The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) presented its annual performance plan and budget for the 2016/17 financial year. The Commission’s programmes had been informed by the national legislative frameworks and international treaties that South Africa had ratified, together with the Constitution.
The Commission would undertake to develop its education officers in order to train municipal personnel on issues such as gender mainstreaming. It sought to increase its annual target of complaints to be received and dealt with to 900, and to engage with traditional leaders and the mining sector on gender transformation. The CGE would be operating on a budget of R69.9million, which was not a significant increase from the previous financial year. The largest part would go towards compensation of employees, as the Commission was a service delivery institution. The CGE was in the process of switching from Telkom to Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) to save on telephone expenses. It asked the Committee to lobby on behalf of the Commission for increased funding so that it could fund positions such as the Chief Operating Officer, which remained vacant because it was unfunded.
Members asked questions about the ways in which the CGE, with its limited resources, aimed to eliminate gender-based violence, and how it was working together with the justice cluster to ensure adequate provision of services to victims of gender-based violence. They asked questions about the audit fees paid to the Auditor-General, and amounts allocated for internal auditing. Members also wanted to know about the Commission’s involvement with political parties and the inclusion of gender transformation in their election manifestos. The terms of office of Commissioners were also discussed.
Briefing by Commission for Gender Equality (CGE)
Mr Mfanozelwe Shozi, Chairperson, CGE, said the Commission was in the final year of its strategic plan, which the CEO would be presenting. The Commission was celebrating 20 years of existence. He advised the Committee that the second term of Commissioner Hicks was ending at the end of May.
Ms Keketso Maema, Chief Executive Officer, CGE, said that the vision, mission and values of the Commission had remained the same and would thus not be presented. The constitutional and legislative mandates of the Commission had also remained the same. The Commissioners served in governance oversight committees for legal issues and complaints, research and education, strategic planning, annual reports, monitoring and evaluation, human resources, audit, finance and information technology and communications.
The legislative framework informing the Commission’s programmes were, amongst others, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), The Beijing Platform for Action, and the Millennium Development Goals. Goal five provided for the achievement of gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls. The African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 was viewed by the Commission as a continuation of developments for renewed and invigorated efforts to catalyse development and strengthen African integration and unity. In giving effect to the implementation of Agenda 2063, the Commission would engage stakeholders that were involved in the AU and Southern African Development Community (SADC) processes when the need arose.
UN resolution 1325 acknowledged the changing nature of warfare, and the continued exclusion of women from participation in peace processes. The solution called for greater participation of women at all levels of decision-making in mechanisms for resolution of conflict, in peace negotiations, as soldiers, police officers and civilians. The South African National Development Plan had been adopted by Cabinet and formed the basis for government’s future policy making.
Strategic objective 1 of the Commission provided for the creation and implementation of an enabling legislative framework that promoted the attainment of gender equality. This would be done through the monitoring and evaluation of gender equality and any relevant policies and practices of the public and private sector, and reported to Parliament.
Strategic objective 2 provided for the promotion and protection of gender equality by engaging relevant stakeholders to educate and raise awareness on issues of gender equality, challenging patriarchal perceptions and stereotypes. This would be done through the investigation of complaints of violations of gender violations and identifying appropriate redress.
Strategic objective 3 provided for the monitoring of state compliance with regional and international conventions, covenants and charters which had been ratified or acceded to by the Republic. The Commission would do this by conducting annual reviews and audits of state compliance with obligations under the conventions, conventions and charters, and report on a regular basis to Parliament.
Strategic objective 4 provided for the building of an effective, efficient, and sustainable institution that would fulfil its constitutional mandate on gender equality. This the Commission would achieve by creating a well-defined governance structure for effective oversight by the Commissioners over the executive.
To achieve strategic objective 1, the CGE would conduct gender transformation hearings with private sector institutions, review progress of recommendations made to entities on employment equity (EE) hearings, and investigate gender transformation hearings at three universities. A target had been set of 900 complaints to be received and attended to, 135 outreach, advocacy and legal clinics to be conducted in the provinces, and systematic investigations of the mining sector and maternal health. The decriminalisation of sex work would be done to achieve strategic objective 2.
The CGE would be facilitating a capacity development programme for municipalities, unions, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in all the provinces on the gender implications of UN Resolution 1 325 and the NDP 2030, and the work undertaken by these institutions.
The Commission would produce nine reports on a coordinated campaign developed with targeted stakeholders on gender discrimination, develop a training manual on legislation, regional and international instruments resulting in gender mainstreaming, and train its education offers to achieve strategic objective 2. The assessment of reports on regional protocols and charters, the African Gender Development Index, and consultative meetings and engagements with stakeholders on sustainable development goals would be done to achieve strategic objective 3.
To achieve strategic objective 4, the CGE would review policies relating to finance, human resources and the information communication technology (ICT) environment, achieve a clean audit report, convert from Telkom to Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and manage media and communication partnerships to achieve strategic objective 4.
Ms Maema concluded by saying that CGE funding remained the same, and the current budget was not adequate to sufficiently address gender violations and the advancement of women’s rights.
Mr Moshabi Putu, Chief Financial Officer, presented the budget for the year 2016/17. He outlined the link between the APP and the activities planned for the same period, highlighting the threats, challenges and opportunities related to the execution of the plan.
The Commission’s budget formed the main division of Vote 13 for the Department of Women in the Presidency. It was constituted of three programmes -- Governance and Support, Corporate Administration Support, and Main Service/Core. The top spending drivers were compensation of employees at 73%, followed by professional services, general office overheads, accommodation and vehicle expenses. The total allocated budget was R69.9 million. He identified and explained the risks involved in the implementation of each strategic objective, and the related mitigation strategies.
The Commission faced the challenge of inadequate funding at a time when the demand for its services had gone up. It tried to address this through continued partnerships and collaboration strategies.
Ms C Majeke (UDM) asked about the issue of forced marriages and the elimination of gender-based violence. How was the Commission engaging with communities to conduct research? What engagements had the Commission had with the justice cluster to train its staff to handle gender-based violence complaints?
Ms G Tseke (ANC) commented that the Committee agreed that the Commission’s budget was too limited and that they would lobby the Appropriation Committee and Treasury for more funding. The terms of office of the Commissioners that were coming to an end soon should be addressed so that there were no long-standing vacancies. Was the Commission accounting twice -- to the Speaker directly, and to Parliament? Why had the budget been increased drastically for most of the sub-strategies? Would the Commission be able to handle the increased complaints target with its limited capacity? Was it not too late to engage political parties when their election manifestos were being launched? The amount for audit fees was too high, and should be addressed.
Ms Tarabella- Marchesi (DA) asked about the R1 million allocated to internal auditing. The manifestos of political parties translated what the gender equality policies were about. Were these policies interrogated? Which departments would the CGE collaborate with, how would this be done, and what achievement was aimed for? Money had been allocated for IT and human resource (HR) policies -- did this mean that policies were going to be formulated or were existing policies going to be reviewed? She requested that the Commission involve the Committee in the process of drafting the next strategic plan. What was happening with the implementation of reports that had been produced?
Ms M Khawula (EFF) asked about the remuneration of female traditional leaders and what the Commission was doing to address the cases in court which involved the oppression of women, especially elderly women. She said that there was a group of women seated outside Parliament who were not being helped -- what was the Commission doing about it? What was the Commission doing about female farmers and their access to funding?
Ms D Robinson (DA) asked about the implementation of reports and the CGE’s interaction with gender focal points and gender-based violence. What progress had there been with the report on the decriminalisation of sex work?
Ms Bhengu asked how the Victim’s Charter related to gender-based violence. Would the dialogues to be conducted be different from the legal clinics that were being conducted by the Commission?
Mr Shozi responded to the political questions by saying that the issue regarding the terms of Commissioners was being attended to, and letters had been written to the President and Speaker of Parliament. Due to the limited time, the rest of the questions would be responded to in written form and submitted.
The meeting was adjourned.
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