Commission for Gender Equality Quarter 2 performance: discussion

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

27 November 2018
Chairperson: Ms T Memela (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to discuss amongst other issues the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) Quarter 2 performance. The CGE was not present at the meeting and Members felt that it would be better to discuss the report in the presence of the CGE to answer questions that arose.

Before the Committee considered and adopted the minutes of various meetings, a discussion ensued around a statement made by a Member from the DA, the Chairperson having raised the issue and expressing disapproval.

The Committee discussed the Omotoso rape case and the matter of Committee decisions being portrayed as party decisions.  Members were encouraged to be aware of the separation between party political decisions and more general decisions in everyday life.    

Minutes of the meeting held on 5 June were adopted, after Ms Behngu-Kombe suggested a few amendments be made. Pertaining to the minutes of 12 June, the Committee and the Multiparty Women’s Caucus’s roles in the piloting of the sanitary towels programme and the need for legislation to entrench the work of the Committee were highlighted as priorities. Upon the consideration of the minutes of 21 August, the Gender Summit, logistical and administrative qualms also emerged.  Members felt excluded and expressed that organisation and communication around the Gender Summit  was poor. The matter would be taken up with the Office of the Presidency. Another priority highlighted in the meeting was that the Committee needs to work towards ensuring that all government departments develop gender transformation components and budgets, and that consequent management be strictly implemented. Along with this, is the need for legislation and possibly quotas to ensure successful and effective co-operation.

With slight amendments needing to be made and several entities having to be thanked, the minutes of 5 June 2018, 12 June 2018, 21 August 2018, 4 September 2018, 9 October 2018, 10 October 2018, 23 October 2018, 30 October 2018 and 13 November 2018 were adopted. The meeting adjourned shortly after the Committee was informed of a debate on the 16 Days of Activism scheduled for Thursday 29 November 2018 and more details were provided for the Committee’s study tour to Sweden, which is scheduled for 8 December 2018.

Meeting report

The Chairperson opened the meeting.

The Committee Secretary explained that three apologies had been received and read out the names of the absent members.

The Committee was given time to read through the financial report of the Commission for Gender Equality’s (CGE) 2nd Quarterly Report for 2018/19.

The Committee Secretary stated that the discussion on the financial report could not take place at the previous meeting due to time constraints.

The Chairperson asked whether the Members had anything to say about the CGE’s absence.  

Ms M Chueu (ANC) suggested that Ms Stander summarise the previous week’s presentation and make a proposal.

Ms P Bhengu-Kombe (ANC) remarked that it was difficult to summarise the financial report and that the CGE should be present so that they can ask questions that arise.

Ms M Khawula (EFF) added in isiXhosa – the interpreter was not present as yet to provide translation services.

The Chairperson raised a matter of concern to her. She remarked that she was upset by a statement made by Ms T Stander (DA) about the CGE. She had received Ms Stander’s email. She added that the Committee does not treat each other that way.  She told Ms Stander to never do it again and to change her attitude.

Ms Stander said that she respects the Chairperson and asked which statement the Chairperson was referring to. She knows she raised an issue at the last meeting with the CGE.

The Chairperson interrupted Ms Stander and asked her who had sent her those statements.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) commented that Ms Stander’s statement was true, as she saw a copy of the complaint. Each member of the Committee has a right to send complaints, statements and so forth. It is not the first time that a complaint was sent, and at least the CGE was honest by acknowledging the issue. There is nothing wrong with Ms Stander having raised the issue and seeking clarity from the CGE. She added that a page in the financial report speaks to that.

The Chairperson stopped Ms Stander from showing Ms Tseke her laptop.

Ms Bhengu-Kombe suggested that the Members of the Committee be given a document that stipulates how members should raise issues. She added that the Committee makes decisions as a collective and every resolution taken is done so as a Committee, not as individual Members of political parties. She was referring to the protection of the victims who were part of the Omotoso rape case, specifically Ms Zondi, which appears in the media as decisions taken by a specific party. She remarked that this is unprofessional.

Ms D Robinson (DA) added that the issue was raised by Ms Stander on her own, not by the DA as a party. She suggested that Ms Stander be given the chance to explain her intentions of raising the issue, even if not in this meeting but a separate meeting. Because this meeting is recorded, could she not do so now, as it would be on the record?

Ms Tseke asked the Chairperson to clarify which statement she was referring to. Was the statement made at the meeting with the CGE in the previous week or was it relating to the Omotoso case?

The Chairperson said that she saw the statement made by the DA and the matter could be discussed later.

Ms Behngu-Kombe added that in a meeting with the EFF, the issue of the protection of victims was raised and it was suggested that there be a protection programme for victims. She saw on News24 that the DA was for the protection of Ms Zondi. Although this was discussed amongst the Committee, it came across as though it was a DA decision.

The Chairperson commented that decisions made by the Committee are not made on political grounds.

Ms Robinson commented that she was not aware of the Cheryl Zondi matter. People should be protected behind the scenes and not in the public. She added that she is unaware of who the press talks to.

Ms Khawula asked what the role of the Portfolio Committee is. It is to protect girls that get abused and victimised but how does it do that when girls do not take preventative measures to protect themselves? There is a lot of media coverage, on television, radio and newspapers, warning young women about dangers but they are not weary.

The second issue raised by Ms Khawula is related to multiple families sharing one household, including bathroom facilities. She commented that this is not healthy and is an issue that needs to be addressed because she knows of many households such as this.

Ms Chueu responded that the Minister promised to investigate the matter and take the councillors along, so the Committee cannot just go there. She added that it would probably take two to three weeks and Ms Khawula needs to understand how long the process will take. Furthermore, the Department of Women does not have the capacity to implement issues. She suggested that the Minister link up with the old gender machinery that is located in the mayor’s office.  

Ms Tseke suggested that the meeting return to the agenda and continue with minutes.

Consideration and adoption of minutes

The Chairperson agreed and asked for corrections to the minutes of the meeting held on 5 June 2018.

Ms Robinson commented that it is difficult to refer to minutes that are so far back. Minutes should be gone over sooner after meetings; however, the minutes appear to be accurate. She proposed the adoption thereof.

Mr T Nkonzo (ANC) seconded the minutes.

Ms Khawula expressed confusion about which meeting’s minutes they were revising and after being told, she agreed with Ms Robinson.

Ms Behngu-Kombe asked if the resolution taken that the CGE will not be amalgamated with the Human Rights Commission. She added that Members be thanked and that the CGE’s hard work be recognised, especially its close work with the Ministry of Women.

The Secretary corrected the Member, adding that a matter raised by Ms Behngu-Kombe was mentioned on the following page of the minutes.

The Chairperson continued to the minutes of 12 June 2018.

Ms Behngu-Kombe raised the issue of sanitary towels, adding that Members of the Committee and the Multiparty Women’s Caucus (MPWC) be commended for making the National Treasury aware of the issue. All those involved in meetings regarding it should be thanked. She added that even though sanitary towels were piloted to three provinces, other provinces should also be on board.

Ms Chueu remarked that the Committee should encourage the relationship between the Women’s Committee and the MPWC. Whatever gains made should not be reversed, therefore, a legislation that will force the Department to mainstream all the issues of women should be developed.

If the Committee pushes as a team, other departments, including Treasury, will have to respond. She remarked that the Minister of Finance failed to acknowledge that the MPWC and Committee encouraged him to remove VAT from sanitary products. Thus, he has nullified the work of the Committee.

Ms Tseke asked when the Department could be called to be briefed on the draft Financial Inclusion Framework, policy and planning and the Gender Review Policy (GRP). She moved for the adoption of the minutes. 

Ms Behngu-Kombe added that the National Youth Development Agency be requested to provide their programmes on young women in 2019. She seconded the motion for the adoption of the minutes.

The Chairperson moved on to minutes of 21 August 2018.

Ms Chueu suggested that the Committee discuss resolutions taken at the Gender Summit.

Ms Tseke added that, considering the Gender Summit, the Committee should find the resolutions of the Summit and further discuss and process them.

Ms Robinson added that resolutions are all very well, but the Committee needs to find out when they will be considered and implemented. Pressure needs to be applied to ensure these will be implemented.

Ms Chueu clarified that that is what she meant.

The Chairperson added that the President made a number of commitments and she expected him to contact the MPWC.  

Ms Behngu-Kombe, agreeing with Ms Chueu, added the issue of the structure of women’s representation. The Department should brief the Committee. She moved for the adoption of the minutes.

Ms Tseke added that the Office of the Presidency needs to be communicated with because the Summit was organised by it. She seconded the adoption of the minutes.

Ms Khawula commented that she was not invited to the Gender Summit. She expressed concern about rural people with problems and suggested that summits be held in rural areas, where people do not have a place to report the violations of their rights.

Ms Robinson remarked that Ms Stander had an issue to raise.

Ms Stander added that the Committee’s Legacy Report, the 16 Days of Activism and the work of the Committee will mean nothing in 2019 unless each Department is required to have gender transformation in their contracts.  Unless each department has a budget for this, nothing is going to happen. The fact that VAT is free on sanitary products falls short for girls who cannot even afford these. The Committee should demand that there is consequence management for those who fail to enact gender transformation. Annual Performance Plans should include a gender transformation component as well as a budget.

Ms Chueu agreed with Ms Stander. The Committee needs to push until closure that legislation be done. In other departments, there were budgets, but they were reversed because no legislation holds them. The Committee should take example from Norway, where  legislation was passed that required companies listed on the stock exchange to employ women as CEOs. Legislation and quotas need to be introduced.

Ms Tseke added that the Sanitary Dignitary Framework intends to address the issue of the distribution of sanitary products to young South African women. After adopting the Framework, the Committee needs to ensure that it is implemented.

Ms Behngu-Kombe suggested that the Summit be listed as an achievement of the Committee and that the men and women who were present should be thanked. After the resolutions are looked at, they can be implemented.

Ms Khawula added something in isiXhosa and before the interpreter could interpret, the Chairperson responded in isiXhosa and moved on to the minutes of 4 September 2018.

Ms Tseke moved for the adoption of the minutes and Ms Chueu seconded the adoption thereof.

Ms Robinson added that the organisation of the Summit was bad and, although it would be impractical for them to be held in rural areas, she expected the Committee to be given priority to attend the summit. She received her invitation that morning. She added that more efficiency is needed and asked that Members of the Committee who are in touch with administrators of summits, to speak to them.

The Chairperson added that it was not the Portfolio’s fault, but the Speaker’s.

Ms Robinson asked those Members who have influence to apply pressure to address this and take it up with those in charge.

Ms Behngu-Kombe added that the matter has been reported to the chair of chairs and apologised. Regarding the minutes of 9 October, she requested that a number of entities be thanked. She moved to adopt the minutes.

Ms Tseke said that, regarding the amount stipulated about the R33 million condonement, it should be added that the Committee will continue to monitor the situation. She seconded the adoption of the minutes.

The Chairperson moved on to minutes of 10 October 2018.

Ms Tseke requested that the Committee thank the Committee’s support staff, as that meeting was about the presentation of their work, especially the Committee’s researchers.

Ms Chueu remarked that it was an Annual Report and she moved for the adoption.

Ms Behngu-Kombe seconded that the motion.

The Chairperson moved on to minutes of 23 October, which Ms Chueu moved for the adoption of the minutes and Ms Tseke seconded.

The Chairperson moved on to minutes of 30 October.  

Ms Behngu-Kombe suggested that the secretariat and the Chair of the CRL Rights Commission be thanked. Next time, the Committee should meet with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), and relevant parties regarding the issue of religious leaders. All the issues raised at the meeting should be discussed with other Portfolio Committees. She moved to adopt the minutes.

Ms Tseke added that COGTA approved the budget, which should be done by CRM and other stakeholders. The Committee should also be engaged. She seconded the adoption of the minutes.

The Chairperson moved on to minutes of 13 November.

Ms Chueu remarked that the minutes should be amended and, rather stipulates that the Committee has agreed to do the Department’s strategy, which includes the organogram that is done with strategic planning along with the Committee. She moved to adopt the minutes with the amendments.

Ms Tseke seconded the adoption.  

Ms Behngu-Kombe informed the Committee that there would be a debate about the 16 Days of Activism on Thursday (29 November), which was not in the programme of Parliament. Regarding the trip to Sweden, they went to the office of the Chairperson, the Chair of Chairs. The study tour trip was approved but finding a date was an issue.

Since Parliament is closing on 7 December, only the whips would go but the date has changed to 15 December and departure is 8 December. As soon as the money has been signed off, the Chairperson will be informed. 

The Chairperson clarified that the two men part of the Committee would not go on the trip and that Ms Chueu would be pulled out of Agriculture to go along. The Committee should check that their passports are valid so that their visas can be processed.

The meeting was adjourned.



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