The Department of Women in the Presidency attended the Committee to present its 3rd quarter 2015/16 performance report and revised Annual Performance Plan. The Committee expressed its disappointment that once again, despite previous requests, the documentation was received late. A full statement was given of the financial position at the end of the third quarter, noting that the Department had spend R142 million of the R189 million allocated for the year, with an amount of R67 million being allocated to the Commission for Gender Equality. Allocations per programme and per economic classification were explained, and it was mentioned that the Department was facing budget constraints and had done virements within the approved figures to supplement some of the programmes. There had been underspending under capital payments but funding was earmarked for ICT and a comprehensive security project. It had paid most invoices within the prescribed 30 days and consequence management had been introduced to ensure that this happened. There was no irregular or reckless spending in the period, and previous HR costing that was raised under previous presentations had been condoned. Some of the significant events between April and December were described, including international conferences, but there had been no overseas trips undertaken. The Department outlined what it had done to address the findings of the Auditor General South Africa (AGSA) in relation to the 2014/15 financial year and an interim audit had revealed far less repeat inaccuracies than in previous years. Many of the findings had been resolved but the Department had preferred to mark them as “ongoing” rather than “finalised” - which included the asset register queries.
The Annual Performance Plan (APP) had recently been revised because of the restructuring that had been approved in June 2015, after the mandates for children and people with disabilities had been moved away from this Department. It was pointed out that the main mandate was to address gender equality and to tackle the socio-economic empowerment of women, with no single component responsible, since many of the issues were overarching. An integrated model was being used and gender mainstreaming cut across all functions. Responses to the 2015 State of the Nation Address had also been included. The strategic objectives that were emphasised, but where the emphasis or targets had changed, included the decrease in gender based violence, with a gender focal points standardisation mechanism, encouraging women into science, maths and technology fields, reviews of recommendations out of the Status of Women reports, more research done independently by the Department and assessment of the eight aims of the Women's Charter. Objectives for economic transformation and empowerment had been broadened to take into account allied industries, and it was decided that the discussion paper for Women's Inclusion must be drawn before setting targets for access to funding opportunities by women. It was stressed that the Department would continue to involve all other departments that played a role in ensuring that women are economically empowered and would concentrate on actively ensuring recommendations were carried through. The Gender Responsive Budgeting Framework would be developed by year end. The Department of Women and Department of Social Development had been working together on the National Strategy Plan to address Gender Based Violence, and there would be a focus on setting up a one stop shop for gender based violence survivors. The Black Industrialists programme was to be monitored to check how women were developing. A five-year outreach strategy was being developed. The Department was working on developing its own Monitoring and Evaluation strategy.
The Department presented the Corporate Management structure, with a revised organogram, which noted that the Department had been restructured from four programmes to three. Some functions had been down-scaled and incorporated into others. The staffing figures in each of the programmes were given.
Members questioned the numbers of staff under Programme 1, saying that this was a core programme and the numbers appeared to be skewed in comparison to the remaining programmes. Several Members asked what had happened to the staff and functions under Programme 4 and wondered how the Department would achieve its aims with a lessened number of programmes. The Members felt that the Minister's Foreword to the APP was incorrect as this was actually the second plan, and some raised the point that the Committee had not been aware that a new plan was being prepared until now, and were worried how this might impact on the budgetary review. Members asked about the irregular spending, the accuracy of databases, asked about bids, and questioned why five year targets were noted in the Annual Plan. They asked for timelines and responsibilities to be specified in the Audit Action Plan, and for more details on the programmes with other departments. They stressed the importance of monitoring and evaluation, asked about the debt collection processes, systems to be used and the staffing demographics.
Women in the Presidency 2nd Quarter 2015/2016 Financial Report briefing
The Acting Chairperson welcomed the representatives from the Department of Women in the Presidency (DoW or the Department) but expressed the Committee's displeasure at the late submission of the documentation, noting that it had become “a trend” for the Department to consistently submit documents at the last minute so that Members did not have time to work on them prior to the meeting.
Ms M Chueu (ANC) set out her concerns about this also and suggested that the meeting should be cancelled, pointing out that the Committee had previously said that it would not meet with the DoW if it continued with this behaviour.
The Acting Chairperson reiterated that it was of concern to all the Committee.
Ms Jennifer Schreiner, Director-General, Department of Women in the Presidency, apologised profusely for the late submission of the documents and promised that in future the DoW would ensure that documents are sent through early. She also apologised, on behalf of the Minister, for her absence.
She requested that the presentation begin with the financial presentation.
Ms Camagwini Ntshinga, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Women, noted that she would start presenting the quarter 3 (Q3) results, and if time permitted would revert to quarter 2 (Q2). She noted that in July 2015 the appropriation of the DoW was at R189 million, but during the adjustment process R2.1 million was put to compensation of employees, for the cost of living adjustment.
As of 31 December 2015 the Department had spent R142 million out of its budget of R189 million. Appropriation of the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) amount of R67 million left the Department with a net budget of R121 million. She noted the allocations to each of the programmes (see attached presentation for details). She then detailed the expenditure as follows, as at 31 December 2015:
Programme 1 – R16 million, Programme 2 – R64 million, Programme 3 – R6.5 million and Programme 4 – R10 million. The total spending against the budget as a percentage was 76%.
She noted some of the detailed figures by economic classification. Originally, R66.5 million was budgeted for the compensation of employees. Due to budget constraints on goods and services, the Department did a transfer, which was within the prescribed allowed maximum of R3.5 million, to assist in augmenting possible shortfalls in other programmes. Under goods and services the DoW had R52 million budgeted and about R40 million of that was for office space.She indicated the percentage of spending under the economic classifications (see attached presentation for full details). She noted that the Department had underspending under capital payments but some funds had been earmarked for ICT and a comprehensive security project. The Department had also changed its financial reporting in line with the Portfolio Committee's requests and in line with National Treasury reports.
The DoW had collected revenue amounting to R24 000; this was mainly from garnishee orders, collected on behalf of third parties.
She then noted the statistics for payment of invoices. In Q3, the Department received 1 028 invoices, 1 024 were paid within the prescribed 30 days, and the other four were paid outside of the 30 days. The Department then introduced consequence management for late payment of invoices, to ensure that the responsible manager took the role seriously; warning letters would be issued in the case of any default, with the manager required to explain the delay.
In this period there had not been irregular or reckless spending on the part of the DoW. The Department had always carried the cost of the HR appointments, which had recently been condoned. The total expenditure including HR appointments and Supply Chain Management was R686 000, with R291 000 relating to HR and R392 000 to SCM.
Ms Ntshinga said that the Committee had previously requested the DoW to highlight achievements and challenges. There were financial constraints on the Department but the senior management was monitoring to ensure that the Department did not overspend or show irregular spending. The Department had been able to improve on the problems of the past to do with irregular spending and late payments, but it was still faced with problems in resourcing the structure and rolling out goods and services to implement the full mandate.
Ms Ntshinga cited the following significant events between April and December 2015:
- Since June 2015, the DoW had co-hosted the high-level delegation of ministers responsible for women in Africa. The total amount spent was R1.2 million.
- Women's month was celebrated in August
- The 16 Days of Activism is not covered in the Department's funding from the Grant and Programme Services
- There had been no international trips in the year
The Chairperson asked that the last two slides, which were not included in the Members' copies, be sent on
Financial Action Plan/ Improvement Plan based on comments of Auditor-General 2014/2015
Ms Ntshinga said that the DoW had been working on the findings of the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) in relation to the 2014/15 financial report. She noted that the presentation had been colour-coded, showing closed and ongoing issues; yellow was used for processes that were ongoing, in the sense that whilst they had been rectified for the moment, they might be raised in subsequent audits. An interim audit had been done, and it was found that the Department had improved by achieving a reduction in the number of repeat findings.
In relation to the financial statements, there were 58 findings, of which 15 findings were instantly resolved and the other 23 appeared as ongoing (although they had been resolved for this period). The asset register findings were an ongoing process.
In relation to payments within 30 days, there were 12 findings, of these three were resolved and nine were ongoing.
Under strategic management there were two findings; one was resolved and one was still ongoing.
Under information technology there were also two findings, one resolved and the other ongoing.
The audit findings were then shown in a table, with a statement of what the DoW intended to do about those findings. In the third column, progress to date was tabled. She noted that the bank balance of the commercial deposit account had to be resolved immediately.
Revised Annual Performance Plan 2015/2016
Ms Schreiner presented the revised Annual Performance Plan (APP) of the Department. She briefly outlined the history of the Department, and noted that following a strategic review in July/ August 2014, the DoW in the Presidency was formed, and the mandate relating to children and people with disabilities was moved, to try to place a greater focus on the socio-economic struggles that are faced by women in South Africa. In June 2015 the new structure was approved. The DoW was thus still in its infancy, and the review of the APP had been necessary to refine the strategy and ensure it could achieve its goals.
The mandate and strategic focus of the DoW had been to address gender equality and to tackle the socio-economic empowerment of women. There was no single component in the Department that was responsible for all the components of the Department's mandate, and some of the aspects it covered included gender thought leadership; policy analysis and knowledge sharing, gender outreach/ advocacy and monitoring, and evaluation of the impact of government programmes. Although these had been broadly grouped into three categories of services, an integrated model was being used and it might, for instance, be the strategy for gender mainstreaming that cut across all functions. The DoW wanted to ensure that its aims were central to all programmes and that had been applied to the new APP.
Ms Val Mathobela, Chief Director, DoW, noted that the foundation for the current APP was based on the strategic plan as tabled in Parliament, but her presentation would also outline the DoW's response to the 2015 State of the Nation Address. The Department had monitored how the budgets had been invested in different spheres of government and contributed to the socio-economic development of women.
In terms of the strategic focus, the Department provided oversight on the implementation of mechanisms that promoted women's empowerment and social transformation. The strategic objectives remained unchanged. The Department aimed to see a 60% decrease in gender based violence (GBV) incidents. A Gender Focal Points (GFP) standardisation mechanism had also been approved. The target was to place 10 000 young women and girls placed in Science Technology and Maths (STEM) fields. Here, she noted that references to STEM appeared throughout the APP, because it was a cross-cutting issue. The DoW would review all recommendations coming out of the Status of Women reports. Intervention plans to deal with women's access to STEM had been revised and the Department would be analysing their participation. Research would be produced by the Departments of Science and Technology and Higher Education.
In response to the SONA of 2015 the Department will still continue to monitor the implementation and roll-out of the nine point plan to improve the lives of women, and ensure that women are equal beneficiaries. In addition, the DoW will assess how far the eight aims in the Women’s Charter had been met, tracing this back also to the 1954 Charter.
Under the objectives for economic transformation and empowerment, one intervention plan developed for women’s access to and participation in the construction industry had been reviewed, since the target had been incorrectly crafted originally, limiting the Department to looking only at the construction industry itself rather than the whole value chain in line with the nine-point plan. The intervention plan for women’s access to and participation in agro-processing in the rural economy had also been reviewed, following the Presidential directive. The DoW would be monitoring the implementation of the nine point plan by the Departments of Energy, Water and Sanitation, Transport and Communications
The target for the intervention plan developed for women’s access to funding opportunities had also been reworked, because the DoW thought that no target could be set before the discussion paper for Women's Inclusion had been drawn.
The DoW overall had realigned the mandate although the Department would continue to report on follow ups and involve all other departments that played a role in ensuring that women are economically empowered. The Department must continue to look beyond the Presidential directive, and ensure that all the recommendations are carried through and nothing falls through the cracks, not merely confine itself to writing reports.
The Department has also realigned its mandate on the Gender Responsive Budgeting, and the GRB Framework would be developed by the end of the financial year. The DoW would also develop a paper on increasing women’s participation in formal employment.
The next target for analysis of implementation and mechanisms for upskilling women was informed by current research, and would ensure that women became skilled in strategic areas so that they would be properly empowered.
Ms Mathobela then turned to the target for analysis of interventions and mechanisms for implementing the status of women in the South African economy. The DoW had been working with the Department of Social Development (DSD) on the National Strategy Plan to address Gender Based Violence (GBV). There was no need to re-work this, but the DoW would be focusing on a one-stop shop for GBV survivors.
The Department had also reviewed the Gender Focal Points (GFP) standardisation, as mentioned earlier, and would create a discussion paper on gender mainstreaming, which would include GFPs for gender inequality. This target had changed because the Department had realised that it could not have standardisation before having a discussion paper that informed the framework to be available to other departments for GFPs.
She noted that some other targets had been reviewed and included in the APP, although they were not specifically mentioned in the hand-outs. These included the analytical report for the recommendation on further research into the status of women in the economy; the Department wanted to check the recommendations in the Status of Women report, but also develop its own research strategy instead of being reliant on others. Originally, the targets included production of one policy analysis report, but the DoW had decided to be more specific and focus on a Gender Policy brief on the Black Industrialists Programme, to see how women were benefitting.
The Department would not repeat the separated targets under information and knowledge management but wanted to look at how to make the DoW into an “information stream”. Previously, the DoW had four campaigns dealing with violence against women, but in line with Government Outcome 14 it needed six. A stakeholder framework was being developed and should be finalised by the end of the financial year.
The Department recognised that it was critical to have a five year outreach strategy, as outreach is a key deliverable. Any outreach conducted already must be aligned to Outcome 14.
The targets that had been set out under monitoring and evaluation had also been revised, and the Department was working on developing its own M&E strategy, as a starting point for its M&E work.
Instead of listing international engagements the DoW was now going to report as and when international reports were due.
Mr Mbhazima Shiviti, Chief Director, DoW, presented on the corporate management structure, in line with the request that the DoW must include an organogram and table of positions, number of vacancies, dismissals, suspensions and their reasons. He noted that there was an approved structure in 2014. Following that configuration functions relating to children and people with disabilities were transferred to the Department of Social Development. The Women Empowerment and Corporate Management branches remained with the Department of Women and after 2015 a new roadmap was drawn in line with the new budget, followed by a new organisational structure in June 2015. Some of the functions that had been present in the old structure had to be down-scaled due to the budget constraints – for instance, the Deputy Director General of Corporate Management was absorbed into another function.
Currently, the DoW has two branches: Social Transformation and Economic Empowerment headed by Ms Bernedette Muthien, and Policy, Stakeholder Coordination, Knowledge Management headed by Ms Mmabatho Ramagoshi. The internal audit unit resides under the Director General. He outlined the divisions of Corporate Management, Strategic Management, Finance and Monitoring and Evaluation. Finally he presented the Human Resources Management slides, detailing the approved posts, filled posts, funded vacancies, unfunded posts and vacancy rate, suspensions and dismissals:
- Programme 1 was tabled as follows: Approved posts: 89, filled posts: 71, funded vacancies: 6, unfunded posts: 12 and vacancy rate 7.6%, suspension: 1
- Programme 2: was tabled as follows: Approved posts: 20, filled posts: 9, funded vacancies: 2, unfunded posts:9 and vacancy rate: 18.2%, suspensions: 0 and dismissals:0
- Programme 3 was tabled as follows: Approved posts: 26, filled posts: 22, funded vacancies: 1, unfunded posts: 3 and vacancy rate: 43%, suspensions: 0 and dismissals: 0.
Ms G Tseke (ANC), said that the Administration seemed to be a core feature of the Department and asked why Programme 1 had 71 staff, and this seemed to be an imbalance when compared to programmes 2 and 3. She asked how the Department would meet its mandate. She asked why only the names of the Deputy Director Generals were given, and wanted to know who comprised the other 71 members of the Programme 1 staff, and what their roles were in the Department.
Ms Tseke read through the Foreword written by the Minister, and took issue with the statement that this was “the first APP under the Fifth Administration”. This was a revised APP so it was actually the second one. The revised APP made reference to the draft strategic plan of 2015/20 but that should be changed.
Ms Tseke referred to pages 5 and 6, pointing out an apparent discrepancy; the Department now had three programmes yet these pages were showing four.
Ms Tseke asked for details of the irregular spending that was condoned by the National Treasury. Whilst she commended the progress on the audit action plan, she felt that the issues should be closed off, not kept open, lest it have a negative impact on the next Annual Report.
She asked for information about bids not published on the Department's website. She asked how accurate were the databases on suppliers and vendors and wanted to know if more suppliers would be invited to apply.
Ms Tseke commented that she was hoping to see annual targets in the APP, yet five-year targets were mentioned instead.
Mr M Dirks (ANC) agreed with Ms Tseke that the Minister's Foreword was confusing.
Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) wanted clarity on what happened to Programme 4 and the personnel who were working on its. She noted that there were no timeframes cited in the Audit Action Plan or names of those who were to be responsible. She wanted clarity on the procurement and compliance process, and what happened when the DoW discovered instances of non-compliance. She asked when the Department would have completed the debtors reconciliation, why it was taking so long, and whether it would be finalised by year-end. She asked if the asset register was completed and whether any irregularities had been found and rectified. She also wanted an explanation of why the Department was originally speaking of using Logis and now was referring to Excel.
Ms M Khawula (EFF) asked the CFO to speak to the irregular expenditure.
The Acting Chairperson asked why it was necessary for the APP to be changed and repeated the question why four programmes were mentioned on some of the slides. She pointed out that the Department appeared to be spending under 30% of the budget on allocation of posts. She asked what the implications were to staff of the restructuring of four programmes to three. The budgets and allocations did not seem to add up. She pointed out that there was no mention of the disability employment figures. Finally, she asked how and who would decide on the changing of targets in the APP.
Ms Schreiner acknowledged that there were some errors in the presentation documents and apologised for those.
She answered questions on Programme 1, saying that when the Department went through the restructuring process it had deliberately scaled down the administration programme to the bare minimum, although the Department of Public Services and Administration advised that the Department could not cut the staff figures to under 77 people, because this would have been contrary to DPSA, National Treasury and AGSA benchmarks and result in segregation of duties and the Department perhaps not being able to complete its functions. Most of the staff skilled in administration had been transferred to core business, wherever there was a skill match. It had been challenging for the Department to manage staff on such a tight budget and still be able to deliver on the complex issues. Economically it was not yet viable for the DoW to change this, and the National Treasury had also acknowledged this. The Department had had to think creatively and find ways of “working smart”. If it was able to get any extra funding it would look into employing contract workers. The DoW had been meeting with the Budget Committee on the compensation of employees and it would be looking at building capacity with available funds.
The intention to do a strategic review had not been specifically advised to the Committee, but the DoW had been working with the Minister’s direct guidance on revising the APP. During the revision stages of the APP, it was discovered that the present APP would not allow the DoW to realise its goals.
Ms Schreiner conceded that the presentation should have set out a three-programme structure, instead of a four-programme structure. The DoW had been interacting with the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), and the AGSA. The revised APP should have spoken to Programme 3 only but it had broken this down into sub-programmes. Money has been allocated to four programmes, but no indicators or targets had changed within that structure.
Ms Tseke again noted her concern. This would give rise to confusion during the budget review; the Committee would be trying to evaluate the DoW against two APPs and the changed targets did mean that monies appropriated would be affected. She asked if the revised APP had been approved by National Treasury.
Ms Schreiner noted that the executive authorities are able to amend an APP during the course of the year, and she repeated that the DoW was in consultation with AGSA and DPME on the issue. She wanted to reassure the Committee that the money allocated to Programme 4 had not disappeared; since Programmes 3 and 4 had effectively merged, spending was happening from both the budgets. By the time of the next report, the expenditure would have been aligned and cleared.
She agreed that work was needed on the Audit Action Plan, to insert a timeline.
Ms Ntshinga informed Members that no bids had been awarded yet which was why none were mentioned on the website. The Department’s vendor and supplier databases had been updated, and towards the end of the year new suppliers and vendors will be invited to submit applications. The only irregular expenditure that had occurred was in the area of HR, and National Treasury had condoned that, so it would not appear in future reports.
The Department had been asked previously about the AU Summit, which went over budget in the hosting of the high-level delegation. For the 16 days of Activism the Department spent an estimated R3.5 million. Ms Tarabella Marchesi had asked whether the Department of Women worked with some of the other departments on this project and she noted that the DoW would invite all departments to participate, and would often co-fund the initiatives in that certain province or Department. However, the Department does its own planning for 10 and 25 December days.
Ms Ntshinga said that debt collection was done as a monthly process, therefore the Department had tabled it as an ongoing process. The asset register was complete, but she pointed out that it was difficult for the DoW to be in total control of assets if they are moved from one office to another. Asset verification was done twice a year. In relation to the Logis system, she said that it had been a challenge to find professionals who are proficient in Logis, but the Department plans to train its existing staff on the different profiles of the programme.
Ms Mathobela answered the questions on the strategic plan and said that once the APP was reviewed, the strategic plan must also be reviewed. The Department did need to consult with the National Treasury before it could be finalised. Because the review is taking place within the financial year the executive authority did not have to go and consult with the Treasury.
Mr Shiviti noted that some positions had been downgraded during the restructuring in 2014. The Department did not employ any disabled employees this year, but already had the required 2%. He noted that the suspension reflected on the APP was a precautionary suspension and the individual in question was still receiving his salary.
Ms Schreiner promised to bring full clarity on all these issues for the 2016/17 presentation. She said that she hoped to engage further on the subject of monitoring and evaluation; it would give the Department a chance to show the Committee how it had been working.
The meeting was adjourned.