Commission for Gender Equality on 2nd quarter 2015 report

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

02 February 2016
Chairperson: Ms T Memela (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Commission for Gender Equality said the work of the Commission has witnessed much improvement and a new level of excellence. This can be seen from the implementation of all the recommendations of the Auditor-General in the 2015 audit report. Only a few matters to do with procurement need to be worked on and this process is underway. One of the major challenges facing the Commission is its diminishing budget and the Commission's units have become as innovative as they can be working around this difficulty.

There was a major concern about the number of cases registered in the Eastern Cape and the Commission assured the Committee it was looking into resolving this. Most women who reported to the legal clinics were black women and this was a concern for the Commission because it means women from other races refuse to report cases of abuses against them. The Commission is also working hard in its sensitization campaigns to change that. It was noted that most cases of domestic violence in communities were a result of the abuse of alcohol. In the quarter under review, the Commission used four strategic objectives to monitor its progress. The communication unit of the Commission worked closely with the South African Broadcasting Commission (SABC). The SABC provided the CGE with over 100 slots of free airtime for its adverts. The financial reports showed that the Commission achieved the expected 50% expenditure of its annual budget and it is foreseen that CGE will spend within its appropriated budget by the end of the financial year. The Committee commended the Commission for the significant improvement in its operations and encouraged them not to relent.

Meeting report

Commission for Gender Equity (CGE) briefing
Commission for Gender Equality chairperson, Mr Mfanozelwe Shozi led the delegation. Ms Keketso Maema, CGE CEO, presented on the work undertaken by the organization during the second quarter, July-September 2015. The report provided an account of work done against the targets contained in the Annual Performance Plan, spending patterns and trends and the overall functioning of the institution. Through the continual monitoring of the Annual Performance Plan progress, the organization managed to achieve mid-year more than 50% of planned activities. There are interventions underway to ensure that by the end of the financial year all target will be met as planned. There was 73.9% achievement of planned annual targets.

The second quarter of the financial year concentrated on implementing responses to the findings of the audit undertaken by the Auditor-General. There was an improvement in the Commission’s audit outcomes compared to previous years, however there are still some areas which showed weaknesses and require improvement such as procurement and compliance with laws and regulations within supply chain management. The month of August is the highlight of the second quarter as it is Women's Month. However in August 2015, there were no specific programmes as is the norm due to budgetary constraints.

The gender transformation hearings programme has placed the CGE in strategic positions to the extent that most institutions who invited the CGE to their events dealing specifically with gender mainstreaming, adopted transformation campaigns.  The Commission’s current plan includes specific activities that respond to chapters 10, 12 and 15 of the National Development Plan (NDP). These NDP targets relate firstly to reduction of levels of violence against women. The Commission is currently monitoring how government departments are dealing with gender based violence. Secondly, providing coordinated responses to cases involving violence against women. National programmes such as the Victims Charter have been put in place to contribute to victim empowerment and ensuring that there is a coordinated response to victims of violence. Currently there is an audit in place to determine if previous recommendations are been implemented. The third NDP target is legislative audits to ensure social cohesion where opportunities are not determined by birth right. The CGE and Department of Women are collaborating to review marriage laws on what should constitute an invalid marriage and what the threshold age for marriage should be.

There are transformation hearings and monitoring of courts to ensure that men and women are treated equally. The “One Woman; One Hectare of Land” campaign is on and the Commission has been engaging with the Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform for this campaign.

▪ The first strategic objective of the Commission for the period under review was to ensure the creation and implementation of an enabling legislative framework that promotes the attainment of gender equality. To achieve this, five submissions on five proposed legislation were submitted to the National Assembly and one at the provincial level. The Victims Empowerment Service Draft Bill was developed and public consultation at provincial level began on 29 June 2015.  Auditing the implementation of the Victims Charter was also carried out. The CGE research department is currently carrying out field work in several provinces to achieve this. Also, a gender barometer report that assesses the status of gender policies and practices in the private sector is being carried out. 

During this period, focus was shifted to the mining sector but it was discovered that the various mines usually "cleaned up" before the visit of the Commission and this made it difficult to assess the real state of affairs. New strategies are being developed to overcome this problem. Court monitoring processes were also carried out and 18 cases were monitored across provinces in the first quarter. These cases relate to access to and custody of minor children, gender based violence, rape, domestic violence, murder and hate crimes. In some provinces, such as Limpopo, the courts take intimate partner killing seriously. There were plans to conduct policy dialogues on research findings but these were not held. Consultations were held with stakeholders on findings of provincial hearings. It was discovered that the Eastern Cape was lagging behind. The gender transformation investigation report was also put in place. Meetings were held with institutions of higher learning which were supposed to appear before the Commission in November 2015. An assessment of women’s representation in political parties has also been done. As 2016 is an election year, the Commission will assess the level of women participation and representation in the local governments and political parties. This is to assess the extent to which political parties prioritize gender issues and gender mainstreaming through their election manifestoes.

▪ Strategic objective 2 aims to protect and promote gender equality by engaging with relevant stakeholders to educate and raise awareness on gender equality.  A total of 394 new complaints were received and files opened this quarter and a total of 338 files were resolved and closed representing a growth from 268 recorded in the first quarter. A total of 58 legal outreach clinics were conducted for the reporting period. The provinces concentrated more on rural areas for this activity. It was observed that most of these clinics attracted only black women. A new strategy which includes scanning the areas extensively and encouraging all women to make their complaints is being developed. The statistics from the Mpumalanga office improved significantly since the appointment of the legal officer there. A breakdown of the new files opened showed that 23 cases were opened on domestic violence, 24 on gender discrimination, 46 cases on maintenance, 31 were divorce related, 17 were gender based violence cases, 23 cases were labour-related, 10 unlawful eviction cases, and 9 cases of sexual harassment/abuse. There were 141 cases categorized as “Other”. Estate and maintenance matters increased and most of these complaints were opened in the Northern Cape, North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. In comparison to the first quarter, estate matters increased from 21 to 49 complaints and maintenance matters increased from 30 to 46. There was a significant decrease in gender based violence and labour complaints during this quarter. Other issues raised at these legal clinics included concern that the law does not respect culture and tradition anymore; many people were not aware of the Recognition of Customary Marriage Act and how it affects their marriages. Domestic violence was mainly attributed to the abuse of alcohol.

With regards to court monitoring, it was encouraging to see the courts take intimate partner killing seriously as seen from the sentences given. Systemic investigations were undertaken. Firstly, an investigative draft report seeking to transform the judiciary has been sent to all stakeholders for comment. A response was received by the department on the complaint against the South African Police Service (SAPS).  The response was unsatisfactory, hence a further investigation into SAPS brutality towards sex workers. Responses were also received from the National Department of Health on maternal health. The investigative team is currently assessing all responses. There were coordinated programmes on gender discrimination focusing on women economic empowerment.  There were campaigns on gender based violence in schools and gender equality campaigns. A concept paper was developed to guide the provinces in implementing the campaigns. Provinces engaged the traditional and religious sector as outlined in the concept papers. Issues addressed included child and forced marriages. Cultural issues were also addressed. During the reporting period, a total of 15 990 men and 33 560 women were reached. The Women’s Month programme was conducted in partnership with SABC Foundation and the SABC gave free airtime for adverts to ensure that there was a wider audience reach.  The En-gendered newsletter was produced in the quarter.

▪ Strategic objective 3 aims to 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 Commission for Gender Equality. To achieve this, assessment reports were developed such a report on the African Gender Development Index. On the international scene, attendances at international and regional events were planned but this did not happen for this reporting period.

▪ Strategic objective 4 aims to build an effective, efficient and sustainable institution that would fulfill its constitutional mandate on gender equality. A 20 year review of achievements and failures of the Commission is to be carried out by an independent contractor who will work closely with and under the supervision of the research department. One of the challenges of 2015/16 is the financial constraints but this did not stop the CGE communications department from carrying out innovative advertising campaigns with its focus on women empowerment.

The Commission managed to exceed the 50% mark by mid-year by 23% for its strategic objective plans.

Financial report for second quarter ending 30 September
Mr Moshabi Putu, CGE CFO, compared 2014 and 2015 for the half year up to September, were total revenue accrued was R35 264 470 and R34 533 535 respectively and total expenses were R35 535 272 and R34 726 324 respectively. There was a deficit of R270 802 and R192 789 respectively in the quarter under review. Total income for second quarter 2015/16 was R17.4 million and total expenditure was R17.9 million. The deficit for the quarter was R463 000. Total expenditure of the year to 30 September showed that there was already a 50% implementation of the budget. The analysis of the expenditure per programme and per  strategic objectives showed the targets achieved were consistent with the annual performance plan.

It was predicted that the Commission would spend within the appropriated budget by the end of 2015/2016 financial year. Total assets in 2015 are R19 585 967 and total liabilities are R14 933 780. There were improvements in ICT, continuous improvements in the internal control environment and most of the audit issues from 2014/15 were resolved.  A few accommodation related issues were experienced, anticipated budget and cash flow management pressures due to budgetary reductions were some of the challenges. An overview of the audit action plan showed that all issues raised by the Auditor-General for 2014/15 were resolved. Internal control weaknesses were fully resolved. All the recommendations from the 2015 report have been fully implemented.

Ms G Tseke appreciated the presentation and was happy to see the reports on the performance of the Commissioners was sent in response to the requests from the last quarter report. She assured the delegation the Members would read them and any observations would be raised in the next interaction with the Commission. She asked the Commission to give specific time frames for their projects. On the files opened at the legal clinics, she noted that the presentation made no mention of the number of files brought forward from the previous quarter. The CEO did not number the pages of her presentation and requested this for future presentations.On women participation in political parties, she asked if there were one- on-one engagements with the political parties. She was not impressed with the situation in the Eastern Cape where violence against women and employment equity continue to be an issue. She asked if there were specific reasons for this. She appreciated the SABC and other partners who have been helpful to the Commission so far. Talking about the mining sector, she assured the Commission that the report on the mining sector would be made available to them once it has been adopted as this will be useful to them in their work.

Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) asked about the duplication of research since research need funding and funding is a challenge for the Commission. She asked about the possibility of collaboration with relevant bodies for the purpose of research. She suggested collaboration with the Department of Mineral Resources to tackle some of the mining issues raised. She encouraged the Commission to do more work on women participation and representation in political parties and wanted them to speed up their activities in that regard since it is an electioneering year. On the One Woman-One Hectare project, she asked for a detailed report on the strategy being employed. She noted women suffered various forms of harassment and asked what was being done in that regard. Was there any interpretation of the law in that regard to make it simpler to understand?

Ms D Robinson (DA) was happy with the clear nature of the presentation. She asked what was being done in supporting people without hectares of land.  Talking about the Victims Charter, she asked about the possibility of making the draft legislation available to everyone. She wanted to know what was being done to make the laws easier to understand. On the legal clinics,were there any follow up programmes in schools to sensitize people about this? On culture, what was being done to deal with the lack of respect for culture?

Ms P Bhengu (ANC) wanted an overview and evaluation of mechanisms used in dealing with cases already decided so that there is no repetition of such cases. She asked if there were any engagements with the Department of Rural Development.

The Chairperson asked the Commission to look into the Eastern Cape and address the issues there especially about widows. Was anything being done to make it easier for women to claim monies belonging to their husbands after his death, bearing in mind that a many of these women are illiterates? She wanted the Commission to do more in terms of educating women about their rights.

Responding, Mr Shozi, the CGE chairperson, stated that there has been an improved working relationship with the Department of Women but the Commission and department did have different mandates. A memorandum of understanding has been signed with traditional leaderships to deal with the issue of culture and they had been doing a good job within their respective domains. On harassment, the Commission will look into that. On research, research is done only in areas where there are gaps in information but generally research is done in collaboration with other agencies and departments.

Ms Lindelwa Bata, CGE Commissioner, stated that in the Eastern Cape, as regards gender equity in employment, there are more men in the top positions in the municipalities. Hence it seems there is a lagging in women representation. The Commission is looking into and will find solutions for correcting this. The Eastern Cape is a very traditional region and the environment there is hostile to women but there has been a lot of improvements and this is encouraging.

Mr Wallace Mgoqi, CGE Commissioner, responded to the One Hectare-One Woman question by asking the Committee to allow the Commission to make a detailed report on this to explain the idea and concepts behind the project. This will be presented in the next interaction with the Committee.

Ms Fundisile Nzimande, CGE Commissioner, replied to the question on the mines, saying the Commission would look forward to the Committee Report. She stated that the mining issue was not only about women employment in the mining sector but also the environmental challenges associated with mining activities as this impacts more on the women and children living in such environments.

Mr Shozi commented that he was particularly happy with the level of cooperation between the SABC, Nedbank and other partners of the Commission.

Ms Maema, CGE CEO, replied to the request for time frames, saying that this would be looked into and definite delivery dates would attached to the next presentation. The whole idea is to take corresponding actions on immediate problems. Page numbering would also be addressed. On the number of files brought forward from the previous quarter, this information will be provided for the presentation on Quarter 3. She noted that 543 cases were brought forward to the second quarter, and there were 394 new cases. In Quarter 2, 338 were closed and 599 cases were brought forward to Quarter 3. There will hearings on gender transformation in April. On the Victims Charter, a lot of awareness raising is being carried out during public campaigns to let people know their rights. Many NGOs are also looking into this and the Commission works closely with such NGOs.

Ms Bhengu remarked that there would be a wider reach if the Commission collaborated with civil society organizations.

Ms Tseke asked the Commission to engage directly with all departments and units which deal with gender equity so that there would be fewer challenges.

The Chairperson thanked the Commission and commended them for the progress they have made so far.


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