The Portfolio Committee on Women in the Presidency considered the draft Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR). The Committee Content Advisor gave a brief overview of the mandate of the Committee, a description of the core functions of the Department of Women in the Presidency (DWP) and the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE), and the purpose of the BRRR.
The main focus of the BRRR was on the observations and recommendations made for the DWP and CGE, which had been obtained from an analysis of the 2015/16 financial year. The Department had revised its strategic and annual performance plans for 2016/17, and this had resulted in a review of the 2015/16 annual performance plan for the third and fourth quarters.
In order for the Committee to take informed decisions, it had consulted the following reports and documents: Section 32 reports of the National Treasury, the DWP annual report for 2015/16, reports of the Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA), the Management Performance Assessment Tool (MPAT) results for 2015, the 2015 State of the Nation Address, and oversight reports on the DWP and CGE. It was important to note that the report showed targets that were achieved and not achieved by the Department and the CGE, and the reasons that had led to these outcomes. What was also of importance were the changes in the revised 2015/16 annual performance plan for the second six months of the year, where four programmes had been reduced to three, although the budget structure had not changed.
Some of the key BRRR recommendations made by the Committee were related to issues involving the audit action plan, and the Department’s financial performance, human resources and governance. Performance-related recommendations dealt with adherence to SMART principles in setting targets, collaboration with other departments, monitoring and evaluation, events/campaigns/conferences, gender-responsive budgeting, gender focal points, treaty compliance frameworks and time frames, legislative and policy reform, and interaction with National Treasury.
The Portfolio Committee Members agreed to adopt the report, with amendments.
Draft Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR)
Ms Kashifa Abrahams, Committee Content Adviser, said most of the report contained information of which the Portfolio Committee (PC) was already aware following the briefing from the Auditor General (AG), Committee researchers, the Department and the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), as well as her own input. The most important focus of the meeting would be the observations and recommendations.
Ms Abrahams started by giving the BRRR 2016's overview of the Committee's mandate. It was responsible for the Department of Women in the Presidency (DPW) and the CGE. She gave an indication of what the BRRR entailed and the method used to develop the BRRR. Last year, the Financial and Fiscal Commission had spoken to the PC, but this year the AG had addressed it instead. The Committee also looked at and introduced some of the briefing in relation to departments, and made recommendations and observations that came from oversight.
In the State of the Nation Address (SONA) there had been no specific mention of women. It had been much more generic, but the focus had been on dealing with crime, which included matters relating to gender-based violence, as well as economic empowerment. In the SONA, the President had outlined the Nine-Point Plan which was intended to ignite growth and create jobs. The Department had responded to the presentation on how to deal with some of those priorities in 2015/16. In terms of the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) and delivery outcomes, the report gives a rundown of what the Department received in 2014 as compared to 2015/16 and what had been transferred to the CGE, as well as the outline of the delivery agreement targets for 2015/16.
Ms Abrahams explained the outcomes-based approach and indicated that it was important to note on page 4 (see document) the department's reduced scores concerning Management Performance Assessment Tools (MPAT). In this report, the assessment outlined in detail the areas that had declined and made acknowledgement of areas that had improved. Two important things picked up in the observations were that the MPAT assessment coincided with what the AG had found, as well as with the DWP's observations and the audit of this PC. The Department had revised its annual performance plan (APP) in the last month of the 2015/16 financial year, with four programmes being reduced to three, which meant there were changes in its strategic goals as well as to the sub-programmes. It was important to note that Treasury, for all the DWP’s quarterly expenditures, had still evaluated it against four programmes, because when the Members had voted for the budget , it had been for four programmes with those targets. This meant the AGSA findings that would be looked at later would show non-coherence because the APP had been changed and the targets did not coincide with the APP and the strategic plan.
2015 BRRR recommendations
Ms Abrahams said in terms of the BRRR recommendations for 2015, the Department should submit a quarterly report from the second quarter on how they would develop action plans that gave effect to the recommendations made by the AGSA. As part of the Committee's oversight, it had asked questions and the DWP now needed to look at the responses and how it would do things differently going forward. The important thing to note with this Audit Action Plan was that it was not implemented properly, because there had been no oversight, monitoring and evaluation.
The issues concerning the financial performance were that all reports had been submitted, but there were some serious challenges around internal control, risk mitigation and spending trends, because the Department had spent 99% of its budget and achieved less than half of its targets. On the issue of Human Resources the Department had done the skills audit, but there had still been a problem with meeting the targets. On resignations and termination of contracts, the issue was around special leave going forward for this financial year, because these issues had been addressed in 2014/15. On governance, some particular concerns had arisen on what needed to be done and AGSA had said there were some serious concerns again in this financial year, so it was a repeat finding. On bids and internal audit, the DWP had been asked if there were any bids that needed advertising, and it had said there was no need, but the AGSA had found that in 2015/16 there was one contract that had needed to go to the bids committee, but it had not. In relation to internal audit, problems had been identified last year and AGSA had told the Department to look into the problems. It had reported back, saying it had capacitated the unit, but this year the AGSA had still found problems.
Ms Abrahams went through the SMART principle, and indicated that this had been a consistent problem. The Committee had urged the DWP to ensure that its targets were better. The same applied to collaborations, as it had been insisted that the Department should work with other departments to ensure delivery of targets and to avoid duplication. On the issue of monitoring and evaluation and events/campaigns, there had been specific recommendations and requests for information. When it came to campaigns and events, the PC should insist on getting reports from the Department with costings -- not at the end of the year, but during the year.
With regard to gender-responsive budgeting and gender focal points, these were issues that were still being rolled over. The issue around compliance with treaties was not only about submitting reports, but to see that when recommendations were received from the African Union (AU) or United Nations (UN), they were monitored and implemented. On legislation and policy reform, the Department had briefed the Committee on gaps identified within policies and laws, but no evidence had been submitted, so this had to be done.
Ms Abrahams turned to the Commission for Gender Equality. It had responded to all the recommendations in the BRRR, with only one issue around the condonement of the R33 million which they said they asked from Treasury, and they still waiting for a response. The CGE had implemented all the recommendations that had been put forward for them. The summary of the financial performance per programme showed that the Department had a final budget of R189 million and had spent R188 million. With savings of R736 000, performance against budget had been 99.61%. The key cost drivers had been cost of employment (CoE) and goods and services. The adminstration programme received more and spent more funds compared to the other programmes. The issue around the conditional grant was that the money the DWP had received from Treasury for activities against gender-based violence had been only half spent, and it was not quite certain what had been done with the other half.
Overview and assessment of financial performance
Ms Abrahams said that as indicated earlier, each summary of the programme provided details on what the key costs were and how much was spent. For Programme 1, the DWP had overspent by 102.4% of their budget of R82.91 million. Programme 2 had spent 99% of the budget and an under-expenditure of R271 000 had been incurred. It was important to note in this programme that two of the sub-programmes had not received any money, and the delivery was also poor. In Programme 3, an over-expenditure of R256 000 was incurred. On Programmme 4, the Department had spent 82% of the budget, and had had an under-expenditure of R2.713 million. Another important issue to note was that in the 2016/17 financial year, the Department had moved from four programmes to three because they had combined programmes three and four.
Reports of Director General and AGSA on funding situation
The Director-General’s (DG)'s report indicated the amount the DWP had received, how much was used and what it had achieved. In the AGSA's report on findings concerning performance information and financial statements, the targets could not be matched clearly, there was poor internal audit, and there were major concerns around leadership and governance and the lack of internal control. The AGSA had provided clear details to the Department as what was required to improve its performance outcomes in the next financial year. The CGE had received a clean audit from the AGSA, although it had received repeat material findings, and it could be difficult to mantain the audit outcomes if these were not addressed. The AGSA recommended that the Committee request management to provide feedback on the implementation and progress during quarterly reporting, as well as on the status of key controls. A new recommendation was that the Committee should request the management for details quarterly of action taken against transgressors to hold them accountable for their actions. It was a new recommendation by the AGSA, and it was important.
Ms Abrahams said there was poor financial performance in 2015/16, in that they had spent money but not delivering. Treasury had also noted an early warning sign that they were overspending on the cost of employment, so the same finding could be expected by the end of year 2016/17. She reminded the Committee that there were only three programmes for 2016/17, and this was significant because when looking over a five year period, it would be difficult to compare the financial years as they would be looking at a different number of programmes each year. It was therefore important to insist that when the Department presented their next APP, they should stick with those programmes till the end of the cycle.
Sections that followed gave highlights were targets were achieved. The adminstration programme usually met targets, Programme 2 had no targets, and the implication of this was that bearing in mind 2015/16 had not met any targets, there would be a roll over. This meant two roll overs, putting so much pressure on the third quarter and fourth quarter to deliver, including the cost implications. It had been agreed with the AGSA that managers needed to spend the budget that was available to efficiently deliver on targets, with core programmes that were reliant on competent staff.
Ms Abrahams went through the section on overview and assessment of service delivery performance, which provided detail of the actual targets for each programme for 2015/16. In summary, the Department achieved 34 (47%) targets out of 72 (because of two APPs for 2015/16), and 38 (53%) were not achieved, and spent 99.6% of its budget. The Department had highlighted several achievements for 2015/16, but most of them were actually related to human resources and finance, which was administration, rather than events and campaigns.
Ms Abrahams also went through the Committee's observations and response by the Department and CGE. The Committee noted that the annual reports of the DWP and CGE had been submitted early, which was commendable. The Committee concurred with all the findings and recommendations of the AGSA and acknowledged those of the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) and the MPAT result in 2015. It was concerned with the Department submitting a revised APP towards the end of the 2015/16 financial year, noting that it had been tabled on 1 March 2016, which was the last month of the financial year, and she asked how the DWP expected the Committee to do stringent oversight when it introduced a new APP so late. Even though it was late, the targets were still not SMART enough. It was important to note observation (e), which said that the changes in the strategic direction by the Department, as alluded to in the revised APP of 2015/16, posed a problem for the Committee to assess performance against agreed targets which had been budgeted for. This was an important observation, because Members voted for this budget based on the initial strategic plan and APP, so the Committee had noted with concern, when conducting its oversight through engaging with other entities, the poor progress with respect to gender mainstreaming and the overall lack of understanding of the Department's mandate as the key driver in this regard.
The Committee acknowledged the Department's reference to the policy imperatives, but it was unclear whether the work undertaken by the DWP during 2015/16 had enabled progress towards achieving the National Development Plan (NDP) priorities. The Committee had engaged with several departments focusing on gender mainstreaming, and found that they still used the National Gender Policy Framework as a point of reference. However the Department's current annual plan report did not refer to this framework, which was a point of concern. The Committee was concerned as to what policy the Department was using to drive gender mainstreaming. Ms Abrahams pointed out that every department had a policy and law that guided it, The National Gender Policy Framework was old, and in this annual report the DWP does not even talk about it. So the question to be asked was, what was the Department using to help public entities and the private sector to mainstream gender? If that policy was old, it should be reviewed. The Committee had noted that during the year under review, the Department had received additional funding from the National Treasury for gender-based violence initiatives in addition to the fund appropriated for campaigns in programme 4. Moreover, these appeared to be once-off initiatives, limited to a particular province only. This was fine to do for an event and campaign, on condition that it was sustainable, and there was impact and reach, even if one introduced it in one province, to show how people could benefit nationally.
Governance and operational Issues
The Committee noted with concern the repeat findings by the AGSA and the repeated calls by the Committee itself. On the DPME findings, the Committee was concerned about the areas in which the Department scored low within the MPAT for 2015. With regard to compliance, it noted with concern the irregular expenditure, unauthorised fruitless and wasteful expenditure incurred by the Department, and questioned whether disciplinary measures were taken against the transgressors. AGSA had referred to two issues – and amount of over R500 000, which should have gone to the bid committee but was not submitted, and something under R500 000 for which they did not get three quotes. The committee noted with concern the forensic investigation referred to by the AGSA, and requested more information in this regard, as well as investigations which should be undertaken. Leadership was the key observation, and the Committee had noted with serious concern the AGSA findings that the accounting officer and senior management did not exercise adequate oversight responsibility regarding financial performance reporting and compliance, and the audit action plan was not adequately monitored to address internal and external audit findings. In addition, the leadership of the Department was found by the AGSA not to have addressed non-compliance by initiating investigations to determine who should be held accountable. This finding was in contrast to what the Department had presented to the Committee during the quarterly reviews, in which it assured the Committee that compliance matters were being addressed.
Ms Abrahams said there was a top-heavy structure, with 36 employees at the senior management level and the staff complement was 111. The ratio of managers to staff appeared to be1:2. In terms of the cost benefit of this structure, the Committee was concerned that the performance outcome was not at the desired level. This brought into question the ability/competency of existing staff to deliver on their objectives, and the Committee was not convinced about expanding the current workforce of the Department until there was delivery of key targets. The Department had asked for more funding, saying it needed more people for human resources.
Looking at the CGE, it had a 102 staff compliment and only six people in senior management, and had been able to achieve 99% of its targets. When it came to vacancies, they looked at the responsibility and divide it amongst the senior management already in place. CGE had also said senior management was directly involved in the delivery of targets. On the issue of vacancies, the Committee noted that five staff members had been moved to the Department of Public Service and Administration, but it was unclear why. It was concerned that only 11 members had been evaluated against the 111 approved posts for the year under review. It acknowledged the completion of the skills audit and subsequent reallocation, but despite this reallocation, they still could not meet their target. Government was trying to say the department should use fewer consultants. A number of resignations were noted.
The Committee noted that the fruitless expenditure amounted to R16 million for 2014/15 and 2015/16, and had raised questions about those responsible and the investigations. With the conditional grant, the question had been what the money was spent on, and what the impact and outcome of the initiatives were, as very little detail was provided. On irregular expenditure, the Committee again questioned what type of internal controls were in place. On unauthorised expenditure and fruitless and wasteful expenditure, what effective steps had been taken?
Service delivery performance
Ms Abrahams went through the unmet targets from 2015/16, as well as first quarter of 2016/17. On performance outcomes, the question to be asked was, despite the Department's intentions, was it actually delivering on the socio-economic challenges faced by women in the country in order to bring about gender equality? On the impact of events/campaigns, the Committee welcomed additional informational, but still needed reports to interrogate. With the national dialogues, it had not done any in 2015/16, and intended doing them in 2016/17. However, the concern was that there was not a duplication with the CGE, which was doing really well. The Department spent R4.5 million for 11 overseas trips for a total of 49 officials, which was an average of over R90 000 per person. A report was needed on International trips.
CGE was commended for receiving a clean audit. The Committee was aware of the Kader Asmal Report, and still needed to look at it. Regarding the pending vacancies, the CGE Amendment Act had been checked and according to the Act, it was actually Parliament that called for the nomination of Commissioners and there was a process under way to address that. In terms of governance, the Committee concurred with the findings, and the issue of 3G cards was addressed. The CEO had indicated that there were much more stringent contracts with the service provider around the use of 3G cards.
The Committee's concern was on how the Department would ensure that over expenditure of R1.5 million in the first quarter would not be repeated. It had assured the Committee that it would adhere to meeting targets and budget costing.
On vacancies, employees did not leave because they did not like the CGE, but they left for better salaries at other Chapter 9 institutions. This was because the funding model of CGE was different from other Chapter 9 institutions. There were two disciplinary cases, and the Committee had requested more information on those cases.
Ms M Khawula (EFF) asked the Chairperson to allow the speaker to elaborate further on the Kader Asmal report.
Ms Abrahams said the Kader Asmal report was about eight years old and was an assessment to see how the Chapter 9 institutions were working, how they were being funded and how issues of human rights structures should work in a country. It gave particular recommendations but procedurally that report had never formally been adopted in the House. One of the recommendations had been given effect to, and that was for the establishment of the Office for Institutions Supporting Democracy (OISD) in Parliament, which was supposed to be dealing with Chapter 9 Institutions. The challenge was the fact that the report had not been adopted, and it was difficult to draw on the particular recommendations, but it still bore relevance regarding issues of funding. It noted how the various Chapter 9 institutions were funded differently, and that there needed to be synergy with that. Also regarding employment, a legal officer for the CGE, for example, should not be paid less compared to a legal officer in the Public Protector or the Human Rights Commission.
Ms M Chueu (ANC) added that in the Kader Asmal report, there was also a negative view of the CGE, which suggested that it had to merge with the Human Rights Commission. She did not agree with that, because once it merged it would swallow women's issues and they would not be raised as key issues.
Ms Abrahams moved on to the programme, and indicated that it had been noted how the CGE was dealing with rollover cases. Members had also asked about case management, gender equality, gender discrimination, human trafficking, and the monitoring and evaluation of the impact of its policy dialogues /legal clinics. The Committee had commended the CGE for exceeding the number of legal clinics undertaken and number of cases opened as a result. These legal clinics were often undertaken with limited or no funding, but implemented through partnerships. The Committee had highlighted that the expansion of these legal clinics could not occur in the absence of funding. The reason why the Committee needed to ask the Treasury for more money was because there was so little staff at the CGE, and few offices.
Ms Abrahams indicated that in preparation for finalising the 2016 BRRR, there were some issues that had not been raised during the deliberations with the DWP, but still had a bearing on the report to be considered. These had been included under “Observations and Recommendations.”
Observations - For the Department:
(a) 5 year strategic goals - the need to assess if the goals and targets had been achieved, since it was now halfway through the five year cycle.
(b) Lack of Accountability - the Committee was particularly concerned by the lack of consequence management by the accounting officer and senior management.
(c) Poor performance - the Committee was concerned by the lack of consequence management for senior management when failing to reach targets.
(d) Focus of the Department - the Minister had pointed out that she would be looking at the Sanitary Dignity Campaign. The key issue here was on sexual reproductive health, not just the issuing of the sanitary towels, because there was no capacity to issue free sanitary towels around the country. The concern should be on policy, and what the Department of Basic Education (DBE) was doing about sexual reproductive rights issues, to the extent that girls missed school over this.
Recommendations- For the Department:
- Ensuring alignment - between its Strategic Plan and its APP, which included objectives and targets that were SMART and costed accordingly. The Department must remain focused and desist from embarking on activities that did not fall within its mandate.
- Strengthening existing policy - the Department should brief the Committee on its policy position with regard to gender mainstreaming and clearly indicate any changes, if required, to the existing National Gender Policy Framework.
- Monitoring and evaluation - the Department should be requested to present its findings on all analysis, monitoring and evaluations undertaken.
- Internal control and risk management - the Department's audit and Risk Committeee should brief the Committeee in the second quarter of 2016/17 on the challenges and recommendations made. The Department must provide the Committee with a detailed outline of the measures in place to strengthen internal control and risk management. It should brief the Committee on the risk mitigation measures it had applied, to ensure that targets were reached within the core programmes.
- Consequence management - the Department must report to the Committee on progress made with regard to implementing the recommendations made by the AGSA, and Audit and Risk Committee and the DPME, via the MPAT 2015.
Recommendations in BRRR Report
(a) Audit Action Plan: The Department should address the root cause of the problems, clearly articulate specific actions and submit that information during the year, not at the end. The Department should monitor and evaluate the implemention of action plans and progress reports and these should be submitted to the Committee with every quarterly report.
(b) Financial Performance: The Department was requested to submit the report quarterly. They should provide the Committee with a detailed report on risk management controls. The Department should monitor spending trends and ensure that these were in keeping with what had been outlined. Reports should be submitted during the year, not at the end of the year.
(c) Human Resources: It was proposed that staff be reallocated from Programme 1 to other programmes, to assist in reaching targets. Senior management should be directly involved in contributing to the delivery of targets. Vacancies should be filled in within the time allocation. On the skills audit, the Department should provide the outcome and action required to address the skills deficit and the impact on the proposed new structure. It should provide a written report on the reasons for the dismissal of staff, resignations, termination of contracts and their subsequent impact on service delivery.
(d) Governance: The Committee reiterated the importance of compliance with the Public Finance Management Act and National Treasury Regulations by the Department, and failure to do so must be dealt with expeditiously. The Department should report on the forensic investigation/s referred to by the AGSA.
(e) Performance-related recommmendations: the Department should ensure that the targets are SMART. The Department should ensure improved collaboration with the CGE and all other relevant organs of the state, as well as civil society. Ms Abrahams suggested that the Department find out from the CGE when they do the legal clinics, since they would have partnered already with the Human Rights Commission and others, and already done research beforehand, so all they needed was to join with them. Once they had done that, whatever issue had been raised, they could go directly to the CGE and open a case.
Ms Chueu also suggested that by collaborating with the CGE, they could even expand on the little budget that they had, especially in the areas they could not cover, and expand their programmes.
Ms Abrahams moved on to monitoring and evaluation, noting that the Department should present the approved monitoring and evaluation framework to the Committee. Reports were important, because that was the measure to hold the Department accountable. On events/campaigns, it should inform the Committee in advance of all initiatives it intended undertaking. On gender-responsive budgeting, it should brief the Committee on the framework and brief them on the progress made by municipalities. On gender focal points, it should update the Committee on the progress of the Department of Public Service and Administration. In terms of treaty compliance with framework and timeframes, the DWP should ensure that all reports were submitted within the specified timeframes as required by the relevant reporting bodies. On legislative policy reform, the Department should brief the Committee on gaps identified within policies and laws on a regular basis. Further, it should table all reports developed within 30 days of completion for the Committee to consider.
The following recommendations should be implemented by the CGE:
(a) Finance - ensure there was an action plan that was related to the recommendations made by the AGSA. All actions must be submitted to the Committee with the second quarterly report for 2016/17. The CGE should update the Committee with regard to the R33 million which was meant to be condoned by the National Treasury. It should maintain tight control over its budget and avoid over-expenditure in 2016/17.
(b) Governance - the CGE should ensure that its control measures were implemented to mitigate non-compliance with legislation and Treasury regulations.
(c) Programme performance - the CGE should monitor and evaluate the impact and outcome of the initiatives it implements. It should also explore moving from a manual case management system to an electronic system, because currently it was writing everything on paper. With the electronic system it would be easier to record and track cases, not only in a province, but nationally. It should continue to provide the Committee with an account of the performance of Commissioners on a quarterly basis. It should explore and advocate if the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA) could be amended to introduce stronger provisions to address gender equality.
(d) National Treasury - the CGE's funding model should be aligned with the rest of the Chapter Nine institutions. It should be provided with additional funds in order to retain existing staff and attract new staff. Ms Abrahams suggested that the Treasury should give the CGE funds, but perhaps as a start off should look at provinces which had a huge population, fewer staff and a high caseload. The CGE should receive additional funding to enable it to transition from a manual case management system to an electronic management system. She had spoken to the CEO and CFO, asking if they had considered this option, and they had said that this would require about R500 000, and they had also put together a report. If Treasury requested the report, it would be provided.
Ms D Robinson (DA) commended Ms Abrahams on a job well done, and agreed with her on the recommendations and observations.
Ms Khawula (EFF) asked about the role of the Committee. She said that when the AGSA made a recommendation, they also looked to the Portfolio Committee to play a role in assisting the Department, because when this ship sank, it sank with the Committee, and when it succeeded, the Committee also succeeded.
Ms Chueu (ANC) said the Department should present the reports on international travel plans to the Committee before they went anywhere, so that the Committee could interrogate them first, and they should be submitted on time. On the issue of a gender-responsive budget, the Department should not only focus on the municipalities, but also on all departments to ensure women were empowered in all departments in line with the nine-point plan in terms of monitoring and evaluation. She said even the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) did not treat women fairly, and gave an example of a report the female owner of a mine who wanted funding but was refused because they wanted patent rights for the project she was working on. So from now, the DWP must interrogate them, know what was focused on women, and push them to what it wanted them to do.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) said that the point made by Ms Abrahams on sanitary pads was very valuable, as the Department's role was not to issue sanitary pads, but to see that the education and health departments ensured the budgets were available. She added that when she had spoken to the Minister at the beginning of the year, she had said she would engage with the Ministers of Health, Education and Social Development to ensure that they develop a budget that would be able to drive these programmes. She also referred to the international travel issue, and said that apart from the cost element, another concern was that the Committee never saw reports on what recommendations or observations had resulted from the trips. Earlier this year, a group of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had submitted an alternative report to the ones the Departments of Social Development and Women in the Presidency had done, so it would be a good idea to have a one-day workshop so that they could present these reports to the Committee and they could be interrogated with regard to the outcomes, and if the findings had been applied locally.
Ms Chueu suggested the government should produce the sanitary pads. In India, the government produced them, and there was no hassle about it, so why not do it here in South Africa?
The Chairperson replied to Ms Khaluwa's question on the issue of the role of the Portfolio Committee. She said that, as the report was indicating, the Committee had a bigger role to play. Many of the issues raised in this BRRR were the concerns of this Committee, and therefore it had a major role to ensure that the Department changed for the better. It would be difficult to ask for more funding, since it had been resolved that the Department was not performing well and not meeting targets. She agreed with Ms Khawula that the failure of the Department was also the failure of the Portfolio Committee. It had to put more focus on the oversight of the Department. She suggested an oversight trip to the Department itself to visit each and every official and all administrations, to get full information. According to the report, all the problems had been tackled, as they had been discussed at the previous Committee meetings.
Ms Khawula asked if the Committee could not have recorded what it was going to do to support the Department, so that it focused itself on whatever had been recommended in order to know what had been achieved and not achieved.
Ms Abrahams replied that that was the importance of the recommendations in the minutes of the BRRR and oversight reports. How the measurement would be done was by identifying the clusters at the start of the plan, and so far eight of the 12 departments had been engaged, and the other departments had not been engaged due to time constraints. Secondly, what needed to be done was follow-ups. Members could pose a written question to the Minister to find out what to do and what to utilise. Ministers actually responded in much more detail on paper than in meetings with committees. On the issue of oversight, there was space in January next year, so an arrangement could be made on that basis.
Adoption of BRRR
Ms Abrahams said that with all the input that had been given, she needed guidance on adoption. However, the time slot for the meeting set up for next day had had to be cancelled because of a caucus. The adoption needed a quorum of six members.
Ms Van der Merwe suggested meeting right after the caucus, during the lunch hour, considering that other Members were absent from the meeting.
Ms Robinson said she had a training commitment straight after the caucus, so she would not make it, but Ms Abrahams could send her the report. Her colleague, Ms N Tarbella-Marchesi (DA) would not be available as well, due to exams.
Ms Abrahams said that the report would be tabled by Friday, and she only needed two hours to look at the additional issues and edit the report.
The Chairperson suggested 15.00 on that day.
Ms Abrahams suggested meeting at 14.30 on that day.
Ms Chueu proposed adopting the report, with amendments.
Ms Van der Merwe said she would support the report with amendments in absentia, as she had to depart the meeting early.
All the Committee Members present agreed to adopt the report with amendments. However, two more Members were needed physically for the quorum.
The secretary of the Portfolio Committee called in two ANC members.
Ms Van der Merwe departed the meeting early.
The meeting resumed at 13.10hrs with two ANC members, Ms L Mjobo and Ms F Loliwe.
The Chairperson said the suggestion was to adopt the document with amendments, and asked the Members to agree or disagree.
Ms Chueu proposed the adoption of the report, with amendments.
Ms Robinson seconded the proposal, and highlighted that all Members were in agreement.
The BRRR was adopted, with amendments.
The meeting was adjourned.