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JOINT COMMITTEE ON THE IMPROVEMENT OF LIFE AND STATUS OF WOMEN
16 May 2003
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION ON GENDER PROMOTION POLICY; SERVICE CONTRACTS: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Ms L M Xingwana
Documents handed out
Department of Public Service and Administration Presentation
The Committee was informed that the Department had set aside a budget for training, which targetted middle level managers, and that the priority was placed on women. The Department lamented that other departments often viewed it as a training institute, which escalated the costs of training personnel. The Department was responding to the inquiry by members on a strategy to encourage women to climb the career ladder. The Committee heard that the Department's guiding gender promotion policy was that men would only be employed where no woman could be found. Employees who benefitted from the Department's bursary scheme were obligated to sign a service contract and should the private sector wish to employ such a person they had to pay back the money spent on training.
The Chair informed the meeting that most of the members had travelled to Johannesburg in anticipation of the late Sisulu funeral and hence would not be able to attend.
Briefing by Ms Brenda Hendricks: Manager Gender Focal Point DPSA
Ms Hendricks informed the Committee that the mainstreaming of gender in the Department was firmly located in its vision namely to establish a responsive Public Service that delivered on the government's commitment to a better life for all the people of South Africa. Departmental managers were responsible for filling vacant posts and were well informed of the staff profile status before employees were recruited. The section she heads together with the Minister, monitors appointments managers recommend. Managers knew what equity targets had been set and top management was regularly informed of the changing staff profile with every appointment made noting that the norm was to desegregate staff profile information for reporting purposes. Training and development programmes were informed by personal development plans, which was an integral part of a performance management system for the Department.
Ms Rajbally (MF) noted with concern that the Department spent a lot of resources in training personnel only for them to depart with the skills acquired at the Department's expense. Did the Department have a system of checking to find out why there was an exodus of personnel from its ranks.
Ms Hendricks pointed out that the practice in the past was for one to fill in a form and state the reason for departing. The Department has evolved a new system where employees who have given a notice of intention to leave were supplied with a detailed questioner to explain clearly the reasons for leaving.
Ms Rajbally asked if the Department had a policy for retention of its employees.
Ms Hendricks replied in the affirmative noting that the reasons people give for leaving inform the Department's strategy for the retention of its work force.
Ms Morobi (ANC) stated that the law made provision for a 2% employment quota for disabled persons and wanted to know how far the Department has gone in realizing this target.
Ms Hendricks pointed out that the Department had so far achieved a 1.3% employees with disability and that it was on its way to achieve the National target.
Ms Morobi asked Ms Hendricks as a gender promotion point person in the Department was comfortable where she was currently placed especially given the fact that she had to go through the DG to reach the Minister.
Ms Hendricks said that she was strategically placed to advance gender issues noting that the Department was fairly flexible in its administration and that the DG and the Minister maintain an open door policy for consultations.
Ms Nhlengethwa (ANC) asked if the Department had a strategy to encourage women to study and climb the career ladder.
Ms Hendricks replied in the affirmative pointing out that there was a budgetary provision for training, which targetted middle level managers, and that the priority was placed on women. The Department encouraged people to specify the areas they wished to advance their career. She was disappointed that other departments often viewed her Department as a training institute, which escalated costs in this regard.
The Chair asked if the Department was making use of the gender policy from the presidency.
Ms Hendricks acknowledged the fact that the Department applied the gender policy from the presidency as a benchmark for its gender advancement activities.
The Chair further enquired if the Department had received proper training and were well informed on gender issues.
Ms Hendricks revealed that there was a programme in the pipeline to bring gender issues to top management noting that the departmental employment policy was that men would only be employed where no woman could be found.
The Chair asked if there was any relationship between the Gender Focal Point with other departments.
Ms Hendricks explained that the Department worked closely with the status of women and other administrative clusters to support each other's programs.
Ms Morobi asked about the race balance in the 36% of the women employed by the Department.
Ms Hendricks regretted that she did not have the data on racial equation at hand but promised to supply the Committee later.
The Chair requested that details on racial balance be supplied to the Committees so that it was properly informed on the transformation progress in the Department.
Ms Lubidla (ANC) asked if the Department committed employees to sign service contracts after training so that they were obligated to give value for the money spent on their training before they leave.
Ms Hendricks informed the Committee that employees who benefitted from the Department's bursary scheme were obligated to sign a service contract and should the private sector wish to employ such a person they had to pay back the money spent on training. She explained that other departments were not expected to pay for such employee noting however that there was a limited degree to which one could hold unto an employee.
Ms Lubidla enquired if the Department considered those with potential but had no relevant qualification for employment.
Ms Hendricks replied that the Department did not place many premiums on qualification but that anybody who displayed adequate ability was eligible for employment.
Ms Themba (ANC) asked about the challenges the Department had faced so far in process of rolling out gender promotion programs.
Ms Hendricks pointed out that her Department had encountered many challenges but in the main retaining skilled personal had been problematic in view of the private sector who offered better terms. Other obstacles to women advancements was lack of self-confidence and that the Department had to bring in experts to help in this regard. She also singled out the extended family obligations, which was compounded by the HIV/AIDS as one of the issues impacting negatively on women's growth.
The Chair asked if the Department networked with the provinces on gender development issues.
Ms Hendricks replied in the negative pointing out that the DPSA only interacts with the presidency, which in turn took up the co-ordination role for information to the provinces. It was the Public Service Commission that networked with the provinces.
Ms Sono (DA) lamented the fact that where services like cleaning were out-sourced it was only men that were found in management while women took the role of sweepers and sought to know what the position was in the Department.
Ms Hendricks pointed out that cleaning services in the Department were out-sourced to a wholly women owned outfit.
Ms Rajbally enquired which Department applied the principles of affirmative action.
Ms Hendricks replied that affirmative action was achieved through employment equity at various levels noting that it was a comprehensive plan that also looked at the development of women.
Meeting was adjourned.
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