The Department of Women in the Presidency (DoW) briefed the Committee on quarter four of the 2015/16 financial year and quarter one of the 2016/17 financial year.
Members expressed disappointment with regard to the under- and over-spending of the Department. They drew attention to the number of targets that had not been achieved, particularly in programme 2, which spoke to the women’s empowerment programme of the Department, which was its core business. There had been a number of draft documents which had been compiled, but had not been finalised.
The Committee raised concerns over the fact that although the Department’s programmes had been reduced from four to three, many targets had not been achieved, even though the number of employees had remained the same; it was not meeting its obligation to pay suppliers within 30 days; and too much was spent on travel, and not enough on issues such as gender violence and women’s pay parity. There was also concern that the lack of response by other government departments to requests for information showed a lack of regard for the Department of Women.
Ms Jenny Schreiner, Director General, Department of Women, raised few issues in her opening remarks. Firstly, in the 2015/16 Annual performance, it could be observed that some of the indicators had shifted and the work taken forward to the next financial year. The publishing and the release of the status of the women’s report and presidential directives had also had a significant impact. Secondly, there was a mature organisation in terms of management system, and there were aspects of this management system that would impact on the work of the Department going forward.
An audit steering committee was in place which functioned on a monthly basis from which the Department took findings from the internal audit and Auditor General (AG) reports. This would enable the department to identify and work towards resolving the findings going forward, by putting them into its action plan. For example, in strategic management there had been nine findings, and they were in the process of being corrected and cleared. In information technology (IT), four findings were being worked on.
There was also an impact steering action committee in place, which gave the Department an impact report on an annual basis. When the Department received the impact report, it helped it to work on tools that would improve on its management performance.
Ms Val Mathobela, Chief Director: Strategic Management, took the Committee through the fourth quarter review.
Ms G Tseke (ANC) said the Department was not doing well in programme 2 in either quarter one or quarter four. Most of the targets in this programme had not been achieved and implemented. Even though all the programmes of this Department were important, but programme 2 was the most important. It was the core business of the Department. For example, it spoke to the women’s empowerment programme of the Department. The Committee had continuously raised the issue of policy documents and frameworks of the Department. Its monitoring and evaluation document was always in a draft form. When would it be finalised? This was a key document that would assist the Department to monitor and evaluate other departments. The Committee would like to see an improvement.
Had a smart target been set for the consultation document on the provision of child care best practices? Could it be implemented by the Department? It did not look implementable.
The President had directed that all service providers be paid within 30 days, so why was the Department not paying its service providers?
The Department had raised concerns about the unresponsiveness of other departments in giving them necessary information. Had this issue been taken to the Minister, or in meetings of the DG’s, or at other political levels?
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) said some of the targets had not been achieved, yet the budget had been utilised. There may be something wrong with the Department’s planning, and it may need to go back to the drawing board. Some of the targets were not smart or achievable. A draft document could not be called a target achieved. How could the Department monitor and evaluate in the absence of a finalised document when it was supposed to keep other departments in check, to see if they were complying with legislation?
Why did other departments do not respond to, or comply with, requests from the Department for information? Why was the Department not being taken seriously? This was preventing the Department from achieving its targets. What was the Department doing about it?
Regarding the compensation of employees in relation to vacancy rates, one of the Department’s main cost drivers was travel and subsistence. There was gender-based violence, women were not paid as they were supposed, yet the Department spent a lot of money on travelling. This reduced the funds available for the core programmes. Had the Department engaged with the Treasury in terms of its funding model? If the bulk of the money went to salaries and international or local travelling, where would the money for the implementation of other core programmes be obtained from?
Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) said the programmes of the Department had been reduced from four to three, but the number of employees had remained constant -- yet some of the targets had still not been met. How had the allocation of job responsibilities within the programmes been done, now that they had been reduced from four to three? How could the employees be utilised to achieve the changed targets? A large chunk of the budget went to administration, and that was a concern to both the Committee and Treasury. There should be a way to make the Department efficient. The directive by the President had given it the authority to probe other departments on how they were empowering women. The Department of Human Settlements had given R3 billion for women’s empowerment, that was 0.09% of its total budget. It was a drop in the sea. Yet the department has the power to say that 30% should be allocated for women’s empowerment. What was the department doing in this regard?
On the remuneration of employees, how had the Department got to the stage of over-expenditure as foreseen by the Treasury?
Ms M Khawula (EFF) asked what the Department was doing about the recent high school protest in Pretoria, On women-owned companies, which companies were these, and where were they located? This would assist the Committee during its oversight visits. Where did the Department get the money that it overspends? What was it doing on this issue of over-expenditure?
Under compliance, the Chairperson had noted that the Department had received nine out of 21 reports, and only three departments had complied, as shown in the presentation. Why was compliance limited to these departments? Were there other useful projects in those departments?
Clarification was needed with respect to where the employees had been transferred to, now that the programmes had been reduced to three.
Was the Committee getting value for money? Was the Department taking the Committee towards the national development plan (NDP) priority? What was it doing on the issue of land? What was each directorate doing, if not working on programmes? On the 50-50 issue with the private sector, had there been any achievements for women? Was the Department doing its monitoring and evaluation in this regard? How could it stay with its target and later find out that it had not been achieved? Had the Department started it dialogue with the provinces, as it had mentioned?
Ms Tseke commended the Department on its outreach initiatives, its Women’s Month programme and the gender-based campaign that it was doing. A report of the impact of these programmes, and how many people attended, was needed. The Department of Human settlement (DHS) said it had allocated R3 billion from its total budget to women’s empowerment initiatives, and claimed it had 112 beneficiaries out of all the women in the country. Who were these women? Detailed information on these women must be provided to the Committee.
Ms Van der Merwe commented on the development of the easy guide to gender mainstreaming. What was the current state of this guide? Was it being redrafted? Did the Department have all the requisite skills in the right programme?
Ms Schreiner answered on the question of the lack of progress made in programme 2. Programme 2 was a fundamentally critical programme. The Department was making significant progress in the programme at the moment. It had received an analysis of the departmental responses, and was currently planning on engaging with the Directors General of other departments on solutions moving forward. It was working towards the need to align with these departments, like the Department of Justice. A discussion document was also in progress that would help the Department to better engage further with other departments.
On the frameworks being in draft stage, she pointed out that the Department’s framework could have begun only from July 2014. The mandate of the Department at this stage was specifically informed by the directive of the President. It was working very closely with the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) to develop these frameworks. It was utilising a variety of forums to get the buy-in of departments. In some departments, for example, the main challenge was that the monitoring and evaluation in their own management systems had not been engendered.
On violence against women, the Department had had a particular target given to it, and it was concentrating on that.
On child care best practices, this could have been crafted more carefully to be clearer. The Department of Social Development already had an approved Early Child Development (ECD) policy and framework, and was currently in the implementation phase of it. The Department was more concerned about the child care programme that had been rolled out -- whether it was assisting women to be more economically and socially active, the best practices to be looking at in terms of child care, apart from looking after the best interests of the child, which was Social Development’s responsibility. The Department was looking at how the child care programme enabled the active participation of women in society.
There was a budget committee that met on monthly basis to look at whether the Department was over- or under-spending. In the first quarter, there had been a reinstatement of eight people which had required funding in the first quarter. In addition, the Department had employed contract workers to assist in the project of the 60th anniversary of the women’s march. There was also the audit steering committee formed to make sure that the findings that came from the AG’s audit report were being addressed.
On relationship between the department’s expenditure and delivery, in programme 2, for example, a large portion of the expenditure was on salaries.
Referring to the shift from four programmes to three, she said that last year the Department had had a disjuncture between an organisational structure that had the administrative programme covered by the finance division called the management division, and the strategic management division. There had also been two branches under this programme. Most programmes correlated with the other, so the Department had mapped out a better organisational financial structure. It had identified where the funding pressures were, and were working on it. It was engaging with Treasury through the Deputy-Director General on the Committee’s concern over the skewed budget allocation.
The Pretoria high school protest was not the responsibility of the Department, but it would engage with the department that had the responsibility, by giving its input.
The 50/50 challenge to the private sector on employment equity was being monitored by the Employment Equity Commission. The Department has engaged with the Department of Labour to facilitate an interaction with the Commission, and a meeting was under way in this regard. It was a monitoring process, and the Department would focus on the analysis, which had been found to be quite alarming.
The dialogue with the provinces had not started. The Department was still exploring how to start and grow the process going forward.
On the skills audit, the Department had considered everybody and deployed them according to their skills.
The easy guide was a work in process.
Mr Prince Booi, Chief Director: Economic Empowerment and Participation, Department of Women, thanked the Committee for their recommendations. The Department would look at all of their concerns.
The Chairperson advised that the Department should respond to the other questions in writing because of time constraints.
Ms Khawula asked the Department what picture they were painting of themselves by over-spending and under-spending. It seemed the Department could not handle funds. It said that appointments had been frozen -- which positions were those? The Department had also said that there was no problem in filling positions, yet there were vacancies, so what was the problem?
Mr Shiviti Mbhazima, Chief Director, Corporate Management, said that appointments had been frozen as a result of budget cuts.
The meeting was adjourned.
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