Video: PC Women, 3 December 2020
The Committee was convened on a virtual platform to adopt its Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR).
Members emphasised the importance of strengthening Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) process and ensuring there was a timeframe in place, supply chain management, critical vacant posts, ICT, beneficiaries of the sanitary dignity process and distribution of funds in the provinces.
Members were concerned by the interview process for some key senior posts, misalignment between responsibilities in the organogram of the Department and audit findings on non-compliance with legislation and regulations in terms of procurement and contract management.
The report was adopted with amendments.
The Chairperson said that the purpose of today’s meeting was to discuss and adopt the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR). It would then be tabled with the House. Last night, the Chairperson of the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) sent the Committee a message saying that she agreed with the Committee. There was no way that the CGE would deal with major cases only and disregard individual cases of the poor. It was one of the CGE’s responsibilities that they must assist where there was injustice. The CGE was going to review its decision. There was no way that the Committee would not challenge the Commission on making a decision that did not favour the poor. The Committee had a responsibility to ensure the needs of the poor people were being attended to by all government institutions. The CGE could not exclude the poor people from its mandate. The CGE had a backlog of many outstanding cases. It was not the Committee’s problem that the CGE had a weak legal team. Why did the CGE keep a weak legal team for so long and not evaluate whether those people were performing or not? At the end of the day, it was compromising services that must be rendered to the poor. The Chairperson welcomed the response by the Chairperson of the CGE. The Chairperson thanked Members for supporting the work of the Committee and being active. The Members did their work with dedication, commitment and passion. She appreciated the work done by the Members.
Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities
Ms Kashifa Abrahams, Committee Content Advisor, took the Committee through the Budgetary Review Recommendations Report.
[The Committee ran out of time in its morning session and the meeting resumed in the afternoon]
When the session resumed, Ms Abrahams focused on the recommendations of the report.
The Chairperson enquired about whether point 16.8.11, referred to the NYDA as the alphabet A was omitted.
The Content Advisor said that the organisation being referred to herein was a branch within the Department and not the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), as the Chairperson thought.
Mr L Mphithi (DA) thanked Ms Abraham’s team for putting together the report. He said that the report was thorough, and it covered all the issues that had been raised in previous meetings.
Mr Mphithi emphasised the need to strengthen Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) processes in order to make the Committee’s point clearer. If the Department accepts the terms, then the Committee could hold the Department accountable to the highest standard using the Monitoring & Evaluation terms that the Department had agreed to. Since M&E is related to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), he believed that it was the largest failed part of the Department.
Mr Mphithi highlighted the supply chain management which has been continuously flagged and emphasised the need to state it in the report. The issue has been highlighted for quite a number of years hence it is disappointing that the position of SCM Director was still vacate. Both the audit and risk committee and Office of the Auditor-General had flagged the SCM issue.
The Chairperson said that both the Department and CGE agreed to use three months to finalise their Monitoring & Evaluation plan. She agreed with the view that if there was no timeframe, the process would never be finalised.
The Chairperson enquired about the posts that had been filled during COVID-19. She raised concern over the components of the panels through which interviews were conducted. She asked how it could be allowed that only two people were dealing with interviews for senior positions. For her, this was a loophole for fraud as there was no reference made to human resource officials and unions. According to legislation, labour should be there as observers.
The Chairperson noted the mandate of the Department as it had been discussed several times in the Committee.
The Chairperson raised the point that the audit and risk committee had concern on the report’s recommendations in relation to ICT. She asked about specific points which spoke to ICT.
The Chairperson enquired about the five BMWs and asked for the process of how those cars were going to be used. She wanted to know what specific criteria were used to identify who were beneficiaries of those cars.
Ms N Sharif (DA) enquired about criteria standards which the Department had used to allocate gender-based violence funds. She believed that it should be included in the report.
Ms Sharif suggested the Monitoring & Evaluation mechanism be added in the National Strategy Plan (NSP). Having a mechanism like this would make the Committee’s oversight work much easier. She stressed the importance of monitoring and evaluation.
Ms Sharif enquired about the establishment of the council. She said that it was important for the Department to update the Committee about the establishment of the council instead of ad hoc updates. The Committee needs to figure out the processes of establishing the council to ensure Treasury’s R5 million had been spent wisely. Since the actual targets had not been reached, it is a huge concern for Committee Members.
Ms Sharif commented on point 16.6 and the organogram which spoke about the top-heavy structure. It is important to know what each area manager or director was responsible for since she thought there was misalignment in responsibilities. It was a huge concern that the Department is spending so much money but not much work has been done.
Ms F Masiko (ANC) said that her colleagues had covered most issues which were raised throughout the meetings. She agreed with her colleagues on the problematic manner in which the Department conducted the interview selection process to fill vacancies. The entire interview process was a farce as it was a two man show running the selection process without necessary support such as observers. Ms Masiko urged the Committee to closely look at ensuring the Department is fully accountable.
Ms Masiko commented on the Department’s sanitary dignity programme. She noted the concerns on the economic benefits which the programme had for people. The Committee found it could not measure the number of beneficiaries as well as who have benefitted. Although Ms Masiko was aware that women and youth are on the back foot, she suspected that big companies are probably benefitting from it. She suggested this be included under the observations.
Ms Masiko enquired about the distribution of funds to provinces as the Committee has been informed there were different provincial government departments distributing the funds in each province. For instance, in some provinces, the department that manages these funds falls under the Department of Social Development, some under the Department of Education and others in the Premier’s office. She highlighted the need to include it in the report.
Ms T Mgweba (ANC) appreciated the very detailed presentation.
Ms Mgweba reminded the Committee of the meeting that took place with the Auditor-General of South Africa in which the findings highlighted the non-compliance with laws and regulations in procurement and contract management at the CGE. She believed that it was imperative to address these gaps and include them in the report.
Mr S Ngcobo (DA) added to point 16.8.10 that the Department should monitor the Department of Health to ensure it provides assistive devices to persons with disabilities.
The Democratic Alliance reserved its right to adopt the report.
The report was adopted with amendments.
The meeting was adjourned.
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