The Portfolio Committee considered and adopted the Committee Report containing observations and recommendations about the Annual Performance Plan and Budget Vote 20 for Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD), Commission of Gender Equality (CGE) and National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).
There was concern that the CGE is underfunded and that proper programmes need to be put into place by the CGE and NYDA to show progress. Members criticised the 48 people at senior management level each with salaries of R1.2 million per annum. Over half of the staff establishment were at management level yet over R50 million was outsourced to consultants. There was too much emphasis on policies and not enough on programme activities.
The Committee considered it media statement on the alcohol ban being eased. They discussed the effects of alcohol consumption such as gender-based violence, alcoholism and increase in risky sexual behaviour.
The Chairperson said the Committee would look at the Committee Report to ensure it captured all the comments and recommendations raised in its previous meeting. Members could still add to the report should they feel that something relevant was left out. that the Department has not answered most of the questions adequately and the Committee has redrafted those questions and circulated it to Members to confirm. The questions have been written in detail to explain what is required.
Committee Report on Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Budget
Ms Kashifa Abrahams, Committee Content Advisor, presented the Committee Report which dealt with the Department Strategic Plan (2020-2025), 2020/21 Annual Performance Plan and Budget Vote 20 that included the CGE and NYDA. The report had been circulated to Members. The first section covers background information, Department mandate, expenditure trends and medium-term priorities.
The Recommendations in the Committee Report urged the Department to ensure that women, youth and persons with disabilities issues are mainstreamed into the work of government departments as they participate in the National Command Council (NCC). The Committees urged that DWYPD provide detailed, written responses to the questions raised during meetings that were not addressed. Now that the Department's mandate is inclusive of women, youth and persons with disabilities, this must be translated into the policies it produces and the programmes implemented. More emphasis must be placed on the increase in synergy between DWYPD’s programmes to ensure a more coordinated approach and avoid operating in silos. The Department was requested to provide statistics on the status of GBV since the lockdown was implemented.
DWYPD should provide a progress report on the establishment of the National Council on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (NCGBVF) and indicate what the R5 million will be utilised for, bearing in mind that R5 million is for the current financial year. DWYPD was to clearly outline its role in the Council, the criteria adopted to establish the Council and select members to serve on the Council and how the Council is going to account for its funding and activities. It should table the National Strategic Plan on GBVF in Parliament and report back on its emergency response plan to the Committee as well. In terms of the Sanitary Dignity Programme, it should provide the Committee with breakdown information on the provinces which received sanitary products. It must provide a progress report clearly reporting the rollout of the Sanitary Dignity Programme prior to lockdown and since the onset. DWYPD should indicate how concerns raised by the Committee about the programme have been attended to. The progress report must include a provincial breakdown of the budget allocated, expenditure incurred, number of beneficiaries, criteria for selection of beneficiaries, the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) mechanism to assess the rollout, the outcomes, production of the sanitary products and distribution.
On law and policy reform, DWYPD must prioritise the overarching policies and laws that guide the implementation of mainstreaming gender, youth and disability. As such, the National Gender Policy framework must be updated and submitted to the Committee by the next quarter. The Gender-Responsive Planning Budgeting, Monitoring, Evaluation and Auditing Framework must be tabled for consideration. The National Youth Policy must be finalised and submitted to the Committee, a draft Disability Bill must be tabled before the end of 2020/21. The Department’s monitoring and evaluation role must be clearly outlined in writing for its APP and strategic plan and given to the Committee at the next quarterly report briefing. It should include what framework it intends to utilise and how this will be implemented.
The advocacy role of DWYPD must be clearly outlined in writing to the Committee at the next quarterly report briefing. For the Youth Programme, DWYPD should conduct an impact assessment on the Youth Programme. CGE must ensure that its outcome indicators are SMART. Where the indicators are broad, they must be refined and provided to the Committee. CGE Commissioners are to report back at the follow-up meeting with the Committee and provide a more detailed report on its areas of work that include but are not limited to: focus on men and boys, sexual reproductive health rights, law and policy reform, its submissions it will be pursuing, updating the National Gender Policy framework, recognition of custom marriages campaign, the M&E tracking tool for various sectors, the GBV index at provincial level, Ukuthwala, National Strategic Plan M&E, National Council on GBV and Femicide, mental health and healthcare professionals, progress report on shelters, tax exemption for widows, SARS pension payouts, as well as disability.
CGE Commissioners must have a clear plan on how they would contribute to fulfilling the CGE Strategic Plan and the APP and must clearly articulate their role at a national and provincial level. The Committee agreed that CGE's finances should be enhanced to fully give effect to its mandate, particularly now with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Committee recommended that National Treasury consider increasing the CGE allocation for the Commission to expand its reach.
The NYDA should submit a recovery plan post-COVID-19 and contributions made by government in its economic stimulus package. The Department together with NYDA should look at the impact of the stimulus package to determine the extent to which young people benefit from the package. DWYPD and the NYDA should ensure that young people benefit from government department programmes.
The Committee remains committed to ensuring that astute oversight is conducted on the Department, CGE and NYDA which all have a significant role to play in improving the lives of women, youth, persons with disabilities and the LGBTQI+ community.
The Chairperson mentioned that the CGE outreach to rural areas through radio stations was not satisfactory. CGE should consider having structured programmes and redress how they reach out to communities. Most provinces do not know of CGE, especially in rural areas. Outreach needed to be addressed by informing people in rural areas that there are avenues for them to receive assistance. Departments do not monitor what happens on the ground. For example, youth issues are mainly focused on by the NYDA, however, it needs to be recognised as the entity for youth. There are no real programmes in place that DWYPD can show for itself, besides youth policies. She suggested to the Committee the potential questions that could be asked of DWYPD on what they are doing to help the situation.
Ms F Masiko (ANC) said that she was satisfied with the Committee Report. She mentioned her concern was about the Youth Development Directorate inadequately executing its mandate. She suggested that they should add this inability of the Youth Directorate in the report. She is unsure if the Directorate can define its mandate on youth development. On the Sanitary Dignity Programme, there is great concern about the framework implementation and how this should be implemented. There is no definition of the relationship between DWYPD and the Department of Education on the implementation of this programme. The main concern with this programme is its implementation. After this has been resolved, then they can move onto speaking about monitoring the programme. One cannot separate the youth and the fourth industrial revolution and the report should reflect on the fourth industrial revolution and how the youth can be supported through this by the NYDA.
Ms M Hlengwa (IFP) said that DWYPD should combine with the Departments of Education and Health. They should rather utilise the COVID-19 R350 special grant by having unemployed unqualified teachers assist qualified teachers, instead of giving them the R350 in grant money. Youth that have qualifications must be considered for internships. On the NYDA posts, they need to separate administration posts from the board.
The Chairperson replied that they are still in the process of separating the posts. She continued to speak in her vernacular language (1:18:00). some posts have not been filled at an administrative level.
Ms N Sharif (DA) said there is a worry that the CGE is underfunded, given the amount of work they need to do. It needs to be noted in the Recommendations that more funding is given so that CGE can do more. They demand so much from CGE but they do not resource CGE well enough. The DWYPD overspending and the vacant posts savings need to be clarified. The overspending of R1.7 million on a security contract was problematic. The savings on the vacant posts and the posts need to be reprioritised to the Office of the Minister and Deputy Minister. The monetary value of the savings needs to be known as well as the number of vacancies moving to the Minister and Deputy Minister’s Office.
The Chairperson noted the large allocation to Compensation of Employees with 48 posts at a Senior Management Service (SMS) level, and yet they still struggle to unpack and draft programmes for that Department. So much is being spent on no outcomes – it does not make sense.
Ms Sharif said that these 48 people are given R1.2 million each per annum. Over double the staff are in Senior Management as there are 70 posts in total.
The Chairperson suggested that they rewrite their Observations and note the concern on why there are so many people working in higher levels of management but they can hardly come up with programmes. The quality does not bear results.
Ms Sharif referred to page 28 and asked for clarity on the statistics in the last committee meeting on GBV during COVID-19. The fact that DWYPD cannot produce statistics is concerning because the Department is an advocacy group and it does not implement its mandate – surely it needs statistics to do oversight across government departments to inform its policy and advocacy positions? It should be easily accessible if they are earning R1.2 million each a year. She requested amendments to the recommendations that R15 million go towards the Council instead of R5 million, as previously stated. Oversight is important so that they can be held accountable for not sticking to timelines. A tracking system needs to be put in place, so that DWYPD and NYDA, CGE can be held accountable. Under Recommendations, DWYPD must issue its safety plan is for COVID-19 and its intervention given to the COVID-19 National Command Council. She suggested that DWYPD must put together an oversight model on how its plans to do oversight of departments in terms of GBV response, budget, planning and evaluation monitoring.
The Chairperson said DWYPD must communicate how it is going to conduct monitoring. It needs to have a clear understanding of what mechanism it is using to monitor provinces on certain issues.
Ms Sharif suggested that DWYPD should link with local communities to find a way to work together.
Ms T Masondo (ANC) was satisfied with the work that had been covered.
Ms N Sonti (EFF) spoke in her vernacular language (1:29:00). The police are not taking women’s cases seriously, especially in rural communities. The police send women away to go to court to get a protection order instead of intervening and helping with their case. She expressed her concern about the safety of women at the police stations and being able to voice their reports of GBV.
Mr L Mphithi (DA) spoke about DWYPD mandate and said young people are struggling to find work, women are struggling with GBV, and people with disabilities are struggling to gain equality. The demands that South Africans have of this Department are not being met, as the DWYPD plans are inwardly focused. They are focused on policy documents and policy work that they need to motivate other departments. How do we get the plan to meet the hopes of South Africans? Once the mandate is met, it will be possible to move forward. He asked how DWYPD has amalgamated its work with the NYDA to ensure they meet the demands of South Africans. The amalgamation of the Department needs to be raised in terms of Youth and Persons with Disabilities. The success and impact of the amalgamation need to be tracked and if it is meeting the demands of South Africans. CGE does not have the budgetary support to reach rural areas and to address people dealing with GBV. DWYPD should write to Treasury and request additional funding for CGE so that they appear in rural areas across provinces where there are no systems in place to support GBV challenges. He asked if CGE received an inflation increase and if it is an increase that can reach the broader community. He noted that when the Committee complained about DWYPD not being on the ground in communities in rural areas, the Department responded that it focuses more on policies and not implementation. CGE needs to be given the budget required for it to play a meaningful role in communities. The budget is not enough for them to do the work, so the Department needs to it take up that responsibility to provide the funds needed. Due to COVID-19, there has been an increase in GBV and that gives more reason for a budget increase.
The Chairperson suggested that they look at what DWYPD has, then make a joint submission with CGE to address the problem in rural areas.
All Committee members agreed.
Mr Mphithi noted the use of consultants had a budget of R50.5 million which is an increase of R8.7 million from the previous financial year. This is a huge concern and he asked if this in an inflation increase. He was also concerned about the increase of over R8 million for salaries of senior managers in DWYPD. Another issue is the use of consultants comes across to South Africans that senior management is unable to do the work that is required. He would like a strongly worded request in the Committee Report about what this increase means. He is concerned about the R22 million budget for people with disabilities. People with disabilities feel that DWYPD has not brought them into the conversation on what their concerns are. The mandate must be changed if people feel their concerns are not being expressed in the plans.
The Chairperson said that the disability budget was allocated to Department of Social Development (DSD). They were supposed to measure DSD activities for disabled people. DWYPD is not responsible for persons with disabilities. The last time they discussed this was that the monetary aspect must be left with DSD. However, DWYPD still needs to receive reports from the DSD, and she acknowledged that this was an oversight on the Committee’s part, and the Committee needs to follow up with DWYPD. They are going to call in CGE the following week and have a meeting on its mandate, as it needs to be attended to as soon as possible. The CGE staff need to identify all the challenges needing to be discussed with DWYPD. On consultants, she asked if they make the recommendation that they should stop using consultants as it is not the first time they have raised. They need to be informed about what consultants are used for what.
Mr S Ngcobo (DA) said that if DWYPD spends so much on the compensation of employees then the employees should be able to provide the services that are being outsourced to consultants. The use of consultants should be condemned. He would like to make a recommendation under Observations, that the paragraph about COVID-19 in the Western Cape needs to be amended to include other provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Eastern Cape which have had an increase in COVID-19 infections.
Ms Masiko disagreed and said that adding other provinces will take away from the emphasis on Western Cape as the epicentre of COVID-19 infections. The other provinces should not be added.
Ms Sharif said that the epicentre will shift and this is a trend noted in the National Command Council projections. They must use a general understanding of COVID-19 and DWYPD must ensure women, youth and persons with disabilities issues are looked at as a whole in the country, not just in certain provinces.
Mr Mphithi said government stated that the next epicentre is the Eastern Cape and the tools to equip that province for the increase are not available.
The Chairperson said that Members were raising items that were not relevant to the Committee Report. A separate report needs to be drawn up by the Committee to address this.
Mr Mphithi said that the Committee needs to add those other areas that need help so DWYPD knows what provinces need to be focused on as potential peak hotspots for COVID-19.
Mr Ngcobo made a recommendation that in the COVID-19 response, DWYPD must monitor the other hotspots and the impact on women, youth and persons with disabilities.
Ms Sharif stated that they must not only focus on the impact but the interventions as well.
Mr Ngcobo commented that the recommendation of a draft Disability brief being drawn up before the end of the financial year is a good recommendation as it speaks to persons with disabilities. The Committee must monitor that this draft disability brief is submitted before the end of this financial year.
Ms B Maluleke (ANC) asked if the submitted APP and Strategic Plan has already been adopted or still has to be adopted by the Committee. If it is still has to be adopted, she recommended that they need to say to DWYPD that the amount for salaries and for consultants is too much and it needs to be reduced and that the amount should go to the CGE.
The Chairperson said that they could make the recommendation to reduce it and that the Committee did not get a clear response on why they have such a large amount for consultants. She felt strongly about the amount allocated for consultants and agreed that they should take some of that budget and transfer to it to the CGE.
Ms Abrahams referred to the mention by DWYPD of the risks identified for Programme 2 and 3. DWYPD indicates that these programmes are under-resourced in terms of finances, human resources and expertise. These programmes are output driven where most of the impact-based work occurs. To this end, it will require external support, that is, consultant services, to achieve targets as well as urgent filling of vacancies. DWYPD notes that consultant services, where used, will be once-off and will include skills transfer.
The Chairperson said that R50 million is too much for consultants. She asked why they cannot use the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) for training.
Ms Sharif asked if it was the training of staff members that were done by consultants for transfer of skills.
The Chairperson suggested that they use the SETA for any kind of training.
The Chairperson and Ms Maluleke spoke to each other in their vernacular language (2:23:30).
Ms Maluleke expressed her dissatisfaction.
The Chairperson stated that as a Committee they are discouraging the use of consultants.
Mr Mphithi raised the National Youth Policy, and the concern of organisations such as My Vote Counts, Amandla.mobi and YouthLab, and how the process will be handled regarding consultations. DWYPD said they would have consultations across provinces but some provinces were left aside.
The Chairperson suggested that the Committee write to DWYPD stating that due to COVID-19, consultation was not done and ask what the way forward is.
Mr Mphithi said that it was important to get it right and agreed about writing to DWYPD. On the CGE Commissioners, it is important to state in the Committee Report that the Commissioners play an important role in motivating for more money. The guidelines for the Commissioners needed to be expanded on by the CGE because it is fundamentally important to get this right at this stage.
Ms Masiko said that she supported the adoption of the Committee Report.
The Chairperson noted that the Committee Report on Budget Vote 20 had been adopted.
Media statement on lifting the ban on alcohol
The Chairperson referred to the draft statement on lifting of the ban on alcohol and for people to act responsibly as lockdown regulations are eased on 1 June 2020. She expressed the Committee's concern on how happy people were about the lifting of the ban. They hoped that grant money is not being used on alcohol. She spoke about GBV (in her vernacular language 2:36:00). People do not maintain their children, as alcohol is more important. Committee members are disturbed by this. Allowing alcohol increases the risk of injury and negligence.
Ms Sonti said she did not agree with this decision by the President. She spoke in her vernacular language.
Ms T Mgweba (ANC) said that we must agree that as a nation we are an embarrassment. Children cannot go to school, but parents can queue for liquor. Citizens need to act responsibly, regardless of colour. Conditions need to be harsh and they need to urge citizens to act responsibly.
Ms Masiko said it was important to draft a statement as the impact of alcohol on women is great. GBV is not coming across strongly and she requested a strongly worded paragraph on the impact of alcohol on GBV towards women as well as the risky sexual behaviour that alcohol causes thus creating an increase in the risk of HIV/AIDS. The government should have a statement that addresses alcohol beyond COVID-19 in South Africa.
The Chairperson agreed with Ms Masiko’s statement.
Mr Mphithi added that some people have addictions and it must be acknowledged that they cannot just quit. DWYPD needs to be cognisant of the socioeconomic issues that are rife, such as alcoholism.
The Chairperson said that the Committee was concerned about what happens after drinking and how it has an impact on GBV and femicide. She spoke in her vernacular language (2:48:00). The Committee should issue a media statement that does not make it seem as if they are taking away the rights of people who do enjoy drinking.
Ms Masiko suggested that the Committee draws up a statement as it is Youth Month.
The Chairperson asked the Members to draw up a statement.
Ms Sonti spoke in her vernacular language (2:50:40).
The Chairperson said that the Committee should raise concerns about safety and adhering to COVID-19 regulations. This must be mentioned so that the spread of the virus is avoided.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.
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