The Commission for Gender Equality presented the report on its second quarter performance, and said employee relations issues and the disarray of the Commission’s Parliamentary unit were key issues. Just under 80% of the Commission’s planned targets had been achieved, and only delays in it being allowed to access correctional facilities for women had prevented it from obtaining a 100% rating.
Public education and information projects had centred on outreach, advocacy and legal clinics, training on gender mainstreaming, radio interviews and social media campaigns. System improvements during the quarter included the finance unit and human resources (HR) integrating a performance management system which would ensure that procurement was decentralised to the provinces. The legal department was working with the information technology (IT) unit to roll out a complaint handling system, and the pilot programme had revealed the risky nature of the process. The pilot period would be extended to ensure trouble-shooting and gain assurance from an internal audit.
The CGE had focused on evaluating existing legislation and recommending new legislation. Its election project would assess the 2019 election process from a gendered perspective, to determine the provisions made by institutions to ensure equal representation and participation between men and women in the country. Another project was the assessment of women’s representation and participation in the traditional sector.
Another project was dedicated to assessing the plight of women in correctional facilities, but the CGE had struggled to get access and could not conduct fieldwork due to the refusal of the Department of Correctional Services to issue permission. There had been systemic investigations into the exploitation of females in the religious sector, gender transformation in procurement, maternal health and sex work.
The Commission was satisfied with the continuation of improvements, although it recognised that women’s rights remained unprotected in various domains. It hoped for a positive outcome from the presidential gender-based violence (GBV) summit.
Members expressed concern about labour relations matters and procurement reforms, and some highlighted issues pertaining to stereotypes, curriculum content and how children should be taught to engage and socialise with one another. DNA, as it related to maintenance orders, and insufficient resources at medical facilities also emerged as a concern. A Member reported she had received an email of complaint against a commissioner who used company assets for personal usage.
The South African Multiparty Women’s Caucus explained its mandate and vision to a visiting Tanzanian Women’s Parliamentarian delegation, and provided a brief overview of the challenges it had faced as well as its achievements. Fundraising, the role of men in raising awareness, budget allocations, the powers of each delegation, and the extent of women’s representation the countries’ respective political structures, were discussed.
Commission for Gender Equality: 2nd Quarter Report
Ms Lulama Nare, Chairperson: Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), provided an overview of the report, saying it focused on spending patterns, trends and the functioning of the CGE. The quarter had seen employee relations issues, as one commissioner had been suspended. The Commission’s Parliamentary unit was in disarray. She expressed gratitude for the support she had received from commissioners and thanked the Committee for keeping the Commission on its toes.
Ms Keketso Maema, Chief Executive Officer (CEO): CGE, said that approximately 79% of the Commission’s planned targets had been finalised, which was an improvement on the 73.3% in the same quarter the previous year. Delays in accessing correctional facilities had prevented a 100% achievement. The Commission had gone to the extent of subpoenaing the Director General before access had been granted to these facilities.
Activities had been progressing well and the Commission did not foresee risks. Public education and information projects had centred on outreach, advocacy and legal clinics, training on gender mainstreaming, radio interviews and social media campaigns. The legal function of the CGE had prioritised dealing with complaints and conducting investigations, and research had focused on data collected. A concept had been drafted for guiding the country on coordinating gender-based violence (GBV) and was used at the GBV Summit.
For the second quarter, the Commission had continued its work towards gender mainstreaming at various insitutions and follow-up meetings took place between 13 and 17 August, where the Commission had engaged with employees and unions in the Northern Cape. Engagement with the Two Rivers Mine continued as part of gender mainstreaming efforts in the mining sector. Work across the provinces had gone smoothly, although some had experienced unrest, such as Kimberley, where service delivery protests stalled work for three weeks.
During the financial year, projects had required cross-departmental data to synthesize issues related to sexual and reproductive health and rights, and National Gender Policy Framework (NGPF) projects, some of which included engagements about teenage pregnancies and access to local clinics. Despite progress, there were instances where matters on GBV and rape took long before being finalised, and case officials and/or respondents sometimes used the system to delay the process. Access to justice persisted as a key issue.
System improvements during the quarter included the finance unit and human resources (HR) integrating a performance management system’s case-ware and using other modules in the system, which would ensure that finance decentralised procurement to provinces. Finance monitors would ensure that due processes were followed and prevent irregular expenditure. The Commission had also introduced a new telephone system which was live, but some provinces had experienced glitches. The legal department was working with the information technology (IT) unit to roll out a complaint handling system, and the pilot programme had revealed the risky nature of the process. A risk management plan to ensure mitigation had been the priority of units and the pilot period would be extended to ensure trouble-shooting and gain assurance from the internal audit. A manual system would, therefore, run parallel to avert audit findings.
The Commission’s strategic objective plan consisted of three objectives and 11 sub-strategies.
The first objective was to advance and enable the legislative environment for gender equality. Sub-strategies for achieving this included monitoring compliance with international and regional treaties, evaluating existing legislation, and recommending new legislation and investigating, monitoring and evaluating organs of the state and the private sector for gender equality.
The second strategic objective was to promote respect for and to protect, develop and attain gender equality. This should be achieved by developing, conducting and managing public education and information programmes, investigating and resolving disputes, rectifying acts or omissions to ensure redress on gender discrimination, and finally, liaising and interacting with organisations that actively promote gender equality.
The third strategic objective was to build and sustain an efficient organisation that effectively promotes and protects gender equality. This required a good governance structure and a focus on the coordination mechanism, HR management and development, financial services, internal audit and risk management, Information Communication Technologies (ICT), knowledge management and corporate communications.
According to the summary of second quarter performance information, nine out of the 11 (81.8%) quarterly targets were met for strategic objective one, all (100%) of strategic objective two’s targets were met and, strategic objective three saw 50% of the planned targets being met. Therefore, the total percentage of targets met for the first quarter was 78.79%.
In its response to strategic objective one, the CGE had focused on evaluating existing legislation and recommending new legislation, such as the draft broad based socio-economic Empowerment Charter for the Mining Industry of 2018, the Public Investment Corporation Second Amendment Bill, the Report by the Independent Panel on the Review of Zero VAT Rating, the Draft Regulations on the Mandatory Display of Energy Performance Certificates, and the Competition Commission Health Market Enquiry.
The CGE’s election project would assess the 2019 election process from a gendered perspective, to determine the provisions made by institutions to ensure equal representation and participation between men and women in the country. Previous assessment reports had found that the representation of women in political parties and related decision-making bodies had been decreasing, despite the constitutional equality clause and the country’s commitment to the SADC 2015 target of 50/50 women’s representation in leadership. There had, however, been a spill-over effect between political parties to advance women’s representation. Institutional mechanisms for increasing the number of women in public office had been undermined as they were not legal requirements embedded in electoral legislation.
The CGE recognised the need to legislate a 50/50 quota and effect changes to the Electoral Act. During the second quarter, the research department had conducted an extensive review, which had included collecting information on the current comparative representation figures for men and women in political parties, provincial legislatures and executive committees, the National Council of Provinces, the National Assembly and the National Cabinet.
Another project was the assessment of women’s representation and participation in the traditional sector. This assessed the representation, participation and roles on women in decision making and other processes within the provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders. Gender mainstreaming was raised in these institutions, emphasising how these dealt with issues of child and forced marriages, and reproductive health rights issues for women outside the jurisdiction of the Houses of Traditional Leaders. Field work activities, which were still under way, had been carried out at the provincial Houses of Traditional Leadership in Limpopo, the Free State and the Northern Cape as well as at the National House of Traditional Leaders in Pretoria.
Another project had been dedicated to assessing the plight of women in correctional facilities and would study the conditions and circumstances under which women were incarcerated at correctional service centres and the rendering of services by the Department of Correctional Services to them in South Africa. It would also consider reproductive health care and welfare services rendered to women inmates by the Department of Correctional Services. Three centres -- Durban Westville’s female Correctional Centre, the Potchefstroom female Correctional Centre, and the Thohoyandou female Correctional Services Centre in Limpopo -- would be assessed. The CGE had struggled to get access and could not conduct fieldwork due to the refusal of the Department of Correctional Services to issue permission. The DG had been subpoenaed and permission for access had been issued at the end of September. Field trips were planned to be undertaken in October.
The Policy Dialogue Programme was based on two research reports published in 2017 -- the Gender Barometer Research Report on the mining sector and the Correctional Services Report on female inmates. One Policy Dialogue was convened during the quarter and was based on the Gender Barometer research report. Two mining houses, Petra Diamonds and Impala Platinum, were represented at the Dialogue, and other stakeholders had attended. Relevant government departments were invited, but the trade union did not attend.
Progress on strategic objective two included systemic investigations into the exploitation of females in the religious sector, gender transformation in procurement, maternal health and sex work. The CGE’s legal department had selected four universities -- Mpumalanga, Sol Plaatjie, Nelson Mandela and Zululand -- at which transformation hearings would be conducted, and had distributed questionnaires and engagesd with stakeholders. Concerning gender violations at shelters, the CGE had met with the National Shelter movements and questionnaires had been distributed to those parts of the movement. Hearings were expected to take place in the next quarter.
The legal department had met with the national departments of Rural Development and Land Reform, Health, Social Development and Basic Education, to address gender transformation on procurement. Two departments had submitted information, with the other two committing to submit their response in October 2018. Furthermore, a meeting was held with the National Shelter movement as part of efforts to add systems related to gender violations in terms of maternal health. The sex work component saw the CGE subpoena the National Commissioner of SAPS to appear before the Commission on 25 September, resulting in the finalisation of a Standard Operating Procedure on 15 October 2018. Additionally, sensitisation workshops had been rolled out, with the CGE allowed to attend training sessions and CGE input to be prioritised in all material. On 15 October, statistics regarding the prosecution and conviction of sex workers for the last three financial years was meant to be provided. The CGE would continue to work closely with SAPS.
A breakdown of complaints pending, ongoing assessments as well as pending investigations, negotiations and litigations for all nine provinces were provided. An overview of the nature of complaints handled by the Department was also provided, and it was found that general discriminatory practices, gender discriminatory practices, maintenance and sexual offences comprised the bulk of these. Compared to the first quarter, the legal department had received and closed more complaints during the second quarter.
The Department had conducted 22 legal, outreach and advocacy clinics during the second quarter, most of which were conducted in the North West, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). Various issues were raised at outreach-legal clinics, such as GBV, maintenance and concerns relating to DNA results in KZN. In Limpopo, the exclusion of rural women from the administration of estates, especially by the family of their husbands, had emerged as a key issue, and the CGE would revisit areas in the following quarters and engage with traditional leaders. Lastly, issues relating to unemployment, poverty and the lack of service delivery had emerged as the most pressing issues in the Northern Cape.
Ms Maema said the second strategic objective, outreach and advocacy, would continue to focus on assisting municipalities, and would provide training on gender mainstreaming and localising strategic development goals (SDGs). The Western Cape had partnered with commissioners to engage and meet with the provincial department of local government. The inclusion of the Commission in engaging and addressing matters of gender mainstreaming at senior level had also been prioritised.
The lack of women’s participation and strategies for women’s empowerment had emerged as a persistent issue, as was the lack of a policy that directly addressed gender matters, including sexual harassment. Key concerns around sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) had included the role of poverty leading to young girls engaging sexually with older men, the lack of information on contraceptives for teenagers, the need for gender sensitisation training for educators, and the impact of culture and traditions on SRHR.
The CGE had developed a community radio strategy and plan for 2018-2019 and, having implemented 26 community radio slots so far, it had yielded radio slots on the mandate and CGE programmes. The total number of people reached during the reporting period was 5 926, of which 1 416 were male and 4 510 were female. An overview of the 81 areas reached across the country was provided in an additional document.
The CGE had also presented its stakeholder management report, in which its roles in various projects and a clear description of involvement was stipulated. These projects included collaboration with United Nations (UN) Women, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), the Foundation for Human Rights (FHR), the Embassy of Denmark, Standard Bank Top Women, the UN Global Compact, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).
With regards to the communications unit, the Commission had supported departments and provinces with messaging for Women’s month, which raised awareness on sexual and reproductive rights issues as well as customary marriages. Social media platforms were also used extensively to spark debates and conversations. The unit contributed towards the GCIS, which was published in the Vukuzenzele community newspaper, and had worked towards building a long term relationship with partners to add value to communities. The unit would also collaborate with the IT unit for the development of the intranet and digital newsletter. The CGE had gained 68% exposure in the media during September.
The HR department had been facilitating recruitment and selection to fill vacant positions, and would engage with the University of South Africa (UNISA). With regards to progress on the appointment of staff, a financial manager had been appointed, interviews had been held for a legal researcher, where no suitable candidate had been found, and interviews scheduled for potential provincial managers had been postponed. Furthermore, the process to appoint internal audit interns was currently under way and the contract of a member of the audit committee had expired, and HR would advertise for the position of an external member of the audit committee. The quarter’s APP tables were provided in another document.
In closing, the Commission was satisfied with the continuation of improvements, although it recognised that women’s rights remained unprotected in various domains. The Commission hoped for a positive outcome from the presidential GBV Summit. The legal department recommended legislative amendments to the Maintenance Act 99 of 1998, which requires the tracing of persons by maintenance officers, a process that was often complicated. The CGE proposed that persons be flagged on their personal profiles -- a type of ‘red dot status’ -- so that credit providers had the right to advise them to resolve their maintenance matters.
Mr M Dirks (ANC) raised two issues involving labour relations matters. One staff member had chosen a private disciplinary process. He thought employers usually decided how it was done. Secondly, concerning empowering women to perform procurement reforms, procurement was currently already in a mess in South Africa. The only way to transform the economy was to address the PFMA – the legislation needed to be looked at.
Ms M Chueu (ANC) raised a concern about stereotypes. Societal stereotypes were entrenched and implemented by capitalism and it started in the home, where a child was trained. The oppression of women had been commercialised. Did the CGE get statistics of first-offenders, and whether female first offenders got harsher sentences? The CGE should go deeper when looking at the oppression of women. The CGE should also consider curriculum content;, because if it went unchallenged, it embraced gender inequality. She added that parenting was not merely disciplining a child, but also included how children should engage and socialise.
She asked if DNA testing was outsourced, adding that if it was, this might delay the process. Hospitals used to be cleaned by cleaners who received benefits, but now this was outsourced. The same issues that emerged across the country needed to be addressed in the Western Cape.
Ms T Stander (DA) commented that it would help to have data so that the Committee could act how and where it could. She had received an anonymous email complaining about a commissioner and their influence on the Department. There appeared to have been an interference between a commissioner and a member of staff. The Commission had drafted a handbook, so why had someone been using a CGE vehicle and a driver to travel to and from home? She commented that there appeared to be tension, as the CEO had been undermined. How would this information be shared, and how did the Commission ensure good collaboration between commissioners and the employees?
The Chairperson asked if Ms Stander could share the email with the Committee, and Ms Stander agreed to do so.
Ms G Tseke (ANC), referring to the areas reached in thr provinces, said she was confused about two areas reached in Mpumalanga (Marapyane and Seabe) on the list, as these were so close to one another. She said she had expected a report on the progress of matters put forward by her to the CGE about the rights of widows.
When the CGE dealt with violations in its shelters, were the Thuthuzela Care Centres included? There had been an outcry that services provided there were not fully resourced. She added that the chairperson of the Civil Rights Movement (CRM) had told her that victims who testified were not protected by the state. What was the status of these cases? She asked Mr M Botha, a CGE Commissioner, whether he had discussed the issue of maintenance when meeting with other men. With regards to the detailed report of the APP, where it concerned the monitoring of employment equity and gender transformation reports, why had departments not yet submitted their reports? Lastly, since the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) was not ready to legislate it, could the Southern African Development Community (SADC) gender protocol not be used to implement 50/50 women’s representation?
Ms D Robinson (DA) agreed with what Ms Chueu said about fashion and marketing being responsible for stereotypes, and that education was the answer. She added that the curricula of schools and nursing colleges needed to be reviewed. She agreed that data on how the Western Cape was being difficult, was required. However, no province could be isolated, as all these issues occurred in all the country’s provinces. Children had to be raised in such a way as to respect everyone. She recalled that in Britain, there was such an emphasis on gender-neutrality that a report on autistic children being encouraged to cross-dress had been published. She asked for more information about the cautionary suspension and whether it was that which was part of the private disciplinary hearing?
Department of Women’s response
Ms Nare agreed to send the Committee the CGE handbook.
She said the specific employee involved had walked into the meeting during the presentation. The CGE had called security to keep employees safe, as the previous employee, who was part of the CGE’s parliamentary unit and was under cautionary suspension, had brought a sheriff to the offices. The CGE wanted to be transparent with the Committee but remarked that, for now, the matter was alleged. Lastly, arbitration was well within his contract, therefore he had a right to request arbitration.
Ms Stander clarified that the man who had walked into the meeting was not the same man who had emailed her.
Ms Maema added that the CGE and staff relationships would always be in conflict, as the accounting officer would always have to report to the Commission.
Concerning the Western Cape, two commissioners had been deployed. Page 29 of the presentation provided a sense of the challenges in the Western Cape, but the relationship between the CGE and the Western Cape Government had improved. At a meeting on 24 August, they had had a breakthrough, but the CGE was concerned that seven of nine offices of the Status of Women were in the office of the Premier.
In 2006, a new directorate had been established because of a merger. There was a need to promote gender mainstreaming and engage internally, and the meeting was meant to determine how the two entities would collaborate regarding gender language.
With regard to the cases of widows and pension funds, three cases had been referred to the CGE, and all three ladies had been contacted telephonically, and the Commission was awaiting the submission of documents. The CGE would meet with the Law Reform Commission.
Ms Nomsisi Bata, CGE Commissioner, said that DNA was a problem because not all provinces had laboratory facilities. What happened to the DNA and where was it kept? Furthermore, procurement did not only deal with women but also those with disabilities, and there was reluctance to implement legislation. The CGE was investigating what had been happening and hammering on consequence management. It had found unauthorised expenditure of R34 million. She discussed what led up to the Parliamentary officer, Mr Ngobeni, receiving precautionary suspension. Officers must report to the CGE’s Board and there would always be tensions between the CEO and the chairperson.
Mr Botha responded that, regarding the Thuthuzela Care Centres, government must ensure the prevention of victimisation and these centres needed to be adequately resourced. It was difficult for victims to receive attention at care centres, because they required all forms of documentation. Furthermore, issues of maintenance were about more than just the money and emotional connectedness, and men who were employed should pay maintenance. Lastly, the CGE had monitored the Omotoso rape case.
Ms P Bhengu-Kombe (ANC) apologised on behalf of the Chairperson, and adjourned the meeting as delegates from Tanzania were about to enter. The financial report would have to be done later.
Women Members of Parliament from Tanzania
Ms R Morutoa (ANC), Chairperson of the Joint Multi-Party Women's Caucus, introduced herself and the two whips. The Members of Parliament from Tanzania introduced themselves.
Ms Morutoa introduced the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus (MPWC) and listed its functions, explaining that the members were from different parties. The current MPWC had been established in 2014, at the start of the fifth Parliament. It was a platform for women Parliamentarians and was directed by a steering committee. The vision was about the emancipation and liberation of women in the country, and the Caucus seeks to unite all women across racial, political and other lines. The mandate is, amongst others, to act as an advisory, influencing and consultative body, making submissions to Parliamentary committees to provide oversight of women’s issues and to report annually to both houses on its activities.
Ms Tseke explained that the mandate of the Caucus was underpinned by four pillars: oversight, legislation, international participation and public participation. In 2014, responsibility for children and people with disabilities was transferred to the Department of Social Development. Regarding oversight, the Portfolio Committee holds executive structures accountable. It had a stand-alone budget but forms part of the presidency.
She discussed the Committee’s idea of decriminalising prostitution and its focus on violence towards vulnerable groups, survival and development, education and skills development. She remarked that women comprised 52% of the South African population. Poverty and economic empowerment remained key concerns of the Committee. Lastly, the CGE reported to the Committee.
The Tanzanian delegation provided a brief overview of what was done in Tanzania. They explained that the Tanzanian Women’s Parliamentarian Group had been established in 1993. The main goal of its caucus was to increase the number of women Parliamentarians and their influence. It raised issues, proposed private motions, and membership was open to all women Members of Parliament.
Tanzania had 45 women in Parliament, therefore nearly 39% of their Parliament was comprised of women, compared to 42% in South Africa. They focused on the capacity-building of women in Parliament and advocated for women’s issues. They were eager to learn from the MPWC and were thankful for the opportunity to engage. Lastly, in Tanzania, there was no committee for gender equality, and when they returned, they would be open to share and suggest it. Therefore, this was a sort of study visit.
Ms Sophia Mwakagenda, a Tanzanian MP, added that the Tanzanian Women’s Parliamentarian Group conducted fundraising activities to enhance the budget for toilets in the schools. The Committee seemed quite powerful, and this was new for them.
Ms Magreth Sakaya, a Tanzanian MP, asked how far the Committee had gone since it was established in solving issues of women in South Africa? How did the Committee ensure that hidden issues, and those within the family, came out? Lastly, did the government provide enough budget to address women’s issues?
Ms Robinson responded that the Committee’s budget also funded the CGE. Although the Department had offices, the budget needed to be more gender-sensitive and the Committee needed more assistance. The Committee really wanted to provide younger women with the opportunity to be well-educated and without male domination.
Ms Tseke added that the budget of the Department of Women was R149 million, which was too low and less than what was needed. Despite being a Chapter Nine institution and therefore independent, the CGE’s budget was R80 million.
Ms Chueu remarked that women’s issues were deep and structural in nature. Many gains had been made since 1994 but efforts had been relaxed. The concern was not about men oppressing women, but about a system that uses men to oppress women. She commented that women doing fundraising sounded good. She added that South Africa’s past had been dominant, and that there was no legislation that compelled changes. There were many organisations in South Africa, however, and also women, who did not want to change the system.
Ms Khunou, whip of the MPWC, said that legislation on the representation of women was needed and there had been efforts to create incentives for parties to obtain 50/50 representation.
Ms Morutoa remarked that men had to indicate where they were willing and able to provide support.
Ms Sakaya informed the meeting that the ministry had received a small allocation from the national budget. In Tanzania, men were not as eager to see women’s issues being solved, and had not demonstrated support or proactivity for issues of women.
Ms Morutoa noted there was an issue of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) concerns, but these would have to wait for another time.
The meeting was adjourned.