Despondency about whether the situation with unachieved targets would ever change was expressed when the Department of Women in the Presidency (DOW) presented the report on its first quarterly performance. The Department had spent 22.3% of their budget -- R45.9 million of the appropriated R206.1 million - but out of 32 targets planned, only 13 (41%) had been achieved. It seemed to Members that a great deal of time was spent on planning, but very little on carrying the plans out.
During May, a planning session had been held to address the inadequate quality of operational plans that had been submitted to the Accounting Officer. The Department now had an approved operational plan that enabled managers and heads of divisions and branches to manage performance on a weekly and monthly basis, and to ensure that the time management of work was significantly improved. During the session, it had also been decided by the executive committee (EXCO) to commission the work of the first draft report on the socio-economic empowerment of women through government economic incentive schemes, to external expertise.
The question about whether this outsourcing had been budgetted for was one of the many questions that did not get answered on that day. The reason for that was that the office of the Chief Whip requested all chairpersons to finish scheduled Committee meetings at 12:15 in order for Members to attend a memorial service.
Questions that were answered covered the resignations of two employees, and the reason for the cancellation of a series of dialogues between stakeholders, municipalities and province in Mpumalanga, which had not been up to the required standard at the appointed time. For that, the Department took responsiblity.
The Chairperson gave a strong message that the Department should return to Mpumalanga, and taking into account that issue and its overall performance as well, it should go back to the drawing board, do what was required and come back with the expected answers. A report from the Department regarding unanswered questions was also expected in the following seven days.
Ms Crystal Levendale, Committee Researcher, shared some remarks on the quarterly report before the delegation from the Department of Women in the Presidency (DoW) arrived at the meeting.
She said that 22.3% of the budget -- R45.9million of the appropriated R206.2 million -- had been spent, but that many targets, some from two to three years ago, were still not achieved.
Ms D Robinson (DA) suggested to the Chairperson that the Committee should put more pressure on the Department to achieve its targets. The Department was then called to present.
Ms Jenny Schreiner, Director General (DG) of the DoW, greeted the Committee and expressed the hope that the documents had been timeously received. Except for the main report, there were also various supporting documents that could be referred to on request. She introduced the Department’s new Deputy Director General (DDG), Ms Welhemina Tshabalala, who had joined the Department the day before.
In the middle of May, the DoW had held a two-day operational planning work session to look at the quality of their plans and how they would improve by not working in silos, for example. Work would now get done because of far better planning. Tweaking the targets had resulted in a delay, but the Department was catching up. Service providers had been procured and there was a different audit steering committee now. Root causes, which had not been correctly captured in the past, had been discovered and the Department would now really drill down into them.
The Chairperson asked Ms Schreiner to introduce her staff. A new researcher and opinion piece writer, Ms Philile Ntuli, was introduced.
Ms M Khawula (EFF), through a translator, said she did not approve of the word “staff,” as it took the Committee and the Department backwards.
Ms Schreiner apologised.
Department of Women: Firstt Quarter Performance
Ms Val Mathobela, Chief Director (CD): Strategic Management, DoW, said that overall, 13 (41%) of the32 targets planned had been achieved while, 19 (59%) had not been achieved. This was linked to under-spending amounting to R7.2 million.
Under Programme 1, the eight out of 14 targets that were not achieved were:
- 90% of high-rated risks in the DoW profile being reduced;
- Implementation of the annual internal audit plan;
- Implementation of 95% of the internal audit recommendations;
- 100% of invoices paid within 30 days;
- Maintaining a less than 2% under-spending in expenditure against the budget allocation;
- 95% of external audit findings cleared;
- 100% of disciplinary cases resolved within 90 days of the cases initiated; and
- Implementation of Year 1 of the Business Systems Implementation plan.
Ms Mathobela said that the deviation on the 100% of invoices paid within 30 days was related to Vodacom invoices from 2015/16, where the account reconciliation had had to be performed for the whole financial year in order to verify the validity of the invoices.
Mr Prince Booi, Chief Director (CD): Economic Empowerment and Participation (EEP), who presented Programme 2, began by saying that the programme had never been fully resourced. Of the ten targets planned, three had been achieved and seven not achieved. Programme 2 had spent 23% of its budget as at 30 June 2017.
The targets that had been achieved were the policy framework for the provision of sanitary dignity to indigent girls and women, where the draft policy had been presented to the Social Protection, Community and Human Development (SPCHD) cluster. Comments had also been integrated. The target of analysis of the progress and impact on the empowerment of women of each component of the Nine Point plan had also been achieved, as a toolkit for analysis had been developed.
Ms Mathobela presented Programme 3, where four of eight targets had been achieved. There had been improved communication on women’s empowerment and gender equality through various information, knowledge and media platforms, and the roll-out of the 365 Days Campaign for No Violence against Women and Children. The targeted number of monitoring reports on the Nine Point Plan and the number of monitoring reports on outcome 14 had not been achieved.
Mr Mbhazima Shiviti, Acting Chief Financial Officer (CFO) presented the progress that was being made with the outstanding targets. He said the DoW was working closely with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) and the Office of the Public Service Commission (OPSC) to address the matter of unresolved disciplinary cases.
The Chairperson asked what the problem was for the delay of the pending suspension of a former female employee.
Mr Shiviti said the delay was beyond the Department’s control, because the employee had changed her union representation and her legal representative had been injured and was booked off until 1 September. He assured the Chairperson that the situation with the case was under control. The typing on page 71 which stated that no cases of financial misconduct had been reported during the third quarter of the 2016/17 financial year was a typing error -- it should have read that no cases of financial misconduct were reported during the first quarter of 2017/18.
In conclusion, Ms Mathobela said the Departmental operational plan had been submitted to the Accounting Officer on 23 June, and extensive engagement had taken place on the quality of the plans and how to make them effective in improving delivery through addressing forward planning and process management. At the end of April, the executive committee (EXCO) agreed that the strategic plan (SP) and annual performance plan (APP) were in place. They had expressed concerns on the approach regarding performance, and had said that the next weakness to address was the operational planning processes and quality.
The Department had held an operational planning working session to address the inadequate quality of the operational plans that had been submitted to the Accounting Officer. It now had an approved operational plan that enabled managers and heads of divisions and branches to manage performance on a weekly and monthly basis to ensure that the time management of work was significantly improved.
The Department’s EXCO had endorsed a firm approach to consequence management for non-delivery and non-compliance.
Ms M Chueu (ANC) asked about the Department’s overspending against its projections. How much had been overspent on the official who had been transferred from Programme 1 to Programme 3? How much had been overspent on the procurement of carry-bags for gifts for the “Take a girl child to work” project, and how many children had been involved? She also asked why the Department had delivered sanitary dignity packs when they had said they were not a service delivery department.
The Chairperson interrupted her with a message that had been received from the Office of the Chief Whip, requesting all chairpersons to finish scheduled Committee meetings at 12:15 in order to allow Members to attend a planned memorial service.
Ms Chueu continued her questions, and said the Department was not seeing the Committee as one of their stakeholders, as the Committee was not involved in the draft ofn their framework. How many women were called “indigent,” and where were they found? How, and for how long, would the sanitary dignity packs be distributed? How much was being spent, and in collaboration with what department? Where was the product found, who made it, and how many people were going to be employed? How long would the programme take?
She asked for clarity on who the “executive authority” referred to on page 22, was. Women were not homogenous. Rural women were the most vulnerable. Where would the Department find them and how would they be allowed to access funding? In which urban areas were the women found, and how would they be assisted? Most of the time, “funding for women” referred only to the elite when the focus should be on the working class, as the middle class and the rest could find information on the internet. How did the Department target the working class to change their lives? Skills development should talk about ordinary women who had been excluded from an education when South Africa had a policy of excluding women.
She asked if the Department knew that the National Development Framework (NDF) had not been funded by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for the last ten years. How would the DoW make sure that they got money to fund their project?
She asked why the Cabinet -- she assumed it was the Cabinet -- rejected the Department’s report on the Limpopo dialogue. What had been rejected? What was the detail of this document? The Department wanted the Committee’s help to manage their problems, but they were not giving the Committee information.
She asked again how many girls had been taken to the “Take a girl child to work” project that had been held on 25 May 2017. Who were these girls, and where had they been found? What impact had been made on these girls? Was there anything that had assessed the impact of the campaign? She said it must be remembered that the people that needed to be impacted had never been to the next city or town, and it should not be assumed that people knew what the Committee Members and the Department knew. She gave the example of someone living in Soshanguve not knowing where Klerksdorp was, saying that that was the structure of South Africa. She mentioned that there was a gap for domestic tourism.
She asked how the Department gained access to provinces where the Premier’s offices did not include the status of women. This question had been asked before, without getting a reply. How would the Department ensure that it reached women in different provinces? What was being done to allow for simple dialogue?
Before Ms Chueu continued with more questions there was a near argument involving her, Ms G Tseke (ANC), Ms M Khawula (EFF) and the Chairperson. It seemed that Ms Khawula, who spoke in her own vernacular, had become irritated with the amount of questions Ms Chueu was asking. Ms Tseke had told her that the ANC leads, for they had the majority, and that she should switch off her microphone. The Chairperson told her that the discussion was closed.
Ms Chueu continued that the Committee had been waiting for an invitation to the Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) workshop for a while and it now seems that the Minister’s advice was to engage with academia and GRB experts. She said that in Canada, gender responsive budgeting was being done. Thus there was a country to refer to, to go to for learning how it was done, how departments could budget for women’s issues to progress and ensure that women were empowered. The fact that South Africa was still waiting to engage with academia seemed like a delaying tactic.
The Chairperson asked the next Members to cut their questions because of the shortened time for the meeting.
Ms Tseke asked if the external service – when EXCO had decided to commission the work of the first draft report on socio-economic empowerment of women through government economic incentive schemes – had been budgeted for. Why had it said that that target had been achieved? How much was the external service provider going to cost? She said the DoW was not a service delivery Department, and that it was easy for them when partnering with other departments, such as the Department of Social Development, regarding sanitary dignity, but that procurement had resulted in overspending in Programme 2. She felt that Programme 1 was bloated, and asked why officials had only now been transferred from one programme to the other, instead of at the beginning of the financial year. That seemed like poor planning. How many people had resigned?
She was told that one had resigned in the previous quarter, and one in the current quarter.
Ms Tseke said that the Department’s general performance was bad. Achieving only 13 out of 32 targets would cause a backlog and overspending in Quarter 2. Comparing the Department with a student, she said that 13 out of 32 was a fail mark, and it had been like that in the previous years as well. She expressed her despondency that it would change in the coming years. The Committee would feel comfortable when the women’s financial inclusion framework, which had been a draft for years, was finalised. The gender responsive budgeting framework should also be presented in the next quarter. She asked what the challenge had been for the dialogues in Mpumalanga. During an oversight visit, she had met with a woman who was also concerned about the Department’s visibility in Mpumalanga. Matters were now being made worse with the dialogue being cancelled there.
The Chairperson asked for reason for cancelling the dialogue.
Ms Schreiner answered that it had not been one dialogue, but a series of dialogues at the district municipality level that required massive preparation and cooperation between the relevant provinces and the Department.
The Chairperson said an arrangement had already been made, and she was concerned about why and when it had been cancelled.
Ms Schreiner repeated that it was not a single dialogue but a programme with stakeholders that needed to be properly prepared. The dialogue programme had not been cancelled, but would be rolled out province by province. The Mpumalanga one had been delayed because the appropriate level of preparation had not been done. The Department took full responsibility for that and apologised if it looked as if Mpumalanga had cancelled them, because it had been a case of the Department’s preparation not being done to Minister’s satisfaction, and when it was, there were other programmes in which the Minister and Premier were involved. She assured the Committee that the process had not stopped and the Department intended to return to Mpumalanga and target the specific district municipalities where violence against women and children was the worst.
The Chairperson said there was a high amount of trafficking in Mpumalanga, and she was talking from experience. She had got girls, aged between 14 and 16, out of a truck. She asked Ms Schreiner to go back to her drawing board and ensure that she indeed went back to Mpumalanga.
Ms Schreiner agreed.
Ms Khawula asked her questions while her translator was outside the room for a while.
Mr T Nkonzo (ANC) asked the reason for the one resignation. He complimented the Department on its 100% compliance and said that there were some positive aspects in the report for which the Department should be complimented and urged to keep up the good work.
Ms Robinson said she wanted to endorse what had been said by her colleagues, that much time was spent on planning but very little was carried out. Regarding sanitary dignity, she said that so much time was being spent on policy while the lives of girls were being destroyed by a lack of education. Could an accelerator be put on? She said that the Committee did not know what the Department was doing. Could the Department please let them know when things were happening? She wanted to know more about the trips to Ethiopia and Swaziland, and asked if there were public representatives participating. Was this a matter for officialdom? Did Members of the Committee come along for these interactions, or was just she excluded?
Ms P Bhengu-Kombe (ANC) said that in the future the Committee should look at targets that had not been achieved and allow members of the Department to explain why they had not been achieved. It should be clear where they stood and where they were going to.
The Chairperson and Ms Khawula got involved in a discussion in their native tongues again.
Ms Chueu said she had forgotten to ask about the interesting issues that had been found in the inter-generational dialogue. What had these issues been?
The Chairperson said it had not been a good day. Ms Schreiner should go back to the drawing board with the areas of concern that had been given to them by the Committee. She asked how much the Department were going to pay for the former employee whose case had not been finalised. She asked Ms Schreiner to do her work and to come back with answers, and with the relevant people.
A report on the outstanding answers to questions was expected in seven days, as the meeting had to be closed.
The meeting was adjourned.
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