The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) gave presentations on their annual performance plan (APP) and budget for 2017/18 to the Women in the Presidency Portfolio Committee. The CGE noted that it would be completing its five-year strategic plan, which was first implemented in the 2013/14 financial year, in 2017/2018, and would commence with the development of its new strategic plan and annual targets for the next five years in April 2018.
For the current financial year, the CGE aimed to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by, inter alia, ending discrimination against women, getting rid of gender-based violence, ensuring women’s participation and opportunities in leadership positions, empowering women and strengthening sound policies. One of the policies that would be strengthened was that of the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community, because they were not catered for in places like homeless shelters and correctional centres.
The CGE spoke about its strategic objectives and explained in detail how these would be met. These covered the promotion of gender equality through engaging with different stakeholders to raise awareness, monitoring stakeholders who had been ratified by the public regarding gender equality, and building an efficient institution that would fulfil its constitutional mandate on issues of gender.
The organisation looked at tertiary institutions to ensure that there was gender equality, and each university was looked at individually. There was a suggestion that the CGE should conduct these investigations for each province, and cluster provinces where possible, instead of dealing with one university at a time to save costs. In addition, the Department was asked to collaborate some of its programmes with those of the Department of Women in order to save costs and not duplicate functions and targets. Another suggestion was for the strategic objectives to be measurable, as currently there were no measures in place to enable the Committee to measure efficiency and hold people accountable.
The budget for the year had increased from R69.9 million to R78.3 million, and this had led to an increase in expenditure on the compensation of employees (COE), which accounted for over 70% of the budget. Members asked whether the increase in COE meant that all vacancies had been filled, and whether this would help the CGE in improving the reach of the organisation. The response was that the organisation still did not have sufficient staff to help carry out its organisational mandate, especially in the education and legal areas.
Towards the end of the meeting, questions were raised as to why the CGE was not challenging some gender-related issues, such as the significance of beauty pageants, discrimination against dark-skinned women in the private sector, and land availability. These were set to be tackled at the next meeting, when there was enough time.
Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) on its Annual Performance Plan 2017/18
Ms Keketso Maema, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), CGE, focused her presentation of the annual performance plan (APP) on the four strategic objectives and sub-strategies that would guide the realisation of the strategic objectives.
Strategic objective 1
To ensure that frameworks and implementation were created to promote the attainment of gender equality.
This would be done through:
(1) monitoring and evaluation of the promotion of gender equality practices and policies in both the private and public sector, and reporting to Parliament;
(2) initiating and reviewing for the improvement of the legislative framework in all spheres of government that impacted on gender equality;
(3) conducting periodic performance assessments of priority ministries, state institutions, governmental departments, political parties and the private sector, of applicable legislation that impacted on gender equality;
(4) evaluating the implementation and effectiveness of the justice system; and
(5) convening direct dialogues with relevant policy makers at all levels on recommendations to promote gender equality.
Strategic objective 2:
To protect and promote gender equality
This would be achieved by engaging with relevant stakeholders to raise awareness and empower people about the issues of gender equality in order to challenge patriarchal notions and perceptions, in order to take action against any gender rights infringed, through the implementation of appropriate redress. This would be done by:
(1) timeously investigating complaints of violations of gender rights and identifying appropriate redress;
(2) initiating investigations of systematic violations of gender rights in the private and public sectors, and identifying appropriate redress;
(3) developing a coordinated programme to promote equality; and
(4) initiating interventions for sustainable development and promotion of gender equality through addressing violations in the social, cultural, political, economic, security and human rights dimensions.
Strategic objective 3:
To monitor all relevant stakeholders that have been ratified by the public on issues relating to gender issues.
This would be done through:
(1) conducting annual reviews and audits of these stakeholders, and reporting to Parliament and the Office of the Speaker of Parliament on a regular basis; and
(2) interacting with and reporting to national, regional and international bodies for improvement purposes.
Strategic objective 4:
To build an institution that was efficient, effective and sustainable to fulfil its constitutional mandate on gender equality.
This would be done through:
(1) creating a well-defined governance structure for effective oversight by the Commissioner and CEO, with clear roles and functions and a framework;
(2) developing a financial management strategy that consistently obtaining unqualified audits;
(3) developing an information technology (IT) infrastructure that would facilitate and support the CGE objectives;
(4) developing a comprehensive human resources (HR) strategy that seeks to address HR-related issues in a coordinated fashion;
(5) developing a long-term funding model for the organisation, which includes funding from the National Treasury and other donor agencies; and
(6) developing a communications strategy that promotes a positive public image of the CGE.
Annual Budget for 2017/18 Financial Year
Mr Moshabi Putu, Chief Financial Officer (CFO): CGE, focused his presentation on the budget for the 2017/18 financial year. He noted that in the two previous financial years, the CGE had had a budget reduction of R8 million, which had made it difficult for the organisation to meet its targets. However, in the 2017/18 financial year there had been an increase in the budget, from R69.9 million to R78.3 million. As a result of this, the budget and the APP had to be prioritised to deliver services.
The increase in the cost of living had to be taken into account, so the compensation of employees’ budget had been increased to R53.9 million. There was a budget of R10.6 million for Strategic Objective 1, R21 million for Strategic Objective 2, R11.3 million for Strategic Objective 3, and R35.5 million for Strategic Objective 4. The budget plan identified the risks associated with the strategies, and how the organisation planned to manage those risks.
Ms M Chueu (ANC) thanked the CGE Deputy Chairperson for the work well done in the previous years, and wished her well in her future endeavours. She proposed that monitoring of tertiary institutions must be made systematic to save costs, and clustering provinces that were geographically close together -- for instance, Limpopo and Gauteng – in order to cover many tertiary institutions. This was because the objective was the same -- to ensure that women were given the space to participate in tertiary institutions.
With regard to the SCW report on rural women, what was it that the CGE wanted the Committee to concentrate on? What did the sector want to present to these women? There were a number of things that could be done when working together. Ideas needed to be shared. How did the organisation plan to uplift women from poverty? For instance, women’s illiteracy was not being taken seriously. It was something that was hardly looked at by the Department, to take women out of poverty.
Ms T Stander (DA) said that since 75% of the budget would be spent on the compensation of employees, did this mean vacancies were being filled and would this improve the reach of the organisation?
The targets in the APP needed to “SMART” – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time bound -- and if they were not measurable they should be amended. The Committee could be efficient only if it was able to precisely measure the targets. In addition, it was helpful to assign responsibilities of outcomes to commissioners, in order to know who could be held accountable.
On rural women’s dignity, poverty and equality, had the CGE done any report on education? This was the foundation for lifting women out of poverty and giving them sudden dignity.
The CGE had also mentioned that the mining sector would be evaluated on how gender equality had been improved, but in terms of South Africa’s economy, the bulk of that was made out of the service industry. Therefore, would it not be important to try and assess the services industry in order to focus on this sector and see how that effective was, especially with mining and manufacturing actually decreasing in the country?
On IT, did the CGE have an electronic case management system, seeing that complaint could be laid online?
The Department of Women had a planned number of dialogues -- had the CGE interacted, joined, and initiated with the Department? Had the Department asked for information to find the gaps to reduce expenditure? How did the CGE work with the Department? Were there regular meetings, communication, and did they reach out to the organisation?
Ms G Tseke (ANC) also appreciated the CGE’s positive performance over the years, and the annual plans presented. The questions that she asked were finance-related. In sub-strategic objective number one, in the previous years the budget for it had been estimated at R784 000, yet for the 2017/18 year it had increased to R3 million -- what would the GCE do differently? In addition, in Strategic Objective 2, sub-strategy number two, the budget for the previous year was R1 million whereas this year it was R5 million. This was also a huge increase -- what would the CGE do differently?
It was proposed that the CGE must be invited to present its 20-year review when there was time.
The “one woman, ne hectare” programme aimed at rural women must be pushed by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.
Some programmes could be collaborated with the Department of Women’s programmes, because it did not have some of the tools to start working, and had not yet built a foundation. It needed assistance where possible to promote gender equality.
Not all the vacancies at the CGE had been filled. For instance, there was a vacancy for a legal officer in Mpumalanga, and as a result the officer had to cover Mpumalanga as well. This meant an extra workload for this person, and an explanation was required in this regard.
Was the CGE working with the Department of Public Service and Administration?
The APP did not mention the issue of gender-based violence. Was the CGE working with the Department of Social Development and the Department of Women?
Mr T Nkonzo (ANC) said that he could only reiterate what the Members said about the CGE, even though he had recently joined the Committee, but he appreciated its good work.
A gender barometer was an important tool to utilise, and the 2017/18 assessment of results must be known to provide a comparison to previous financial years.
He wanted to know if the staffing was enough to produce the desired results, so that the Committee could assist if that was not the case.
Regarding transgender policies, it was saddening to think of what could happen to transgender people, especially in the correctional services. The policy should be a matter of urgency to finalise.
On stakeholder engagement, who would the CGE engage with? There had been no mention of law enforcement agencies, although this should have a good potential impact.
He asked what the programmes were with regards to the provinces -- the plans and the way forward.
The Acting Chairperson asked what the changes to the targets from the previous year were, and what their financial implications were.
Were there any duplications between the Department of Women and the CGE? In addition, did the Department ask for assistance from the Commission?
Who in the private sector had the CGE been specifically engaging with?
What was the role of Commissioners?
She further asked what tertiary institutions the CGE was engaging with, and what criteria the organisation used in identifying them? Would the CGE be engaging with the Department of Higher Education in the consultative forum?
Deputy Chairperson Mpumlwana replied that there had been a dismal failure of transformation, and this was most prevalent in the private sector. The public sector was not so bad, but there needed to be improvement in that area too. With companies that made their submissions, only 22% of top management were women, senior management stood at at 33%, while in professional services – the level where most women got stuck -- it was at 45%. What left the GCE confused was the amount of unskilled women, which was sitting at 40%. The narrative out there was that it was males who were mostly unemployed, and yet 40% of unskilled people were women. In addition, the private sector was reluctant to employ people with disabilities -- perhaps the Department of Labour could be engaged in this regard.
Gender-based violence was getting worse. The Department of Women had invited the GCE when it initiated the programme. What the Department wanted to do was to find out the root cause of the issue, and deal with the root causes of gender-based violence through solutions. The GCE was willing to work with the Department.
Dr Nondumiso Maphazi, Commissioner: CGE, added that the organisation was taking advice on the fourth revolution, and the restructuring plan for the next five years was currently being looking at. More minds were needed when it came to the planning. The revolution for gender equality needed everyone to work together to ensure that what was being fought for was achieved.
On the tertiary institution programme, the institutions had been invited to the centre to have sessions. Legal officers, educational non-government organisations (NGOs) and the Department of Education had also been invited -- in essence, all relevant stakeholders. Questions had been sent beforehand to the relevant stakeholders to have a feel of what was happening. For tertiary institutions, vice-chancellors had been called to account and lead the delegation.
The lead programme commissioner for the “one woman, one hectare” programme was Commissioner Wallace Mgoqi. It had been presented to the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) and the Department of Women, and the DRDLR had implemented some of the programmes that the CGE had initiated, even though they would not acknowledge that some of their programmes emanated from the CGE.
A meeting had been initiated by the Department of Women, and there was a plan to work together as Chapter Nine institutions, NGOs, and departments.
In terms of CGE COE, Even though CGE’s compensation of employees budget was 71% of the total, it was still not enough because there was a need for staff to fulfil the CGE’s responsibilities and deliver services, and there were not enough people to perform the work. There was a lot the organisation wanted to do, but the resources were limited, especially in the educational and legal posts.
The only position that remained vacant was the Human Resources Manager, but to reduce costs the organisation had had to lower the level of the post and split the responsibilities of the position among the officials that were presently available. Some vacancies could not be filled due to a shortage of funding. The organisation was in the process of remodelling the business model of the organisation
Ms Tseke referred to the role of commissioners in provinces, and said oversight showed that the legal clinics’ work was done by most of the officials down there. What was the role of the commissioners in provinces?
Commissioner Mgoqi replied that the CGE had a number of partnerships like the Department of Justice when it came to issues of access to justice. There was a relationship between the Department of Justice and the Foundation for Human Rights, in the sense that this was an extension to implementing constitutionalism on the ground, and as a commissioner he became involved in complaints. In addition, he engaged a lot with the provincial legislature on a whole range of issues.
Mr Mpumlwana also added that commissioners had other areas of responsibility, with different functions, and each commissioner had a niche area.
Ms Maema said that in case management, there was no IT system as of yet, as funds needed to be raised. The organisation wanted to have its own legal office where complaints could be laid. It was indeed important to work together with the Department.
This year, there would not be anything specific on the monitoring of gender-based violence. Instead, the organisation had decided to go back to the report of the special repertoire on violence against women and take some of the recommendations forward and go back to check whether the country had done anything about them. The Women’s ministry’s progress was also being checked by the organisation.
Mpumalanga had now employed a legal officer. The Limpopo officer was overseeing the province, and therefore he was helping.
On Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) and policy gaps, it was the organisation’s intention that there would be something tangible by the end of the second quarter.
The organisation allowed the provinces to be involved when planning where to hold legal and outreach clinics. The information was collected and the decisions were then taken based on information received, in order to also know what challenges to address.
Ms Chueu said Parliament was very superficial in its approach when dealing with deeply rooted gender divisions. She was looking at the goal 5.1, which stated that all forms of discrimination against all women must be ended, but the fact that not all women were homogenous was not unpacked, and the African woman was below all races in everything. She made reference to the appearance of an African woman, and how they were thought not to be appealing without makeup, especially in the private sector, and such women were viewed as non-western and discriminated against, even though they met the job requirements. Beauty pageants, for example, were not challenged by the GCE, whereas there were women who were parading half naked and these contests were created to objectify women for men. How did beauty pageants contribute to the economy? When the GCE was established in the 1990s, one of the main aims had been to eradicate adverts that objectified women, and today in Johannesburg such advertisements were everywhere, and these matters were not challenged.
The meeting was adjourned.
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