Commission for Gender Equality on its Quarter 4 performance

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

13 June 2017
Chairperson: Ms T Memela (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Commission for Gender Equality presented its report for the 4th quarter, on progress made by the institution in terms of its planned activities in order to reach its strategic objectives. Thus far, the institution has done well, most programmes and their reports have been finalised, and those not yet finalised are those that the Commission does not have total control over; which is really a small proportion. In essence, there has been improvement in performance, and this was attributed to the filled positions that were vacant. Also, a question was asked about the progress of the mentorship programme that the Commission wanted to explore. It was said that this is in effect, and the institution has internship programmes all over the provinces.

The issue that stood out for the Committee was the issue of Gender Based Violence; this was viewed as a critical matter, thus suggestions were offered to the Commission on how to go about resolving this issue, such as making use of the media. The Committee was concerned about the amount of publicity the Commission has, and wanted to know why it chose to have exposure in community radio stations that do not have a lot of listenership rates. In addition, the Commission was advised that it should engage with the Minister of Communications and have free airtime on the SABC radio stations and television channels. The response was that the Commission has access to the SABC, and the SABC does fall under the community radio stations, which is why it was not in the presentation under community radio stations.

The Commission was advised to make use of the free airtime they are getting from the SABC and advertise on television and radio stations when it is peak time, when most people are listening and watching. This is important because people cannot even recite the Commission’s call centre number they are supposed to use when they want to report gender based violence, therefore people need to be made aware.

The Commission and the Committee ended up deciding on engaging with other departments to fight Gender Based Violence, such as the Departments of Health, Police Services, Social Services, Women in the Presidency, and Justice. This is a big crisis that needs the departments to come together to reach common ground and carry out the same plan or strategy to avoid failure.

The Commission is working tirelessly to ensure that the institution runs smoothly, especially with the limited budget that it gets. As a result of this, cost cutting measures have been taken, and the executive team has decided to cut performance bonuses, and this meant a saving of R2 million. This made an enormous difference in the budget, and together with the donations received externally enabled them to fulfil other plans they had in place.

The institution’s financial status has improved compared to other quarters. However, it was advised to seek more funding from other Non-Government Organisations and international organisations like the United Nations.

Meeting report

Presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Women in the Presidency Quarter 4 (1 January – 31 March 2017)

Ms Keketso Maema, CEO, Commission for Gender Equality, briefed the Committee. Her presentation was focused on assessing steps in the last quarter that were undertaken to ensure that the activities set out in the Annual Performance Plan (APP) were attained and to ensure that the institution is ready for auditing.

The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) linked the APP with National Development Plan (NDP) priorities and Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) outcomes. To ensure the safety of communities in South Africa, CGE conducted investigations, handled complaints, did a Gender Based Violence (GBV) report and wrote recommendations based on findings, and engaged with stakeholders of GBV and the Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) sector. The outcome for this was to ensure that all people are safe in SA.

As a means of promoting accountability and fighting corruption, CGE has created a fraud hotline, among other things. The outcome for this was a responsive, accountable and efficient local government.

CGE wanted to transform society and unite the country, and the programme put in place for this was submissions on engendering legislation, court monitoring, meetings with the Justice Cluster, and compliance reports on international and regional instruments. The outcome for this was creating a better SA and contributing to a better and safer Africa and the world.

The Commission further linked their activities with SONA priorities. As a result, the institution will focus on transformation through gender transformation investigative hearings, and gender barometer programmes. Land reform will also be explored through the one woman one hectare of land campaign, the CGE made a submission to engender the National Health Insurance (NHI) and there is active monitoring and accountability through compliance reports, and community engagements through outreach, advocacy and legal clinics.

As much as 100% finalisation of targets is ideal, there are activities that the institution has no total control over; which leads to some targets not being met, thus the overall achievement for the reporting period is 80.49%. In addition, CGE pointed out that there has been overall improvement in the institution from the last quarter, and this can be attributed to the filled positions that were vacant from previous quarters of the current financial year.

CGE has managed to commence the flagship programme for Public Education and Information (PEI) for gender mainstreaming purposes in municipalities, officers together with provincial coordinators were trained on the human rights based approach. The PEI programme has given technical assistance and training to various tertiary institutions on gender mainstreaming. In addition, some of the programmes for this quarter are concentrated on matters related to youth month, a Public Service Announcement (PSA) was flighted in various SABC stations with free airtime totalling to R750 000 being utilised.

The current reporting period coincided with Human Rights month. Through the long-standing relationship with the SABC Foundation, CGE conducted an advertising campaign for human rights month in a form of a PSA imparting information in line with the human rights theme, which further highlighted that women’s rights are human rights. In essence, the aim was to make the public aware that women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and asexual people (LGBTIQA) rights are human rights, which are protected by law. This was done to encourage the public to report gender discrimination and abuse. This PSA was aired on radio 2000, lotus FM, RSG, SA FM, and Good Hope with free airtime that totalled to R620 000 for the current report frame.

The challenge faced by provinces relates to lack of general understanding of how protection orders operate and how they are obtained, and the justice cluster will be further engaged to find ways to educate communities on these matters. In addition, indunas are highlighting that LGBTIQA communities are not welcome in their areas, and the challenge of surviving spouses married under customary marriages who must claim against the deceased estate. These marriages that are under customary marriages, tend to be unregistered.

CGE also worked with strategic partners for Commission on the Status for Women (CSW) side events on women’s leadership within the world of work, where the institution gets an opportunity to engage with women and the youth. In addition, the institution is working on dealing with root causes of some of the findings from the Office of the Auditor General of SA (AGSA) report. Thus, an internal audit was conducted to see which matters have been resolved, and a lot has been worked on, only about 9% needs to be worked on.

The institution looked at the progress of strategic objective one, as set out in the APP presented by CGE a few weeks ago. To meet this strategic objective, two submissions were drafted for this period, with cumulative total of approximately 20 submissions to date. In addition, the report has been finalised, together with the gender barometer one, and court monitoring, while other programmes are still in the process of finalisation.

Strategic objective two was also looked at, and its progress. GCE went beyond its target of complaints and opening of files; the target was 180, and the institution has opened about 193 files. Also, legal outreach and clinics have been conducted, about 40 of them.

When compared to quarter 3 of the 2016/17 financial year, there has been a slight increase of GBV complaints, from 29 complaints to 32 complaints. The slight increase can be attributed to the legal clinics conducted. In addition, maintenance matters have slightly decreased compared to quarter 3, that is from 23 complaints to 20 complaints. Labour complaints have increased too, from 10 complaints in quarter 3 to 20 complaints this quarter.

Again, looking at the progress of strategic objective two, there are reports that were finalised, and some are in the process of being finalised. As mentioned before, CGE has received free airtime from various radio stations, and this has helped CGE in educating and empowering communities about women and human rights through broadcasted interviews.

The presentation also touched on the geographical areas CGE during the 4th quarter (refer to the geographic areas covered during 4th quarter document).

The last issue that CGE touched on this presentation was strategic objective three, and for some programmes, the reports were done, while others were in the process of being finalised. In addition, the presentation placed great emphasis on means of communication, such as radio stations and social media.

Presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Women in the Presidency Quarterly Reporting - Q4 of 2016/17 Financial Year
The CGE reported that the total expenditure exceeded the allocation from NT by R5,2 million. Other income of R3 million counter-effected the overall over-spending, leaving a net R2, 2 million deficit at reporting date. There were savings on COE for R3 million due reduction in P-bonus provision (R1 m for each year) and vacancies that existed during the period, most of which have been subsequently filled.

69% of spending is in support of core legislation and main programmes in the APP. COE is linked to core work and accounts for 63% of the overall expenditure of which 79% (R37, 6 m) thereof is directly linked to legislation (CGE Act, PEPUDA).

Although the financial position is solvent and going concern assumption still valid; financial viability going forward is challenged. Current assets are less than current liabilities by close to R1m – Liquidity weaknesses, the gradual effect of spending pressures on operating budget. The NA position is diminishing year after year and without CAPEX budget, the whole balance sheet strength will be negatively impacted in the medium term

The year on year cash resources are reduced by payment to creditors, current spending on goods, services and employees. Cash resources reduced from R8 m in the previous year to R4,5 m by March 2017 – The cash remains less than Liabilities/debts owed by the CGE as at 31 March 2017

Ms D Robinson (DA) thanked the CGE and was pleased with the progress that the institution has made. She was distressed by the murders and rapes that are happening. She was also involved with people on the ground, and picketed together with them. People were saying that they are requesting the SAPS to conduct proper investigations for court purposes, with the same attention and expertise that is given to high profile people. SAPS need to have more empathy for the victims. This goes to the issue of the victims’ charter, people do not know about it, and she was concerned about this.

With regard to coverage and radio stations, there are many community radio stations that would happily do the advertising and not cost the institution a cent.

In terms of the LGBTIQA, she was pleased that courts are in, but this is not enough. In shelters too, more needs to be done.

When there is a shortage of social workers this hampers the justice system. There are many social workers in Mpumalanga, over 800, which are unemployed, whereas they were specially trained but were not employed after their training, simply because they were not budgeted for, and this is a human rights issue. These are young people, and have wasted 4 years of their lives studying, and now they are unemployable, and they cannot even get cashier jobs because they are overqualified. There needs to be an evaluation done to find the root causes of funding and new initiatives, otherwise the poorest of the poor is failed by the government.

Ms L Van der Merwe (IFP) held that everything comes down to the budget, and was pleased that CGE is working hard despite the limited budget, and it is good that the institution is coming to the Committee lately on issues of engagement, and not because of financial or management issues, thus the institution needs to applaud itself.

In terms of the legal clinics, in the Eastern Cape, CGE was involved in a case whereby there was a girl that dressed as a boy, and was kicked out of the community, and the Commission intervened successfully to assist that young person, CGE’s impact has become very tangible despite not having the resources.

In terms of reports, she was slightly concerned that they had been tabled to Parliament, and that is all fine and well but there has to be focus on implementation and action. Ideally, she would like to see these reports discussed in a Cabinet meeting once in a while, and not just floating around in Parliament and discussed only by this Portfolio Committee, other committees need to be involved too. 

With regard to the discussion on violence, the CGE also has a mandate, and it was said that the institution will go to the Minister of Police to engage them in terms of the shortcomings of police stations and them not being able to assist women. Once the Minister of Police is engaged, CGE has to roll in terms of its mandate to scrutinise shortcomings in legislation. The biggest issue with the government has always been that current legislation on GBV is not being casted, the actual resources needed to implement legislation have never been casted, and that is why the existing problems are there.

To make this work, various departments have to work together, the Police, Justice, and Health Departments. In terms of scrutinising policy, CGE can identify policy gaps and recommendations in that regard. She felt that departments are failing and are not coming together to discuss a working solution of what they should be doing. The idea of a call centre for GBV is not really a working one, because most people cannot even recite the number to call, and yet it is a call centre that women are supposed to access.

In terms of publicity and how well known the institution is for the work that it does to people that need help, CGE needs to engage with different ministries, and find a way to publicise with the SABC, the budget is already limited, the institution cannot be spending money publicising and promoting itself. The institution can speak to the Minister of Communications and see what she can offer in terms of radio slots and television.

Ms T Stander (DA) commended the institution for the sacrifice the executive has made in terms of cutting costs by cutting their bonuses first, not many institutions do this. This demonstrates that they are taking the cost cutting measures seriously.

In the presentation it was mentioned that CGE received donations, who is it? Has the institution investigated more about donations? Many organisations are looking to donate, organisations like the UN, NGOs, etc. and they are saying they are for women. Submit plans, make phone calls, and also seek international funding, if people are willing to pay funding to save rhinos then surely, they would be willing to save women.

The fact that the institution reduced its corporate service by 28% is incredible, and the fact that the institution has been able to control its fleet has taken her aback.

She suggested that National Treasury should be invited to discuss the appropriations with the institution and the Department of Women. This department has the least budget, this means that women are not taken seriously. Maybe changes can be presented to National Treasury and engaged with one on one, that could be an option, because it is very easy to dismiss someone when it is one on one, this will help to be able to hold them to account.

In terms of the five-year plan, it should be simple and the institution must stick to the basics. Is there any other legislation coming up soon that CGE might want to look at? GBV will not just go away, this is one of the priority issues, police and justice have been identified as a factor. The institution needs to engage with public officials, this is where transformation starts.

In terms of visibility and communication, it would be beneficial to talk to community radio stations, and even if the institution sends a voice note to a station about the numbers to call, and maybe snippets on what their rights are, and they will play it for free.

Ms M Khawula (EFF) thanked CGE, but was not happy with the fact the institution uses Radio Khwezi only in KZN, some people do not know it. With the way things are set up in the country – murders all over, there needs to be information everywhere. The well-known radio stations are not used whereas they have the most listenership.

The issue of working with other departments is crucial, the Department of Police must be part of this, together with Ms Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva.

The other issue is police stations that are far, because in rural areas police stations are not located in areas that are closer to the people, thus when people do not have money to take taxis to police stations then they do not go at all, even when they are raped.

Religious institutions need to be invited to a meeting with the Committee to discuss the issue of these bogus churches.

The NGOs are there but when it is time for them to work on the ground, they do not. There should be a person that monitors these NGOs.

Disabled people are casualties of rape, because the houses they live in are not safe. There are cases where disabled women live with their young children, and children cannot go and play because they have to look after their disabled mothers and ensure that they are safe.

There is also the issue of school learners in eMjindini that have to strip off their clothes to go to school because there is no bridge. These children are helped by anyone, and anything can happen. Such cases are not reported because people do not know their rights. These children cross a river, and residents from this area were supposed to be moved from that area ages ago but they held that they have been there for a long time and their relatives’ graves are there, therefore they cannot move. A girl child strips off clothes and is helped by old men, anything can happen. Such issues need to be addressed.

The Committee needs to invite seers or traditional healers and tell the Committee where they get this idea of using people’s body parts for traditional medicine from. What sort of a seer or witchdoctor or traditional healer uses body parts? The same goes for these bogus churches, they use people’s body parts, this is referred to as iwoza-woza – to make people come back to these churches.

Sitting here and having discussions within the Committee only will not help, the Committee needs to be on the ground.

Ms P Bhengu (ANC) asked, in terms of filling of vacancies, if there were plan in place to train the newly appointed personnel.

CGE planned to explore training and mentorship initiatives as a means of capacity building to strengthen government institutions. Can CGE please provide update regarding this? How many initiatives have been undertaken? What is the criteria used to conduct this training?

In the previous meeting, CGE informed the Committee of the challenges of having a manual system and the process of moving towards the electronics system. What is the status of the manual versus electronics place management system?

The challenge of women married under customary marriages was raised, what is the CGE’s plan in dealing with this, especially with regard to customary marriages registration? Has CGE engaged with the Department of Home Affairs, like roadshows, especially in the rural areas?

Has CGE been able to visit areas that have been protesting on service delivery issues affecting communities?

Lastly, have CGE engaged with political parties with regard to the representation of people with disabilities as public representatives?

The Chairperson held that the Department of Justice is willing to meet with the Committee. She attended funerals of two girls in KZN whose bodies were half burnt.

Ms Robinson requested that there should be a Joint Committee with SAPS and Correctional Services.

Ms Nondumiso Maphazi, Commissioner and Acting Chairperson, CGE, welcomed the comments that were raised by the Committee. In terms of capacitating the newly appointed members, CGE will finalise the induction process soon.

Ms Fundi Nzimande, Commissioner, CGE, thanked the Committee too, in terms of capacity building and orientation, training, CGE does this process differently.

CGE has engaged with a number of stakeholders across the country on an awareness campaign on CGE, what it does; and among these stakeholders are universities, traditional leaders, local government officials, some provincial departments, partnered with Home Affairs, other Chapter 9 institutions, and some of the Chapter 10 institutions.

In terms of the representation of disabled people in political parties, CGE has engaged with political parties and they have prepared a report.

The eMjindini issue would be challenging to respond because CGE would first have to investigate before coming up with any sort of recommendations; the institution first has to understand what is happening.

On community radio stations, CGE works with a national institution that allocates these radio stations to them, hence popular radio stations are not listed there. CGE has access to all SABC radio stations but they were not listed under community radio stations because they do not fall under that category.

Mr Wallace Mgoqi, Commissioner, CGE said suggestions regarding GBV were welcomed. The issue of femicide in the Northern Cape that has surfaced quite strongly at the present moment, CGE had received information highlighting that from June 2014 – June 2015, there were no less than 14 cases involving intimate partner killings. This matter needs to be resolved and involve as many structures as possible.

Ms Van der Merwe held that SA is facing a crisis, to have access to radio stations is fine but what she wanted to see are messages or banners at the bottom of the screen, maybe the CGE call centre number, because some victims go to police stations and are sent away because they are told to sort out these issues at home, and they do not know what the next step is. In terms of radio stations, in between news breaks announce a message like ‘SA is facing a gender based violence...’ and leave the number to call, and that will not cost anybody anything but it can make a substantial impact. The banner can be done when people are watching news because everybody watches news, regardless of the news’ language, and this does not have to happen all the time, but it can be done at peak times when a lot of people are watching. This was what she meant when she suggested that CGE should engage with the Minister of Communications.

The Chairperson mentioned a community that is dominated by ex-convicts and non-convicts, and held that this is a risky arrangement for the non-convicts. This is because people can be attacked by the ex-convicts, but did not know how this can be solved. Thus, people are now taking the law into their own hands, and this is dangerous.

Ms Robinson was interested in the events attended by CGE, and wanted to know where these events can be looked up.

She also spoke of a policeman that killed his girlfriend and his child, and this court case has been postponed several times because the police do not want to go against their own.

The Chairperson interjected that this is because of insufficient information. If the Investigating Officer is not doing a good job in investigating the case, surely the prosecutor and the magistrate cannot be expected to sentence the person. Hence it was said that the meeting with Minister Fikile Mbalula will make sense, because the problem starts at investigating level.

Mr Mgoqi replied that he was attending on invitation, so it was difficult to know about these events.

Ms Maema noted the advices given to CGE by the Committee, in terms of the Victims’ Charter, and held that with engagements about the reports, there was a report called “Struggling to Meet the Ends of Justice”; it looked at the Victims’ Charter. One of the things looked at is funding, there is no budget for some challenges relating to police stations.

The institution is supporting democracy; hence Chapter 9 institutions are coming together, together with other stakeholders. This is to ensure that CGE has access to other relevant portfolio committees to have broader engagements.

The radio stations that were in the presentation are only for this quarter.

CGE had a meeting with the Danish Embassy and they are interested in giving CGE money to access more community radio stations; CGE tries to engage and seek funding with other stakeholders

In terms of traditional healers and bogus churches, CGE was busy with the Eastern Cape Province and the Department of Social Development, and communities are coming together to fight this. This needs various institutions to fight it.

With regards to mentorship, there are various internship programmes in place for that.

On customary marriages, CGE has started to engage with traditional leaders, and this is because going to the Department of Home Affairs will not help much, it starts in communities, women cannot simply tell their husbands to go and register their marriages at the Department of Home Affairs. Engagement with traditional leaders is to see how they can intervene. On the issue of deceased estates, CGE has a working relationship with courts.

CGE has written to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), to inform CGE about party liaison meetings in order to address the issue of disability representation in political parties.

Ms Maema replied that CGE had engagements with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) when they were in the Eastern Cape, and held that it is important to engage with COGTA too when engaging with traditional leaders.

Ms Nzimande replied that in terms of gender transformation, how does this happen with all the resistance? When looking at transformation, churches have to be included too.

With regard to GBV, it cannot be this Committee only that deals with this, involving other stakeholders will help come up with different strategies of dealing with this. She went to a trade union meeting recently, where the trade union tackled how they will address GBV.

Ms Bhengu held that when she spoke about the roadshow it was about customary marriages, because they do not register them, and then when their husbands die, the wives discover that other wives are registered in Johannesburg, and therefore the former cannot claim the estate of the deceased. Perhaps the Department of Home Affairs should have these roadshows to encourage wives to register their marriages.

Ms Van der Merwe held that, in terms of GBV, this is exactly why this will never work. There has to be a concrete national plan with one person driving it and unless there is one person that will monitor this for all the departments and be held accountable it will always be a haphazard approach, unless there is one plan of action plan. GBV must be modelled on the Aids Council. If National Treasury would realise that this needs funds, then a national plan would be able to do done and carried out well. Unless government realises that this fight is on and there is one national plan then that will be a starting point, even if five or ten years from now.

Ms Stander held that if the Committee is looking for a lead in terms of GBV, it starts with this Committee, Department, and this entity. She proposed that this should be led by the three institutions. Collectively, they should go to the President or the Deputy President, and inform them that these three institutions want to lead the fight against GBV, and they should not be asked, instead this should be demanded. No one should be timid or shy.

The Chairperson interjected that there is no timid person in the Committee.

Ms Stander continued that then this should be demanded.

Ms Khawula suggested that there should be transport services for school learners to keep them safe from GBV.

Another issue was that toilets in schools are far from classrooms, these learners will be raped.

In taverns, there is this issue of drugging women; this needs to be addressed, especially now that women are missing and murdered.

Traditional healers, pastors and tavern owners need to have licenses to operate.

Minister Mr Fikile Mbalula should have taverns checked because they operate 24/7, and this mostly affects black people.

Ms Maema had a meeting with SAB, particularly the KZN, to address this issue of taverns.

Adoption of minutes
Minutes of a previous committee meeting were adopted.

The meeting was adjourned.

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