Women in Decision making positions: Department of Public Service & Administration and Public Service Commission briefings

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

15 March 2016
Chairperson: Ms T Memela (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) and the Public Service Commission (PSC) briefed the Committee on the current figures of women in senior management service (SMS) posts in the public service in general and in these two entities also. The DPSA aimed to provide a professional, productive and responsive public service, and it covered four main areas of focus, each headed by a Chief Director: youth, people with disabilities, gender mainstreaming and employment equity. The duty of the DPSA was to oversee transformation in the public service. More departments had begun to comply with transformation requirements in the workplace and there were positive indicators. In the public service, there were 9 976 positions at SMS level and 40.6% of those were filled by women, although 13 people were classified as “unknown”, having failed to identify themselves as either gender. 28% of SMS level 16 staff were women, although that number was declining. There were 39 women with disabilities at SMS levels, and 83 men. There were 5% youth, and of those, 51% were women. A geographical comparison showed that most national departments had over 40% senior staff as women, but provincial departments struggled to reach even that employment equity requirement. Gauteng had been the leading province in terms of empowering women and had the highest percentage of women included at SMS levels. DPSA was focusing on groups that were under performing and helping them find ways to enable transformation in the workplace. Department of Social Development was the leading department in implementing and reaching the 50% ultimate target of women representation at SMS level. Initiatives included implementing gender mainstreaming and approval of the Gender Policy, Gender Equity Strategic Framework and Annual Implementation Plan. Various diversity forums had been created, including one for men. Employment equity plans had been created, including affirmative action, and leadership development was targeted to women's empowerment. Representation of people with disabilities at the DPSA was at 2.4% but other departments were still struggling.

Members were disappointed that the senior staff of the DPSA, as well as the Minister, were not present and urged that the Minister be asked to note the importance of attending such meetings. Concerns were expressed that there were not specific time frames for reaching targets, nor time lines set for drawing plans and then for implementing them. Members asked what strategies there were for non-compliance. They were concerned about the fact that DPSA had no say essentially over who Ministers appointed at level 16, particularly as the figures showed too few women in these positions, and asked what safeguards were in place to make sure that consideration was being given to equity requirements. They commented that despite the fact that it had taken 20 years to get this far, there was some progress apparent, but stereotypes of women in the workplace would have to be addressed. Members asked if work had been done with the SA Police Service, where gender balance was lacking, how it would ensure that women would be able to secure tenders, and several questions were asked to try to establish the exact breakdown of women and youth with disabilities, and what was so difficult about the accommodation for disabled people in the workplace. They commented that lack of reporting on sexual harassment made it difficult to actually halt it, and asked what was to be done to follow upon reports. Members asked why DPSA suggested that it was necessary to wait for so long to review policies, but the DPSA responded that the policies were not the problem, but the implementation was lacking. Members generally felt that the presentation was too vague and wanted to know which departments were not complying.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) outlined its mandate and said that it interacted with all legislatures and was accountable to the National Assembly. Its six performance areas were outlined, or which one related to reviews of leadership and human resource management to promote sound practices in the public administration. Gender mainstreaming was handled by the Gender Task Team and would apply the eight principles geared to promoting women's advancement in the workplace and creation of an enabling environment, for instance to include facilities where women could breast-feed, and where children could be dropped off for after-care to allow women working late shifts still to spend some time with their children. Its own structure was described, and it was noted that PSC had set itself a target to have 55% women in SMS, although it had only achieved 1.6% disabled employment.
The PSC obtained quality performance agreements from the Heads of Department to ensure that gender mainstreaming issues were being prioritised and reflected. It would advertise to targeted audiences. Members were concerned how women who had been promoted were treated subsequently, with many being given long hours not conducive to their family life. Members asked a number of questions about what was being done in specific departments, but the PSC explained that its mandate was limited and it could not actually force departments to act in certain ways, nor could it set policies for them to engage with specific issues. Members questioned the involvement of municipalities, asked about percentages of disabled women in positions, and how the 2% target was to be met, and whether it implied also equality of gender within that group. PSC explained where it could not answer some of the questions, but would also respond in writing.


Meeting report

Women in Decision making positions: Department of Public Service & Administration and Public Service Commission briefings
Ms Mamello Mahomed, Senior Director, Department of Public Service and Administration, tendered the apologies of the Minister and of the Director General of the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA or the Department), who were unable to attend the meeting.

Ms Fanani Manugu. Acting Chief Director, DPSA, firstly highlighted the role of the DPSA, and said that it aimed to be a professional, productive and responsive Department. Part of its mission was to establish norms and standards to ensure that the state machinery functioned optimally and that such norms and standards were adhered to. The Department was to implement interventions to maintain a compliant and functioning public service. The DPSA wanted to promote an ethical public service through programmes, systems, frameworks and structures that detect, prevent and combat corruption.

The mandate of the DPSA was derived from Chapter 10, section 195(1), of the Constitution. Public Administration must be governed by the democratic values and principles enshrined in the Constitution. This was inclusive of high standard of professional ethics that were to be promoted and maintained, and the ultimate aim was to ensure that the public service was held accountable.

Ms Manugu said that section 41 of the Public Service Act said that the Minister may, subject to the Labour Relations Act and any collective agreement, make determinations regarding the conditions of service of employees generally, or categories of employees, including determinations regarding salary scales and allowances for particular categories of employees.
All collective agreements concluded at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) are deemed to be determinations made by the Minister in terms of Section 3(5) of the Public Service Act, and the Minister was empowered further to issue directives to elucidate or supplement such determinations. The Constitutional mandate included the provision of good human resources management and career-development practices, examination of human potential, and cultivating an excellent culture.

Ms Manugu went on to highlight the responsibility given to the Chief Director for the four main areas of focus – namely, the youth, people with disabilities, gender mainstreaming and employment equity. Their duty was to oversee the transformation in the public service. Over the years a more positive trend had been seen as more departments had begun to comply with the transformation requirements within the workplace.
DPSA had 9 976 positions at Senior Management Service (SMS) level and 40.6% of those were filled by women. 13 people had not classified within the male or female categories, and therefore were listed as “unknown”. She mentioned that 28% of the staff at SMS level 16 were women and that the number had been declining. There were 39 women with disabilities at SMS level, and 83 men. DPSA had 5% members who were below 35 (youth), and of these, 51% were women. She presented a graph showing the balance of women across the whole public service, which showed that the representation of women in these positions was, at national level, around 40% but provinces such as the Free State, North-West, Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape had struggled to reach the 40% in line with the requirements of the Employment Equity Act. The DPSA would focus on groups that were under performing and help them find ways to enable transformation in the workplace. The Department of Social Development had been the leading department in implementing and reaching the 50% target for women represented at SMS.

She highlighted some of the challenges. DPSA had noticed that there had been a healthy number of women representatives at level 13-14 (Director and Chief Director’s level) but that many had declined the opportunity to advance to level 16. The DPSA would look into this area, as this was the level at which Cabinet made appointments. Another major challenge had been the poor attendance by senior managers as the support workshops, making it harder to help those Departments reach the desired target, since junior representatives were often sent and they were unprepared. Success had been seen in Gauteng where compliance had continued to improve and the attendance at support workshops had been outstanding, compared to the other provinces.  Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Free State were areas of concern, and DPSA would be monitoring those provinces closely. In the Eastern Cape, the Free State and the Northern Cape, most units had been situated in offices of the HOD or the MEC, but these locations did not translate into better resourcing and performance.

Even departments that had been complying to date were apparently struggling to meet a 50% target. DPSA had also struggled to get reports from the departments, particularly reports on gender equality in the workplace and sexual harassment cases, so that it had been a challenge to hold these Departments accountable for poor performance.
The DPSA had implemented Gender mainstreaming and approved the Gender Policy, Gender Equity Strategic Framework and annual implementation plan. The Department had various diversity forums for designated groups, through the Women’s Management forum, Department Women’s Forum, and Men’s Forum, a recent innovation which was running quite successfully, as well as Disability Management Forum and the Youth Forum. The Department also stated that an Employment Equity (EE) plan to manage representation targets and barriers, including affirmative action measures, had been put in place. The concept of leadership development was targeted at women empowerment.
Although the representation of people with disabilities had risen to 2.4%, which was well above the desired 2% target, it had been unfortunate that the number of women at SMS level at the DPSA was still below 50%. There had been an improvement to 42.7% , but there were issues in meeting this target.

Ms M Chueu (ANC) was not entirely happy with the presentation. She felt that the presentation should have been given by the Department’s most senior person. She was disappointed to discover that the Minister and the Director General had not made it a priority to attend the meeting personally. She suggested that the Committee should send out a letter to the Minister, asking that responsibilities towards the Committee must be taken seriously.

Ms Chueu wanted to hear more about the women representation in the DPSA – how many posts had been available, how many posts had been filled, how many posts had been filled by women and how many posts still had to be filled within the Department. She mentioned that the Department had budgeted for a certain number of posts, presumably expecting them to be filled by qualified women. She was concerned at the lack of time frames allocated for transformation. She was pleased to see that the departments were making progress, but pointed out that it had taken 20 years to get to the present point. She felt that the DPSA could do more to control the speed at which there was transformation in the public services. She believed that DPSA had the power to not only empower women in upper management positions but to also influence middle management. She wanted to know what the DPSA was doing to present opportunities of growth for women in the workplace, including secretaries and cleaners, as she strongly felt that stereotypes of women in certain employment positions needed to be broken.

Ms D Robinson (DA) commended Ms Chueu on her enthusiasm and fighting spirit. She had also been glad to see a positive improvement in women in SMS positions, although she also noted that this had taken 20 years. She was interested to hear that 13 people merely identified themselves as members of the human race and had not wanted to classify themselves, and she asked if there were instances of staff also refusing to be racially classified. She supported writing a letter to the Minister to address his absence. She also suggested that a letter be written to Cabinet to find out how appointments at Level 16 positions were made, and to further investigate the gender imbalance for women in the highest levels of senior management in most departments. She asked if the DPSA had been working with the South African Police Services (SAPS), pointing out that this was a department where gender balance was lacking. She was impressed to hear of the Men's Forum and would like to hear more about it, emphasising the importance of working with men to address challenges.  as there had been a lack of women in SMS in that Department as well. She was impressed with the Men’s Forum and was interested to find out more about it as she emphasised the importance of working with the men in this country to address the challenges faced.

Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) pointed out that the DPSA was a department with the ability to create policies that would help empower women in the workplace. She asked what the DPSA would do to make sure that women would also have the opportunity to secure tenders. DPSA indicated 51% of the youth at SMS level were women, but had not given the percentage of youth with disabilities. She asked what the remedial actions were for companies and departments who did not comply.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) felt that the struggle to women liberalisation was not yet over. During preparations for some elections, branches tended to have a lot of women doing all the ground work, and the men as possible candidates for higher positions. She was concerned that women were working really hard but still falling behind. She commended the country for moving from a low 8% of women at SMS level in 1994, to having 40% overall representation in 2015. However, even though the country ranked as one of the top 17 countries, out of 135 in the world, with an increased number of women represented in the management sector, there was still a long way to go. She asked how the roles were split between the four directorates and how the Department was managing daily activities. She asked what was the responsibility of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) was and what the contributions were from the Women’s Ministry. She felt that the onus was on the appointed Minister to advocate for solutions to the issues faced by women. She asked what recommendations the DPSA had for the Portfolio Committee in order that it could help achieve the desired goals.

Ms C Pilane-Majeke (ANC) mentioned that the departments of Education had been struggling to appoint more women in SMS levels and felt that if the Department of Social Development had been able to reach the 50% target, the Departments of education should also be able to do so. Lack of reporting being made when there was sexual harassment meant that women would continue to be harassed for as long as the reports were not collected. She wanted to know what would be done to follow up on non-submitted reports.

Ms P Bhengu (ANC) asked if the departments had mentioned to the DPSA why it was difficult to employ people with disabilities. She also asked why DPSA felt that the accommodation of people with disabilities had been a particular barrier to the employment of people with disabilities.
The Chairperson asked what safeguards had been put in place to make sure that the Minister would not be able to change the entire programme without consulting the DPSA. She also asked what the penalties were for non compliance measures. She asked how many men there were in the DPSA< and why there were no male delegates contributing to this meeting.

Ms Chueu asked for clarity on the departmental frameworks and the extent of compliance. DSD had been predominantly staffed by women so that it was probably easier for this department to apply transformation policies and comply with the requirements put forward by the DPSA. In the Department of Health, most of the doctors had been men. In the departments of education, most women were teaching in the lower grades, being regarded as more nurturing, with higher administrative positions such as HODs and principals being taken by men. She believed it would take a lot more aggressive action to move forward and reach the desired 50% target.

Ms Bhengu was also concerned that there was no time given to departments for the lapse between planning and implementation.

Ms Manugu said that DPSA sent the reports on implementation of the employment equity to Cabinet. DPSA unfortunately had no power over internal appointments that took place at the highest levels of management, as those appointments were done by the Cabinet. Ministers had their own powers to decide how they would make appointments within their departments. DPSA could, however, send out recommendations that HODs should be accountable for not meeting the 50% target. The initial time frame had been 2014, but since then DPSA had been liaising with its Public Service counterparts to implement accountability procedures. She mentioned that there was a lot of legislation around Employment Equity (EE) and including women in higher levels of management. She believed that all that was required from the departments was to see to it that the regulations were being implemented.
She did mention that one of the challenges that DPSA was facing in implementation was the lack of  synergy between the EE plans as submitted and the reports submitted later, with work needing to be done, and progress not being presented clearly. DPSA would have to work on ways to deal with this. A policy document had been released in 2008 but only implemented in 2009. The policy would be reviewed in the next ten years.

The Chairperson did not understand why the DPSA had to wait 10 years to review the policy, when challenges had already been presented in the reports

Ms Manugu clarified that the issue had not been with the policies, which were clear, but the problem lay rather in trying to implement those policies. DPSA would be recommending that the Portfolio Committee should address the appointment issues with Cabinet. DPSA had four strategic objectives for women's empowerment and economic development. Each report required the reporting department to specify how the objectives were implemented for women, young women and women with disabilities.

Ms Manugu indicated that the lack of accommodating facilities for people with disabilities had brought about challenges for employers when appointing people with disabilities. There was a policy that clearly stated the need to provide reasonable accommodation in Public Services for people with disabilities.

The Chairperson mentioned that when things went wrong in the workplace, women were the first to suffer the consequences. She asked what strategies the DPSA had in place to ensure that Ministers would not make changes and claim to have had DPSA approval when doing so.

Ms Manugu said that ministers were well aware of the equity requirements and were able to implement them, but were not always doing so.

The Chairperson wanted to know what strategies the DPSA had to address the challenges raised.

Ms Mohamed mentioned that the DPSA could only derive its powers from the Public Service Act. Most of the power to appoint senior positions vested in the ministers. It is the responsibility of the Head of State to hold ministers accountable for their non-compliance. DPSA had actively and purposefully specified its target audience, when advertising job vacancies. She provided a breakdown of the DPSA's own Senior Management structure. The DPSA Executive Committee, which comprised of Level 15-16 management, consisted of eight males and one female, who was the Deputy Director General. She emphasised again that it was the ministers who made the choice to appoint at this level, and not the Heads of Department. DPSA had 45 males and 37 Females at levels 13-14.

Ms Tarabella-Marchesi pointed out that if the DPSA itself was struggling to comply with the requirements, then it would also be difficult for other departments to comply. She asked who held the DPSA accountable for its compliance. She felt the presentation had been vague when indicating the number of vacancies available, as well as providing information about which vacancies had been filled by women. She asked that the DPSA tell the Committee which departments that were not complying so that the Committee could help the DPSA to hold those departments accountable.

The Chairperson asked that DPSA should return to the Portfolio Committee with more precise and relevant answers. She also emphasised the need for it to come up with remedial actions.

Ms Robinson suggested that a written report be emailed to the Portfolio Committee within the next week, so that Members would receive feedback before the next meeting.

Ms Chueu believed that men needed to be made aware of the oppressive environment women were systematically placed in. Whilst creating equal opportunities for men and women in the workplace, working hours had to be considered for women who were being appointed into senior positions. The organogram had to specify how many women were expected at each management level.

Ms Bhengu asked for a list of the staff members who were receiving payment while they were not working.

Ms Tarabella-Marchesi clarified that the Gender Forward Pioneers were not coordinators and that they had been provided with a budget to ensure that the policies were being implemented. She mentioned that they had to be given authority.
The Chairperson thanked the DPSA for its work, and asked that it clarify in writing the points raised.

Public Service Commission (PSC) briefing
Ms Lulama Sizani, Commissioner, Public Service Commission, apologised for the absence of the senior members of the Commission, which she said was due largely to budget constraints and a decision that she should attend the meeting.

She gave a brief background on the establishment of the Public Service Commission (PSC or the Commission) in 1996, noting that it was directly accountable to Parliament and was established to strengthen the oversight role of the legislatures over the executive and administrative branches of the state.
The role of the PSC included promoting constitutional values and principles such as transparency and accountability in the public service. The mandate of the PSC said that it is to investigate, monitor and evaluate the organisation and administration and personnel practices of the public services as well as propose measures that would ensure effective and efficient performance within the public service. The PSC is to interact with legislatures regularly and be accountable to the National Assembly.
The PSC had six key performance areas and she described the significant programmes, such as improving labour relations, reviewing leadership and human resource management to promote sound practice of public administration, governance monitoring, service delivery, and carrying out compliance evaluations.

Gender mainstreaming performances initiatives are to be carried out by a Gender Task Team. The task teams would be informed by the HODs' Eight-Principles for promoting women empowerment and gender equality. The purpose of these was to promote women advancement in the workplace and to advise how to create an enabling environment for women and gender equality in the workplace. The PSC had requested that companies set up areas in the workplace where, for example, women would be able to breast feed their children, as well as an after care centres where children could be dropped off after school, so that women working late shifts would have a better opportunity to be able to bond with their children. PSC believed this area of focus needed to be heavily regulated and evaluated.
PSC would be operating with 14 Commissioners, of whom five operated at a national level and then there were nine provincial commissioners. PSC had managed to exceed the required target for employment of women in SMS positions and increased its internal target to 55%, as an incentive, and to minimise the risk of underperformance in the event of resignations, retirement or other service termination circumstances. However, it had only achieved 1.6% employment for people with disabilities, thus struggling to reach the 2% requirement. The PSC obtained quality performance agreements from the Heads of Department to ensure that gender mainstreaming issues were being reflected in the agreements. It would ensure that positions were advertised to the targeted audiences and that advertisements would clearly specify who the target audience was. It had, however, struggled to find a suitable medium for advertising jobs for the disabled, and relied much on word on mouth.

Ms Pilane-Majeke was concerned about how women who had received advancements and promotions in some companies were being treated. For instance, some women recently returning from maternity leave would be unfairly assessed, and sometimes on promotion they would be given working hours that were non-conducive for a nurturing mother. She asked what plans would be put in place by the PSC to assess the working conditions for women, and make sure that mothers who are primarily responsible for their children are catered for properly.

Ms Chueu emphasized that good work should also translate to the departments that are overseen by the PSC. She mentioned that the working conditions were not conducive for employees at the Department of Health. A mandate had been passed for setting up child aftercare facilities for mothers in the workplace, but it would be up to leaders – including those who were a part of the PSC and young working mothers to make sure that the facilities were actually made available. Her concern was that the departments were not implementing policies. There was a lack of opportunity for ordinary women to grow within the workplace, as there were no policies for mentoring programmes which would help elevate women. She asked what the Commission had been doing about maintenance. Some schools had been functioning with no sanitation for twenty years and still had not been attended to by Public Services.

Ms Tarabella-Marchesi mentioned that there were a number of national problems that directly affected women and were not being addressed. Free State was hard-hit by drought and some areas did not have effective sewerage systems, but municipalities were not acting on this. She asked how the PSC was handling the situation.

Ms Tseke mentioned that the research presented had been from 2006, and questioned if there were not more recent reports.

Ms P Bhengu asked if the PSC had initiatives for other Departments such as ‘take a disabled person to work day’ in order to advertise the need to meet the 2% target. She also mentioned that the targets for equity had been dropping each year, and so she was concerned about how the other departments would feel incentivised to meet the requirements. She too noted that there had been no mention of local government in the presentation. She asked how the Public Service Commission had been dealing with protests against poor service delivery.

Ms Chueu pointed out that there had been no percentages given for disabled women. She wondered whether women with disabilities were receiving the same opportunities as the men.

Ms Tarabella-Marchesi asked what the requirement for women with disabilities in the work place was. She wanted to know if the 2% was evenly split between the genders.

Ms Bhengu posed a general question whether in fact the 2% inclusivity target for people with disabilities was enough; she believed that the number of persons classified as disabled had increased over the years.

The Chairperson asked how the PSC classified people with disabilities and wanted to know if it was a clear description. She also mentioned that there was a wide range of academics who were not being recognised and not catered for in the workplace.

Ms Chueu asked why the departments had not met the structural requirements to hire people with disabilities.

Ms P Bhengu asked how monitoring for disabilities would be taking place.

Ms Sizani clarified that the presentation was based solely on an internal evaluation of the PSC and so did not cover information from other departments. The PSC's mandate was limited and it could not expand that so that it could work only with certain departmental levels and with Parliament.

The Chairperson noted that there was no time for questions to be answered now and asked that written answers be emailed through to the Committee by next week

Outstanding Minutes
The Committee was unable to approve and adopt Minutes from the meeting held on 8 March 2016 as the Portfolio Committee did not have the necessary quorum.

The meeting was adjourned.

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