In a virtual meeting, the Portfolio Committee was briefed by the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD) on its second quarterly performance report for the 2020/21 financial year.
The meeting started with the Committee requiring the Department to respond to allegations of nepotism involving the appointment of the wife of one its directors to a vacant Chief Director post. The Deputy Director General responded that the selection process had found her to be the best candidate of the three short-listed from 96 applicants, and she had not been aware that she was the wife of one of the directors.
After the Department had presented an extensive report on its priorities, programmes, operations and financial performance, Members expressed strong criticism of its under-performance in achieving its targets. They interrogated its role in supporting women and youths who were suffering from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and widespread unemployment, and how it was responding to the challenges of gender-based violence and femicide.
At one stage, the Chairperson said the Committee had raised the same issues and asked the same questions over and over. It was becoming rhetoric, and they were sick and tired of it. She said this Committee had the most followers because it was concerned with the issues of women, youths and people with disabilities, and accused the Department’s leadership of being afraid to deal with officials who were earning a lot of money for doing nothing.
The Department acknowledged that the Committee was not happy with its performance, but said there had been a change. They were committed to getting a clean audit report for the Department. With time, its performance would improve through hard work.
Filling of Departmental vacancy
Adv Mikateko Maluleke, Director-General (DG), Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD), responded to an issue raised at the meeting on 11 November. She said the vacancy was advertised in the newspapers and many people had applied. Only three candidates were short-listed and interviewed, and gone on to do the competency test. Ms Phuti Mabelebele was chosen for the position. The report of the process of filling this vacancy was done before her involvement as DG of the DWYPD, and to her knowledge the process of filling the vacancy was done correctly.
Mr L Mphithi (DA) responded that according to sources, the appointment of Ms Mabelebele was made with the full knowledge that she was the wife of one of the current directors of DWYPD, and asked the DG if this was true. He asked what qualifications Ms Mabelebele had, because according to sources she failed to meet the required experience and qualifications for the current job she had at the DWYPD. He wants to know from the Deputy Minister and DG what mitigating factors they had put in place if the allegations of nepotism and corruption with regard to the appointment were true.
Ms F Masiko (ANC) asked that the DWYPD practice what they preached, and wanted to know if there were other worthy candidates for the vacancy that had disabilities, because the DWYPD was an advocate for all women, youth and persons with disabilities.
The Chairperson said that the process of filling the vacancy was a disgrace, and it could not be done in the way it was if the allegations were true. As the DWYPD, they had failed to lead by example. If the vacancy was supposed to be filled by a person with disabilities or any vulnerable group, then the Department had failed that community because it was trending for the wrong reason -- for not implementing what it should be doing regarding the filling of this vacancy.
Looking at the performance of the DWYPD, she understood why it was underperforming, because there were people in the Department who had been wrongfully appointed. She requested that the Portfolio Committee get a detailed report from the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), who must investigate the process of filling this vacancy, because the DPSA would tell them exactly what had taken place. This detailed report would consist of what had been placed in the advert for this vacancy, what the requirements were, who conducted the interviews, what the Minister, Deputy Minister and the DG had said, and why people with disabilities were not considered for this vacancy. She did not want civil activist groups to form protests against Parliament. This was important because people trusted the DWYPD. The Chairperson wanted members of the DWYPD to be held accountable for their actions, and asked if Members of the Committee agreed to take this matter further, with a detailed report of the investigation which would be done by the DPSA.
The Members of the Portfolio Committee indicated their agreement.
Mr S Ngcobo (DA) asked if the DWYPD had told organisations that represented person with disabilities about the vacancy.
Mr Mphithi requested that the Department answer the questions that had been posed to it on 11 November, because it would not be fair if it did not answer these questions.
Ms T Mgweba (ANC) requested that the report of the DPSA should include a list of all the candidates who had applied for the vacancy and their qualifications, and indicate if the interviews conducted were done on an online platform or face to face.
The Chairperson added that the report should include whether or not members of the union and the division were involved in observing the interviews which were conducted.
Ms Maluleke responded that the DPSA had posted the advertisement to fill the vacancy in the City Press in December 2019, with a closing date of 31 January 2020, and 96 people had applied. Three people were short-listed and the interviews were done on 14 July. Ms Mabelebele was the best candidate for the vacancy, according to the interviews. She said there had been persons with disabilities who applied for the position, but she did not know if Ms Mabelebele had disclosed to the DWYPD if she was the wife of one of the Department’s directors.
Ms M Hlengwa (IFP) raised concerns about the selection process, and asked how the DWYPD could select three candidates from 96 applications.
The DG noted all the concerns and issues raised by the Members, and said she would include them in the letter. She wanted the DPSA to investigate the matter, and would report back to the Committee in two weeks.
DWYPD’s second quarter performance
Strategic Focus – links with MTSF priorities
Ms Maluleke said that the strategic focus of the DWYPD concentrated on engaging in advocacy and mainstreaming, institutional support, capacity building, monitoring and evaluation of considerations related to the equality and empowerment of women, youth and persons with disabilities, in line with the outcomes of the medium term strategic framework (MTSF) priorities.
Priority one: Capable, ethical and developmental state
The outcomes were improved governance processes and systems for the DWYPD, strengthened stakeholder relations and community mobilisation towards the realisation of women’s empowerment, youth development and disability rights, a revised legislative framework to respond to and enforce the rights of WYPD. This contributed to the development of government-wide impacts, outcomes, indicators and targets relating to WYPD, the outcome on mainstreaming GYD being institutionalised, and GYD planning, budgeting, monitoring, evaluation and auditing being institutionalised across the government.
Priority two: Economic transformation and job creation
South Africa was not doing well in this area, and the outcomes of this priority were equitable economic empowerment, participation and ownership for WYPD being at the centre of the national economic agenda. It contributed to the support of women’s economic empowerment and participation, and was responsible for government-wide performance monitoring and evaluation.
Priority three: Education, skills and health
This priority’s outcome improved the skills of WYPD and contributed to the development of government-wide impacts, outcomes, indicators and targets relating to WYPD, and was responsible for government-wide performance monitoring and analysis of gender data.
Priority four: Consolidating the social wage through reliable and quality basic services
This priority contributed to the development of government-wide impacts, outcomes, indicators and targets relating to WYPD and was responsible for government-wide performance monitoring and analysis of gender data.
Priority five: Spatial integration, human settlements and local government
This priority’s outcomes and contributions were the same as for priorities three and four.
Priority six: Social cohesion and safer communities
The outcome of this priority was on reducing the levels of marginalisation, stigmatisation, discrimination and violence against women, girls and persons with disabilities. This would involve mass media campaigns to end gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF), the establishment of a GBVF Council, and the coordination of machineries for WYPD.
Priority seven: A better Africa and world
The outcome of this priority was to strengthen the WYPD rights agenda within global, continental, and regional platforms and institutions, and engagements towards a better Africa and world. It contributed to the development of government-wide impacts, outcomes, indicators and targets related to WYPD and the outcome on WYPD empowerment and gender equality advanced through multi-lateral forums and engagements and compliance.
Organisation and budget programme structure
The Department’s organisational design was structured into three divisions -- strategic management, corporate management and financial management -- all reporting to the Accounting Officer (AO). It had four programmes reporting to the AO: (social transformation and economic empowerment, policy stakeholder coordination and knowledge management, national youth development (NYD) and rights of persons with disabilities. The budget structure accommodated these four programmes, and administration.
Covid-19 (Lockdown report)
The deliverables during the second quarter were consignments destined for the Gauteng Department of Social Development. They consisted of 20 000 sanitary pads, 246 boxes of soap, sanitisers and Covid-19 hygiene behaviour change materials. all worth R 548 498 in total. The Langelihle Youth Foundation had donated 60 transparent masks for persons with disabilities so they could lip read, especially during speeches and presentations. The United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) was also finalising the procurement process for the phase two consignment meant for the Eastern Cape (EC) and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). The consignment would be delivered directly to the DSD food banks/warehouses, as identified by the provinces. Virtual engagements had been held with both provinces to ensure their state of readiness to receive and distribute the consignment to the identified beneficiaries. A monitoring and evaluation (M&E) tool had been shared with the provinces to ensure that the distribution of the goods was monitored. In addition, the DWPD provided people with disabilities with personal protective equipment (PPE), and with the help with the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), conducted research on the impact of Covid-19 on persons with disabilities.
The Covid-19 restrictions had had a devastating effect on the productivity of the DWYPD, especially during levels five, four and three. The situation was slowly returning to normal during level one, with the implementation of measures to get employees back to the office and to manage remote working arrangements. The Department was committed to a working environment that was safe and without risks to the health of its employees. The restrictions continued to have an impact on the use and development of the workforce.
DWYPD overall Q2 performance
Ms Maluleke said the Department had achieved 75% of its planned targets, which was an improvement from the first quarter’s 59%, which had been affected by the Covid-19 challenges. The reason for the improvement was because measurements had been introduced to ensure that the corporate standard operating procedures (SOPs) for management, performance and information and financial management instructions were presented to all staff. The DWPD was working towards a clean audit and it was important that everyone was aware of the objectives of the SOPs and the sixth administration.
In programme one, the DWYPD had not achieved 67% of its desired targets, and achieved only 33%. In programme two, it had achieved 86% of its targets, and had achieved all of its targets in programme three. In programme 4, it had achieved 50% of its targets and in programme five, all of its targets.
The DG said that when she started working with the DWYPD, the team was very willing and her focus had been on establishing interventions that would enable the Department to achieve its targets and be applauded by the Portfolio Committee. It had included all the information that the Committee had requested in the report, which covered the areas of human resources (HR) and finance. The quarter two performance report had been approved by the internal auditor and the Minister. The audit report of 2019/20 had been completed on 30 September, and would be presented to the Committee on 17 November. It would include the audit action plan (AAP) which was developed to address the 27 findings which management could not resolve. The AAP would be addressed by December, and had been issued to management on 30 October for them to establish their own action plans, and the first report would be completed on 31 December.
Governance -- strategic and operational risk performance progress
The DWYPD had planned 28 mitigating actions for quarter two, and 18 (64%) had been implemented, and ten (36%) partially implemented. The impact of mitigating strategic risk was critical for achieving the strategic objectives of the department
33 operational risk performance mitigation actions were planned for the second quarter, and 18 (55%) were implemented, 14 (42%) partially implemented, and one (3%) was not implemented.
The reason why the mitigation plans were not implemented in programme one was because the workshop on procurement guidelines for new officials in the Department could not be implemented due to Covid-19 challenges. The Department would resuscitate the induction programme led by the HR unit, in which finance and supply chain management (SCM) needed to be included in to ensure the training of new officials.
No mitigation action was implemented in quarter two.
The mitigation action was partially implemented. The DWYPD had requested the services of the Government Technical Advisory Centre (GTAC) to appoint and manage a service provider to start the SCM process to obtain a service provider to produce an evaluation report on the empowerment of women,
The recommendation had been to fast-track the appointment of the service provider to produce the evaluation report in order to meet the target and fast-track the SOP on treaty obligations and international engagements to guide the implementation of international relations standards.
The mitigation action had been partially implemented. This had involved conducting capacity building on disability mainstreaming programmes (government officials and sector partners), and developing a monitoring tool to assess compliance on the mainstreaming of issues related to persons with disabilities in services, programmes and infrastructure design and implementation. The aim was to strengthen technical planning support to reporting institutions by developing redefined quarterly reporting templates to respond to poor responsiveness on disability rights performance indicators. Several frameworks were recommended to be finalised, approved and be ready for implementation.
No mitigation action was implemented in quarter two.
Governance: Audit Outcome
The Departmental audit for the 2019/20 financial year was finalised on 30 September with an unqualified audit outcome, and the identified deficiencies would be carried through to the audit action plan.
The Chairperson interjected with an issue about the Department’s HR division, and asked the DG if it was true that officials in the DWYPD had been absent for more than three months. If it was true, who were those officials, because if they were absent for more than three months they were stealing government money because they had been doing nothing for three months. What action had the DWYPD taken to solve this issue of absenteeism, and what was the DWYPD policy for absenteeism and sick leave?
Departmental financial overview
Ms Desree Legwale, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), DWYPD, said the Department had spent 52.2% of its allocated budget.
The adjusted appropriation for the administration programme was R90.8 million, with an actual expenditure of R42.1 million, which translate to 46.3%. The reasons the under-spending in this programme was mainly due to:
The process of sourcing quotations for the insurance of departmental vehicles that was in progress;
Invoices for the license of biometrics had not yet been submitted to the Department, it was anticipated that they would be received by February 2021;
Delays in issuing orders for the training and development of employees due to Covid-19;
Provision had been set aside for the procurement of software that could not be procured due to Covid-19 restrictions;
The allocation would be spent in quarters two and three, since the lockdown regulations had been eased to level two and most industries were now in operation; and
Under-spending on travel and subsistence due to the nationwide lockdown.
The adjusted budget was R106.9 million for the social transformation and economic empowerment programme, including R79.6 million for the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), and the actual expenditure had been R38.1 million, or 35.7%. The operational budget was R27.3 million, with the actual expenditure of R8.2 million representing 29.9%. The reason for under-spending was mainly due to:
Vacant posts. Critical posts had been identified by the AO, in consultation with the executive authority (EA), and the department would remain within the allocated cost of employment (CoE) budget. The impact of the CoE budget reductions on the filling of vacancies had also been tabled in the departmental Executive Committee (EXCO) meeting chaired by the EA;
Travel and subsistence, due to nationwide lockdown;
Physical engagements with stakeholders that were planned for the period under review could not be done due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. Consultations/engagements had been conducted through alternative means of communication, such as virtual meetings;
The research study could not be done due to the lockdown;
The processes on the establishment of the National Council of Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (NCGBVF) had been delayed, but it was in the process of being set up. Consultations were under way with National Treasury (NT) on the proposed model. A business case had been developed on the proposed council. The business case and a letter had been sent to NT to ask for permission to set up the entity in the form of a trust. The process for the nomination of members to serve on the NCGBVF Trust was under way.
The adjusted budget was R39.3 million for the policy stakeholder coordination and knowledge management programme. The actual expenditure was R11.3 million, which translated to 28.7%. The reason for under-spending was mainly due to:
Vacant posts. Critical posts had been identified by the AO, in consultation with the (EA), and the department would remain within the allocated CoE budget. The impact of the CoE budget reductions on the filling of vacancies had also been tabled in the departmental EXCO meeting chaired by the EA;
In line with the Covid-19 regulations, the programme had been conducting online meetings, and there had been no need for catering, venues, facilities and travelling. Funds had been reprioritised as per the special adjustment budget process;
Approval processes were under way to conduct the evaluation study project. The under-spending would remain the same until the first deliverable had been submitted, which was expected in February 2021;
Due to the lockdown, the research sub-programme had had to reprioritise expenditure which was outlined for external technical assistance. R398 000 of the budget had been committed to the project with the University of Johannesburg (UJ), which had been initiated in February and March, and would be completed by September It was envisaged that payment would be in two tranches, as per the work plan;
Stakeholder engagement and visits to provinces had been conducted in virtual meetings.
The adjusted budget was R16 million for the rights of persons with disabilities programme, and the actual expenditure of R3.1 million translates to a 19.4% achievement. The reason for under-spending was mainly due to:
Vacant posts. Critical posts had been identified by the AO, in consultation with the (EA), and the Department would remain within the allocated CoE budget. The impact of the CoE budget reductions on the filling of vacancies had also been tabled in the departmental EXCO meeting chaired by the EA;
There had been no expenditure on travel and subsistence, venues and facilities and catering due to the lockdown. The funds had been reprioritised during the special adjustment budget process;
Under-expenditure on the appointment of consultants to conduct a legislative audit for the Disability Rights Bill (DRB) due to lockdown restrictions.
The adjusted national youth development budget was R392.2 million, including R381.7 million for the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), and the actual expenditure was R243.3 million (61.8%). The operational budget was R10.5 million, with actual expenditure of R2.3 million translating to 21.8%. The reason for under spending was mainly due to:
The first and second quarterly National Youth Machinery (NYM) meeting did not take place physically due to lockdown, but virtual meetings took place at no cost;
The planned national consultation on the National Youth Policy (NYP) was cancelled due to the State of Disaster and the barring of gatherings. The popularisation of the NYP was on social media and government websites, at no cost;
Expenditure on advertising would be realised, since the DG and the Ministry would be having media engagements and road shows on the NYP;
The unit was not spending on consultants as yet because this had been discouraged by the Portfolio Committee, and severe budget cuts had also limited the use of consultants,
Ms Legwale broke the financial performance down by category, and explained the reasons for under-expenditure. The Department’s expenditure for CoE had been R50.7 million (41.8%); goods and services R14.6 million (24.8%); Transfers and subsidies – operational R153 000 (70.2%); and machinery and equipment R1.5 million (39.3%).
Audit Action Plan
The target for the period ending 31 December was 95%. The AAP would be issued to managers by 30 Oct 2020 to populate the relevant action plans, whereafter the document would be submitted to the DG for sign-off. Implementation and the first reporting to be done would be at the end of December.
The department had incurred irregular expenditure amounting to R647 808.72. This was payments for the security contract that had been identified as irregular expenditure during the audit of the 2017/18 financial year.
The department had not incurred any deviations up to 30 September. Two invoices had been part of the final reconciliation on the Vodacom account, and the finance office had to ensure that there were no duplicate payments.
Human Resources oversight report
Mr Mbhazima Shiviti, Chief Director: Corporate Management, DWYPD, said the vacancy rate of the Department was at 3.6%, which was below the 10% rate that was prescribed. It had lost three staff members -- one who had been promoted to a senior position, and two other staff members who were involved in a disciplinary hearing settlement, one of which was still ongoing. The following vacancies would be filled in quarter three:
Chief Director of Advocacy and Mainstreaming and Rights of People with Disabilities (RPD)
Director of Evaluation,
Director of Governance Transformation, Justice and Security
Director of Outreach
Director of SCM
There was no financial misconduct in quarter two of 2020/21, no employees on special leave or precautionary suspension, and there was one disciplinary hearing in progress.
Achievements and challenges
In August, the DWYPD had been informed by NT that reductions had been made to the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) on the CoE budget baseline allocation. The reductions were R16.718 million in 2021/22, R22.675 million in 2022/23, and R24.574 million in 2023/24. In September, a presentation had been made to the budget committee on the impact of the reductions and the need to reduce the headcount of the DWYPD to ensure that the CoE expenditure would remain within the allocated ceilings, particular in the outer year of the MTEF.
The Accounting Officer (AO) and the Minister had decided that in the current circumstances, the following posts would be unfunded to ensure that the personnel expenditure over the MTEF remained within the baseline allocations:
Deputy Director General of RPD
Chief Director of Social Empowerment Participation (SEP)
Director on Stakeholder engagement and National Youth Development (NYD)
Branch Coordinator of RPD
Community Outreach Officer: Office of the Deputy Minister
Assistant Director of Governance and Compliance and RPD
Admin Officer for Social Transformation and Economic Empowerment
Personal Assistant for Policy, Stakeholder Coordination and Knowledge Management
These unfunded posts would not be included in the post establishment of the Department, and would not be taken into consideration in determining the vacancy rate.
In addition to the reductions to the MTEF CoE allocations, NT had also informed the DWYPD in September of a reduction of R6.687 million to the 2020/21 CoE baseline allocation, to fund the South Africa Airways (SAA) business rescue plan. On 15 October, a further reduction of R2.101 million to the allocation was announced.
Due to the reduction of the MTEF headcount as calculated in 2023/24, the retrospective impact on the CoE commitments in 2020/21, together with the under-spending that had materialised in the period since 1 April that funded vacancies had been vacant, it was projected that the CoE expenditure for the 2020/21 financial year would be covered through the reduced allocations.
Due to the headcount reductions in terms of the under-funding of vacancies, as well as a dedicated recruitment and selection process, the vacancy rate had been reduced to 3.6% under the constrained financial circumstances, and this rate would be maintained for the rest of the financial year, with little chance of increasing the capacity in the Department
Ms T Masondo (ANC) asked why financial management had been able to obtain only 27% of its PPE from black women suppliers. She questioned if the internal audit was published in its draft form in quarter one, and if the internal audit issues been addressed.
Mr Ngcobo raised his concern that the DWYPD had under-spent on the programme of the rights of people with disabilities. This was a very important programme because people with disabilities were not having their needs met, like receiving wheelchairs. He and other officials would be giving one to a nine-year-old child who was wheelchair bound after many attempts by the mother to get one from the local clinic. This was one of the experiences that people with disabilities had at ground level, and he did not think the DWYPD understood this.
He noted that the DWYPD had completed a discussion paper, and asked what its contents were and why it had taken three months to develop. What were the key findings and public comments made on the disabilities rights awareness programme, and what was the demographic profile of the people and organisations who had made comments about the framework? What was the status of the third annual target report, and would the DWYPD complete it by quarter three? The DWYPD had indicated they would produce one monitoring report on the inclusion of people with disabilities by the end of the financial year, and he asked what the preliminary findings of this report were. What had been the overall achievements of the DWYPD in the previous quarters?
The Chairperson commented that the DWYPD was not serious about dealing with issues of people with disabilities because it did not fund three important jobs in the sector of people with disabilities. She understood why organisations had been complaining about the Department, because it was under-performing.
Ms N Hlonyana (EFF) expressed her concern that targets were not being met and the report was not up to standard.
Ms Mgweba asked the DWYP what progress had been made on the GBVF report. She also asked that the DWYPD go into detail on the mitigation action plans for the second quarter two, and wanted to know what the key research findings on the impact of Covid-19 on people with disabilities were.
Ms Hlengwa referred to the DWYPD claims that they were improving, and wanted more clarity on its youth programmes. Who the youth that were benefiting from these programmes? She was concerned that some of the DWYPD’s targets were not being met due to negligence on the part of the Department. She noted that the sanitary and dignity packs (SDPs) were being distributed to schools, and wanted to know if they were also being delivered to people who were not at schools.
The Chairperson said that the Committee and the NT did not agree with the Deputy Minister on the establishment of the board of trustees, and wanted the DM to establish a national council on GBV.
Mr Mphithi said the Committee had asked the DWYPD a number of times what they were doing to solve its ICT challenges, and it had been given an assurance that it would resolve its issues with ICT. He asked what the Department had actually done, because this issue had not been addressed for almost two years. He noted that the majority of the work on the programmes had had to be done away from the offices due to the lockdown, and asked the DWYPD how the inadequate allocation of tools of trade (TT) had contributed to the performance of these programmes. He asked for an update on the Department’s SCM and its processes. What had it done, based on the inputs of the monitoring and evaluation committee regarding the national strategic plan (NSP), to ensure that the NSP was a successful framework?
The Chairperson asked the DWYPD what they had done for young people since the President announced the Department was a branch of youth. What inputs have it given to the new economic recovery plan, because other departments had given their inputs? There was a high unemployment rate among the youth, so had it developed a national policy to address this, because it could not take a year to draft a youth policy? Did it have enough officials, because the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) was not working for the DWYPD, and many young people were depending on the Department.
Mr Mphithi said that the Committee understood and empathised with the fact that the DWYPD was a monitoring group, but it was difficult for Committee Members to inform communities about what was being done to tackle the issue of unemployment among young people when they asked what the DWYPD was doing. It needed to improve its monitoring aspects around the issue of youth unemployment, because it would be under pressure now that the youth unemployment rate was very high. He requested that the DWYPD have a press briefing to inform South Africans what it would be doing to tackle this issue, because it could not be quiet at this time because the youth were desperate. He said he did not support a board of trustees, and would more clarity on the matter.
The Chairperson asked how the DWYPD had assisted women in regard to claiming Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) benefits, because Parliament had received a memorandum asking what the Department had done to assist women during the Covid-19 pandemic, as many had lost their jobs because of the lockdown.
Prof Hlengiwe Mhkize, in the Presidency for Women, Youth and People with Disabilities, responded on the board of trustees issue, and said it was an interim response to towards the establishment of a national council because in a meeting with the Minister of Finance and Justice, they had been skeptical about the legislation for the national council. The challenge of having a board of trustees was that when solving issues on their own initiative, they might become an entity that was not easily influenced. The NT and DPSA were helping the DWYPD to establish an interim secretariat working towards the establishment of a national council, and the Department appreciated the inputs of the Committee on the board of trustees.
Responding to Members’ questions on how the NSP would be implemented, she said the Minister had sent out letters to the Premiers saying that the NSP was a guideline as to how they could respond to GBVF and promote social cohesion.
She responded to the question about the economic recovery plan (ERP) by saying that the DWYPD had made inputs on the ERP through all forums. The Cabinet had been working on the ERP, and would not exclude the inputs of the DWYPD because the Department was essential to women, youth and people with disabilities. Its inputs had been included in the ERP to prevent them being marginalised.
The Chairperson stressed that the DWYPD officials were not doing their jobs, and if this was the case then the DWYPD should be closed down, because they had a fully-fledged Department with a Minister and Deputy Minister, and highly qualified officials in each position.
Deputy Minister Mkhize responded to the Chairperson, saying the DWYPD could not be closed down.
The Chairperson said the Committee had raised the same issues and asked the same questions over and over. It was becoming rhetoric, because the Committee was getting sick and tired of it. She said that this Committee had the most followers because it was concerned with the DWYPD. She asked why the DM and DG were afraid to deal with officials who were earning a lot of money for doing nothing.
Deputy Minister Mkhize said she did not take the comments the Chairperson had made in a negative way, and that any inputs made by the Committee could only be beneficial to the DWYPD. She emphasized the importance of collaborating with the DWYPD on monitoring and evaluation to enhance its capacity and work, and it was very important to collaborate with departments who implemented the NSP.
Adv Maluleke responded on the board of trustees issue, saying that the Cabinet had decided on the board of trustees. She had had a meeting with the DGs of DPSA and NT where they had looked at what other options there were to solve the issue. She had received a letter that the DPSA and NT had come up with an interim structure for a national council while they dealt with issues of legislation, because legislation took a lot of time, and that was why the Cabinet had decided to establish the board of trustees.
The DG responded to questions from Members on what the DWYPD was doing for youth, saying that together with the NYDA. It had requested a budget of R500 million for the Youth Mass Employment Programme (YMEP), and she wanted to request more money because other departments had received over R1 billion.
She would let the other managers of the DWYPD answer other questions, because she wanted them to take responsibility because the Committee was not happy.
Ms Val Mathobela, Chief Director (CD): Strategic Management, DWYPD, said the reason why the Department had not achieved its targets in programme one was because it had included targets from an unqualified audit. It had achieved its targets for programmes two, three, four and five, which was an improvement on the previous quarters.
She responded to the issue of risk mitigation factors that had not been implemented correctly for the rights of people with disabilities, saying that one of the risk mitigation actions that were partially implemented was on the risk of a lack of mainstreaming issues of people with disabilities. There was monitoring in place to ensure this mitigation action would be implemented, but the tool was still in its draft phase. The reason why the second mitigation action was partially implemented had been because of the poor response from the institutions involved.
The Chairperson asked the CD why they had not reported on the revised targets for the APP of 2020/21.
Ms Mathobela replied that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many departments had had to adjust their targets, and the DWYPD wanted the report to be aligned with the new APP. Most of the adjusted targets required the Department to do gatherings on community mobilisation, and do consultations in the form of machineries.
The Chairperson said she would make a list of the targets that had not been met, and would forward it to the DWYPD. The Department would need to respond, because how could the internal auditor and the DWYPD’s risk committee endorse this report?
Mr Benny Palime. Director: Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPD), DWYPD, said the Depatment did not necessarily distribute wheelchairs, and commended the Members on distributing wheelchairs, and would like this work to continue. The provision of wheelchairs was done by the hospitals, where the therapist would measure the patient and would issue the required wheelchair. The same process applied for people who had albinism -- the sun-cream was issued by the hospitals for free. The DG had approached him to start a programme for wheelchairs, and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) who would be funding the programme with 1 000 wheelchairs.
He responded to the question as to what the DWYPD had achieved in the past two quarters, and said that it had achieved a lot. With regard to the Bill, the Chairperson had instructed the DWYPD to set aside the White Paper and start the Bill, and they had changed their quarterly targets. The monitoring and evaluation process was ongoing, and the Department would achieve its targets by quarter four.
The reason the DWYPD was under-spending was because it was getting funding from outside sources. An example of this was the IDC funding the wheelchairs with 1000 wheelchairs, while the delivery of sanitary and dignity packs and food parcels was not funded by the DWYPD. Another reason for under-spending was because it had cut back on all travelling costs. However, its spending would increase in the next quarter because it was “People with Disabilities Awareness Month,” and it would be spending over R500 000 on communications and advertisements, campaigns and programmes at ground level.
Ms Simmi Pillay, Chief Directorate: Governance and Compliance (RPD), DWYPD, said that she was responsible for the monitoring and evaluation of the rights of people with disabilities at the Department. Regarding the issues on the NSP and APP, she said it was a quarter three deliverable which was being done in partnership with other departments, and the majority of the departments had sent a draft of their NSP and APP for 2021/22. The DWYPD had monitored them and was on course to deliver the NSP and APP.
She responded on the issue of the annual report of the Rights of People with Disabilities, saying that the DWYPD had decided this year to combine the reports. The first report it did in 2016 had been delayed because of the poor response from government departments, which had delayed the report by a year, and there were still departments that had not responded. The Department was busy combining the second, third and fourth report on the implementation of the White Paper, and had changed its approach this year by submitting quarterly reports, and this had assisted it in getting focal points and information about the Covid-19 tracker.
The DWYPD had continued to extend deadlines because the deadlines were not being met, and it had found instances where information had been submitted that was not authorised, or there was no evidence provided, so it could not use the information. There were also instances where policies and information did not correspond, and sometimes the departments failed to include policy directives in the reports. This was why the DWYPD was assisting with the reports.
The DWYPD had partnered with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in conducting research about the experiences of people with disabilities, and the UNHRC have funded the Department with $20 000 dollars to conduct the research.
The Chairperson asked the DWYPD to submit in writing which government departments had failed to respond, and what information it needed. She requested that the Department extend its services to municipalities.
Ms Pillay responded that the DWYPD had tried to work with municipalities, and only three had reported back. That was why it had encouraged the provinces and municipalities to work together so that their policies were aligned.
Ms Shoki Tshabalala, Deputy Director- General (DDG): Social Transformation, DWYPD, responded on how the DWYPD was monitoring the NSP. She said the Department had made a request to the Presidency that it would like to be part of all the standing agendas, and this had been granted. Every time the Presidency met the economic and social clusters, the DWYPD was a part of the meetings engaging on the NSP and telling the Presidency about the challenges it faced in implementing it, and asking for officials to help it with the implementation. The problem it faced in implementing the NSP was in the economic cluster, and it had requested that they appoint officials who would work at focal points and align the NSP to the DWYPD’s APP. It had requested that the economic cluster invite the Department to meetings about the NSP so that it could give inputs on the NSP. It had six pillar work-streams, and had assigned six senior officials of the Department to each pillar so that it monitored the implementation of the NSP and could hold officials accountable. The Presidency was happy with the monitoring and evaluation tool it was using.
The reason why the Department distributed the SDPs only to school children was because that allocation had been given from NT to the provinces. The DWYPD had made inputs on the new ERP structure regarding the issues of regulations, empowerment, financial inclusion and skills development, and had come up with medium and short term suggestions.
Regarding the issue of regulations, the DWYPD had elevated the Public Procurement Bill (PPB), which required that it set the targets for women, youth and persons with disabilities.
Dr Annette Griessel, DDG: Policy, Stakeholder Coordination and Knowledge Management, DWYPD, responded to the questions on what the Department had done to assist women during the Covid-19 lockdown. She said it had developed a strategic framework on the impact of Covid-19 by looking at what the issues before and during lockdown were, because there had been issues about food security, job losses and access to UIF grants. The strategic framework had looked at the impact of Covid-19 on social protection, GBV and the lack of access to SDP, because schools were closed during the lockdown. It had conducted a survey with 90 gender stakeholders, and the data collected had helped it to analyse the economic impact of Covid-19 on women in the informal sector and other vulnerable sectors.
The international framework, in an African Union (AU) context, stated that women needed a voice of representation during the Covid-19 response, and after the Covid-19 pandemic. There was evidence that the Department had improved communications and access to information, because information was accessible only to people who had data, and it had developed a monitoring tool which was called the Covid-19 tracker and had presented it to three DG clusters with recommendations.
Referring to the economic recovery plan and the practical interventions, she said the basis of the ERP had to be investing in women and youth, because they would be a driving force, and there was a lot of evidence at a global level to support this statement. The President was leading the action at a global level, and the agenda was that in the next decade, women would be equally included in the economic system. The DWYPD’s priority was to reach its targets of 30% at a global level and 40% at a national level for the ERP. It was doing research and policy work on equal pay between genders in the workplace, and wanted to achieve its targets for the ERP and the NSP.
The other inputs the DWYPD had made regarding the ERP was that the Public Procurement Bill should be explicit on targets for women, youth and people with disabilities. The issue of legislation and the importance of the financial inclusion of all business in small enterprises could transform into bigger enterprises. The issue of skills development and the Mass Employment Programme (MEP) was important for the DWYPD, and it was working closely with other departments on its development.
Dr Bernice Hlagala, Acting Chief Director: Youth, DWYPD, responded to a question from the Chairperson, and said that the DWYPD was responsible for developing and reviewing regulatory frameworks as they related to youth. It was clear that the role of the NYDA and the DWYPD was different, as the NYDA focused on the implementation of programmes, and questions about service delivery issues should be forwarded to the NYDA and the relevant government departments.
The DWYPD had been reviewing the national youth policy which had been approved by Cabinet, and was busy with the NYDA Amendment Bill which had been presented to the Cabinet Committee on 12 November, before being consulted on and tabled by Parliament. It had drafted the youth planning budgeting report framework which would be combined with the current monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework, and had also drafted focal framework guidelines which were currently being consulted. The Cabinet Committee had approved the M&E framework which the DWYPD used monitor the relevant government departments. The framework had a high level of indicators from which the DWYPD collects data on the various stakeholders, and it had acknowledged the shortfalls of the framework because of the lack of responses from the government departments. Due to capacity constraints, the Department was not present at the local level, but due to the new framework it was able to monitor and evaluate what was happening in departments at the provincial and local level.
The DWYPD had been involved in the 25 year review, and there was a section outlining its role in youth development. It had partnered with the NYDA to tackle the impact of Covid-19 on youth, and would brief the Committee on the findings of this report.
The DWYPD supported its political principals in relation to international stakeholder interactions, and last year it was involved in the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) youth summit and the Commonwealth Youth meeting. This year it had supported the Minister when she attended a European Union (EU) ministers’ meeting, and had supported the EU in developing an AU youth programme.
She responded to the issues raised about the ERP, saying that even though the Department was not actively involved in service delivery, it had already partnered with key stakeholders in tackling the high unemployment rate among the youth and had presented its programme to the economic cluster, stressing that all key players had to help make this programme a success.
She responded to the question of Mr Mphithi, saying that in the National Youth Policy it mentioned the youth unemployment strategy, and the President had announced that the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) had to come up with a strategy to tackle the high unemployment rate of youth, and had established a Presidential Youth Employment Initiative (PYEI). The DG was in the process of communicating with the Presidency to ask what the presidential office and the NYDA had done to tackle the youth unemployment issue.
Ms Legwale responded on the Department not achieving mitigation actions, saying that the report had included the audit of the 2019/20 financial year, and this had been the reason for non-achievement. She explained to the Committee what the DWYPD was busy doing.
Mr Palime said that the DWYPD had provided its officials with tools of trade because most of its officials had had to work from home. There were officials who had provided doctor’s certificates, but had stayed at home for longer than three months, and the Department had frozen the salaries of two officials. It was reprimanding officials that stayed at home without a valid reason because it had a schedule that officials had to adhere to.
Ms Tshabalala said she had been DG at the DWYPD for three months, and there had been a change. She was committed to getting a clean audit report for the Department. It would reconsider the funding of the Rights of People with Disabilities (RPD) unit, and ensure it was empowered. The DWYPD wanted the economic clusters to allocate three women economists to represent it, because women must get 40% of the R1 trillion budget that the President had indicated for the new infrastructure programme.
She knew that the Committee was not happy with the DWYPD, but with time this would improve through hard work.
Ms Masondo asked how the Department was transporting people with disabilities if it was cutting costs on transport.
Mr Palime responded that this year the DWYPD was not transporting people anywhere because it had a webinar for people to watch the meetings of the President, and the only travel costs it had were to transport media to the meetings.
The meeting was adjourned
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