The Committee revised and edited its Draft Report on Women in the Presidency on Annual Performance Plan (Budget Vote 13) of the Department of Women in the Presidency and the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) for financial year 2017/18, dated 23 May 2017.
An area of concern was regarding oversight visits as the Department had said they had insufficient staff to assist the Committee with oversight visits, yet, they could send nine officials to a United Nations Commission meeting in New York. The sanitary dignity campaign also needed clarity around two areas: how the Department was engaging, and the cost of the policy because policy would not be implemented if it were not costed. The Committee was expecting a draft report on the policy and who was doing the costing for implementation. The Committee decided to strengthen its call for more co-operation and interaction between the Department of Health and the Department of Education in the sanitary dignity campaign, and also particularly with the Department of Justice, the Traditional Court’s Bill and various others involved. The Committee noted with concern the absence of legislative input in terms of bills before Parliament, for example the Traditional Court’s Bill by the Department in its Annual Performance Plan for 2017/18.
The lack of Gender Mainstreaming and resistance by the Department to engage in this endeavour was noted. The Department would be asked to present a report to the Committee on the Status of Women in the South African Economy. The Commission for Gender Equality would be called on to submit additional information for the Committee’s report in time for the Budget Vote.
The Report was adopted with amendments.
Draft Report of the Portfolio Committee on Women in the Presidency on the Annual Performance Plan (Budget Vote 13) of the Department of Women in the Presidency and the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) for financial year 2017/18, dated 23 May 2017
Ms Kashifa Abrahams, Content Advisor, said the presentation would spend more time on the Recommendations and Observations which were at the latter end of the Report. However, she would highlight some of the issues for discussion up to that point. She noted that both the Department and the CGE had not submitted a revised Strategic Plan, so for the Department, the Strategic Plan of 2015/20 was being dealt with. For the CGE, up to 2018 was being dealt with. The CGE had indicated to the Committee that this year they planned to review their Strategic plan.
In Section 4: Budget Analysis for the Department for 2017/18, it was highlighted that the 2017 Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) indicated that the Department received a budgetary allocation of R206.2 million for the 2017/18 financial year. Of this, R78.3 million constituted the transfer payment to the Commission for Gender Equality, which left the Department with an operating budget of R127.8 million. This was only an R800 000 increase in the Department’s operating budget as compared with the previous financial year.
In Section 4.1 Programme 1: Administration, approximately 60% of the budget allocation was spent on CoE (Cost of Employment). This was a higher percentage than in the 2016/17 financial year when 57% of the allocated budget was for the CoE.
In Section 4.2 Programme 2: Social Transformation and Economic Empowerment, the Department had come to the Committee to discuss their revised Annual Performance Plan (APP). The Committee had looked at the revised Annual Performance Plan of 2017/18 and noticed that new objectives were introduced. Throughout this Report the Researcher had designed tables in the report that showed budgetary allocations for Sub-Programmes compared between years 2017/18 and 2016/17. This format showed a significant difference between the totals in allocations between R28.2 million in 2017/18 and R23.1 million in 2016/17.
Ms Abrahams said that the year for allocation on Page 13 under Strategic Objective 1 (c) was ‘2017/18’ not ‘2016/17’.
Under Strategic Objective 4 (d), Ms Abrahams noted with concern that the Committee had not received any input from the CGE under ‘developing comprehensive HR policies procedures and practices’, for which a sum of R7 388 967 was allocated for this sub-strategy.
Ms G Tseke (ANC) commented on 4(d) and said that she was not sure if it was standard practice of government to review HR policies every year; The Committee had to follow up on this because R7 388 967 was a large amount of money.
Ms Abrahams said that an email should be sent to the CGE to make sure they sent the information before the budget vote because the Committee had not received anything from them even though a request had been sent.
Under 6. Observations on page 16, Ms Abrahams asked for guidance from the Committee as to how to proceed.
Ms T Stander (DA) proposed that Ms Abrahams take the Committee through everything with Members raising issues in the process. After this proposal could be raised,
6.1.3 Management and accountability
Ms Abrahams said it found was that there was only one strategic objective that the DDG was responsible for, and no interconnection between Chief Directors and DDGs.
6.1.4 Attendance at Oversight Visits
Ms Abrahams said that the issue here was that the Department had said they had insufficient staff to assist the Committee with oversight visits, yet, they could send nine officials to a United Nations Commission meeting in New York.
6.1.7 Human Resources
The Committee was informed that an acting Chief Financial Officer (CFO) had been appointed and the Department was looking at making a permanent appointment in this position towards the latter end of this year.
6.1.9 Risk Management
The Risk Committee and its quarterly reports were very important. There had been a mismatch because for two consecutive years there was a revised APP and this would not have happened if the Risk Committee had set up beforehand what the issues were and the recommendations were implemented.
6.1.11 Assessment of Nine Point Plan
The Committee was not saying that the assessment of the Nine Point Plan was not important, but it needed to know how the Department was going to do this and with whom. This was not specified in the APP.
6.2.1 SMART Targets
Ms M Khawula (EFF) asked what the word ‘SMART’ stood for.
Ms Abrahams explained that it stood for ‘Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic and Time bound’.
Ms Abrahams said that the CGE’s APP had outlined what they were going to do, but lacked the required details, for example with regard to who they were planning to engage with in the private sector and in each strategic objective, and who the key persons were who were involved in the implementation of these objectives. Hence their approach flew in the face of being a ‘SMART’ target.
Ms Abrahams said (a) was very important because it was the overarching policy for the country, and if that policy still referred to old structures, for a new official coming into the Premier’s office who did not know any difference that was the policy they would refer to. If it had to be fixed this had to be done timeously and made available through GCIS to all departments.
Referring to (c), providing a draft framework and quarterly reports to the Committee was important as it could then check and provide guidance on progress made or the lack thereof.
8.1.9 Gender Responsive Budgeting
Under point (a) Ms Abrahams advised that where it was stated ‘where the Department should request that each department indicated what percentage of its budget…’, this should rather read ‘that each department within the Economic Cluster’.
The Committee requested a response to the recommendations within three months after adoption by the National Assembly.
(See Draft Report)
Ms Abrahams referred the Committee to the Observations on page 16 and asked if anything needed to be added or changed.
Ms T Stander (DA) said on page 18, 6.1.7(a) with regard to human resources, the Department had informed the Committee that as far as staffing was concerned they were ‘bloated’. Staff had been absorbed from different areas so there was now a large staff complement which did not necessarily have the skills required with what needed to be done. Hence the Committee was concerned that the Department was therefore under-skilled and under-utilised. In the Recommendations, the Department therefore needed to assess their organogram and come back with a report on their plan for restructuring and capacitating.
An ANC Member wondered if there was consensus under every Observation. There were concerns raised about everything and perhaps there should be a section on ‘positives’.
The Chairperson explained that this was the standard format for all reports.
Ms P Bhengu (ANC) reiterated the Committee’s concern expressed on page 18 where it was raised that the CFO position had not been finalised or filled. She was unsure how this could be expressed because this position was allocated for in the budget but had not been filled.
Ms D Robinson (DA) referred to Mr Nkongo’s concern and said that the Committee was looking at the inadequacies where the Department and the CGE had not met with the Committee’s requirements of what was needed for them to provide a service. Problems had to be pointed out because this was what oversight was about.
Ms M Chueu (ANC) and Ms G Tseke concurred about the point that HR Recommendations should be presented as Observations first before they appeared as Recommendations.
Ms Tseke said that in Programme 1 where Goods and Services were spoken of, it was not specific about the money spent by the Department in terms of the audit fees or what was budgeted for in 2017/18.
Ms Tseke said the process for now was still a consultative one, so it was not proper for the Committee to question the policy. Here it was mentioned about the distribution of sanitary towels to impoverished young girls and women. Policy about this matter had not been tabled with the Committee.
Ms Abrahams said this was at (c), where the Committee was not disputing the policy, it just wanted to know how this was being done. She recommended that it be stated that the Committee required clarity from the Department as to how it was developing policy about dispensing sanitary towels. Clarity was required on two issues around sanitary dignity: how the Department was engaging, and the cost of the policy because policy would not be implemented if it was not costed. The Committee was therefore expecting a draft report on the policy and who was doing the costing for implementation. 6.1.10(c) was changed to ‘the Committee required more clarity from the Department on how it was developing a policy if it was not a budget holder for dispensing sanitary towels’.
Ms Tseke said this meant that there would only be those two recommendations.
Ms Stander enquired about mention being made of deleting all the other recommendations and only keeping two on page 19. Page 19 only had the observations. This was just what the Committee had noted and observed about the Department and the concerns the Committee had about them wanting to develop a policy or framework without the relevant departments. The Department’s mandate was to lead, coordinate and oversee. So, the role of the Department of Women in the Presidency in the sanitary dignity campaign was to get together all of the stakeholders like the Department of Social Development, The Department of Health and the Department of Basic Education and say ‘how are we going to do this’. This was all they could say, they could not tell the Department of Health for example, what they had to do. Except to say ‘where are we now with regard to who has access to sanitary towels’, and who are those who need it. They said they had identified quintile 1,2 and 3 schools. The Department of Women could not make a single decision except ensure that the process starts, if there was a time frame attached to it, and that it was implemented. And then monitor that it was actually happening. The observation has to be that there seemed to be a misunderstanding of the mandate, and that the Committee’s recommendation was that they call this collaborative meeting with the relevant stakeholders with the tiers of government with the various departments, and the Department of Women in the Presidency had to lead, collaborate and oversee. The product would be the framework or policy.
Ms Abrahams emphasised that the issue on page 19 6.1.10(e) Sanitary Dignity was concluded based on what Honourable Chueu had said that the Committee was not saying that the focus on sanitary was not important, but it should also be pushing a zero vat rating.
Ms Stander on 6.1.14 National Dialogue, said she would prefer (a) to read ‘the Committee queried how national dialogues will be effected in terms of eliminating gender based violence’, because one could not query whether they would be, but one could ask the Department if they were sure they were going to be, and more specifically how. If the Department could not answer that question, then they should not embark on it in the first place.
She proposed (e) but said she still needed to word it properly. It had to state that the Committee noticed that there was no plan, no programme, and no list of dates, times, venues, provinces, cities, municipalities and stakeholders. There was no information on the international dialogues or how they were identifying the women that they were going to be invited. This plan had been requested by the Committee but the Department had not delivered such a plan.
Ms Stander added further to (a), and asked what was the specific outcome; they had promised a report but on what?
Ms C Majeke (UDM) said that page 21 clause 6.1.14(c) answered the question because the Department had explained that they conferred with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Department of Social Development, and had obtained statistics from STATSSA (Statistics South Africa).
Ms Tseke said that last year the Committee had received a programme for 16 Days of Activism and the observation recorded in 6.1.14(a) talked to that programme. Ms Stander had joined the Committee late last year and a detailed programme of the dialogues in Limpopo had been provided. Also, the proposal requested by Ms Stander as 6.1.14(e) could fall away because she had provided an explanation.
All Members agreed with Ms Chueu’s recommendation that 6.1.14(b) should become 6.1.14(c).
Ms Stander said one of the suggestions she had – Limpopo project was a pilot - one still needed a plan and a programme if one was looking at costs of R22 million. As a Committee Member, she would like it recorded that when that kind of money was going to be spent one needed a budget for the 2018/19 period. With that budget, one needed to be clear on what it would be spent and what the specific outcome of that report would be.
Ms Bhengu said to Ms Stander that every time the Committee asked the Department about National Dialogues some of the attendees in the meetings had already left. The Department had said that they were going to visit Mpumalanga, and the Committee awaited the report on this plan.
Ms Chueu said on page 22 Programme 3, 6.1.14 on Country Reports and Compliance, the reports should go first to the Portfolio Committee first before being taken to Cabinet. The Committee could then check and deal with its concerns.
Ms Tseke said there were gaps that had to be dealt with. There were lots of comparisons between this ministry and the previous one. In the previous ministry, the Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill was already with the NCOP (National Council of Provinces), so how could this be fitted in with the gaps identified. Compliance was also being spoken of here.
Ms Abrahams indicated especially to Honourable Tseke, that the following could be added ‘The Committee noted with concern the absence of strengthening legislation to address compliance in terms of gender equality’. One key thing that was noted in the Committee’s briefing, was that the Traditional Courts Bill was in front of Parliament, and nowhere in the APP had the Department indicated that in terms of legislation, this was where they were going to give input as the Department of Women in the Presidency. It had to be added in (b) ‘the absence of the Department’s legislative input for bills before Parliament for example the Traditional Court’s Bill’.
Ms Robinson said the Committee should call for more co-operation and interaction between the Department of Health and the Department of Education in the sanitary dignity campaign, and also particularly with the Department of Justice, the Traditional Court’s Bill and various others.
Ms Abrahams added ‘the Committee noted with concern the absence of legislative input in terms of bills before Parliament for example the Traditional Court’s Bill by the Department in its APP for 2017/18’.
Ms Bhengu referred to page 22 on Gaps identified (b) showed that the concerns raised said that the Department should be asked to present a report to the Committee on the Status of Women in the South African Economy.
Ms Chueu said the Committee did not agree with the Department that any mainstreaming was being done because they abandoned monitoring and evaluation of other departments. This Committee has spoken to other departments and found that these other departments were not mainstreaming.
Ms Bhengu said that the Committee had asked the Department about the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework and the Gender Mainstreaming Framework and their response was that they could not develop another Gender Mainstreaming Framework because it had already been identified by other governing departments.
Ms Abrahams recommended that the Committee move to page 26 of the report because that was where the Recommendations were dealt with.
Ms Tseke said before the meeting moved to page 26, it should be remembered there were time constraints with the CGE, and they had wanted to respond to some of the issues that the Committee had raised, but unfortunately it was already beyond 1:00pm that day. If one wanted to do justice to their input in terms of procedure, and the CGE sent written responses, how would the Committee capture this in the report?
Ms Abrahams said what could be added just before the conclusion was; ‘the CGE had agreed that they would submit additional information in writing to the Committee’. This would ensure that it was still captured in the report that they had said that they would send information.
Ms Stander said she just wanted to check in terms of the APP, when talking about the SMART targets specifically mentioned under 8.1.1, could the Committee not ask them to submit one APP per annum rather than the way it was done now with them changing it three times before submission.
Ms Abrahams said it could be phrased like this: ‘the Department should reformulate the target in the APP and ensure that these were SMART and desist from changing APPs during the course of the year’.
(v) Had been added to include the issue of the cost implications as Ms Tseke had requested, as well as ‘clearly indicate how these initiatives gave effect to the Departments mandate’.
Ms Abrahams asked if it was okay to add at the end on page 27, 8.1.2(a) on Policy, ‘This must be made available to the Committee, government and civil society as a mechanism for enhancing gender equality’.
Ms Stander recommended that the following should be added on page 28, 8.1.5 (b): ‘analyse the current organogram and report on its plan to restructure and capacitate the Department in order to improve effectiveness and productivity’.
Ms Abrahams said maybe the recommendation could be that the Department should present the outcomes of the Field Audit. This would then give an indication of what the field capacity was.
Ms Stander said that the Department had complained that they had to take on new people from another department.
The Chairperson said restructuring was done and some people were transferred from the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities to the Department of Social Development. The Minister was not satisfied with this.
Ms Robinson said this business of inheriting people was a kind of an excuse; the Committee knew that this Department since its inception had been dysfunctional, and many restructuring operations had taken place. This Department was top heavy with overqualified people working there at very high salary levels. One of the questions she had asked previously when they were spending so much money on training when they all had degrees, was why so much money was being spent on retraining them? They should be focusing on the people outside instead of the people internally. She felt the Committee should not ask for retraining because this would just be an excuse to mark time and do nothing. This was the case of a very muddled Department. The Researcher had also asked the Department about the Skills Audit that the Committee had asked them for. The lack of direction of this Department was very clear as was shown when the APP was changed at the last minute.
Ms Bhengu expressed concern that this Report had to be adopted, or the content of the Report had to be accepted, but quite a few Members were in the process of leaving.
Ms Robinson who was in the process of leaving, said she was largely happy with the content of the Report as the Researcher and the Content Advisor had done a great job, and she was okay if any other changes had to be made.
Ms Chueu referred to page 30, 8.1.11 on the Sanitary Dignity Campaign, and requested that the term ‘indigent women’ be included. She then referred to 8.2 Commission for Gender Equality (d), and said the Committee had acknowledged that the Department was already implementing 1 Household 1 Hectare, but the Committee wanted to push it to 1 Woman 1 Hectare. This had to be emphasised. this.
Ms Abrahams asked for clarity on the recommendation regarding awareness raising and suggested: ‘that the Committee recommends that more effort be put into ensuring the visibility of the mandate of the Committee and what it does in government’.
For Ms Tseke and the issue of Property Payments 8.1.6, Ms Abrahams asked if more information was going to be requested about the R3 million for municipal services. What was the recommendation being asked for because under property payments ‘the Minister should engage with the Department of Public Works? Out of the property payment, some money was for the lease; so, what was being asked for regarding municipal services? She recommended the addition: ‘the Committee requests more information with respect to fees incurred for municipal expenses’.
Ms Stander suggested that the wording of 8.1.12 was changed so that the Department did not submit to the Committee in writing what the problems were related to girls’ access to sanitary towels and the gaps, but rather to submit the plan that they will lead the formulation of the policy and framework for the delivery of the sanitary dignity campaign as well as to lobby for the VAT removal on sanitary towels.
The Committee Report on Annual Performance Plan and budget of the Department of Women in the Presidency and the Commission for Gender Equality for 2017/18 (Budget Vote 13) was adopted with amendments.
Committee minutes of 7 March 2017, 9 May 2017, and 16 May 2017 were adopted without amendments.
The meeting was adjourned.
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