The Committee was briefed by its researchers on the programmes and performance of the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD) and the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), after which the two entities presented their Annual Performance Plans (APPs) for 2019-20.
The researchers reported that the CGE had improved its performance over the past five years and had increased its public awareness and outreach. It had met most of its targets and remained financially solvent while staying within the budget. The key areas of concern included its case management and staffing retention. It received a high volume of cases from the public on an array of issues, including gender discrimination, maintenance and inheritance. Year on year, the Commission had struggled to close off cases, resulting in a huge number of pending files being carried over annually. Subsequently, an electronic case management system had been implemented. Members were advised to press the CGE on increasing its visibility among the most vulnerable in remote communities, and to engage in more practical work at grassroots level.
The Committee was told that the DWYPD was very top heavy and spent the majority of its budget on the compensation of employees. The amount of resources allocated to compensation did not correlate with the amount of work done on expediting its core mandate, and this was a recurrent concern for the Committee. The previous Committee had repeatedly found itself asking the Department for the frameworks, guidelines and reports as set out in the APPs, but there had been documents in the drafting stage for years that had still not been received. There had been a consistent lack of accountability among its leadership, and inadequate oversight. The Committee should ask the Department to develop guidelines for other government departments to follow, to increase its inter-departmental collaboration, and reduce its dependence on consultants.
Members acknowledged that the researchers’ analysis had been helpful. After the entities had presented their APPs – with both bemoaning their budget limitations – the Committee questioned the relationship that existed between the CGE and the Department. They stressed that gender mainstreaming had to be embraced by all government departments. There had to be more direct engagement with men in order to reduce the incidence of gender-based violence (GBV). The resolution of cases brought before the Commission had to be speeded up. How was it going to deal with attacks on women in social media? The issue of access to safe abortions also had to be confronted.
The second half of the meeting comprised of a presentation of the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities 2019/20 Annual Performance Plan. PMG does not have a record of this session
DWYPD and CGE Annual Performance Reports: Researchers’ briefing
Ms Kashifa Abrahams, Committee Researcher, said that she and her colleagues had limited time to speak to the Portfolio Committee (PC), so it would be addressed by the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, and the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) later on.
Ms Crystal Levendale, Committee Researcher, said that she had brought summaries of the CGE’s and Department’s budgets, as well as their annual performance plans (APPs).
Commission for Gender Equality
Ms Levendale first presented the summary of the CGE, and highlighted its strategic objectives (SOs), the budget and how it was spent, the APP and the key areas that the Members should focus on.
The CGE received a total allocation of R85.2 million from National Treasury, of which 70.5% (R60.1 million) was used for the compensation of the 110 employees distributed through the head office and provincial offices, while the remaining 29.3% (R25.1 million) was spent on goods and services. The CGE received its money through the DWYPD as a transfer payment. There were 44 targets planned for 2019/20. There were four SOs, and each had varying amounts of sub-objectives and budget allocations.
Overall, the CGE had improved its performance over the past five years and had increased its public awareness and outreach. It had met most of its targets and remained financially solvent while staying within the budget. The key areas of concern included its case management and staffing retention. It received a high volume of cases from the public on an array of issues, including gender discrimination, maintenance and inheritance. Year on year, the Commission had struggled to close off cases, resulting in a huge number of pending files being carried over annually. Subsequently, an electronic case management system had been implemented. It was important that the progress of the cases be monitored.
The Commission receives a significantly smaller budget than other Chapter Nine institutions, and as a result its activities and programmes were often limited by budgetary constraints. It also struggles to retain staff, as it was unable to pay higher salaries so it often loses staff to other institutions. It must be noted that the new commissioners had not yet been formally appointed to the CGE, and this meant that it was understaffed in this regard.
The 2019/20 APP had been drafted, but lacked detail in some areas. For example, there was no indication of which institutions would be assessed. Given the nature and scope of the work due to be undertaken by the CGE, she wondered whether the provincial offices were adequately resourced -- both human and financial -- to deliver on its mandate. Members should ask if there were any vacancies within these offices and if so, which positions. The Committee should also ask which departments the CGE would seek to collaborate with for any of its projects, as well as if there were any mitigation measures being implemented to ensure that outstanding targets from 2018/19 were completed.
Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities
Overall, the allocation for the DWYPD was R244.5 million and after transferring the R85.2 million allocation to the CGE, it was left with an operational budget of R159.3 million. Of this amount, R85.4 million went towards compensation of employees, and R69.9 million towards goods and services. For 2019/20, there were 33 targets. It was a recurrent concern that the Department was very top heavy and spent the majority of its budget on compensation of employees. The bulk of Departmental staff resided within Programme One and consumed most of the budget, while the DWYPD’s core mandate was carried out in the other two Programmes. The amount of resources allocated within Programme One did not correlate with the amount of work done, and this was a recurrent concern for the Committee. R4.8 million had been budgeted for consultants and advisory services -- an increase from the R2.8 million spent in the previous financial year. Lastly, R2.8 had been budgeted for transport for Departmental activities, compared to only R286 000 the previous year.
Ms Levendale said that there had been a lack of tangible deliverables. In the previous term, the PC had repeatedly found itself asking the Department for the frameworks, guidelines and reports as set out in the APPs. There had been documents in the drafting stage for years that had still not been received by the Committee. There had been a consistent lack of accountability among the Department’s leadership and inadequate oversight. There had been recurring concern about the lack of compliance and adherence to rules and stipulations, and to supply chain management (SCM) procedures.
This Department was meant to champion the fight for gender equality throughout all the government departments and their sectors, but if it could not provide the guidelines for others to follow, how would it be able to lead anyone? She suggested that the Members ask if the DWYPD intended to work with other departments, and if there would be any collaboration with other organisations. During the past two years, all the money had been spent by the Department but the targets were not being met, so stringent monitoring was necessary. The targets of the APP were for the most part quite similar to those of the previous financial year. The Members needed an update on whether the quarterly targets from the previous year had been met, as the Committee had not met with the DWYPD since October 2018 and items were still outstanding.
Ms Abrahams continued that the CGE had received good audit outcomes in the previous year. The previous Committee had recommended that more money was required so that it could do more work on the ground, as the CGE had few offices and needed to be visible to those most vulnerable. It was important to find out about who CGE would set out to form collaboration with, and most importantly what its partnership with the Department would bring forth. The CGE was a Chapter Nine institution, so all the Department did was transfer the money allocated to it by Treasury. It was accountable to this Committee, not to the Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities.
The Members should enquire about the appointment of the commissioners within the CGE. The appointment of commissioners was important to the Committee, as they were there to ensure the continuity of services. In the APP, it was indicated that there would be interventions but it was not specified what the interventions were for or about. Previously, it had worked in areas of health and maternal health, education -- specifically around universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges -- the mining sector, and gender-based violence. It was important to find out what work would be practically done on the ground, as set out in the goals of the APP.
Ms Abrahams then referred to the DWYPD, and said that given that there had been the election in the middle of the year and a second State of the Nation Address (SONA), the Committee was only now considering the APP. In any other year, what would usually happen was that the Members would receive the tabled form of the APP at the beginning of the year and it would be considered then. Technically, this was not a new Department. It had been around for many years, but had undergone some changes. The APP was based not only on what the Department had already done and how that fed into the Strategic Plan of five years, but was also influenced by the SONA and what the President had identified as priorities. The Committee had the right to find out how the DWYPD had taken into consideration key issues and priorities identified in the SONA, and where they featured within the APP. The mandate within the APP, which had been approved of by the Minister, currently looked only at women -- the Members should find out how youth and persons with disabilities would be incorporated and what the current status of the Department’s mandate was.
Ms Abrahams said that at the end of every year, the PC would look at the Department’s annual report and then create a Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR). Technically, all of those recommendations should have been taken into account during the formation of the 2019/20 APP, but it seemed there were issues that were recurring. This was problematic. The detailed BRRR recommendations were there to help the Department to improve itself. In the APP, it was stated that the Department planned to submit a request from National Treasury to change the current budget structure for 2019/20 so that it would follow the revised strategy. However there was no explanation for this revised strategy mentioned. The Committee was advised to seek clarity on this. While the Committee conducted oversight over the Department, the Members had to be able to keep track of all the agendas and changes to which the DWYPD committed itself.
Ms Abrahams said that the previous Committee had been harsh in its BRRR, and had advised that the Department should not use consultants whenever possible. At times where consultants were necessary, the Department should tell the PC who the consultant was, what the purpose was, and the costs involved. It was important that skills transfer would take place during those times too, so that repeated use of consultants could be avoided, sspecially since the DWYPD has increased the budget for consultants and advisors. Programme One was very top heavy and lots of money was spent to pay people who held very senior positions, and who should be qualified to do the work. Last year a service provider had been brought in to look at monitoring and evaluation (M&E). The consultant had found that within the Department’s structure there were no personnel with the required skills, qualifications and experience to correctly conduct M&E. This was very concerning, and needed to be addressed.
With regard to disciplinary cases, one of the targets of the Department was that they should be resolved within 90 days. However, most cases would be carried forward not only from quarter to quarter, but also from year to year. The Committee should enquire about this. In 2019/20, the Department would spend R17 million on property, but when its offices were visited previously, there were only three floors, so that was R17 million being spent on merely three floors. In addition, R19 million would be spent on transport.
There were a lot on international, regional and local trips occurring, and often no reports or not much feedback would be given to the Committee. More information needed to be given by the Department in advance about the purpose of those trips, how many there would be, as well as the size of the delegations travelling. The APP did not give these details, which were necessary for proper oversight.
The sanitary dignity project was under Programme Two, and very little information was available. Previously, the PC had been told that it had been sent to Cabinet for approval for implementation. The rollout of this project had been put as a target for this year. The PC needed to know its status, and how it was unfolding. The Department’s mandate was not about service delivery, but about coordination and oversight. The Committee had the right to ask for all the frameworks developed so that they could be considered.
Ms Abrahams said that the Department had several activities around gender-based violence (GBV), but there was no clear idea on how it was working with the CGE, let alone the new Presidential Task Team that had been established. Last November there had been a national summit which had looked at GBV and femicide. The Department had also stated that it would develop a National Council for GBV. It was not clear how the DWYPD was collaborating with all these key stakeholders.
Commenting on the National Gender Machinery (NGM), she said it was supposed to look at how government, society and all other key stakeholders behaved, and engage with issues pertaining to gender. The Department had said it would take an entire year to come up with a framework for the NGM, and if that were to be the case, when would it actually be established and implemented, as that was what was most important? The DWYPD had spoken about compiling a report on gender policy priorities under Programme Three, which was basically a 25-year review, but again, it needed to be known how the Department would work with the Presidential Task Team. The President had indicated that he wanted this task team to look at a 25-year review around women’s empowerment and gender equality. The task team and the Department were doing something similar, so there needed to be collaboration.
Regarding international treaties, Members had received a little black book the previous day which had detailed all the treaties the country agreed to under the women’s section. For this financial year, the Department had indicated that it would work on a report for the Beijing Platform for Action and the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa. These reports should be tabled and referred to the Committee for consideration, so it was fair for it to seek information as to when these would be completed and submitted to Parliament.
Ms Abrahams said that the DWYPD spends a lot of money on social campaigns and community dialogues. Information on how many of these would take place this year, what they were based on, the location and costs, should be sought by the PC. This should include how many women would be targeted, how many people would attend, what impact these would have, and how it would be determined if these campaigns were actually effective.
There was no overarching M&E framework for gender responsive budgeting and M&E. The Department has previously said that it was working on one, but that had yet to be presented to Parliament. This framework was important, as it was formed the basis of the DWYPD’s work. Any other department wishing to engage with this Department must know how it would be monitored and evaluated. Without such a framework, it was very difficult to say what the DWYPD was actually doing and how it was doing that work.
Gender response planning and budgeting was another framework that would take too long to complete. It could take the Department an entire year to come up with only guidelines, and this seriously affected when these initiatives were implemented. As Ms Levendale had said, many of these frameworks were not new initiatives but had been around for a long time, only in draft form. The PC must put pressure on the Department to finalise these items on its agenda.
The Chairperson thanked the researchers for their thorough analysis and presentation. She allowed the Members to ask any questions for clarity, keeping in mind that the researchers could not answer questions on behalf of the Department or the CGE.
Ms N Sharif (DA) said that the analysis had been very helpful. She asked if the Committee had the power to request reports from other Departments, planning and steering committees, and what the process for that was. Did the Committee have an organogram of the Department, or was it necessary for her to request that? She referred to Ms Levendale’s presentation, and said that 99.8% of the budget had been accounted for; and asked for clarity on the remaining 0.2%.
Ms T Masondo (ANC) asked if was possible to align this budget with the entirety of the Department, and not just for the women’s section of it.
The Chairperson said that there were questions being asked that had to be posed to the Department and the CGE, which the researchers could not answer. Members must not be afraid to direct any questions for the Department as it was their duty conduct proper oversight. The issues that the PC was dealing with overlapped into all the departments, and there was nothing that the Committee could not do. The Members did not have all the solutions, but when they raised questions they should also be able to give advice and solutions. Though this Department was not a service delivery one, this did not mean it could not do so, especially considering the extended mandate that it had been given. The Committee had the power to change things within the DWYPD and as time went by, the Members would learn and become more confident. The Department had been around for many years and by now it should be saying what it would do and the changes that needed to be made within the already established programmes and activities. It should be telling the PC what it was doing to deal with issues with women, the LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning, intersex, asexual and more) community, and other the vulnerable groups designated to it. The Committee researchers had fortunately been here since the establishment of the Department, and they were informing the Members on the questions that should be posed to it.
Ms T Mgweba (ANC) asked if the offices mentioned were command offices that were not there to do work on the ground. Secondly, it seemed as if the Department was understaffed in terms of being able to do work on the ground, and the frequent need to make use of consultants. Since the establishment of the DWYPD in 2009 until now, some work had been done, but not holistically.
The Chairperson said the CGE had provincial offices but not all of them. For example, Limpopo did not have proper offices with sufficient staffing. The Department was fully established was spending a lot of its budget on the compensation of employees. She asked why the Department would need to make use of consultants when it had permanent staff employed to do that work -- were the right people employed in those positions? All the staff should be appropriately qualified to do their work. She asked what kinds of consultants were being used.
The Chairperson said Ms M Khawula (EFF) had asked about issues of GBV, child support and youth being mentioned, and urged her not to be afraid to direct those questions to the Department once it joined the meeting.
Advocate Herman Tembe, Legal Advisor from the parliamentary Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy (OISC), said that though he may not be familiar with the programme, it was said that the commissioners from CGE participated in the programme, which probably meant they were sanctioned or invited so it would be appropriate for Members to raise questions on them or issues of national interest. The CGE was accountable to Parliament as a Chapter Nine institution. Those commissioners that were sanctioned had authority and must be account on why they had participated. Any questions could be raised with the commissioners and Department officials when they were present.
Ms Sharif added that the CGE said it had the role of using social media and general media as a Key Point Indicator (KPI) in the presentation submitted for the meeting.
Ms Levendale said that in the APP, not all the details of the budget were given, but in the quarterly reports more detailed information could be expected. In the last term an organogram had been requested, but she was sure that it had changed again.
The Chairperson said it was appropriate to request an up-to-date organogram from the Department once it was present in the meeting.
Ms Levendale continued that the CGE had provincial offices that were understaffed, and that the Department did not have provincial offices. It was important that the relationship between the two structures should bridge those gaps.
Mr L Mphithi (DA) said that during the discussion the previous day on the APP there had been consideration as to how the Department would work, particularly with youth and people with disabilities. The researchers had noted that the CGE received a smaller allocation of budget than the others. He had the view that some work needed to be done with regard to the APP, at least to indicate what the objectives were for persons with disabilities and the youth. The PC really needed to hold the Department to account for that, and should not allow it to go through another year – like it had for many years – struggling to consolidate itself.
Mr S Ngcobo (DA) asked if was known by the researchers why the CGE received a significantly smaller budget than other Chapter Nine institutions. He said that it was equally as important, and wanted to know why it was treated differently.
The Chairperson said that she had been deployed to the ad hoc committee for the CGE in the past, and that Mr Ngcobo’s concern about the smaller budget had been raised several times. This Committee had to advocate for a bigger budget so that the CGE could do all that it intended to do.
Ms Sharif asked where the LGBTQIA+ community had been allocated to in terms of issues and the Department. This Committee and Department must keep the LGBTQIA+ community on its agenda, as these people were vulnerable within society. Though the Department had women in its mandate, there were also non-binary people that needed the protection of the DWYPD.
The Chairperson said that in the ad hoc committee, the conditions of LGBTQIA+ lives had been brought forward.
CGE: Annual Performance Plan
The Chairperson welcomed the officials from CGE, and said two of the commissioners had been recommended by the ad hoc committee, as it had had confidence in them to do and deliver all that was expected of them.
Ms Tamara Mathebula, Acting Chairperson: CGE thanked the Chairperson for her recommendations. She said that the CGE was an independent statutory body created under Chapter Nine of the Constitution. The mandate was to promote, protect, monitor and evaluate gender equality throughout the country. The Commission on Gender Equality Act (No. 39 of 1996) gave it the power to monitor, evaluate and make recommendations on policies and practices of organs of state, statutory bodies and functionaries, public bodies or private businesses, to promote gender equality. It was also mandated to monitor the implementation of local, regional and international conventions relating to gender equality. These included, but were not limited to, the Convention of Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BDPA), the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063.
The Commission aimed to transform society and institutions by investigating complaints, educating the public, and advocating the promotion and attainment of gender equality. The APP presented was based on the Commission’s long-term strategy for 2019-2024, which had been developed in the 2018/19 year. This strategy was inspired by the Human Sciences Research Council (HRSC) 20-year review to strengthen democracy by creating an empowering and conducive environment for all genders and ages in South Africa. To fulfil this mandate, the Commission endeavoured to strengthen its range with strategic partnerships. The strategic objective for the CGE was now to act as a catalytic organisation for the attainment of gender equality, rather than as an implementer. It had received a budget of R85.2 million for the financial year and considering the broad mandate of the Commission, this allocation was inadequate. She handed over to the.
Ms Keketso Maema, Chief Executive Officer, said the vision of the CGE was to see South Africa as a society free from all forms of gender oppression and inequality. Its values were teamwork, professionalism, ethical behaviour, independence and accountability. The CGE Act earmarked specific roles that the organisation had to adhere to. These were to:
- Monitor, evaluate and make recommendations, on policies and practices of government, statutory bodies and functionaries, public bodies or private businesses, any existing law (including indigenous law and practices), and government’s compliance with international conventions with respect to gender.
- Propose or recommend new laws that may impact on gender equality or the status of women.
- Develop, conduct or manage educational strategies and programmes that foster understanding about gender equality and the role of the CGE.
- Investigate and resolve conflicts on gender matters and complaints, through mediation, conciliation and negotiation, or referral to other institutions.
- Liaise and interact with institutions, bodies or authorities with similar objectives to the Commission, and with any organisation which actively promotes gender equality and other sectors of civil society, to further the objects of the Commission.
- Prepare and submit reports to Parliament on aspects relating to gender equality.
In addition to that, the CGE may conduct or order research to be conducted and consider recommendations, suggestions and requests from any source.
The CGE had been around for 20 years, and it had requested that the HRSC review how it worked over that time to establish what had been done well and what needed to change for more effective work within the organisation.
Ms Maema listed the thematic areas, as well as the internal oversight committees within the CGE. There were nine provincial offices which each had two line function officers, and three support and administration staff members. The head office housed the CEO and did both support and line functions. Overall, there were about 100 employees throughout the country.
There were four strategic objectives:
- Advance an enabling legislative environment;
- Promote and protect gender equality through public awareness, education, investigation and litigation;
- Monitor and evaluate issues that undermine the attainment of gender equality; and
- Build an efficient organisation that promotes and protects gender equality.
There were 11 sub-strategies which fell under these. The first three SOs focused on service delivery, while the fourth focused on the CGE itself and its internal working. Each year it had a specific theme on which it focused. During the previous year, the focus had been on health, and for this financial year gender-based violence was the main theme, as well as women’s economic empowerment.
The comments given within the presentation came directly from the HRSC review. It was important to note that the CGE was an organisation of fewer than 100 employees, many of them in administrative positions, and with a limited budget, it could not physically reach every corner of South Africa. It did not have district offices, and the provincial offices were based in the metros. It was crucial for the organisation to shape its work so that it could better reach the most vulnerable and disadvantaged persons in the country. That was the reasoning behind the fundamental shift in approach of the CGE as a catalyst organisation, rather than an implementer. The primary function of a Chapter Nine institution was to support constitutional democracy. The role of the CGE was to be a bridge between civil society and government.
Ms Maema said that sexual harassment had been recognised as a big problem when engaging with employers on gender transformation. The CGE intended to create a guide which everyone in the country, whether in the private or public sector, had to observe and abide by. There was a trend that when someone took out a case relating to GBV, that it would not be seen through to its completion and resolution. The CGE sought to have a high level discussion to investigate the root causes of that so that the necessary help and reinforcement could be given to curb this trend.
Mr Moshabi Putu, Chief Financial Officer, said that within the budget presentation some general information had been given as to how the budget was mandated and allocated. The CGE had a broad mandate and the money allocated to it was not sufficient. The economic outlook and fiscal conditions indicated a low gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of about 1% in the current year. Fiscal space was limited due to low tax collection and other indicators, like the debt:GDP ratio and a decreased ability to collect. There was also an increased demand on the fiscus for social goods and services. Even during good financial years, funding had never been adequate. There would be baseline reductions of R79 000, R84 000 and R88 000 respectively for the three periods to 2021/22. Current allocations limited salary increases for levels 13 and 14 to 2.8%, and 0% for level 15 upwards. Of the R85.2 million allocated budget, R14.7 million was for commissioners’ programmes -- governance and support. R23.2 million was allocated to corporate support services, and the remaining R47.3 million was for service delivery programmes.
The CGE Act obliged the organisation to have a certain number of commissioners, as well as to do particular work. Despite that, administration did not consume most of the resources. The Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA) also put an obligation on the CGE to fulfil particular mandates. However, this had not been costed or appropriated since its promulgation in 2008.
The Chairperson thanked CGE for its presentations. She commended the organisation for its use of and work with social media.
Mr Mphithi said that the work CGE did was very important. As a young person himself, he felt concerned about the budgetary constraints and how it affected the CGE’s work. With regard to gender-based violence, often the perpetrators were men and so they should be engaged with, but he felt that the limited funds available to the CGE reduced its ability to have these dialogues with men.
With regard to case management, he referred to the prolonged length of time it took to finalise or resolve cases brought to the organisation. He attributed this to the CGE’s capacity challenges. He asked what it would take to make the process meaningful. According to the APP, the steps of action each seemed to happen on a quarterly basis. He assumed that cases brought forward should be resolved within the same quarter in which they were reported. He asked what ultimately the best outcome for cases received by the CGE was, and what the avenues available to resolve these complaints were. Key priorities should not just be outputs in the APP to be met, but should also be meaningful to the people on the ground.
He asked how the relationship between the CGE and the DWYPD functioned, compared to how the CGE wanted to operate. It had frequently been said that the organisation did not receive enough funding for it to fulfil its mandate holistically. It was correct for the CGE to focus on laying foundations and creating frameworks and policies. There needed to be a much greater emphasis on intervention at the ground level, but it was obvious that the budgetary constraints did not allow for this. He wanted to understand exactly how the CGE’s work would look like if it received more funding. He added that programmes that targeted men were crucial to opening up the conversation.
Ms B Maluleke (ANC) was concerned about the visibility of the CGE, especially within rural areas. She asked how it ensured that it was visible outside of the metros in which the offices were located, to those disadvantaged people in the remote rural areas. With the little budget that it had, how did the organisation really served those vulnerable people? In which areas did the CGE intend to implement its targets of advocating, and what exactly was being advocated? This information was necessary for the Members to be able to hold the commissioners accountable.
Ms T Mgweba (ANC) asked if the CGE monitored the progress of all the cases, as she assumed that it received a huge number of them annually. Was there a monitoring and evaluation process in place both nationally and within municipalities? Were the provincial offices sufficiently resourced to deliver on its mandate? Were there vacancies in any of its offices and if so, which positions were they for? Lastly, had CGE managed to achieve its outstanding targets from the previous year and if not, what mitigation was in its plans?
Ms Sharif asked for an overview of the state of the nine provincial offices -- what these offices looked like and the work that happened there. Regarding stakeholder and policy engagements and high level planning, who did the CGE collaborate with and who were the stakeholders? She asked for a briefing and overview on the legal services provided by the organisation. A lot of the Members had spoken about case management and the handling of cases. The APP spoke of an intervention to move to an online system, but this did not necessarily mean that cases would be resolved. What were some of the interventions the CGE intended to have to ensure that there was a 100% resolution of them?
In the presentation, the role of social media was mentioned as a key indicator. She commented that it was common for women to be attacked on social media, and that was reflective of the patriarchal society and oppressive systems at play. She asked for clarity on how this key indicator would actually work on the ground. A share-point as a tool for access to reports, information and guidelines had been spoken of, and she wanted to know if this was the most accessible tool and why. How did the CGE intend to ensure that shelters were inclusive, specifically looking at the LGBTQIA+ community and transgender individuals? How would these shelters ensure that they were protective of these individuals who were exceptionally vulnerable and did not feel comfortable being in a men’s or women’s shelter?
It had to be remembered that the Commission for Gender Equality was more than just for equality of women. It had to be inclusive, so she wanted to know what some of the CGE programmes were that targeted members of the LGBTQIA+ community. It was too often that their rights were violated and they were not given the space to bring forth the issues. She expressed her annoyance that the LGBTQIA+ community had not been mentioned in the APP or the presentation at all. She wanted to know why this was the case, and suggested that this be seriously looked into.
Regarding reproductive health, access to safe abortions was an issue that was not spoken about enough. Too many young people were seeking out backdoor abortions which had serious risks and implications. This was a very important issue that seemed not to be on the national agenda. She wanted to know what the CGE was doing to ensure people could seek safe abortions.
Ms F Masiko (ANC) asked about the nature of the cases being received by the CGE, and if there was some form of audit in place to observe if there were any changes. She wanted to know if there was a report available for the Members that reflected the progress and challenges with regard to this. What was the relationship between the CGE and the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL)? Women in rural areas were often victims of harmful practices, health issues and violence, where cultures, traditions and religions had a patriarchal influence. It was important that the CGE and the NHTL had a strong partnership.
Regarding the CGE’s staff retention, she asked for a report back on the vacancies within the organisation. She noted that lack of funding adversely affected this. She also asked for a brief outline on the nature of the CGE’s advocating and outreach. The presentation spoke of transformation at TVET colleges, and she wanted to know why the focus was not on higher learning institutions, as there had been many stories about students from all types of schools who were victims of sexual assault, and little to no action was taken to protect them. With its limited funding, was the CGE still able to fulfil its mandate of monitoring the other governmental departments?
The Chairperson asked how the CGE would ensure that gender mainstreaming was taken up by all the departments. With regard to GBV, it had been indicated that it would be working with TVET colleges instead of with all higher learning institutions, and added that there was a Ministerial task team appointed to deal with this issue and wanted to know what the relationship between the task team and CGE was. She thought that the DWYPD should take advantage of CGE’s presence. The organisation had eight vacancies for commissioners, and during the last term she had been part of the ad hoc committee to find candidates and make recommendations for them. The CGE could not operate with skeleton staffing and it was not acceptable for the process of finalising commissioners to take so long, as it meant that work was not being done. She hoped that this issue would not extend over the year.
The Chairperson said she did not know who was meant to raise the issue of budget to Treasury. The responsibility must fall on to the Department to find out the process for the appropriation of more funds for the CGE. She asked what the criteria were for appointing or working with stakeholders. Was it correct that the CGE would be submitting four reports in the financial year? The previous Committee had said in the hand-over report that there were other reports still outstanding. This current PC would not wait for reports that were promised -- timeframes would be given and all outstanding reports must be submitted to the Committee by the end of the month. She asked what the relationship with the Presidential Interim Steering Committee was like, and if there were any programmes with it on issues of women, youth or persons with disabilities. The Department of Social Development had a lot of resources and its mandate had overlaps with the CGE. The Commission should have sought out a good working relationship with it as a means of finding more funding for itself. She wanted to know about the working relationship between the Department of Social Development and the CGE. She wanted to gain a sense of the CGE’s relationship with the DWYPD as wel,l and how it took into consideration youth and people with disabilities in its activities.
Ms Mathebula referred to the representation of women in the political parties, and said the constitution was quite clear that everyone was equal and should enjoy fair representation. In South Africa, women were the majority of the population at 51%, and the majority in terms of electors. Despite the greater prominence of women along political lines, it had been realised through CGE assessments that women were not fully represented when it came to political leadership. The CGE had been monitoring the elections since 2009. In the 2014 national and provincial elections, as well as the 2019 elections, political parties had been invited to account up front to the CGE before the elections took place. This year, they had been invited to a summit in February to speak about their manifestos and women’s representation, as well as the policies and practices within the parties. In 2014, only 22% of the premiers had been women, so this year when the premiers were elected, the CGE had made the biggest noise. It had been found that women were always made deputies, so it had tried to hold the parties accountable. However, this year the results had been just as disappointing as before. The CGE had found that all the parties did not have policies to ensure that gender representation was fair. As of today, only one or two parties had submitted policies that began to speak about gender equality or gender mainstreaming. Those policies were being reviewed, as the organisation sought to assist and close gaps. Overall there was still major work needed to be done within political parties on gender mainstreaming. The CGE had asked questions that included the representation of disabled persons and LGBTQIA+ persons. She apologised to the Members for not highlighting issues and programmes pertaining to the LGBTQIA+ community. She assured them that the CGE was also making a lot of noise and pushing for these vulnerable people.
There were quite a number of concerns regarding how the CGE measured its impact and work. The CGE did do its work, and its work was done on the ground, but what had been realised was that it did not have an instrument or tool that was able to realistically measure the impact or the work done. She had delegated a commissioner, Dr Nthabiseng Moleko, to develop a tool and compare it with the tool the CGE had as a draft, with a view to the merging of these tools.
Ms Mathebula said that last year, the CGE had women’s health as a focus. She had developed a paper on how it should move forward, and there had been a national stakeholder engagement which culminated from a provincial summit that had looked at reproductive health as well as access to safe abortions. It was in the process of signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Marie Stopes. It would be having a meeting with the Department of Health to discuss issues like maternal health, maternal and infant morbidity and the unconsented sterilisation of disabled women.
Regarding funding and accountability, the CGE did hold government departments to account. The organisation was developing a plan to avoid issues caused by vacancies in commissioner positions, and would report to the Committee on that.
Dr Nthabiseng Moleko, CGE Commissioner, said that she would respond to the questions requiring clarity, but for the questions that needed detailed answers, a paper would be compiled.
The CGE did not want to cry about the overarching question of the budget, and let the mandate not be implemented because of the restraints. The budget limited the institution’s ability to impact as far reaching as it would like. It was important to clarify that with the R85 million, the CGE had absolutely fulfilled its mandate. For the 2018/19 APP, it had fulfilled 98% of its targets and met its goals. There had been some variations, but those were minor. It did what it was mandated to do according to its budget, but what it wanted to do was more. The number of violent incidents against women was staggeringly high, and on the rise. There were nine provincial offices -- one office in each province -- but it was not necessarily in as many places as was wanted. Pressure was put on the provincial offices, though based in the metros, to go out to the furthest and most rural places. The work would not be good enough if it did not reach those people. The CGE was now discussing whether it had the tools, like vehicles, and the training to go out as far as possible. She wanted to make it clear that it was very capable of reaching those deep rural areas and was putting them into its APP. The details of which areas and what work was being done there would be given in the written response to the Members’ questions. These rural areas were often where the problems were most prominent and common.
The country had no clear targets or performance indicators, nor an overarching M&E framework for the gender machinery. The CGE therefore had very little ability to monitor each department on exactly what it was doing, how it was doing that work and what the impact of it was.
Dr Moleko rhetorically asked what the indications for Treasury were. Treasury had hundreds of millions that it was delegating, but gave no indication as to how much of the money would directly or indirectly be given to help women. The Auditor-General (AG) must help the CGE create those specific indicators for each department. The AG audited performance, but did not audit performance on gender issues against the budget. The CGE went to all the departments and instructed them to make budget allocations for gender mainstreaming or economic empowerment. Even the President had not made an allocation for GBV, and the CGE was not happy with this.
The CGE wanted a clear M&E framework with clear targets and a clearly measurable impact. Collaboration with all the departments with clear targets was crucial. It did not have the funding or power to make these changes happen, but it did have the oversight ability to exert pressure and be a catalyst. It also had the instruments and tools to engage and collaborate with all the departments.
The Chairperson granted permission to the commissioners to make a detailed written response to the Members’ questions which could not be fully answered at the meeting.
Ms Maema said that in the previous year, the CGE had compiled quite a number of reports which would ideally be put through to the Committee to be engaged on. It was high time, as a policy framework had been developed that the political parties should abide to when it came to issues of gender equality and equal representation. The CGE was ready to put something on the table to find a way to legislate this so that it could hold everyone to account.
The Chairperson thanked everyone for their attendance. She said that CGE had accomplished a lot with the little budget it did have, and she commended the institution for that.
The meeting was adjourned.
The second half of the meeting comprised of a presentation of the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities 2019/20 Annual Performance Plan. PMG does not have a record of this session
- Commission for Gender Equality: Overview of Budget and Annual Performance Plan: 2019120
- Commission for Gender Equality: Summary of Budget and APP
- Department of Women: Annual Performance Plan Tables 2019120
- Department of Women Annual Performance Plan – 2019/2020 presentation
- CGE Annual Performance Plan – 2019/2020 presentation
- CGE appropriation for Annual Performance Plan – 2019/2020 presentation
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