The National Treasury briefed the Committee with reports on gender mainstreaming, gender responsive budgeting and the allocation of funding to the Department of Woman in the Presidency and the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE).
The atmosphere was notably tense, with underlying political and racial differences being articulated in certain remarks, compounded by general frustration towards the National Treasury and its perceived disregard for the Department of Women compared to other departments.
The National Treasury indicated that new budget allocation for the Department of Woman included transfers to the Commission for Gender Equality of R67.7 million in 2015/16, R69.9 million in 2016/17 and R78.3 million in 2017/18. The operational budget for the Department of Women was R126.4 million in 2016/17 and R133,6 million in the following year, with 70% of this budget allocation for the administration programme. The main drivers of the Department’s expenditure were corporate services, the ministry, management, and the financial management sub-programmes.
In response the expenditure figures, a DA Member expressed concern at the fact that vast celebrations commemorating woman were hosted, at which the President and his Deputy slept. She criticised this as being a waste of funding. This was met with disapproval by the ANC and EFF Members, who said that such contempt was unappreciated. The Chairperson interjected and made it clear that such dialogue would not be entertained, and ought to be reserved for a time other than at the Committee meeting.
The Committee was in agreement that too much of the budget was allocated for administration and not enough for implementation, which was one of the main reasons why women were not advancing in accordance with the objectives set out by the Department of Woman. The general consensus was that money was being poured down a dark hole, with no valuable outcome yielded with respect to the advancement of women.
National Treasury presented on gender responsive budgeting, expounding on the procedural requirements in submitting budgetary proposals. Only programmes that had been formally submitted by departments to the National Treasury for consideration may be funded. These proposals went to Cabinet after consideration by the Minister’s Committee on the Budget. The programmes were then assessed in terms of the government’s priority status, their potential impact and the department’s implementation readiness.
It was noted that the National Treasury had agreed to engage with the Department of Woman to further develop and implement the government-endorsed gender-responsive budgeting policy framework. Funding allocations for the budget process were guided by the 2030 National Development Plan, the Nine-point Plan for economic growth, the Industrial Policy Action Plan and other plans of government. These were linked to Medium Term Strategic Framework plans and departmental planning documents.
National Treasury also presented on gender mainstreaming, saying that embedded in the objectives of the National Treasury was the need to effect social progress and raise living standards. This was imperative, so that women were able to be elevated to positions that alleviated poverty and unemployment. It reported that between 2013 and 2016, 425 women had been positively affected by development and training opportunities geared towards empowerment.
Committee Members expressed concern over the procedural requirements for budget proposals and the lack of depth of the statistics of the employee composition at the National Treasury.
National Treasury: Allocation of funding
Mr Stadi Mngomezulu, Deputy Director General: Corporate Services, National Treasury (NT), said the Committee had asked the NT to brief it on three aspects:
how the NT, as a Department, implemented gender mainstreaming;
how Public Finance allocated funding to the Department of Woman in the Presidency (DWP); and
gender responsive budgeting in the National Treasury.
Mr George Tembo, Director: Public Finance. NT, began with the evolution of the allocation of funding for the DWP. The creation of the Ministry of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD) had beeen announced by the President in May 2009, specifically with the purpose of promoting equity and access to development opportunities for vulnerable groups in South Africa. The functions relating to gender, disability and children had previously been budgeted for in various sub-programmes within the Vote for the Presidency. These functions, and their allocated funding, had later been shifted to the DWCPD in 2010/11.
The oversight function over the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) had also been shifted from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to the new DWCPD, for which the related budget had amounted to R56.7million in 2012/13. The total budget allocation for the DWCPD had come to R114.6 million in 2012/13, with additional funding over the years in accordance with the related costs of inflation and capacity building.
In May 2014, the President had announced, once again, the transfer of functions from the DWCPD to the Department of Social Development (DSD), to be effected during the 2014 adjusted estimates of national funds. The budget allocation to the DWP hS decreased from R218.5 million in 2014/15, to R184.8 million.
Funding had been primarily used to capacitate the Department’s financial management and human resources management units, to improve internal controls and better management of resources following negative audits in 2010/11 and 2011/12. The additional resources channeled into this had been shown to be successful, with a record of no unauthorised expenditure for 2012/13. The Department had, however, begun a trend of under-spending against its budget allocation, particularly due to the vacancies in the administration programme.
The new budget allocation for the Department of Woman included transfers of R67.7 million in 2015/16, R69.9 million in 2016/17 and R78.3 million in 2017/18 to the Commission for Gender Equality. The operational budget for the Department of Women was R126.4 in 2016/17, and R133.6 million in the following year, and 70% of this budget allocation was for the administration programme.
The main drivers of the Department’s expenditure were corporate services, the ministry, management, strategic management, internal operations, communications and internal audit units, and the financial management sub-programmes.
Considering this, the National Treasury recommended a reduction in the size of the Ministry, and it would accordingly engage with both the Department of Women and the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) to agree on an appropriate size of the administration programme of the DWP. Moreover, the NT suggested that the core programmes needed to be given more funding than the administrative programmes.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) said that she had been surprised by the budget allocation once again, and was concerned that the bulk of the budget had been allocated to administration. This left very little to implement the mandate and other core programmes of the Department. When the issue had previously been raised, the DWP had responded that it was a bare minimum structure and the administration could not be changed because it would interfere with the corporate structure and affect the operation of the Department. The answer had always been that Departmental engagement with NT would commence and that the funding model would be evaluated and adjusted accordingly. However, this had yet to be realised.
Ms G Tseke (ANC) reiterated Ms Van der Merwe’s sentiments, and noted that the top-heavy funding structure also affected performance. She asked how money had been allocated to certain departments, despite those departments under-performing, how departments generally were supported by the National Treasury.
Ms M Chueu (ANC) said that the Department was supposed to solve three main issues affecting woman -- equality, poverty and unemployment. Before the Department had become one of monitoring and evaluating, from the beginning the National Treasury had not provided adequate resources. This had shown that the National Treasury did not understand the mandate and responsibility of the Department. The Department had a huge responsibility to redress the treatment of woman in the economy, especially if the goal was a healthy, growing economy.
She said that the human resources that had gone into the Department had initially been uninformed about their role and responsibilities. She questioned the recruitment processes and the competence of the chosen candidates.
She questioned how the entire R91 million budget allocation could be spent by human resources and administration. More resources needed to be channeled towards the monitoring functions within the administration programme. Gender focal points -- persons acting as gender officers in departments -- did not exercise the necessary discretion to elevate women out of their positions, but rather just complied as officers. They were therefore useless for this portfolio, because they did not perform as decision makers.
Lastly she said that the CGE had been given less money than any other commission, despite its mammoth responsibility. She questioned why some commissions, such as the Human Rights Commission and the office of the Public Protector, were prioritised over others, and wanted to know how the distinction was made.
Ms D Robinson (DA) said that the questions being asked were futile, because it seemed as though the NT was controlled by its masters and a political direction where woman were disregarded and not considered important. She said that the observance of Women’s Day and the Sixteen Days of Activism were merely tokens, and that such celebrations used unnecessarily large amounts of money. She said that there were vast celebrations, with singing, dancing and entertainment which cost a lot of money -- and at which the President and the Deputy President had fallen asleep. The problem was that the direction against women was skewed, and that women needed to be upgraded and given opportunities. With this, the Department had failed.
The gender sensitive budgeting said very little. It was very important that resources were allocated in such a way that woman could be given opportunities to be empowered. She also expressed concern about the amount allocated for training, as being excessive.
Ms Chueu responded to Ms Robinson’s remark, saying that she undermined African culture by her expression of contempt for celebrations. She could not help it that white people did not exercise the fundamental right to practice their culture, which included celebration, to the same extent. She said it was unacceptable that her leader and President be undermined. She added that any corporate structure put it members through training to bring them up to the level that was necessary to meet the requirements of their job. The perception that black people were unskilled needed to be done away with.
She said the CGE needed to be treated as an entity which was independent of the Department. The CGE had performed, but the National Treasury had not increased its funding accordingly. While the Department was still in the process of finding its feet, the CGE needed to be treated as an entity on its own, even though it was mandated by the Department, and be allocated funding independently.
Mr Tembo responded that funding for the CGE was earmarked, and it would be illegal for the Department to use that money. The money went to the Department, which ought to transfer the funds to the CGE immediately. The CGE was thus independently funded from Department’s funding pool.
Ms M Marchesi-Tarabella (DA) sad that her issue was that the budget was small, but that the Department was still expected to perform to the same standard as any other department that had a big budget. She compared it to being given a bicycle and being expected to perform like a car. She said that this was a service department and that it depended on manpower to do the work, so it made sense that administration was prioritised. She asked if the Department and its budget allocation could be structured in such a way that it did not reflect the way that other, less service-oriented, departments are.
She commented that the DWP was spending R17 million per year on rent, despite being such a small Department. The CGE had six buildings for which rent came to R2 million per year. There was no reason for this Department to be paying so much for rent. A small Department could not function in the same way as the larger departments, and could not be held accountable in the same way.
Mr Tembo responded by saying the matter of the accommodation would be raised with the Department of Public Works so that they could try to find a more affordable solution.
Ms M Khawula (EFF) said that there had been negligence and mismanagement of funds by the Department. She questioned how both over and under-spending had taken place. She raised the point that in August of this year the Committee had been taken to Pretoria for what was supposed to have been an oversight trip, but had ended up being an ANC celebration. Once again, the Department’s money was being spent fruitlessly, and the Minister ought to account for this.
Those women who had fought for women’s rights should be respected and commemorated, as they had not been fighting for women to be paid meagre wages, but to participate actively in the economy. There should be a concerted effort to ensure that women were being employed permanently in many job opportunities.
The issue of sexual harassment and gender-based violence was a problem in the country, and this was also taking place in Parliament, where Members of Parliament (MPs) were consistently being abused by security guards by being asked impertinent questions.
The Department should ensure that the information around Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) should also be shared among rural communities through community outreach programmes, as this could be used to eliminate the problem of “fronting”. It was even unclear as to where those 425 women had been deployed after receiving training from the Department.
The Acting Chairperson responded that the questions raised by Ms Khawula were being asked at the incorrect time, since they were addressed to the Department. She asked that questions be restricted to those pertaining to the presentations by the National Treasury.
The Chairperson said that the DWP was not performing well, but that there were other departments who had shown progress in the area of gender mainstreaming. What had been found, however, was that funds allocated for gender mainstreaming were not necessarily being used for their purpose. She wanted to know whether the funds allocated to gender mainstreaming had been used for that purpose, and what monitoring protocols the National Treasury had in place.
Mr Tembo responded that the budget allocation for the DWP could be moved around. The Department was not bound to the budget and that together with the National Treasury, it was authorized to move allocations around to appropriately meet the mandate of the Department and effect performance. At the inception of the Department, there had been around R12 million allocated to the Deputy Minister, who had later migrated to the Department of Social Development. The R12 million, however, had remained in the Department of Woman, which the National Treasury had suggested be used to fund the other programmes in the Department. What had been found, however, was that the R12 million had been retained in the Ministry.
He admitted that this was a new department and it had arrived at a time of slow growth in the economy, which meant there was little money in circulation. It had become difficult then to provide the money required for the operation of the new department. Any money provided for the new department had to be prioritised from the existing department.
The Department’s budget had been growing since its genesis, but not necessarily at an ideal rate. However, it also did not help that the Department was not spending the allocated funding and often reported over and under-spending. This suggested that the Department was not spending efficiently. This made it difficult to persuade committees that this Department would spend the allocated money appropriately.
It was important to accept that the Department should not be expected to achieve the objectives that were outside the funding allocated to it. In defining performance targets and outputs, it had always been said that it was acknowledged that the Department wanted to do more but given its size, it could only do so much. The Department needed to rather identify targets and outputs that were in line with their resource allocation, and then proceed to achieve those targets. This would indicate the Department’s readiness to absorb higher levels of funding in the future.
He said that at the conceptual level, the Department was slowly progressing. As a Department that has not been established through legislation, it had had to map out its own objective and targets and had made significant headway in this respect. The focus was now moving towards women’s empowerment, rather than on everything relating to women.
Mr Tembo said that he would engage with the relevant entities to give substance to the concerns raised by the Members.
National Treasury: Gender Responsive Budgeting
Ms Prudence Cele, Policy Analyst: Budget Reform, National Treasury, said that there were various budgeting initiatives that were attempting to redress imbalances which had begun even before the establishment of the Department of Women. The departments concerned were those such as the Departments of Police, Justice, Social Development, Health and others.
Gender-responsive budgeting was broader than the mere tallying of expenditure on women and girls as part of the country’s budget. Gender mainstreaming identified gender patterns in society and aligned policies and expenditure to address prevailing gender-based inequalities. Gender-aware performance planning was thus necessary before any gender-responsive budgeting initiatives could have any impact.
The challenges faced in developing a gender responsive budget were that there was no practiced and coherent gender-responsive budgeting policy framework to use as a template, and also that data collection and management, necessary for a responsive budget, was costly.
The National Treasury had agreed to engage with the Department of Woman to further develop and implement the government-endorsed gender-responsive budgeting policy framework. Funding allocations for the budget process were guided by the 2030 National Development Plan, the Nine-Point Plan for economic growth, the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) and other plans of government. These were linked to Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) plans and departmental planning documents.
Only programmes that were formally submitted by departments to the National Treasury for consideration may be funded. These proposals went to Cabinet after consideration by the Minister’s Committee on the Budget. The programmes were then assessed in terms of their government priority status, their potential impact and the department’s implementation readiness.
National Treasury: Gender Mainstreaming
Mr Mngomezulu proceeded to brief the Committee on gender mainstreaming. He began by expounding on the mandate and structure of the National Treasury. The ten strategic goals and outcomes of the institution were also briefly mentioned.
Embedded in the objectives of the National Treasury was the need to effect social progress and raise living standards. This was imperative for the woman of South Africa so that they were able to be elevated to positions that alleviated poverty and unemployment. The programmes that had been implemented had not necessarily been as effective as they should have been.
Mr Takalani Musekwa, Director: Talent Management, National Treasury, said that NT’s gender mainstreaming strategy, focusing on women’s empowerment in the Department, had been approved in March 2013. The cornerstone policies included the employment equity policy, the sexual harassment policy, and recruitment and selection.
In the period between 2013 and 2016, 425 women had been positively affected by the development and training opportunities geared towards empowerment. The programmes had included the Women in Leadership Programme (15 women in 2016/16), executive coaching (four women in 2015/16), promotional opportunities (58% of all promotions were awarded to women within the Department), international secondment opportunities (six women at the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development), 55% of females had been enrolled in trainee internship, and 90 women were holders of internal programme bursaries, as opposed to the 68 that belonged to men. Finally, six women were holders of external bursaries.
The National Treasury had also facilitated numerous initiatives to create an enabling environment. These included support services such as a feeding/lactation room within the National Treasury employee wellness centre, on-site clinic services specifically for women, flexible working hours and a child-supportive working environment. Moreover, NT conducted an employee engagement survey which encouraged comments and suggestions towards improvement.
In addition to this, the National Treasury was subject to the control of the gender focal points, oversight by the employment equity committee, and was required to report to the Department of Woman and Children.
The National Treasury had committed itself to gender mainstreaming and had implemented a strategy to give effect to women’s empowerment through ongoing engagement with universities on strategies to improve the uptake by women students in unidentified fields, and support in the form of continued internal development programmes, among other means.
The Acting Chairperson asked about disability figures in the National Treasury.
Mr Mngomezulu said that the number of employees with disabilities stood at 1%, which was parallel to other Departments. He added that when a disability was not visible, people often neglected to report it or purposefully admit it. The disability figures were therefore not always reliable.
Ms Tarabella-Machesi said that it concerned her that the Department was required to prove that the issues targeted by departmental budget proposals needed to be advocated so vigorously before being considered for funding.
Ms Chueu said that the excuse that South Africa a young country with a struggling economy was not enough. She requested that more detailed statistics be provided on the composition of staff in the NT. She added that all departments needed to be made more child friendly, and not just the National Treasury.
Mr Mngomezulu said that this was the first time that the National Treasury had presented to the Department, and that the Department’s recommendations were highly appreciated for future reference. He added that most of the statistics were available in the annual report. He admitted that it had not been possible to cover all the areas and statistics, especially given the brief prior to the presentation had also been limited.
Other Committee Business
The minutes of previous Committee meetings were not adopted, because some Committee Members had already left.
It was suggested by the Acting Chairperson that a letter be drafted and addressed to the Speaker concerning what should be done in terms of recruiting a Chairperson after the end her term of office in January.
The Acting Chairperson adjourned the meeting.
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