In a virtual meeting, the Committee met to consider and adopt its Report on the adjusted Annual Performance Plan of the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD), National Youth Development Agency and the Commission for Gender Equality for Financial Year 2020/2021. After being taken through the Report, on Committee observations, Members added to the Report matters relating to mental and reproductive health to the Department’s Strategic Report, that mental health should be inclusive of the boy child, note the effect of COVID19 unemployment and job losses on women specifically which often results in depression, that the Department needs to monitor unemployment insurance funds to its constituencies and to note the challenges the youth faced around online learning and access to the internet.
On recommendations, the Committee spoke to the need to improve data, infrastructure and access to networks with regard to the Fourth Industrial Revolution by the Department of Communications, review the way in which people collected the R350 social relief grant in light of COVID19, that the Department needs to monitor the reopening of special needs schools and ensure this was done safely and the need for the department to review its mandate so that it was less of an advocacy department and more focused on implementation on the ground. The Committee also said it would write to the Department to enquire how it was incorporating the department of people with disabilities. The department would be given four weeks, from publishing of the Report, to report back to the Committee on its observations and recommendations.
On the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), the Committee was concerned the entity was underfunded considering that gender based violence was a pandemic in the country and that the CGE carries out enormously important work. It was said the CGE needed to publish articles on issues relating to its constituency and how it has been affected by this pandemic and should create an oversight model to ensure implementation of oversight on GBV and femicide- related matters.
The Report was adopted. The DA did not support it.
The Committee Researcher took Members through the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities on the adjusted Annual Performance Plan of the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD), National Youth Development Agency and the Commission for Gender Equality for Financial Year 2020/2021
The Chairperson suggested that matters around mental health and reproductive health be added into the Department’s Strategic Plan.
Ms N Sharif (DA) added to this point that mental health should also be inclusive of the boy child because young men also are faced with challenges and do not know how to handle them. Further, the constituency of the Department is inclusive of young men as well.
Ms F Masiko (ANC) added that the issue of mental health would fit well under programme two: social transformation, where the Department has programmes for community mobilisation and outreach – this is where mental health would fit in.
The Chairperson raised the issue of unemployment and job loss due to the pandemic and the dramatic impact and effect this has on women specifically which results in depression.
Ms P Sonti (EFF) added that men are also vastly affected. She made an example that in Marikana there are mines that closed during lockdown and in that process men were retrenched without due process and cannot receive the various social reliefs that government has provided.
Ms Masiko said COVID-19 has played a contributing factor in elevating these issues. Further, young women are also faced with challenges in tertiary institutions.
Ms T Mgweba (ANC) said there must be clarity that the DWYPD is monitoring the Department of Employment and Labour as it relates to Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) being distributed to its constituency.
The Chairperson added that on the issue of learning, there are challenges young people are facing around online learning and access to the internet. Government has tried to assist but it is not sufficient.
The Chairperson said there needs to be an improvement in data and access to networks and creating awareness around the Fourth Industrial Revolution by the Department of Communications.
Ms Sharif pointed out that infrastructure was also an issue in terms of accessing networks.
Ms Sonti mentioned the R350 social relief grant and the manner in which people have to collect the money at the Post Office which is counter to the initiative of trying to keep people at home during this pandemic. Is there no other alternative means for people to collect this money? Secondly, the Post Office was robbed in Marikana.
Mr S Ngcobo (DA) asked that the Department monitor the reopening of special need schools and ensure that they open safely.
Ms Sharif was concerned about the mandate of the Department and that it is an advocacy Department and not an implementing one which works on the ground. The Department needs to review its mandate because the work it needs to be doing needs to affect its constituency directly. The Department needs to review its mandate and see how it can become an implementing body.
Ms Masiko disagreed that the issue of the mandate should be included in the Committee Report – this is something the Committee must discuss.
The Chairperson said the matter of DWYPD mandate was previously discussed highlighting the merger of persons with disabilities from the Department of Social Development. The Committee enquired how the Department would incorporate that department into their mandate. How does the Department it features issues of disabled persons? She suggested the Committee write to the Department and enquire into its strategy to include the matter of persons with disabilities.
Ms C Phiri (ANC) suggested there should be a timeframe because many of the recommendations made are urgent due to the pandemic.
The Committee agreed to give the Department four weeks (from publishing of the Report) to respond to the observations and recommendations.
Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) observations
The Committee was concerned about the CGE being underfunded considering the gender-based violence (GBV) pandemic. It makes the execution of the entity’s work difficult.
Ms Sonti enquired why the budget of the CGE was reduced considering the enormous and important work that it does.
The Chairperson responded that the reason for the budget cuts was due to the COVID-19 pandemic and government needed to readjust all budgets of departments and entities. Departments were asked to reprioritise their budgets.
The CGE needs to publish articles on issues relating to its constituency and how it has been affected by this pandemic.
Ms Sharif added that the CGE will do oversight on GBV and femicide- related matters. The CGE should create an oversight model to ensure implementation.
The Committee Report was adopted with these amendments and additions.
The DA did not support the Report.
The meeting was adjourned.
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