The Committee was briefed by its Content Advisor and Parliamentary Researchers on the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities 2019/20 Quarter 3 Performance report and Quarter 2 performance outstanding matters. Members were told that the key issues were the following: the use of consultants, incomplete investigations of irregular expenditure, the server crash on the Information and Communications Technology system, the funding of the office of the Deputy Minister, the failure to budget for performing artists at events, expenditure on catering, delays in the development of the Nation Policy Framework for Women Empowerment and Gender Equality and the organisation of international trips.
The Committee was briefed by the Department on its 2019/20 Quarter 3 Performance report and Quarter 2 performance outstanding matters. Both the Minister and the Deputy Minister were in attendance. The presentation highlighted that the Department was underperforming and this was due to the change in its governance and officials. It is also experiencing challenges in its supply chain management and this is due to labour related issues. On the White Paper on Disabilities, it will be tabled through the Cabinet process to ensure there is legislation before the end of the term.
The presentation also highlighted the issue of funding the office of the Deputy Minister as a challenge. The Department was redirecting its own financial resources to provide funding for it. The budget pressures were within the Administration, Social Transformation and Economic Empowerment and Policy, Stakeholder Coordination and Knowledge Management programmes. The main expenses were for the following: international travel expenses, funding the office of the Deputy Minister, the acquisition of the Microsoft software licenses and expenditure for foreign budget. The lack of human resource capacity in the International Relations Directorate was also highlighted as a challenge. On irregular expenditure, the investigation process is still underway and is expected to conclude by the end of February 2020.
Members raised concern on the high number of unemployed youth and the high rates of murder and rape cases. Members also raised concern that disabled people are not being taken seriously as most are unemployed and those who do work are unfairly treated by their employers. The Committee raised concern on the use of consultants, officials who are outsourcing their work instead of doing it themselves and individuals who receive performance bonuses when they are underperforming. The funding of the office of the Deputy Minister was also raised as a concern and members asked why the funds were coming from the Department itself. Members stated the Department is overspending on some programmes and underspending in others. Other key concerns raised was the catering expenditure, pending reports which the Committee has not received, the failure of the Department to invest in protecting its servers, vacancies, the failure to budget for performing artists, the absence of a quorum in the National Youth Development Agency and the fact that Key Performance Indicators are not being met
The Chairperson welcomed Members and opened the floor for discussion before the officials of the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD) join the meeting. On the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) Board advertisement, the Committee received more applications than it had hoped for. In some instances there was a system shutdown due to the overload of processing the applications. On the State of the Nation Address (SONA), the statement by the President that gender-based violence (GBV) cases should be made a priority is welcomed. R1.6 billion will be allocated to the fight against GBV.
The Chairperson said the President’s announcement that a university will be built in the Ekurhuleni municipality is a positive move towards helping the youth attain their goals. The youth of the country need to be supported. Many students are devastated and depressed when they can’t get their results due to unpaid fees. This has to change and students should be given their results so that they can apply for jobs. The Committee plays a fundamental role in improving the lives of South Africans and it needs to work hard this year. Ms M Khawula (EFF) is an important member of the Committee and is wished a speedy recovery.
Ms F Masiko (ANC) greeted members and said the NYDA advert received a positive response from the youth. On GBV, there needs to be more efforts in place to ensure a successful fight against it. This is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with swiftly. Women are being abused and murdered by their partners. In 3 cases, boyfriends had announced on social media their plan to kill their girlfriends before committing the act. The President’s speech is welcomed. Ms Khawula is wished a speedy recovery to resume her duties in the Committee.
Mr L Mphithi (DA) welcomed the President’s announcement that there would be a provision for new developments in the Eastern Cape. Most of the country is composed of the youth and the majority of the youth are unemployed. What does this say about the future of the country? The Committee must focus on having more oversight visits as this will help increase accountability. On GBV, there was an increase in the number of cases during the festive season. On the NYDA advert, some sources had suggested that the process wasn’t fully credible as some people had other intentions in applying for the post. These people were said to have been deployed by the former President, Mr Jacob Zuma. The Committee needs to make sure that it runs a transparent process to avoid getting individuals with ulterior motives and intentions. Ms Khawula is wished a speedy recovery from hospital as she plays an important role in the Committee and in helping the people of South Africa.
The Chairperson said there are plans set in place to deal with the issues raised by members. On the seriousness of GBV, there have been reports of 15 and 16 year olds who were raping people older than them. This is shocking and disgraceful. The Committee is encouraged to focus on holding the Department accountable.
Ms N Sonti (EFF) sent her warm regards to Ms Khawula and prayed that she recovers from her illness. Most of the youth are unemployed and the Committee should focus on strategies to counter this. A lot of people are dying of starvation.
Ms N Sharif (DA) said members had performed an unannounced oversight visit to the Gender Based Violence Command Centre and were impressed with the work being carried out. The energy in the Centre is positive and shows that the fight against GBV is being taken seriously. Can the National Strategic Plan (NSP) be put back in the agenda? It is crucial for it to be discussed now. The President’s statements are welcomed with regards to the GBV issue.
The Chairperson said the ANC Woman’s League deserves credit for the work it did in raising awareness about GBV. On the NYDA advert, measures are put in place to ensure that all applicants are screened on the same standards. The interviews will be live and the whole process is a highly credible one. Everybody will follow due process. Qualifications will be verified and the Committee will identify individuals who are going to make the next level. The candidate needs to be passionate about doing the work of uplifting the youth of South Africa. On the NSP, the meeting had to be cancelled but it will be rescheduled. She asked Ms Kashifa Abrahams to present the items on the agenda.
Ms Kashifa Abrahams, Committee Content Advisor, said the item on the agenda is the presentation by the Department on its 3rd Quarter Performance Report for 2019/20.
The Chairperson asked Members to comment.
Ms B Maluleke (ANC) said there should be a summary of the identified challenges before the Department presents to the Committee.
The Chairperson said this was a good suggestion and asked Ms Abrahams to provide an overview to members. The Committee is trying to help the Department to ensure there is improvement in the NYDA. The interviews will be completed in May so that the appointed candidates can start working on 1 July 2020.
Ms Abrahams said the Department had not performed any of its targets. The money allocated for the disabilities programme was not reached. Consultants were used even though the Department was advised to refrain from doing so. In the 2018/19 financial year, there were 6 incidents of irregular expenditure and the report on the investigation has still not been submitted to the Committee.
The Chairperson said the Department is allowed to use consultants for technical skills it does not have. The plan should be to transfer those skills to suitable Departmental officials.
Ms Abrahams said there was a server crash on the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) system. The budget on the ICT has not been spent.
The Chairperson said the Committee was informed of the server crash but the Department was supposed to submit a progress report on the issue and it has not yet done so.
Ms Abrahams replied the ICT’s Risk Mitigation Report states that ICT has been classified as a high risk.
The Chairperson asked what the Department presented in terms of its progress report.
Ms Abrahams replied the Department stated it was going to set up a task team to work on the matter.
Ms Crystal Levendale, Parliamentary Researcher, said the Department spent 90% of its budget in the Administration programme even though it was supposed to have spent 75% because it is allocated 25% per quarter. On the Social Transformation and Economic Empowerment (STEE) programme, 87% of the budget was spent. There was underspending in the Policy, Stakeholder Coordination and Knowledge Management (PSCKM) programme. The key issue is how the Department plans to spent the rest of its budget in the final quarter when it has already spent so much in the first 3 quarters. The Department stated it had issued an investigative process into the irregular expenditure and the report would be ready by the end of February. The Committee should seek clarity between the figures provided in the National Treasury (NT) report and the report submitted by the Department. There were 15 deviations in the second quarter. The reasons were around overspending and accommodating the new function of the Deputy Minister.
The Chairperson asked whether the Department failed to budget for the office of the Deputy Minister.
Ms Levendale replied in the affirmative.
Ms Sharif asked for clarity on this. Wasn’t the NT supposed to allocate funds for the office of the Deputy Minister as opposed to the funds coming from the Department’s budget?
The Chairperson said there are processes which the officials of the Department were supposed to have followed and the issue should have been addressed by now. Members must ask the Department for an update on this.
Ms Levendale said the Department lacked capacity in the sub-programme of Monitoring and Evaluation and had to outsource the function. The skills have not yet been in-housed.
The Chairperson asked why the performing artists were not budgeted for.
Ms Levendale replied the Department failed to budget for the artists’ performances and need to be questioned on this. The Department didn’t state how many events and how many artists were performing so there is no detail on the deviation in the expenditure.
Ms Tasneem Matthews, Parliamentary Researcher, said the Department had achieved 3 out of 4 of its targets for the youth. The Committee has not received the National Youth Policy because the Department stated that consultation is still required. The Department has also not submitted its NYDA reports. Members should question why there has been a failure to submit such reports. The Department is making amendments to targets even though the NYDA didn’t have a quorum. Members should question how the amendments were being made, which targets these amendments would apply to and why. The Department needs to submit 26 findings before the end of the financial year. Members should question how the Department is going to attain those findings. The Department was planning to revise the Nation Policy Framework for Women Empowerment and Gender Equality but had not given the Committee a time-frame on this. There is no policy that guides the country on gender equality so this should be questioned by members.
The Chairperson said there are too many delays in the development of the policy. How is it going to get approved if the Department is not taking it seriously? The President mentioned an allocation of R10 billion for women investments.
Ms Sharif asked if the Parliamentary Researchers had gone through the expenditures for international trips because they were not made available for analysis in the report.
The Chairperson said the Department stated it was going to identify the right individuals for international trips and it would no longer be a whole group of individuals. It stated that it’s going to change how it executes its international trips.
Ms Matthews replied the Department spent just over R512 000 for trips to Brazil, Kenya, Belgium, Rwanda and France. It spent R174 000 for community mobilisation and about R683 per head on catering.
The Chairperson said it is not logical to spend R600 per head in a day. The expenditure on catering could not have been allocated for this amount.
Ms Matthews replied that R600 per person in a day is the reflected amount. The community mobilisation was attended by 200 000 stakeholders and was spread over 16 days. The Committee should ask the Department about its international trips strategic planning. It should be asked how the trips would be executed, what activities would be catered for and what the role of the Committee is in approving the organisation of an international trip.
The Chairperson said the Department needs to submit its reports because they can’t be tabled at the upcoming meeting without having been presented to the Committee. Members should attend meetings from all invitations, including civil society, in order to grow the knowledge space of the Committee. Officials from the Department were invited into the meeting and asked to begin the presentation.
Presentation by the Department
Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister: DWYPD, said the Department has been underperforming and this is due to the change in its governance and officials. The reason for the delay in the submission of the reports is because it was asked to merge 3 separate documents into 1 document. She visited a school for the disabled in Gugulethu and it was a heart-warming experience. It shows that the Department is functioning and playing its role. On youth, the issue is still sitting in the branch of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. There was a difference in understanding of the approval process of reports and this has to improve. She engaged with the accounting officers and internal audit team to demonstrate that all reports are to be approved by her.
Ms Nkoana-Mashabane said the International Relations Directorate failed to achieve its targets set for the 3rd quarter. This was raised with the accounting officer and the reasons for failing to achieving such targets is unacceptable. The target of building capacity for the Women’s Financial Inclusion Framework (WFIF) was not met. The Presidential Investment Summit demonstrated that women are opening up their own businesses. The President’s announcement on GBV is humbling. In the recent trip to Ethiopia, the President was asked to attend a meeting on this matter and was one of the first state officials to speak openly about it. The Department is experiencing problems with its supply chain management. This is a labour related issue and is still pending with the appointment of a director.
Ms Hlengiwe Mkhize, Deputy Minister: DWYPD, said the disability issue is important to focus on. There were activities and events launched. The Eastern Cape played a major role in this. On the White Paper on Disabilities, it will be on the table through the Cabinet process to ensure there is legislation before the end of the term. The United Nations (UN) is going to visit South Africa on the issue of albinism. The Department will be involved in this visit. On the support of the Deputy Minister’s office, it is questionable how the Minister of Finance let this happen. There were processes to be followed but nothing was irregular with the President’s appointment decision.
Ms Welhemina Tshabalala, Acting Director-General: DWYPD, said on the set quarter 3 targets, 26 out of 33 were achieved. On the Administration programme, 11 out of 12 targets were achieved. Performance was not achieved in the percentage of implemented external audit recommendations. The audit action plan is dealing with this and monthly meetings will take place. On the STEE programme, 5 out of 6 targets were achieved. There was non-performance in the number of reports produced on the implementation of the WFIF. The initial plan was to hold the capacity building in the Western Cape but this was moved to Gauteng. On the PSCKM programme, 7 out of 9 targets were achieved. There was non-performance because of a lack of human resource capacity in the International Relations Directorate. On the National Youth Development (NYD) programme, 3 out of 4 targets were achieved. There was non-performance in the oversight of the NYDA conducted. This is because the approval of the Executive Authority was not sought after for the quality reports. On the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPD) programme, no targets were achieved. There was non-performance in strengthening the National Disability Rights Machinery. The Department does not have the required Information Technology (IT) infrastructure to develop performance reports.
Ms Tshabalala said the Department made a presentation to the Minister’s Budget Committee (MBC) on the issue of funding the office of the Deputy Minister. The Deputy Minister assisted in the presentation to make a strong business case. This didn’t help so the Department redirected some of its financial resources to aid the office of the Deputy Minister. On pending staff positions, interviews are underway and suitable candidates will be appointed by 1 April 2020.
Ms Desiree Legwale, Chief Financial Officer: DWPD, said the Department spent 75.4% of its allocated budget. It met with the MBC to work on reallocating the budget so that it can alleviate budget pressures. It received an approval for this reallocation. The budget pressures were within the Administration, STEE and PSCKM programmes. The main expenses were the following: international travel expenses, funding the office of the Deputy Minister, the acquisition of the Microsoft software licenses and expenditure for foreign budget. On compensation of employees, the expenditure was within the projected norms. Other expenses included the procurement of office furniture and a Departmental vehicle. On irregular expenditure, the investigation process is still underway and is expected to conclude by the end of February 2020.
The Chairperson said the Department has been using consultants to do the work of officials. Why are officials being paid when consultants do their work? What are the officials being paid for? There needs to be an investigation into this.
Ms T Masondo (ANC) noted the unmet targets. What are the financial implications that will arise from this? On the function of the Deputy Minister, what is the correct procedure to be followed to budget for it? What was the outcome of the meeting held on 13 October 2019? What are the issues identified in the internal audit report?
Ms Maluleke noted the programme reports which were still within the Department. Is the Department getting reports from the Youth and Persons with Disabilities programme?
The Chairperson said the Department is responsible for the funding of disabilities. The Department has to submit its performance reports.
Ms Maluleke asked why the targets for quarter 1, 2 and 3 were not met. How is this possible as this doesn’t reflect progress? The Department is overspending on some programmes and underspending on others.
The Chairperson said there were individuals who were receiving performance bonuses but were not doing the work they were supposed to be doing. They were outsourcing the work instead. Why are officials getting performance bonuses when they are underperforming?
Ms Maluleke agreed with the Chairperson.
Ms Sharif said the situation with the office of the Deputy Minister is confusing. How much money is being channelled from service delivery to fund the office? She noted the catering expenditure on the 16 Days of Activism campaign. How much was being spent on catering for person? 6 BMW’s were donated by Germany to help fight GBV. How is this donation going to be used to help the women on the ground? On the Beijing +25 meeting, when will the report be made available to the Committee? When is the Department going to send all of its pending reports? The Department is supposed to be working for the people and that involves submitting performance reports.
Mr Mphithi asked for clarity on the function of the Deputy Minister. Why is the office being funded with money that is meant to go towards helping the citizens of South Africa? What is the Minister’s view on this? Does she believe it to be irregular and unlawful or not? The NYDA still has no quorum and this has been hindering it from making decisions. How is the NYDA Board currently taking decisions? What is the relationship between the NYDA and the Department? Can the Department provide information on its Annual Performance Plans that have changed? What changes were made? The transfer of funds to the NYDA should not be listed as a Key Performance Indicator (KPI). Why are the KPI’s not being met when individuals are appointed to carry out the tasks? Why are those tasks not being achieved? On ICT, there were allocated funds which remained unused even though the system server ended up crashing. Why did the Department not intervene to ensure the system was in order?
The Chairperson agreed and asked why the Department had not invested in protecting its servers. Sensitive information gets lost due to failures like this. In some of the disciplinary hearings there was information that had gone missing.
Mr Mphithi said there are increases in the murder and rape rates. There is also an increase in youth unemployment. These are important issues that the Department needs to work on.
Mr S Ngcobo (DA) said the unmet targets are a prime concern. The Department is playing an advocacy role in as far as persons with disabilities are concerned. 5.1% of the South African population is composed of disabled people. What role is the Department playing to help them? What was the disability money used for? What has been done by the Department to show it is advocating for disabled people?
Ms Sonti said the issue of putting disabled children on a long waiting list is very disheartening and calls for concern. People with disabilities are not being taken seriously because most are not working and those who do work are being unfairly treated by their employers. What is the Department’s plans on the economic empowerment of women?
Mr T Mhlongo (DA) said there needs to be a focus on helping women, especially young girls. What project has been set up by the Department for a sanitary pad distribution drive? How does the Department execute this?
Ms T Mgweba (ANC) asked how the Department is planning to aid the current youth unemployment issue. How is it managing the issue since most are unemployed and some are drop-outs? The Department still has vacant positions for which it is using consultants to perform the duties. What is the plan to recruit staff to fill these posts?
The Chairperson asked about the Bill which the Department was planning to introduce in 2024. Why is this being delayed to 2024? What are the reasons that led to the tabling of the Bill not being made a main priority? Why are the performing artists not included in the budget? The Department is asked to inform the Committee about the funding of the Deputy Minister’s office.
Ms Mkhize replied that reference to the Ministry also includes the Deputy Minister’s office. This means that wherever the Minister is budgeted for, the Deputy Minister is included. The Department shouldn’t have listed the funding of the Deputy Minister as an irregular expenditure because there is no irregularity about it. The Department will look into structuring its budget so that the Deputy Minister is covered by the budget of the Ministry. On the programmes for persons with disabilities, herself, the Minister and Ms Patricia De Lille visited the community school for the disabled. The Department is working on elevating the lives of the disabled. On ICT, a project of setting up labs and facilities for disabled people to learn is underway. The Department will be monitoring the progress of the disabled as far as the schooling process is concerned. There will be audit from the Minister’s office to highlight how many disabled persons had been helped and how many still need help. The White Paper on Disabilities shows that disabilities have risen to 7% and disabled persons who are employed are not being taken seriously and receiving promotions. On the high unemployment of the youth, the Department is working on this.
Ms Nkoana-Mashabane replied the BMW’s had been acquired through the President’s call about GBV across the African continent and not the Department itself. The BMW’s were received through a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) and will be used in the fight against GBV. Efforts are being made to stop the violence. On the NSP, it is still awaiting tabling and will be brought forth to the Committee. The Department has been working with the NYDA to uplift the youth even though there are still vacant Board member positions. Officials will be appointed to fill these vacancies.
Ms Tshabalala replied she will request more details on the catering budget for the 16 Days of Activism campaign and provide a report to members.
Ms Annette Griessel, Deputy Director-General: PSCKM: DWYPD, replied the Department was planning to set targets on human resources. The Department has a wide mandate and is understaffed. It is looking for suitable candidates for the positions that require evaluation.
The Chairperson asked which organogram should be used by the Committee. The presentation is different from the submitted report.
Ms Griessel replied the positions for Director of Evaluation and Deputy Director of Evaluation remained unopened.
The Chairperson said there are differences between what is being presented and the submitted report.
Ms Tshabalala replied that schools have been allocated funding for the Sanitary Dignity project and are responsible for its procurement and distribution. The project was launched as a national one for all of the provinces.
Ms Val Mathobela, Chief Director: Office of the Director-General: DWYPD, replied the Department made monthly reports to ensure that unachieved targets were investigated so that improvements could be made in the system. On the Audit Risk Committee meeting outcome, the Department made an audit action plan and quarterly reports were recommended to be tabled before the Portfolio Committee. The Department is working on delivering valid reports.
Mr Mbhazima Shiviti, Chief Director: Cooperate Management: DWYPD, replied there weren’t performance bonuses being paid to Board members. On ICT, progress is being made and the Committee will see these improvements in the 4th quarterly report. The Department made its proposal to the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) to host it on a cloud platform. There is still a meeting to be held of which the date is unknown and a project plan is underway. The Department will provide members with a report on this matter. Applications have already been submitted for the vacant posts. There will be a short-listing of all credible candidates.
The Chairperson asked why there was not a date for the meeting to be held.
Mr Shiviti replied the date is somewhere in his emails and he doesn’t know it at the top of his head.
Mr Mphithi said three quarters had passed without anyone stating there was an ICT problem with the data and information storage systems. Who is the person responsible for the system?
Mr Shiviti replied there was a crash on the ICT serves in 2018. The ICT is not currently in a crisis. A service provider has been appointed to recover the lost information.
Mr Mphithi asked who was responsible for the system when it ended up crashing. This person needs to be held accountable.
The Chairperson agreed. The meeting needs to be adjourned due to time constraints.
Ms Nkoana-Mashabane apologised for the presentation being different from the submitted report. The correct report is the one used in the presentation.
Ms Mkhize said the requested ICT report will be submitted to members.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.
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