Still basking in the glory of Women’s Month and being showered with compliments, it was a good encounter for the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) briefing the Portfolio Committee on Women in the Presidency. Not having the clout it should, as a Constitutionally Established Body, was a major concern. The option to subpoena Ministers, such as the Minister of Women in the Presidency, Ms Susan Shabangu and the Minister of Police, Mr Fikile Mabalula to engagements, was discussed. That was not done yet as it was recognised that the Minister of Police was fairly new. The Commission also had a hard time to engage with the Department of Correctional Services who seemingly did not regard them as a Constitutional Body by law and wanted to influence their research. The Committee said that in no instance may the Commission be treated like a non-entity.
A glaring topic for the Commission was the access to land for women. Previously the Commission presented the concept of “One women, one hectare” which was now being adopted as “One household, one hectare.”
Progress was made on complaints files, under the categories of gender based violence, maintenance complaints and general discrimination practices. At the end of the last financial year, 394 files were brought forward and 191 files were opened while 169 were closed; therefore, at the end of the first quarter 416 were pending. Improved software to deal with files was needed and the Commission was challenged by restraints of funding.
Members asked what was done to market the Toll-Free number (0800 007 709). Were the Commissions’ recommendations binding? Were they involved in the current application in the Cape High Court of Muslim women asking for equal rights and recognising their civil union? Members wanted to know what the Commission was doing about the pay gap between women and men. Was the delay on the Human Resource strategy because of lack of staff or skill? Where were the girls from the “Take a girl child to work” project from? Members also wanted to know whether there was enough capacity in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Mpumalanga and North West? Was it still proper in this day and age that the community had to fork out from its own pockets for the Nkosi’s lobola? Why were maintenance complaints on the rise? Was there duplication on cases between the Department of Women in the Presidency and the Commission? There was also serious concern over rape cases of men and boys being on the increase.
Election of Acting Chairperson
The meeting was opened by Ms P Bhengu (ANC) in the absence of the Chairperson, Ms T Memela (ANC) who arrived later.
No apologies were heard
Briefing by Committee Staff
Ms Crystal Levendale, Committee Researcher, pointed out that the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) managed to save just over half a million rand in the first quarter although it was predicted that there would not be similar savings throughout the rest of the year.
She said that the CGE indicated that their oversight bodies were all fully functional. Concerns that should impact on operations were previous allegations against members of senior management and double salaries that were mistakenly paid in June 2017. That matter was dealt with, but a dispute was lodged at the labour court when July salaries were withheld. Ms Levendale said that the Committee should know the status of that process.
She said that for the current reporting period 78% of planned targets were finalised. For Objective 1, two targets were not met. All the targets were met for Objective 2. Historically, closing complaint files were always a challenge for the CGE. At the end of the last financial year 394 files were brought forward and 191 files were opened while 169 were closed; therefore, at the end of the first quarter 416 were pending. According to Ms Levendale this showed progress.
She said that for Objective 3, three out of five targets were met. No indication of why the outstanding ones were not met was given. She said that 18 out of 16 targets were met under Objective 4. The development and implementation of the Human Resources (HR) strategy carried over from the previous financial year and it was still not done due to a lack of capacity. Ms Levendale said this was a concern because it was unresolved for three quarters already. Overall, in terms of spending and meeting targets, the CGE performed well.
The Chairperson asked if there were any questions.
Ms D Robinson (DA) asked if she missed the presentation on the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
Ms Levendale clarified that having a presentation was only one of the targets and that the Committee did not have had a presentation or a report.
Ms Robinson asked if the written replies to previous questions were received yet and that was clarified by other Members saying that those replies were expected from the Department not the CGE.
Ms G Tseke (ANC) did not understand how the revision of the HR strategy could still be delayed because of a lack of capacity, because the vacancies that there were, were for commissioners.
Ms Levendale said that the question about whether the CGE had an improved strategy, whether it was implemented and whether the lack of capacity was in terms of personnel or in terms of skill needed to be asked.
At this point the Chairperson arrived at the meeting and the CGE entered the meeting. After allowing them to settle in Ms Bhengu said that she will chair the meeting in the presence of the usual Chairperson, Ms TC Memela (ANC).
Briefing by Commission for Gender Equality
Ms Nondumiso Maphazi, Acting Chairperson of the CGE introduced the delegation and thanked Members for the opportunity to present. She congratulated the country as a whole for the fruitful celebration of August and said a lot of programmes in public and private sector were held successfully. There was an increased awareness on importance of August and an outcry that women were not celebrated on the level they deserved for their role in the struggle. Discussions were held with institutions of higher learning that wanted to create platforms to highlight and honour such contributions.
She said that a glaring topic was access of land to women. CGE presented the concept of “One women, one hectare” which was being adopted as “One household, one hectare”. Women were concerned that the concept changed for they thought that it was their chance to earn land. She said that there was an increased cry that women needed their own banking system for projects and businesses, for banks did not give them credit.
She said that although it was a positive month, there were still increases in gender based violence and femicide and people in leadership positions, which were supposed to set an example, committing gender based violence. The CGE’s position was that the law should take its course.
She said that the CGE was challenged by restraints of funding the institution. Incoming planning session management partnerships had to be formed to increase visibility in areas that needed it. There was a positive response on interaction with the mining sector. The management of Glencoe already had two sessions for training regarding sexual harassment.
She said that the CGE would continue efforts with the private sector to make sure that the environment in the labour market adhered to the legislation of the country. Furthermore, a report was received from the Eastern Cape, where the outcome was that the implicated committed what they were accused of, but there was complications because both people involved in the case were now in different positions (the employed being an employer and the other being in a different department now). This would be followed up to ensure that justice was done. She added that Commissioner Nomasonto Mzibuko would welcome the Committee in their forthcoming oversight visit to North West.
Ms Keketso Maema, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the CGE, presented the first quarter expenditure report. For the current reporting period, 78% of planned targets were finalised. The CGE had problems with the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) who seemingly did not regard them as a Constitutional Body by law. DCS wanted to influence the GCE’s research. Instead of spending time on training the DCS on the Gender Barometer, time was spent on writing letters back and forth, but the CGE would catch up next quarter.
As part of the general overview of the presentation, Ms Maema said the advertising campaign for human rights month in the form of a Public Service Announcement (PSA) was aired on various SABC stations with free airtime totalling R1 400 000 and as a result of a series of meetings with the Danish Embassy, the embassy was now interested in funding a Radio Project. The proposal was being reshaped. As part of the “Take a girl child to work” programme, the CGE embarked on targeting school going youth, some of whom were taken to mining institutions to hopefully generate interest in hard sciences. Assistance was given to the Department of Basic Education (DBE) on the work that they were doing on Pedagogy. The main request was to ensure that the curriculum for teachers was gender mainstreamed and that specific gender concepts were defined. She said that the CGE was further approached to partner with SAB InBev on the topic of creating safer communities.
She also said that two provinces (the Free State and another) reported and highlighted an increase of male rape and an increase in reported cases relating to violence against men and boys.
She said that for the implementation of the Annual Performance Plan (APP), progress was made in all the sub-strategies of Strategic Objective 1. For Strategic Objective 2, the CGE made progress in addressing complaint files by closing 169 files. 191 were opened and 394 brought from the previous period. Improved software to deal with files was needed. She said that the Department received most complaints under the categories of gender based violence, maintenance complaints and general discrimination practices the most notable of which was a complaint in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) where the complainant alleged that South African Police Service (SAPS) officials were refusing to serve a protection order against the perpetrator (her partner). In the North West, the Department received a complaint from a male complainant who alleged that he was raped and that when he reported the matter to the SAPS, they victimised him more. On such matters, the CGE was hoping to engage with the Minister of Police, Mr Fikile Mabalula.
She said that on progress for Strategic Objective 2 included partnership with the National Electronic Media Institute of SA (NEMISA) on designing a community radio programme with 22 radio slots focused on matters relating to gender discrimination and 43 outreach and legal clinics were conducted.
Ms Maema also touched on the issues relating to have a system of Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) for the self-employed, a project that the Law Reform Commission took up. Another issue was that the CGE was trying to assist the plight of women in correctional facilities. It also looked at the sterilisation of disabled people and training of journalism students.
Mr Moshabi Putu, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), CGE, presented the financial and related activities report for the financial quarter ended 20 June 2017 (2017/2018 Financial Year). He said R20.5 million (26% of the budget) was spent but that this was cross-subsidised by donor funds (R1.4 million from SABC). Compensation of employees remained a key driver at R13.4 million. Other material contributors were audit and legal fees (R2.3 million), travel and accommodation (R654 000), depreciation (R490 000) and telecommunication (R435 000)
He said that budgetary reductions meant CGE was operating from a low base and it should be appreciated that most of the money was spent on what legislation required (69% directly incurred for activities determined by legal mandate). Money was also used for the fixed asset base (vehicles and IT). He said that the CGE was complying to the rule of paying creditors, the bulk of which were internal, 30 days after receiving an invoice.
Mr Putu said that although the CGE still had a healthy balance sheet situation, it would deteriorate with budget pressures. He assured the Committee that for Supply Chain Management, a procurement plan was completed and submitted to Treasury. There was also no abuse of vehicles and no significant emerging risks identified during the period under review. Neither was any reassessment on existing risks considered to adversely impact the achievement of objectives.
He explained procedures around the double payment of salaries saying that it happened with the push of a button, that it was detected immediately and that by the cooperation of colleagues all the money (except R200 000) was returned. In those cases, the July salary was withheld and one employee lodged a dispute/claim at the Labour Court.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) said that she wished she could clone all the CGE management as they prioritized the right issues and had strategic focus. For that, they had to be commended. She asked how much was being done to actively market the CGE Toll-Free telephone number. How many calls did it get per year?
She said that in terms of slide 23, as there were 416 pending files on complaints left, how long have some of the brought forward files been outstanding? How many people on average attended the outreach and legal clinics? Was the CGE attracting the right people having the right issues? She saw the increase of gender based violence on the CGE’s. The lack of an overarching coordinating structure led to the integrated plan of action not working. The Ministry of Women in the Presidency had to do more to engage with stakeholders. There was talk of engaging the Minister of Police. That left Ms van der Merwe wondering what was next for the CGE, a constitutionally established body. Often the gaps were established and talked about during meetings, but what was next? It was fine to want to engage with Ministers, but why were the Committee and the CGE not fixing the identified holes and gaps? A broader conversation was needed before it became a media issue (Soweto femicide victim Karabo Mokoena, Zimbabwe's first lady Grace Mugabe and resigned Deputy Minister of Higher Education Mduduzi Manana were given as examples) and when the media hype died the issues also died. What could be done to make government listen? Would anything happen when the Ministers were engaged? Was there not a next step like legal possibilities and enforcement? Had the Minister of Correctional Services been written to and what was her response, otherwise the Committee would take that up, because in no instance may the CGE be treated like a non-entity.
Ms T Stander (DA) asked what the harshest sanction option was that could be imposed. For the purposes of reminding the Committee, were the CGE’s recommendations binding (such as the Public Protectors). What was the criteria for determining investigations such as for the recent instances mentioned by Ms Van der Merwe? About the current application in the Cape High Court, Muslim women asking for equal rights and recognising their civil union, what work was the CGE doing monitoring those intervention? She asked them to elaborate as she had one opinion that the Civil Unions Act provided for registration of any union in the register. How was the CGE keeping a hand on this issue? The pay gap for women and men (27%) doing the same work, was this an issue CGE was focused on and was the percentage correct because there was another figure of 13%?
Ms Stander made some recommendations (that she did not expect a response on). The same work that needed to be done on the issue of bank funding needed to be done to ensure funds for tertiary education for women. Single and same sex fathers needed to be entitled to paternity leave. She asked that instead of targeting the country industry by industry, was there any way to make a general appeal to public and private sector directly to inform them, asking them to be pro-active and take the following key actions, instead of having to be the watchdog. She thanked the CGE for taking her recommendation into account for making use of community radio and “mahala” advertising. In the same way, research topics and topics that the CGE needed assistance on could be circulated to all universities for honours, masters and doctors students to gain “mahala” assistance.
Ms Stander said that the core foundation issue for the reason why women were in poverty was mainly health, education and safety and without that being addressed they would remain in poverty. Ms Stander wanted CGE to consider how the basics would be fixed. With regards to the IT database, she recommended that in the interim a standard spread sheet and a handbook be created. In this way, everyone could contribute before information was submitted to a central office.
She expressed the hope that the CGE was considering the lifespan of their 22 vehicles, for example, and that the applications to replace those would reach Treasury in time. Lastly, Ms Stander repeated her request for a Joint Committee meeting with Social Services and Police.
The Chairperson said there was a joint meeting with police and Ms Stander was not present then, but that there would be another meeting with them, focusing specifically on the 6-point plan.
Ms G Tseke (ANC) thanked the CGE and said she appreciated their attendance at the Woman’s Day proceedings held by the Speaker and the Multi Party Women’s Caucus. The CGE was continuously making the Committee proud. One of the issues raised in the three-day interaction was the issue of reviving the National Council of Gender Based Violence because the programmes were not well coordinated and a high-level structure was needed. She said that what was also needed was a progress report on the implementation of recommendations that was done on Tugela Municipalities’ bursary scheme. About the progress on the amalgamation of certain Chapters (1, 9 and 10), CGE needed to give the Committee its argument on the amalgamation so that the Committee was informed when engaging the Deputy Speaker again. Regarding the Human Resource (HR) strategy, she asked if it was lack of capacity in terms of staff or skill. She asked how many girls benefitted in the “Take a girl child to work” project. Where were these girls from? The complaint cases brought forward were mostly in KZN, Mpumalanga and North West. Did the CGE have capacity there?
Through a translator Ms M Khawula (EFF) made a comment on disturbing killings in KZN. Women being killed for their body parts was sheer inhuman. She said four women were killed for their ears. The killing of councillors seemed to be becoming a norm in KZN. Referring to slide 6, she said that some things sounded wholesome in theory but in practice they did not get implemented. For example, the “One woman, one hectare” programme. There was a problem experienced in a rural area due to a Nkosi rejecting the project after R3 million was already allocated to it. What could be done for the project in Tzaneen to have farmers sell their produce directly instead of through a middle man? Was it still proper in this day and age that the community had to fork out from its own pockets for the Nkosi’s lobola when he wanted to take a wife? She condemned the Nkosis asking money from their community when they needed letters from him and fines being paid to the Traditional Courts. She said the Nkosi’s get paid a salary (estimated to be around R7 000 per month).
Mr T Nkonzo (ANC) asked if Glencoe and De Beers were the only ones invited to the meeting with the CGE. Maintenance complaints were on the rise, what is the reason for that? Was there any reason beyond education? What were the results of the complaints that were attended to? Was there any research being done on the problem of men and boys being raped? Did the Correctional Services respond to the letter and was the CGE happy with the response? Lastly, he expressed his delight and happiness with the CGE that the Women’s month went to so well in comparison to previous years.
The Chairperson said she would leave early and will then hand back to the Committee’s Chairperson Ms Memela. She asked if there was any duplication in resolving cases as the Department was also doing community dialogues. Did the increased number of cases include cases that came out of those dialogues? If not, what was done when issues come out of dialogues, was the CGE’s legal advisors involved?
Mr Wallace Mgoqi, Commissioner for the CGE, answered Ms Khawula about the way Chiefs conducted themselves by saying that CGE had a legal officer in KZN that could be contacted if there was discrimination in terms of sex. The office of Rural Development and Land Reform should be alerted about misadministration for example ZZ2 that allegedly diverted water. That fell under the mandate of the Human Rights Commission too. It may also be a matter to be brought before the Public Protector. There should be recourse for people on the ground to those institutions so that these people could have some redress to the complaints that they had.
Ms Nomasento Mazibuko, Commissioner for the CGE, answered that the CGE took 15 Grade 10 learners from all schools, also private schools, from all provinces to take part in the “Take a girl child to work” project that was run for the past three years. These girls grew in the project, there was a follow-up in grade 12, and they wrote essays and letters explaining their further needs. They were also encouraged to come back in their school holidays. Many girls interested in finance were placed in CFO’s office. They were also encouraged to do symposiums at their schools. During the project, these girls were also taught that they themselves had the right over their own bodies.
Ms Maphazi said the CGE had a plenary resolution requesting to meet with the Minister of Police, the Minister of Women in the Presidency and the Deputy President on the issue of Gender Based Violence (GBV). The CGE failed in getting the Minister of Social Development to meet with them. The plenary discussed the status of the situation of GBV. A resolution was taken to determine the status of the recommendation of CGE. Legal advice, based on the initial resolution on the issue of Nkandla and the recommendation of the Public Protector, was sought on the matter. She said that only the Public Protector and the Commission on Human Rights’ recommendations were binding. CGE was getting advice and would update the Committee.
Ms Maphazi said Ms Khawula’s questions, especially around the payment of traditional leaders should be taken to the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA)
The CGE found that especially in institutions of Higher Learning, female academia was not offered in the same manner, in terms of financial compensation, as their male counterparts. The gaps were also in the Private Sector. When financial hearings were done, the CGE was unable to have all the companies on the same day because of financial constraints. Therefore, every year new ones were identified. The point of doing blanket communication, raised by Ms Stander, was recognised. That would make a summarised report about the transformation situation of the majority of companies possible.
Ms Mazibuko also thanked Ms Stander for her recommendations. She said they found it difficult to engage with the Department and the Minister on the issue of equal pay. Single fatherhood was also a concern because sometimes fathers were not given the privilege to interact with child. The GBV Council should be brought back.
Before the Acting Chairperson of the Committee, Ms Bhengu left, Ms Maphazi answered her question saying that they were invited by the Minister to the dialogues and that they then took the cases up.
Ms Bhengu announced a joint meeting with the Portfolio Committee of Agriculture and the Multi Party Women’s Caucus the next day as well as a forthcoming oversight visit to North West and then left.
Ms Keketso Maema, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the CGE, answered that they assisted the Department in quite a number of matters also in the North West. She answered Ms Van der Merwe’s question about the Toll-Free number by saying that they gave the number in each engagement with community radio as well as after each presentation done in a community. In this quarter, they received about 253 calls. Out of this, around 63 were dropped and prank calls. Regarding cases that were brought forward, it was difficult to say which year they belonged to. To respond appropriately would have to include an exercise going back and going through information as there was no efficient system. How many people were reached through legal clinics was included in a slide under strategic Objective 2.
Ms Maema said Ms Maphazi shied away from saying that the CGE were debating in their plenary to subpoena the Ministers to have a meeting, but they recognised that the Minister of Police was fairly new. The resolution was to engage with the Ministers first before taking steps such as to subpoena them followed by a warrant of arrest if they did not appear, but they hope it would not come to that.
Ms Maema said that she did not write to the Minister of Correctional Services but to the Commissioner, as that was her counterpart, and reached a satisfactory position for now.
She answered Ms Stander that the CGE’s position was that their recommendations were binding. They were aware that Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy (OISD) held a different view which was why they were getting advice like their Acting Chairperson said.
She answered that they had a manual and standards to check whether cases fell within their mandate and if it did they engaged directly with the Head of Department (HOD). The CGE was part of the Muslim managers’ case. Their legal representative was in court as they were speaking. A lot of work in various settings of the Muslim Community was done previously. The CGE felt that a specific law had to be put in place. A Bill (on which the Muslim Community was divided on) was around for a long time.
The South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) was looking into paternity benefits and there was an officer present who would note what the Committee said.
The CGE utilized spreadsheets, but they needed to have more depth in their system to be more effective in their analysis.
She answered Ms Tseke that they would forward all the information on the amalgamation of the chapters. Regarding the HR strategy, she said they did have capacity issues within the secretariat. There was only one person in HR. He was like a one-man loner and the CGE wanted to get him support in the form of a HR officer.
She said that the cases in KZN were still a bit high as there were vacancies in KZN and in Mpumalanga. The legal officer in the North West also took paternity leave and an intern was assisting.
About the mining investigations, De Beers and Glencoe were called because of the number of mining companies they ran on the ground. De Beers came and Glencoe did not come, but they since opened their doors and the day before legal officers from the CGE were training and assisting them in Witbank. Research was following other mines to get a fuller picture, to engage more fully and to get them to comply.
She said that regarding the high number of maintenance complaints, there was a number of engagements on community radio in Limpopo when the Maintenance Amendment Act was passed and in that quarter, there was a high number of maintenance issues, something the GCE was happy to be assisting with.
Regarding men and boys, no research was being done, some issues coming up province by province. A much deeper look into the issue was still needed. The issue of gender based violence was really rife.
Ms Maema said they had a wish list for National Treasury. But that the “amalgamation issue” was sometimes being used as weapon against them.
In closing, the Chairperson of the Committee, Ms Memela, highlighted the plight of young boys. It was not just girls, it was boys and what was disturbing was that some of the culprits were family and the kids were able to identify them. Young boys were being picked up on way to school and then sodomised. She remembered a specific case where the perpetrator was brought to book, but the damage was done. She thanked the CGE and said that the meeting was good.
The meeting was adjourned.
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