA, it was noted that senior managers did not sign performance agreements and DW did not verify the CVs of new employees.

Ms Schreiner said that with bonuses, there is a performance monitoring process. In order to get a bonus, a person must sign a performance agreement. It is important to train all employees so that they can keep to this standard.

A representative from DW also pointed out that performance bonuses paid in 2015 had to be based on the performance for the entire year, therefore they were based on performance from the 2013/14 financial year.

Ms Robinson asked if there was any interaction between DW and the CGE, or any other department.

Ms Schreiner said that DW and the CGE would be doing a strategic planning meeting in the following week. She also said that she looked forward to strengthening the relationship between DW and CGE.

Ms Tseke asked about outstanding reports that have yet to be submitted to Parliament . She said that the reports need to be submitted as soon as possible, because it makes the Committee’s job very difficult if they do not have them.

Ms Schreiner said that she will personally double check on those reports, because she is under the impression that they were already submitted.

Ms Tarabella-Marchesi asked if Parliament  could be invited to be a part of any future campaigns, especially the members of this Committee. She asked if it was possible to get a breakdown on how much was spent on each of the previous campaigns.

A representative from DW said that she would send a detailed report on the cost of each campaign. She indicated that DW is currently being stretched to the breaking point, therefore it is hard to provide support for oversight on these issues; however, DW will do its best to notify members of the Committee on future campaigns.

The Acting Chairperson closed the discussion due to time constraints. She said that the Committee is aware of the challenges of restructuring; however, now that this period is coming to a close, they would like to see DW grow stronger. She wants to see DW empower women on the ground. She thanked the DW representatives. She
urged the CGE representatives to give a short presentation, because it had been a long day. She gave them a time limit of an hour and a half.

Commission for Gender Equality on its 2014/15 Annual Report
Ms Keketso Maema, CEO of the CGE, gave the presentation. She explained that during the reporting period, the CGE reached 88% of its targets, and that the CGE is working on achieving those targets that were not reached. She compared this performance to 2013/14, during which they only met 24% of their targets.

Ms Maema explained that CGE’s constitutional mandate is to deal specifically with promotion of gender equality and to advise and make recommendations on gender equality and the status of women. The CGE’s vision is a society free from all forms of gender oppression and inequality.

She outlined four strategic objectives that the CGE has come up with to further their work:
- ensure the creation and implementation of an enabling legislative framework that promotes the attainment of gender equality;
- 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;
- monitor state compliance with regional and international conventions, covenants and charters, which have been acceded to or ratified by the Republic relating to the object of the CGE.
- build an effective, efficient, and sustainable institution that will fulfill its constitutional mandate.

Ms Maema gave a performance overview of the CGE. In this section, she highlighted the complaints handling process of the department. In 2014, 891 complaint files were opened, as opposed to 836 files opened in 2015. Additionally, 134 legal clinics have been opened across South Africa since the CGE was created.

In conclusion, Ms Maema said that the CGE has carried out and achieved the objectives as set out in the Annual Performance Plan (APP). Overall, there are recognisable efforts to reach the goal of gender equality; however steady advances towards gender transformation is still strewn with intractable and insurmountable drawbacks. Finally, the CGE still wishes to see 50/50 representation being realised in all political parties as the 2016 elections draw nearer.

Mr Moshabi Putu, CGE CFO, updated the Committee on the financial activities of the CGE and presented the 2014/15 Annual Financial Statements. He explained that between the previous year and 2014/15 period, solvency has increased while the liquidity situation is diminished. This means that the CGE is currently not funded properly.

Mr Putu told the Committee that the Commission is made up of 64% female employees, but is lacking disability representation at just fewer than 2%. Additionally, the CGE trained 22 officials across all demographics, which cost the department R613,100. He explained that out of the 18 terminations, 2 were dismissals and 9 were resignations, while the remaining 7 were merely due to the expiry of contracts. R1.4 million in bonuses was paid out to 54 officials during 2014/15 in consideration for 2013/14 performance.

Financial management weaknesses are currently being addressed by the audit action plan that was developed subsequent to the receipt of management letter for the 2014/15 audit. The action plan has been developed, implemented, and tracked by the oversight structures of the CGE on a regular basis.

The Acting Chairperson said that she was pleased to be meeting with CGE, because the Committee had received good news from the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) and the AGSA the previous day. She asked CGE and Members to keep this discussion short because it had already been a very long day. She commended the CGE on their achievements, however she advised them to implement greater control measures so that they can achieve a clean audit in the future.

Ms Tseke said she is concerned because during her six years in Parliament, CGE had always been promising a clean audit, yet has never received one. She hoped that the CGE has an audit action plan for all of the issues that have been raised by AGSA. Besides close monitoring, it would be valuable to do quarterly reports so that the Committee can assist the CGE on working towards a clean audit.

Ms van der Merwe congratulated CGE on their progress. She pointed out that Parliament has the ability to to hold the Commissioners accountable. CGE needs to keep this in mind.

Ms Maema said that it is nice to get so much positive feedback, because a lot of work has been done. However, she said that the CGE is striving to have a clean audit.

Mr Putu agreed that they needed better measures to move towards a clean audit.

Ms Tseke pointed out that AGSA has raised several issues in terms of performance. The problem is within the CGE finance section and supply chain management. Unfortunately this is not based on the most recent information available.

Ms van der Merwe agreed that there should not be such problems with supply chain management.

Mr Putu agreed that there should be stronger controls to monitor these issues moving forward.

Ms Tseke also brought up the goods and services section of the budget being reallocated more than R500 000, and this should not have happened because the regulations on reallocating the budget are very clear.

Mr Putu indicated that as far as the gender summit was concerned there was private money to finance this. When a Commission comes into partnerships there is private money that is taken into consideration. He pointed out that they were not using funding directly from National Treasury for these things so CGE thought that they were still in compliance; however he now knows that they were not.

Ms van der Merwe commended the CGE on all of the progress they have made over the years. She hopes that next year they will finally achieve a clean audit. She asked what the impact was of the CGE legal clinics.

Mr Putu agreed to complete a report on the complete impact of the CGE legal clinics. There had been some issues with them, because they were forced to combine them with other functions due to budgeting issues. He did not elaborate further on this.

Ms Chueu commented on the CGE’s recent change in letterhead. She was pleased with the new design.

Mr Putu thanked the Committee for harassing the CGE to change their branding, because he is also very pleased with the new letterhead. He said this is a great example of how criticism has helped the CGE.

Ms Chueu noted that there are 13 male employees that represent the CGE. She said that even though it is called the Commission on Gender Equality, it is a women’s commission. There are too many males in the organisational structure, and that this just continues to perpetuate women being dominated by men. She urged the men to support women, because they are not oppressed. There are perfectly capable women for these positions, they just need to be given the space to operate.

A representative from CGE pointed out that the Gender Commission is equal, for example the CEO is a woman and the CFO is a man. There is a vacancy in the Free State, and the CGE is going to continue to try to fill these positions with women. He said that he understands where Ms Chueu is coming from.

Ms Maema said that the CGE is working to fill vacancies with women, which is an issue that is being addressed over time. However, it is important that the CGE does not chase away qualified men if there is no woman available to fill the position.

Ms Chueu replied that this is not an issue that the CGE should be defending, because they should be defending women who are being oppressed. She raised this issue, because she believes it is continually overlooked. She said that Ms Maema should get out of her bondage and stop defending this, because it is her duty to empower women. It is everyone’s responsibility to be an activist and encourage women to become partners in developing South Africa as a country.

Ms Tarabella-Marchesi said that she heard about a gender focal point report that the CGE has created. She asked if she could receive a copy.

A representative from CGE said that he has checked that all reports have been forwarded to Parliament, however he is going to double check that this is correct.

Ms van der Merwe referred to when Ms Maema mentioned that there is a greater need for all departments to work together on gender issues. She wondered if the CGE was looking into an integrated programme that already exists, because she has not seen any progress.

Ms Tarabella-Marchesi asked if there had been any interaction with DW.

A representative from DW said that there had been no formal invitation from DW, but rather it was a general invitation to many departments so that people can engage on issues of gender and equality. He said that the CGE will not be able to attend the meeting, because all of the Commissioners will be in training. However, the CGE has written to DW to have a meeting between the two so that they can work together moving forward.

The Acting Chairperson thanked the representatives from the CGE and adjourned the meeting.

Share this page: