The Committee considered and adopted all outstanding minutes from 2016.
The Committee also also discussed and approved its first term programme. There was consensus in holding departments and such officials more accountable in 2017. It was agreed that this should be done through more active and vigorous engagement with various departments. It was agreed that office visits, as a form of oversight, is important but insufficient on its own to ensure that there is improvement for women within communities.
The Committee Researcher briefed MPs on the Committee's Strategic Plan for the year. Amongst other issues, the following was said:
-Before the department spends any money on community dialogues, they must submit to the Committee a programme of their events, key objectives and what they are hoping to gain. No money should be used where there is no tangible difference.
-The Department of Higher Education needs to provide schools for women who are subject to socio-economic deprivation. There should be a push to provide schools that can accommodate adult and illiterate women. There is a need to push the departments into achieving this.
-The Committee must work closely with the Department of Justice and have joint meetings with them so that objectives can be achieved. The trafficking of children and young women within the country was pointed out as horrendous and that as a result, the justice side must be focused on.
There was brief discussion and disagreement about the issue of land ownership and housing.
Consideration and adoption of minutes
The Committee considered and adopted several outstanding minutes from the previous year. These were dated from April to November (5, 12 and 19 April 2016; 4 and 24 May 2016; September 2016; 11, 12, 19 and 28 October 2016 and 8 and 28 November 2016.
First Term Committee Programme
The Chairperson tabled the document for consideration.
A DA Committee Member, on page 1 of the Committee Term Plan, pointed out that a proposal should be ascertained before the programme is adopted.
Ms M Chueu (ANC) insisted that the Committee should be meeting with the Department of Higher Education in order to allow it to review whether the actions of the Department have been effectively addressing women’s issues. The focus should also be on the APP of economic departments so that the Committee’s agenda may be furthered through them. The meeting with these departments must be achieved in this term and that over the next two years they become forced to implement the objectives of the Committee.
Ms P Bhengu (ANC) agreed with this suggestion but stated that this should only occur once the oversight visit is complete. The oversight visit was necessary to have an accurate understanding of what is happening in the departments.
A DA Committee Member requested that a record of summaries containing which departments and what was requested of them be readily available for all members.
Ms D Robinson (DA) asked the Chairperson questioned why there had been no briefing session for new members.
The Chairperson replied that it was scheduled to happen soon and that it remains important for all of the members to have summaries.
Ms M Khawula (EFF) expressed dissatisfaction within the committee itself. The fact that the Minister handles the oversight function was of particular concern.
A DA Committee Member, on page 9, pointed out that it was the responsibility of the Committee itself to do oversight on the departments. However, this responsibility was fruitless since there was no benefit derived from merely visiting department offices. The Committee must be more engaged with the police or NGO organisations to ascertain what actually happens on the ground.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) raised similar sentiments. The reason for visiting the offices was to alleviate the concerns of how the department used the money allocated to it. Although office visits are important, the Committee need only do this later in the year and in the meantime progress reports should be requested from the Department.
Ms Khawula expressed that the Committee must take a more progressive approach in holding departments accountable by dissecting whether the programmes they adopt are tangible in furthering the empowerment of women on the ground.
Ms van der Merwe expressed that the departments often try to disregard the Committee. This was expressed in reference to last year where the Minister had promised the distribution of free sanitary pads. The Committee must stick to time frames this year by being more proactive and vigorous in holding departments accountable.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee needs answers to the points raised above.
Ms van der Merwe expressed disappointment that the Department used all of the budget for salaries and that this needs to be interrogated with National Treasury.
Ms Chueu replied that Treasury was blind to gender issues. Although the Committee put forward its agenda in 2014, none of the objectives were implemented. This is often due to the fact that the department changes its APP too regularly and does not understand the objectives comprehensively.
Ms Bhengu responded that this was the main reason why the Committee changed its programme to actually go into communities. The CGE had a strong impact on the ground. Although department officials may be highly-skilled, it was necessary to look into what they were doing practically. This will be achieved when Members visit the offices in Mpumalanga.
A DA Committee Member expressed the need for summaries again so that the Committee may keep a record of all of the concerns raised as well as directives that should be issued. The Committee must ensure there is no duplication between CGE and the department. Furthermore, it was shown that the Committee has the power to allocate more resources to CGE if need be.
Ms Bhengu stated that all of the issues raised will be historic to the women’s struggle and that all members must be proactive in ensuring the Committee delivers.
The Chairperson suggested the programme be adopted with amendments.
The programme was adopted with amendments.
Review of the Committee Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan for 2016/17
Ms Kashiefa Abrahams, Committee Content Adviser, presented the report. It was divided into three main themes; legislation, oversight and public participation and the Committee was asked to consider issues on each topic.
A question was posed to the Committee relating to the introduction of the Traditional Courts Bill and how members will engage with the new Bill.
It was stated that the oversight function of the Committee will be achieved this year through engagement with several other departments. Questions posed to departments will be how their programmes impact women and how each department tenders so that opportunities for women are offered.
Oversight was stated repeatedly as a key theme of the Committee and that national dialogue inevitably forms part of this. It was stated that merely visiting department offices is insufficient and that involvement in dialogues happening in the community is fundamental.
Ms Abrahams expressed that the focus for the 5th Parliament is women and the economy. Education and skill development was emphasized as having an important link to the economy. Whether the number of current women graduates is a good enough standard was posed as a question to the members.
It was stated that the Committee has met for a total of 17 meetings for 2016/17 and that it had been pro-active with sticking to deadlines and delivering on time.
A matter for consideration posed to the members was the occurrence of parliamentary sittings. Ms Abrahams stated that there are limited things that can be achieved when meeting once a week. She expressed that departments had been requested to send the Committee documents but that this was always done last minute or the document had changed. She urged for the culture around late submissions of documents to change in 2017.
A DA Committee Member said that before the department spends any money on community dialogues, they must submit to the Committee a programme of their events, key objectives and what they are hoping to gain. No money should be used where there is no tangible difference.
Ms van der Merwe agreed with this comment and stated that the planning of community dialogues must actually materialise benefits.
Ms Chueu pointed out that the Committee had not made an input to Parliament about the UN Report. With disappointment, it was expressed that the department took a document that was meant to be submitted to the UN by the Committee. The following question was posed: as a Committee, how do we make inputs? It was argued that the Department of Higher Education needs to provide schools for women who are subject to socio-economic deprivation. There should be a push to provide schools that can accommodate adult and illiterate women. There is a need to push the departments into achieving this.
Ms Robinson endorsed the idea of having preparation. By referring to the UN incident, things were presented of which the Committee had no knowledge. She urged members to engage beforehand so that any input made is worthwhile. The Committee must work closely with the Department of Justice and have joint meetings with them so that objectives can be achieved. The trafficking of children and young women within the country was pointed out as horrendous and that as a result, the justice side must be focused on.
Ms Abrahams, on page 14, posed the question of engaging with departments and how they implement objectives.
Ms Khawula, on page 13, stated that women are not allowed land to build their houses. She expressed that since owning land is so expensive and widows are poor, often there is nowhere for such widows and their children to go. Some families are expected to pay the chief before one can own land. Furthermore, the issue of child and women trafficking in Durban was pointed out. The question of inviting the Minister of Police to address these problems was posed to the Committee. Social workers were referred to as having good lip service but no practicality. The CGE must do its best to protect women. She thanked God for protecting women despite all the problems they face.
The Chairperson responded to the issue of women and housing. She stated that people leave their own areas to travel to towns knowing that they do not have a house and that the housing policy is very strict. People are being advised not to build their houses next to rivers as the area becomes densely populated. Municipalities have been visiting these respective areas but there is a lot of corruption.
Ms Bhengu agreed with the Chairperson and stated that the EFF is promoting slums.
Ms Khawula interrupted and posed a question of land ownership in this country.
The Chairperson interrupted and stated that these ideas must not be promoted and that the minds of illiterate women should not be poisoned.
A DA Committee Member stated that the Apartheid legacy has maintained segregated spatial areas.
The Chairperson expressed that the wrongdoings during Apartheid must not be perpetuated.
Ms Khawula responded that the government has failed to give people their own land.
Ms Robinson asked the Chairperson whether she may be excused as she had prior commitments. She stated that members must uphold the Constitution and focus on their parliamentary job.
The Chairperson excused Ms Robinson.
Ms Chueu stated that the root issue of gender violence is overcrowding and that it is necessary for the Committee to discuss spatial framework, why empty land is not being used and the issue of migrants. There was particular focus on the problem of overcrowding in Gauteng. The CGE on its own will not solve the Apartheid legacy and that there are still reserves intact which need to be challenged. Solving the issue of housing will alleviate the social ills that come with overcrowding.
Ms Bhengu stated that the Department of Human Settlement must eradicate informal settlements. Thanks was given to Ms Abrahams for delivering the presentation. The issue of having joint meetings with NCOP was pointed out and suggested as something to look more into. It was stated that the budgeting framework had not yet been finalised by the department and that this needs to be done, on both national, provincial and local levels.
Ms Chueu stated that members should not wait for the department and that facilitation should occur now as the Committee has capacity building. She suggested that this is a good thing for the Committee to do by itself.
Ms Abrahams stated that she would prepare a document to send to members based on the input given above. She noted that the Committee can not work with the police committee as they sit on different days and it is very hard to find a time for a joint meeting to address the issue of gender violence.
The Chairperson thanked the members for their attendance and the meeting was adjourned.
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