In a virtual meeting, the Committee was briefed on the quarterly performance of the Department of Women, Youth and People with Disabilities (DWYPD). In quarter four, the Department, out of 36 Planned targets, 32 (89%) were achieved, and four (11%) targets not achieved an increase in performance as compared to quarter 3 where 33 targets were planned, 26 (79%) targets were achieved, while 7 (21%) were not achieved. In the 2020/21 financial year, quarter one performance, out of 22 targets planned, 13 (59%) targets were achieved while nine (41%) were not achieved.
The Committee questioned why certain targets were not achieved, irregular expenditure, vacant posts, standard operating procedures in the supply chain management unit, procurement of personal protective equipment and if women benefited through this procurement. Further questioned centred on the movement of funds between programmes, deviations and ICT infrastructure.
Members asked what measures were taken to have adequate consequence management of officials who failed in duties to save public money, officials who did not act in accordance with legislation of the country. They wanted the Department to be clear on legislation to be processed by the Committee notably, the Disability Bill.
Members were concerned that the talk of empowering women, youth, and persons with disabilities was merely lip service. They are asked if the Department had real robust action to protect women, what the Department planned to assist women find housing, the effects of alcohol on gender-based violence and robust encouragement of girls to attend school. The Committee further discussed how disabled people would be afforded accessible housing, transport, schooling and employment. Questions also probed the sanitary pads initiative and progress on activities during women’s month.
Members voiced their concern with the high rate at which women were being killed and they are asked about other alternatives to bring the perpetrators to book. There was also concern about a recent online webinar seeking to allow the public to participate on the National Youth Policy but fell short of this.
The Committee adopted its Report on the notice from the President requesting the Assembly consider the determination of salaries and allowances of members of the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE).
The Chairperson welcomed the Committee, the Ministry, and the Department, gave a brief report back to the Committee on the selection process of candidates for the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) Board. The interviews happened during Parliament’s recess. Some of the interviews were streamed online. The selection panel experienced challenges such as complaints and queries regarding publishing the selection criteria. The matter was taken to court. The court ruled that the criteria must be published to the public. The legal team is handling all issues relating to the matter. There were issues around disclosing personal information of candidates, which the selection panel did not allow. This is to protect the rights of candidates according to the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA). The individuals must consent to releasing personal information.
The list of recommended candidates was sent to Parliament. It will be considered and be voted on.
Minister for Women, Youth and People with Disabilities, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, introduced the new Director-General (DG), Adv Mikateko Joyce Maluleke. She congratulated the Committee on its work in the selection of NYDA Board.
She hopes with the new DG the parties can work together to progress in the Department. Change will be effected and the constituency prioritised. The Department must ensure all Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) services are adhered to. It revised its Annual Performance Plan (APP) to take into consideration COVID-19.
There must also be reprioritisation and cuts in the budget. The most affected area of the Department’s work is the interaction with society. It had to move most of its interactions to the virtual space. It must now consider how to reach excluded communities.
The findings of the Auditor-General are being addressed. The Department incorporated the recommendations of the Portfolio Committee (PC) in its 2018/19 Annual Report. It will ensure the 2020/21 Annual Report complies with the recommendations made by the PC. It will also comply with the findings in the audit action plan, which is fully addressed by 72%, as compared to 75% as initially planned.
The Department’s first concern is the effect of gender based violence (GBV) on women, young women and women with disabilities. The second concern is the economic empowerment of women, youth, and persons with disabilities. The topic of femicide during the 2019/20 fourth quarter was popularised through workshops and engagements. This was done with approval of the National Strategic Plan on GBV. The committee on GBV and femicide met several times since Cabinet approved it in March, just before the pandemic.
There is an advance on information regarding GBV and femicide, with draft selection criteria approved by the International Medical Corps (IMC). The process of consulting relevant structures is underway. There is a challenge receiving reports on the National Strategic Plan (NSP) from departments. The President expects reports from departments, weekly, on work done around the NSP. Ministers and DGs received letters advising it to align the NSP for GBV and femicide to the Annual Performance Plans (APPs). It advised to reprioritise budgets to implement the NSP.
Women and youth are economically excluded. Since the pandemic, those numbers increased. The Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) sets a target of a transformed, representative, and inclusive economy which prioritises women, youth and persons with disabilities. The outcome provides for increased economic participation, access to ownership, access to resources, opportunities, and wage equality for women, youth and persons with disabilities. The minimum target is 40% for women, 30% for youth and 7% for persons with disabilities.
The DG presented on the fourth quarterly report of 2019/20, and the first quarterly report of 2020/21. In it, she touched on slides 23 – 41 of quarter one and on quarter four, from slide 48 – 65.
In quarter four, the Department, out of 36 Planned targets, 32 (89%) were achieved, and four (11%) targets not achieved an increase in performance as compared to quarter 3 where 33 targets were planned, 26 (79%) targets were achieved, while 7 (21%) were not achieved. In the 2020/21 financial year, quarter one performance, out of 22 targets planned, 13 (59%) targets were achieved while nine (41%) were not achieved
See attached document for full presentation.
The Chairperson was happy the presentation looked at Information and Communications Technology (ICT) issues, and the DG is prioritising this, because the Committee raised the issue of ICT.
Ms B Maluleke (ANC) referred to programme two, and said out of six targets, one target was achieved. Programme two is a key area for the Department. It is unclear what the problem is because it cannot be solely blamed on COVID-19. There have been alternative methods used. She asked why the Department did not achieve the other targets.
For there to be a clean audit, there must be no irregular expenditure. It seems this is continuous and the Auditor-General is concerned. She asked what the Department is doing to ensure, in future, there is no irregular expenditure. If there is irregular expenditure it means the Department’s planning was not done properly.
With the fourth quarter report in programme one, she asked if the Department can clarify if the workshop with the Public Service Commission was secured, and if not, why not.
Ms M Khawula (EFF), speaking in Zulu, said Ms Maluleke captured her point in the question regarding incomplete reports. The Minister spoke of empowering women, youth, and persons with disabilities. She asked if it is all talk with no real robust action to protect women. Regarding GBV, she asked if the Department realises the land issue also affects women. Women have been evicted during this pandemic and have been forced to occupy land. She wanted to know what the Minister intends doing about housing for women. There are many alcohol-related cases. She asked for the Minister’s input regarding the unbanning of alcohol.
To the DG, she said the Committee wants her to be more robust. Before doing campaigns to encourage girls to go back to school, she asked if the Department first goes to the communities and sees the type of environment the community lives in, perhaps it is the reason for non-attendance. She wanted to know when the Department goes to rural areas.
She suggested the Department work with the Department of Agriculture to install boreholes for people to plant vegetables and employ other people.
Disabled people are disregarded when buildings are built. There is no consideration for disabled people. Some do not even have proper wheelchairs.
Ms M Hlengwa (IFP) asked the DG for clarity regarding why KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) did not come with the relevant information. She asked why it used its own budget, instead of the national budget for the sanitary pads initiative.
Ms F Masiko (ANC) requested a report on the progress for the women’s month activities. The Committee is aware the Department is conducting webinars, but she asked if these webinars are accessible to ordinary citizens who may have technological issues such as infrastructure and access.
She welcomed the new DG and congratulated the Department for finally appointing a person.
She asked the DG about critical vacant posts which are noted in the report. The position for the Director: Supply Chain Management (SCM) has been vacant for the entire 2019/20 financial year. These conditions result in lack of leadership and result in non-compliance which equates to irregular expenditure.
The vacancy in programme one was unfunded, and will be filled through the NMOP process which was underway during the first quarter. She asked what the status is of the NMOP process for the Department, and what the implications are for filling critical vacancies.
There is no Standard Operating Procedure in the SCM unit. She asked how the Department operated the SCM for the entire duration for the 2019/20 financial year.
Regarding irregular expenditure, she asked if the Department was able to sort out condonation for unauthorised expenditure. She asked why the investigations took so long to conclude, and what the status is of the investigations which are underway.
She was disappointed in the way provinces conduct affairs. She listed specifically, the misuse of funds, corruption, and targets not reaching the intended beneficiaries. The intention of the programme is to keep young girls in school. It also highlights how the Department monitors and evaluates this programme. She asked how the Department, in its oversight, missed such an issue in handling this programme.
Regarding the NSP, she asked if there is a measurable impact on the media campaign to end GBV, as required by the NSP. The DG said some Non Profit Organisations (NPOs) asked for an extension to consult its stakeholders. She asked when the Council will be established. She also asked if there is a timeline established, and what timeline there is for the NPOs to consult its stakeholders.
Her core concern was around the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE), from national and provincial level. She asked if the Department procured any PPE, and if so, how much has been spent, and who are the beneficiaries of those PPE.
Out of the millions spent on procuring PPEs she asked if women entrepreneurs who manufacture it benefitted and if the services of these women were utilised.
Ms N Sonti (EFF) talked about the struggles of persons with disabilities, such as unemployment. If employed, such persons struggle to go to work because of transport which is not disability friendly. In rural areas resources for the disabled are even worse. Young people in rural areas do not have adequate transport to go to school.
Women are being killed. She asked if there not another mechanism to bring the perpetrators to book. Perpetrators go to prison and come back. There is a delay in building special schools for the blind.
The disciplinary proceeding of three employees was concluded and the perpetrator is now back at work. She asked what the findings of this investigation are, and why the perpetrators are back at work.
Mr L Mphithi (DA) touched on the financial aspect of the report. In quarter one, the administration overspent by R3.7 million, and funds from programme three were used to offset programme one. He asked what the amount that was used was.
The DG gave an explanation for the offset to programme one in a previous meeting with the Department. The Department explained money was taken from programme one, a gratuity pay-out to the former Minister.
There is a deviation of R300 000. It was deemed to be not justifiable. He asked who signed these deviations, and under what conditions it was signed. He asked what consequence management took place. Over R700 000 was spent irregularly, on the basis of supply chain management not being followed because of lack of leadership. The audit risk report made to the Department last year raised gaps existing on supply chain management. He asked if the Department took any measures after receiving the report to deal with the gap in the supply chain management. This problem would not exist then, because there would be someone to guide the Department on the correct procedure for supply chain management.
The ARC report stated clearly the Department must put in place a standard operating procedure (SOP) on SCM, so officials within the Department can understand how SCM processes work. He asked if the SOP was done as advised in the audit risk report.
The Department informed the Committee it will have completed the investigations by February 2020. He asked why the Committee did not receive these reports. He also asked what measures were taken to have adequate consequence management of officials who failed in duties to save public money, officials who did not act in accordance with legislation of the country. Unauthorised expenditure of R3.6 million is a great concern the DG must look at.
The Committee was told last year, ICT infrastructure was fixed. It was told the report flagged issues of the previous financial year 2017/18. In this report, ICT continues to be a problem for the Department. It is a matter which has not been resolved. He asked what consequence management took place to deal with the continuous failing of the ICT department. He also asked who is responsible for this failure.
On the National Youth Policy (NYP), the Department released a draft. It extended the period for public comment. The Department also had an engagement via virtual platform with youth activists on NYP. The process was completely flawed because people could not engage during the process. He asked what the process is going to be now. The webinar was in May/June, and the Minister addressed the delegates. It was an invitation to engage on the NYP. The participants in the meeting were unable to engage with the information presented by the Department. Participants were unable to unmute themselves or raise hands. An organisation called Youth Labs tweeted the Minister on the day of the webinar to say it cannot engage properly and meaningfully in the process. Various organisations raised the same issue, saying the webinar was not a success because the Department did not give participants an opportunity to raise concerns with the NYP. In the next phase of public participation, the Department must be clear on the engagement process, how it will work, and the process must be communicated to Committee Members.
The Chairperson said the Committee awaits the Department to send another date for public comments and public participation on youth policy. It cannot be a youth policy without the youth of South Africa participating.
Ms A Hlongo (ANC) asked questions around programme five on youth development, and the status of the national youth policy. She asked when the draft guidelines for the youth focal points will be finalised. She also asked what the timeframes for tabling the NYDA Amendment Bill in Parliament are.
She asked what the online system to enable efficient and wider reporting will entail.
The Chairperson said the Department must bring forward to the Committee all the Bills it is going to present to Parliament, and which ones it is going to prioritise. The Department must be informed of all the Bills. It must prioritise the Disability Bill. There has been a White Paper for a long time. Next year the Department must prepare to table the Disability Bill. The DG must send information on all the Bills to be sent to Parliament. Bills lapse if not processed within the timeline of Parliament.
Mr S Ngcobo (DA) asked questions related to programme four on the rights of persons with disabilities. It is listed under quarter one performance. The Department indicated the Paper towards the rights of persons with disabilities has been produced. He asked what is contained in the Paper. There is a disability rights webinar held by the Department with the disability rights sector. It would be great if the Department shares the outcome of the webinar in the form of a report, to get an understanding of the discussions and recommendations.
He asked what the status is of the Disability Rights Bill the Department has to develop, and how far the Department went with its development.
The Chairperson said she is concerned about the tools of trade being secured only in June 2020. She asked if the Department received those tools of trade. She also asked what the arrangements are in the Department, regarding staff working remotely and in the office.
Ms N Sharif (DA) asked about the sanitary pad project, and the KZN province. She asked what the current status is regarding the province’s unwillingness to give information on its processes.
The Chairperson asked about the procurement office which the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is working with. Some officials working in the procurement office are among those suspended. There are vacant posts. There is difficulty in filling a post of one Director. She asked who the persons are who faced disciplinary actions. She wanted to know if such persons are also in the procurement office, and what the status is now in the procurement office. This problem has been going on for almost a year and is not resolved. She asked what is happening in the ICT. There was someone in the Department who was nominated to chair the ICT Committee.
The DG discovered some of the programmes are implemented, but there are procedures and processes which must be in place to report, or for the work being reported to be achieved. Officials do not follow all the processes and procedures, despite the policies which have instructions on how to do things.
On the 26 August 2020, there will be a workshop to review all the processes and procedures so everyone is aware and will not have an excuse about ignorance.
The ICT problem is not resolved. The DG already met with the ICT Chairperson twice to discuss a way forward. She gave instructions to officials in the ICT department. If ICT does not deliver on the timeline set, consequence management will follow.
She also met with the Audit and Risk Committee. It agreed on a way forward regarding the challenges faced in the Department. She is also scheduled to have a meeting with the Chairperson of the PSC. She scheduled meetings with all the officials the Department needs for assistance.
She has three task teams. One is on organisational development because the Department’s structure does not enable the Department to be able to develop its purpose. The Department is expected to report on local, provincial, and national level, but it does not have a structure to support this. It is expected to report on all sectors but it does not do it. The Department is not properly funded financially, and particularly youth and persons with disabilities. There is also a meeting planned with the National Treasury.
Regarding the land question, there are meetings arranged with the DG of agriculture to look at issues of one woman, one hectare, and other programmes.
The Chairperson said the Committee was informed the Department is not using BUS for salaries. Government cannot pay for services which are not being used. The DG must check the state of vacancies in the disability program.
The CFO, Ms Desree Legwale, asked to reply to the question about the amount moved to programme one from programme three in writing, because the information is not at her disposal. Shifting funds was done according to Section 43 (1) of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), which delegates the accounting officer shift funds between programmes, economic classification within the eight percent limit as outlined in the PFMA.
The Department previously told the Committee the standing pressures related to the unforeseeable reconfiguration of government. This began in June. These expenditures did not form part of the planning of the Department. The Department had to forgo filling of some of the vacancies to ensure the spending of the Department is within the Department’s allocated amount. The Department underspent an amount of R817 000 on employees to ensure the budget is within the budget ceiling set by National Treasury.
Regarding the SOP on SCM within the 2019/20 financial year, the office of the CFO developed an instruction note to serve as a guide. It guides officials in the SCM and the Department, on the procurement process to be followed when procuring goods and services for the Department. Training has also been arranged for all managers. It was conducted by National Treasury on unauthorised expenditure, irregular expenditure, and fruitless and wasteful expenditure. Officials in the SCM are provided with day to day on the job training while executing activities in the SCM.
Most of the irregular expenditure reported during the 2019/20 financial year relates to procurement activities initiated in the 2018/19 financial year, and those initiated in the first quarter of the 2019/20 financial year. The Minister indicated to all managers, there will be no irregular expenditure incurred under her watch. There has been an improvement in this area. From the end of the first quarter to the second quarter, the Department did not identify any irregular expenditure. Major irregular expenditure incurred relates to the security contract, contracted during the 2017/18 financial year. Until the final report is issued, the Department will continue to report the expenditure relating to the security contract as irregular expenditure.
Ms Shoki Tshabalala, DDG, DWYPD, said programme two delivered on all its key responsible areas. There is nothing which has not been delivered in the first quarter. Regarding audit processes, the protocol is, all the information is taken as a portfolio of evidence in hard copies. It is submitted to executive authorities to sign it off as proof of portfolio of evidence.
Due to COVID-19, lack of access to the office, and packaging the information on time, it will be regarded as not achieved. The Department corrected the information and submitted it to the Minister shortly after the timeline lapsed. The documents were signed off and endorsed. It will be cleared in the next quarter. The Department is looking into using electronic copies now instead of relying on hard copies. Everything which was supposed to be done in quarter one has been done.
Regarding the sanitary pads issue, the Department will revert back to the Committee on the status quo. The KZN officials did not attend the last national task team meeting and offered no apologies. The Department will follow up and check if KZN submitted its quarterly report.
KZN received the budget for sanitary towels as all the other provinces did. In the financial year of 2019/20, it received R27 million. In the financial year for 2020/21 it received R48 million, and in the financial year for 2021/22 it will receive R50 million. It will receive R52 million in 2022/23 for sanitary pads. The budget issue is not a concern. During the COVID period when schools are closed, students struggled to gain access to the nutrition programme and sanitary towels. To curb this, the Department partnered with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and some private sector organisations to ensure it reaches out to children in need. Now the regulations eased, the Department communicated with the Department of Education to revisit the issue of sanitary towels because the funds are there, but because of COVID it could not access it.
The DG reminded the DDG to address the issue of the NSP.
The DDG said the IMC was established according to the guidance or endorsement of Cabinet. After its establishment it worked on its terms of reference. This includes its draft criteria being presented on the kind of persons it is looking for to serve as Council Members. It was given the go ahead to advertise using the right processes. The Department consulted with civil society organisations to look into these draft requirements and make inputs. The NSP is not only for government, but for the people.
The organisations present asked for the starting point to be the popularisation of the NSP. It asked for three months to reach out to its constituency and popularise it to them, so it knows what it entails and takes responsibility for its implementation. Within those three months, it participated in consultation with stakeholders under the banner #OURNSP. This must be concluded mid-September. Once the process is complete, it will reactivate the process of commenting. It is still engaging internally with the DG on the things it must look at regarding the criteria based on the Council it has in mind.
It is still developing a campaign around mass media. The Department realises the 365 days programme of action must be revitalised. In doing so, it partnered with the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) and Brand SA supported by United Nations (UN) Women, Google SA, MTN and the private sector. Processes are advanced for working on a mass media campaign to work towards changing the norms and behaviour of members of society around issues of GBV. It will focus more on pillar two of the NSP, which is around prevention. As soon as it concludes the conceptualisation, and who supports the mass media campaign, it will be able to give feedback to the Committee.
The CFO touched on the Department’s expenditure regarding COVID-19. As of 5 August it is R109 163.62, which is mainly on procurement of masks and sanitisers. There is a report on suppliers. The Department will break it down to targeted groups and send the report to the Committee.
Ms Annette Griessel, DDG: Policy, Stakeholder Coordination and Knowledge Management, DWYPD, spoke to women’s month and beneficiation. The theme is Generational Equality and Realising Women’s Rights on Equal Future. It must not be superficial activities, dialogues, policy webinars, and roundtables. It must not be just talk shops, but access, and progress on programmes. It must make proposals for further programmes which will have a tangible impact on the lives of women and girls. There are a number of thematic areas around equality which was presented in a previous meeting. As the Department, the key focus is focusing on women’s economic inclusion. The President was nominated by the UN to lead in this thematic area globally.
The other key focus is around GBV, femicide, and focusing on the NSP to eradicate GBV and femicide.
Thirdly, the impact of COVID-19 on women and the manner in which COVID-19 exacerbated gender equality, unemployment, poverty affecting women, youth and persons with disabilities. The Department paid attention to areas where there is not access to data, and came up with communication strategies where it can be reached through the public broadcaster and communicating with people in people’s own languages.
It developed interventions in the NSF for women on the impact of COVID-19 and one of those is how women benefit from the expenditure of government. It is not looking at the social and economic relief, but is looking at public procurement. It has a tracking system and collects data weekly. Other departments are not fully co-operative about sharing data. From April 2020, R19 billion was spent on projects for women, such as the spaza shop project, Small, Medium, and Micro Enterprise (SMME) support, and such. Just less than 12 million benefitted from these. The National Empowerment Fund gave a detailed breakdown, and allocated R66 million for 100 percent women owned businesses manufacturing surgical masks, sanitisers, and so on. The data is weak regarding departments spending on programmes related to women, youth and persons with disabilities. The Department hopes to work with National Treasury to have more detailed information from each department on its work for women, youth and persons with disabilities. The President made a commitment on National Women’s Day for women to benefit up to a minimum of 40%. On 21 August, the Department hosted a webinar, a policy roundtable on this matter. The Minister invited the various Ministers and Black Business Council, as well as other business organisations to discuss the issue of women’s economic justice in the context of COVID specifically.
Mr Mbhazima Shiviti, DWYPD, said vacancies were not filled because of PSB Resolution One of 2019. Labour and government agreed that positions in programme one cannot be filled because there is anticipation of excess employees. This results from the MOC process. This is the reason the position is not filled. The other positions are being filled. The DDG of Disability is currently being shortlisted.
The officials who were suspended and came back, came back in 2018/19 financial year after investigations were concluded and currently there are no suspensions.
The DG said the questions the Department did not respond to will be responded to in writing.
Mr Emmanuel Kganakga, Director: Youth Legislation and Policy, DWYPD, said the platform is open for youth participation in the policy. It will close at the end of August. There is communication on other webinars. He agreed the youth webinar was not a perfect webinar. There were technical issues. People were not able to raise questions but were given an opportunity to write questions which were engaged on during the webinar. The aim is to finalise the policy around November. If possible, it will mean the policy was open for a period of 12 months. 6 November 2019 was the first time it met with young people in the Free State to launch the consultations. All provinces, in all areas and political parties, participated in those consultations. The invitation was published in the Government Gazette and three newspapers for awareness about the consultations. There were numerous collaborations with Youth Lab who hosted discussions on its platforms.
The Department receives emails from young people daily, on suggestions for the policy. The Department is looking into the revised Annual Performance Plan presented in the last Portfolio Committee meeting, which speaks to guidelines regarding youth machinery. The aim is to empower government and other stakeholders, for youth development to be mainstreamed across departments. There are timelines for the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) Amendment Bill. It received a pre-certification from the Chief Law Adviser. It received a go-ahead to move towards the cluster system. Now it will be moved to the cluster system.
The Committee adopted its Report on the notice from the President requesting the Assembly consider the determination of salaries and allowances of members of the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE).
The meeting was adjourned.
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