The Committee convened on a virtual platform to be briefed by the Free State, North West and KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Education Departments on the rollout and implementation of the Sanitary Dignity Programme.
In the Free State, service providers must be certified by the South African Bureau of Standards and provide samples and failure that resulted in disqualification. There are eight service providers, four of which are women-owned. Some schools distribute three packs quarterly or one pack of ten pads per month depending on the size of the school or its storage system. The Department prioritised quintile one schools, special needs schools and disability care centres for learners in grades five to 12.
Members asked why the project has excluded young boys as well as people with disabilities. What system does the Department use for disposal and does it work with local municipalities, as they have a role to play, especially with waste management?
The programme was initially targeted at low-income groups; are townships now targeted since they can be categorised as low-income groups? Three sanitary packs are not enough and that defeats the purpose, because what are the girls going to use for the remaining months?
In North West, quintile one to three schools are prioritised and this includes farm and rural schools as well as special needs schools. The Department plans to distribute pads quarterly. There are six service providers and only one is a woman.
The Members lamented the expensive price of the pads and were shocked that only one of the service providers is a woman when this was a project for women, youth and people with disabilities. Members asked whether the programme includes matters of hygiene and sanitation as well as water being provided in schools. The Department needs to follow these and more guidelines in constituting a committee that would monitor the programme.
In KwaZulu-Natal, the programme was piloted in 2016. Access Medical was appointed to service the schools. It is 100% black-owned and includes people with disabilities. The towels are stored in the manufacturer’s warehouse. A pack costs R9.76 and learners get three packs at R29.28. The Department has rolled out the wash-water sanitation programme and all schools with shortages of water are provided with water and hand-washing basins, sanitisers and surface disinfectants. Monitoring and evaluation are conducted in district offices.
Members asked why there is only one service provider in the whole province and what it its constitution regarding race and gender is.
The Chairperson said the Committee had been waiting for the province to come and account. “We are not talking about only who must benefit and how the project must benefit its beneficiaries. We will ensure all provinces will do the right thing. The project is for women so it will not be hijacked from them. If we do not represent their interests, it will not happen. We need a report on the happenings of 2016 to date.”
The Chairperson opened the virtual meeting, welcoming the Members, Committee support staff and all the delegates. She took apologies that were reported but rejected the apologies from the MECs from KwaZulu-Natal and North West who were attending a meeting with the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA). She said that the MECs clearly do not take the Committee seriously. They were given enough time, especially those who have not come to the meetings when invited. Some of the provinces said they did not receive the information but MEC Tate Makgoe is here and he will clarify as to what happened. There is no hegemony and uniformity in provinces. This project sometimes falls under the Department of Social Development, like in Gauteng, but in other provinces it falls under the Department of Education. The provinces must account and KZN’s excuse is neither here nor there because it knew that it had to come and account to the Committee. The Committee wanted the political head to be part of the meeting.
Ms P Sonti (EFF) said that she wanted to talk about the North West. She could not hear exactly what the apology was for.
The Chairperson said that the MEC and the Head of Department (HOD) cannot make any excuse about not attending the meeting. They were given enough time to respond to the invitation.
The secretary said that the MEC sent delegates to the meeting and would join later.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would not address junior officials. “We want people with authority. The juniors will not present; they can just exit the meeting. Only decision makers will be allowed to present.” The Zondo Commission criticises Members of Parliament for not doing their work holistically and sees them as people who are defending the Executive. High-rank officials know that they are supposed to come to Parliament to account.
It is worse with the rolling out of sanitary pads programme. The Committee wants provinces to come twice a year on what they have done with funds transferred to them. This Department is not getting joy because provinces do not cooperate, so the Committee has decided to get them to account.
Ms Sonti said North West takes the Committee for granted.
The Chairperson said that they will take the provinces to SCOPA.
Mr Tate Makgoe, MEC for Basic Education, Free State Province, said that the programme is difficult, and it is important that at a national level it be determined under which department the programme should be located. In the Free State, it came under the Department of Education (Department). There were problems before rollout that after the programme was advertised, several institutions came from national and the office of women to contest the process. Maybe at the end of the programme the Committee must recommend where this programme would be effective. The province has 39 hostels for farm learners, and this was a cherry on top because these learners could receive these dignity packs for themselves. However, it became very apparent that by the time the programme was out, there were many problems. It is thus important that its location be chosen. The Department decided that the relevant programme to run with this project would be inclusive of education because they deal with HIV, skills issues and support programmes for young girls and boys, and it made sense that the Department should be involved. The accountability still rests with him and the HOD. Ms Qwelane will take the Committee through the presentation. She is responsible for HIV as well as inclusive education. The programme is good and should be rolled out. It still has teething problems, which is natural for any new project.
Ms Bukelwa Qwelane, Director of Inclusive Education, Free State Education Department, took the Committee through the presentation. She stated that tenders had to be certified by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and also provide samples and failure that resulted in disqualification. There are eight service providers: four companies are owned by women, three by youth, zero from people with disabilities and all are black-owned. Some schools distribute three packs quarterly or one pack of ten pads per month depending on the size of the school or its storage system. The Department prioritised quintile-one schools, special needs schools and disability care centres. The target was Grade 5 to 12 learners, but this also depended on whether they have started their period.
The Chairperson asked whether special care centres are non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Ms Qwelane responded that the Department does not deal directly with NGOs because of the court order that emanated from the Western Cape, which stated that the Department should support special care centres through the Department of Social Development. There are no major issues regarding the programme other than the fact that the budget is not enough to cover quintile two and three. The programme drastically decreased absenteeism as a result of the lack of sanitary towels.
The Chairperson asked how the Department disposes the sanitary pads at school.
Ms Qwelane said that the Department had to compromise. It would have been great to have a disposal system but because of the budget, it could not be done. The Department could not even buy she-bins for schools. What the Department has done is to liaise with the Department of Health to know where it should dispose its equipment. With a good budget this would be formalised in schools. As a compromise, the Department decided that the number sanitary towels being distributed will be increased. The schools must manage that process and ensure that the school is still clean. Girls are taught life skills, and this is integrated in other programmes. The disposal area is still being explored.
The Chairperson asked how the Department works with local municipalities because they have a role to play, especially with waste management. Free State’s approach with the Department of Health is good, as it knows how to dispose. How do you deal with cultural issues because other cultures do not believe in disposing the pads at school? How about distributing plastics for dignity purposes? It is good that you teach them basic life skills.
Ms Qwelane responded that on working with municipalities, the process has not been perfected. Last year invitation letters were sent to municipalities. At district level, these work very well but provincially it is challenges and attendance last year affected that. Fortunately, now a letter has been issued and the meeting is to be held on the 5th, so the Department is trying. In the next sitting the Department will report better on that.
On cultural issues relating to sanitary towels, there have been no challenges. To link this with teenage pregnancy in the QwaQwa, there are learners who believe that when one is on their period they cannot fall pregnant.
Ms Sonti said that in the presentation she heard nothing about the boy child although they need help with toiletries. At the same time, the Department mentioned that the budget is not enough. What is the relationship between women, youth and people with disabilities because it is their duty to be part of this programme? On distribution on a quarterly basis, how many pads are in a pack because different packs have a different number of pads?
The Chairperson responded that each packet has 10 pads. On the boy child question, the question was asked because in rolling out this programme, some provinces also give boys dignity packs with face cloth, deodorant and toothpaste. Gauteng is one of the provinces that do this. If you do not have it then you should consider it for the boy learners.
Ms D Hlengwa (IFP) welcomed the report and said that the presentation did not mention disabled persons. Are there no persons with disabilities in the province or are they not capacitated? “Yours is an inclusive programme which includes all the learners; by now you should have several disabled people and make use of them and capacitate because this Committee focuses on them as well. How were they excluded?”
Ms T Masondo (ANC) said that last time the Committee had other provinces and asked how they distributed sanitary towels. She had just contacted schools around her to find out how they distribute pads, and a principal from one of the schools said that they delivered towels in November 2020 but were told to distribute them until photographers come and take photos. So can you advise on a distribution method? The principal wants the go ahead to distribute. The programme was initially targeted at low-income groups; are townships now targeted since they can be categorised as low-income groups? Three sanitary packs are not enough and that defeats the purpose, because what are the girls going to use for the remaining months? Would the province consider increasing the number of pads because funds are still available?
The Chairperson said that it is important for the Committee to do oversight when provinces make presentations. The Committee should get a list of the schools that are beneficiaries so Members can check.
Ms N Sharif (DA) said that she agrees that the dignity of girls must be protected but this should not be made too private a matter because for a very long time periods have been taboo and this takes away the opportunity for men and boys to see it as normal. It is completely natural. Menstruation is one of the ways to bleed without violence but is treated much worse than bloodshed through violence. “When I was younger, I used to hide my pad but as I have gotten older, I realised that it is not taboo. Now I no longer hide it and if they are uncomfortable with it, that is their problem.”
The province said it had nine suppliers in five districts, if she recalled correctly. So how much does each contractor charge per pack so a comparison can be made? The presentation said that SABS compliance is necessary and that when suppliers deliver to the district, then this is checked at district level. Is this the first check? What is the minimum of pads per pack? What is the mechanism used to ensure uniformity of number of pads per pack? What is your target for 2021?
The Chairperson responded that on privacy, saying that there are cultural differences; so in some cultures one should not be seen that they are on their period. This does not mean boys cannot be taught but it is not to be exposed like that. For cleanliness purposes, some girls will stay away from school because they do not want to show that they are on their periods. Boys at school can also support the girls as some have heavy flow or period pains. So it is important that they get support from boys and the school.
Ms F Masiko (ANC) congratulated the province for quality education and strengthening of the support programmes so they do tremendous work to ensure holistic learning takes place. On full beneficiation of the programme, she said that women should benefit to the fullest so it should not be satisfactory that only three women are suppliers out of eight; the province can do better. The MEC can get support from the provincial Sanitary Dignity Committee or even the Department of Economic Development to inject funds, in order to ensure that women participate and be supported. In the next financial year, there should be more than 50%. Can the Committee get clarity on administration costs as well as the actual cost of the pads?
The Chairperson said that the Committee is not apologetic that it wants women, youth and people with disabilities to benefit, and this was raised with the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) as well. “We want economic emancipation of this group so this project must go straight to them.” It is women who need these pads so opportunities cannot be given to other people.
Mr S Ngcobo (DA) said that it was very concerning that people with disabilities were not included. They remain locked out of opportunities. What is the Department going to do to capacitate them so that they can participate in the bidding for this project?
Ms A Hlongo (ANC) asked whether the province has plans to distribute sanitary pads during the March holidays. There is a crisis where there are two kids that live in a shack with their mother; they were attending a nearby school in 2020 but were not allowed to register this year due to constant absenteeism. The new school is too far. The school contacted Ms Hlongo’s constituency for intervention. She was trying to find an RDP house for them, as the mother is always away whilst trying to get them into an orphanage. The mother complains about not getting grant if they leave.
Ms Qwelane responded that the province accepts the input on assisting the boy child. The Department has a good relationship with women, youth and people with disabilities. Before the programme was advertised, women were called. The Department even assists in checking the quality of the sanitary towels. The minimum number in a pack is nine pads. In a month, no child has gone without pads, whether they are issued monthly at school or she has a package at home. “As women we know that when girls start their period, after the initial cycle it happens that she will not get her period for a while.” At school level, the schools are told to not have surplus of pads. It can happen in cases where there are changes in the number of learners or when young girls start their periods irregularly, and so teachers are mindful of this during implementation.
On the matter on people with disabilities, she said the province has taken note of that. This is a new programme and it is a learning experience; so the contracts were not fixed. They are three-year contracts and as it stands, the province is contracting; all the suggestions that were rightfully raised will be considered. Finding people with disabilities will not be difficult because she deals with inclusive education and people with special needs; so she sits in many organisations with them.
The Department will work closely with supply chain to ensure that in the new bid all these will be catered for. On increasing packages, she said that this is managed on school level so if there is a need to do so, it will be done. Sanitary pads range from R13 to R17, but this will be verified and communicated to the Committee.
On SABS compliance, checks and balances apply across the board. If bidders do not comply with SABS they are disqualified. At district level it happens too. If they change the product, they follow the same process.
On targets, she said that the academic year just started, and schools must have all the information on the learners and then submit to the Department. The need for increased women participation in the value chain is noted. The information of admin cost versus the actual product will be given. The Department will distribute during holidays; even in 2020 during level three it distributed. During food distribution, sanitary pads were handed out concurrently. Are the two kids from the Free State?
Ms Sharif asked whether the Department could give a timeline for when it will provide the price per pack in writing so that it can be put in the tracking tool.
The Chairperson responded that it would be sent by Monday.
Ms Hlongo repeated her concern on the children who are aged six and ten.
The Chairperson said that DDG Shoki Tshabalala would be given Ms Hlongo’s numbers so that she can assist her and said that if the children do not get help, they will end up being abused.
MEC Makgoe said that Ms Qwelane gave a true reflection in her responses. The Department will not pretend to have done certain things when it has not, like the boy child dignity pack. The best thing about coming to the Committee is that the Department not only answers but also learns from it and other provinces. To spend money in government one must follow supply chain management procedures and things need to be built in upfront.
Next time, the Department will ensure that women, youth and people with disabilities will be covered. The price ranged from R13 to R19, so price and functionality are what people look at. If a sufficient caveat is not built in terms of designing functionality so that it favours a specific group, it becomes difficult. The province has learned some lessons and appreciates this programme. MEC Makgoe liked what the Chairperson said on secrecy, but said that it must be ensured that children learn as early as grade seven to provide support. There must be a way to conscientise young boys to support the process of life. The Department will do everything to ensure that this project is a success. As the Members stated that this should target low-income groups and it does with quintile one schools, farm learners and learners with special needs. The Chairperson was right about the value chain because it becomes a problem when some products supplied to government have low quality and no one benefits from that. In the province there was a project that encouraged cooperatives to manufacture these products, but the price was too high and the packaging was not appealing. The standard must still be acceptable. If the province has challenges, it will call on the Committee.
The Chairperson commended Ms Qwelane for serving the people with pride and commitment. “We observe our officials when they present on whether they are passionate and whether they should be in the position that they are in.” She added that Ms Qwelane takes advice and acknowledges what she has not done. She learns from the Committee and the Committee learns from the province too. That is why it is important for provinces to honour their invitations to the Committee. All Members come and they ask questions and advise.
Dr Shadrack Mvula, North West Education Department, took the Committee through the presentation. The Department considered rural areas for the provision of sanitary towels. These are quintile one to three, farm schools and special schools. Initially secondary schools were targeted but now primary schools are included. Service providers are chosen through an open competitive bid with the current six suppliers only one is a woman. Beneficiaries are to receive sanitary towels quarterly with each girl getting three packs of 10 pads.
The Chairperson asked for a breakdown of the geographical spread of the beneficiaries.
Dr Mvula responded that North West is largely rural and that many schools in quintile four and five are in the suburbs and would not benefit but one to three are rural. After the meeting information on the number of beneficiaries in each quintile will be provided. The budget is R14 million; the expenditure in R3 million, which is a percentage of 24%.
The Chairperson asked how much each packet costs.
Dr Mvula responded that there is an estimation of R100 per pack.
The Members asked whether it was the box or a packet of pads.
Dr Mvula said it is just an estimation.
The Chairperson said that it was still too much.
Ms Stephina Semaswe, HOD: North West Education Department, said that each packet has ten pads and a pack means three packets for three months.
The Chairperson asked what brand of sanitary packs they procure.
Ms Sharif interjected by saying that if it is R100 that means each pack costs R33.
The Chairperson said that since they buy in bulk, the price should be less.
Ms Semaswe said that the quality of the pads is part of the specifications that were made during the procurement process.
The Chairperson said that she wants the name of the brand.
Ms Semaswe said she does not know the name.
Ms Sharif said that not even a pack of Always pads is R33. So, this information needs to be provided.
The Chairperson said that this is day light robbery because there are 10 pads inside a pack.
Ms Sharif said she went to Spar and found a pack of eight pads for R5.
The Chairperson said that the service providers should come to Parliament and explain why they charge that much for pads.
Ms Semaswe continued with the presentation and stated that all the service providers have provided pads to schools. The key challenges are that the tender process caused delays and lack of provision of evidence by schools.
Ms Sharif said that it is shocking that there is no direct price so they should go back and not bring an estimation. At Spar one can get 10 packs for R50. This is much more expensive than Limpopo with R18 per pack, so R33 is a lot. What is the idea behind giving schools money as opposed to buying pads from the service providers they have and distributing them yourselves? The math does not add up when looking at phase one and two. In phase one there were 35 792 girls 116 979 so why are the numbers different? Are they distributed numbers or targeted numbers and when did the province first start distributing? The fact that suppliers are mostly male and no persons with disabilities raises concerns. “The manner in which you have ignored this Committee to come with senior officials is unacceptable”.
Ms T Mgweba (ANC) said that the North West must visit Treasury specifications on the dignity packs. When she perused her notes with other provinces it was clear that all their packs were not more than R50. The presentation spoke on quintile to three in rural and farm areas and on hygiene and sanitary matters such as ensuring water and other facilities where they can dispose. Does this programme include these matters? The service providers consist of only one female and no profiling of persons with disabilities, but this Committee prioritises this group particularly with this programme. They are the most vulnerable when it comes to access to socio-economic opportunities and they could have benefitted from the programme. How does the Department profile service providers?
Ms Masondo said the non-submission of evidence by schools is a problem that will open up room for corruption. How will the province address this problem because there is no monitoring and evaluation and the Chairperson said that it is at the top of the agenda? There must be transparency in the programmes of government. Noting that girls start their period early, is information provided to them on keeping themselves and their overall health, as most parents do not feel comfortable having this conversation with their children?
Ms Hlengwa said that she now sees why the province has been stalling to present because they were struggling with the high quotation of the price of the pads. She has never heard of such a high price for pads and the service providers must come and account. How could they not know the brand of pads but give them money? Even in the store one compares prices.
On distribution for three months, what is the total number of distributions per month? They are thieves and misusing the government’s money. The boy child is not considered in the programme. The sanitary towels programme is for women and youth, but men are benefitting. Why is that? Dr Mvula did not furnish the Committee with relevant information so that Members can interact with the province. There is no list of suppliers, beneficiaries and districts. She needs clarity on this. This report is not acceptable.
The Chairperson asked whether a committee was established to monitor this programme.
Dr Mvula responded that the people who are responsible are the ones dealing with HIV programme. The actual prices for the pads and the brand are now available.
The Chairperson stated that the way the committee was constituted was wrong because the guidelines are clear on how a committee must be established. Members are drawn from different departments and must represent different interests that need to be brought together to achieve certain goals.
Mr Mvula said that if the framework was not followed then he apologises, and the guidelines will duly be corrected by Monday.
Ms Masiko said that the Department needed to get its house in order. “We cannot preside over a process that seeks to benefit individuals over the main beneficiaries being the girl child. We have entered in campaigns and programmes that ask government to provide sanitary towels for young girls because we know that it is not something that girls ask upon themselves; it is a reproductive process and some girls are destitute. So we cannot allow the beneficiaries to take the back seat. The provincial government must look closely at the process and we will monitor and see to it that it is implemented properly.”
Mr Ngcobo said that his only concern is the inclusion of persons with disabilities and whether the province has plans to include them to ensure that they benefit.
Dr Mvula apologised for misrepresenting the price. The actual figures are as follows:
- Rustenburg: the price for 10 is R16.50 and the price for 30 is R49.50
- Ngaka Modiri: the price for 10 is R18 and the price for R30 is R54
- Dr Kenneth Kaunda: the price for 10 is R9.80 and the price for 30 is R29.40
- Dr Ruth Segomotsi: the price for 10 is R12 and 30 is R33.
The label is called ‘Stayfree Maxi’. Ignoring women and disabled persons cannot be justified and this will be rectified; the Department will ensure that they are favoured.
The Chairperson said that they should go back to the drawing board and be assisted by the Department of Women so prices cannot differ per region. When pads are procured you must be sure where the money goes. This project must go to the specified groups to avoid discrepancies and this must be done in the whole value chain. She knows that Members want to dig deeper into the matter despite the presentation. North West must furnish the Committee with the list of schools you supply to. Look into the project and prioritise it. The Committee is doubtful of the information provided.
Dr Mvula said that the province would get everything right to the point where Members trust the information. On the parents that cannot speak to children, he said that there are life orientation educators who are spread up across the districts and they work with educators to help the parents open to their children so that the children can trust them.
On non-submission, there are systems to check learners that are recipients and they can sign once they have received pads and this information is submitted to the district. Once it was identified as a challenge there were mechanisms in place to address it. The Department needs to go back to ensure that it does not fail the public.
Ms Semaswe said that she appreciated all the comments from Members and that they are taken very seriously. She acknowledged the advice to check with Treasury regarding the specifications.
On establishment of the committee, she indicated that it is there but the Department will ensure that it complies with the guidelines. The inclusion of the groups, the existing tender is expiring, and the Department will ensure that in the next tender will be for the groups. The boy children are being provided with dignity packs, which have roll-on deodorants, washing cloths and such. It is not adequate but that will be improved on. “Covid-19 taught us that safety is important; so the Department is ensuring that all schools have water and toilets where there is no water, working with district municipality. The DoE has also assisted in this regard with water tanks for school. The Department is ensuring that there are disposal bins.
Dr Mvula said that the numbers shared are the actual numbers and this started in 2019 in October where schools procured for themselves.
Ms Sharif said that her questions were not answered on whether the numbers were targets or goals reached and when they started distributing.
Ms Shoki Tshabalala, Deputy Director- General (DDG): Social Transformation, Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, said that the Department is more than willing to work with North West and has written a letter to the Director-General (DG) of the province but there has not been a response yet. They must provide a response and make a commitment. The province does not attend the national task team; up till now it has not been doing that to learn and share experiences with others. “We would like to provide guidance and there is still time to recover.”
The Chairperson asked who is supposed to attend the task teams.
Dr Mvula responded that it is the DDG, but he is very excited to attend as well so he could learn.
The Chairperson asked Ms Tshabalala to resend the letter.
The HOD said she does not have the letter but will follow up with the Office of the Premier.
The Chairperson said that it is it imperative that they get the letter. The Committee will follow up next quarter, although normally they meet with departments biannually. After today, contact the DDG to make arrangements and next time make convincing reports. The province cannot have different prices and this should be corrected. Read through the guidelines. “When information is not accurate it creates doubts and the public says we are corrupt. You will get another invite from us in the next quarter.”
Dr Enoch Nzama, Head of Department, KZN Education Department, apologised for his late arrival. He said it was difficult to leave SCOPA but immediately after its conclusion, he joined this meeting. He introduced the delegates and then stated that KZN started distributing sanitary towels in 2016 at a low scale. The province started a pilot with 500 learners but discovered that the province had to focus on quintile one, two and three, which is standing at 76%. In December 2016, a decision was taken to spread the programme to accommodate approximately 9 000 learners and 12 districts now. There was no tender available and the province was allocated a company to service the province. The project is in the hands of the acting Chief Director to who is a lady, with the possibility of getting more ladies in the project. In the rural areas it has been of great benefit to learners who now attend more, and the Department has adopted an ordering system for learners and schools so that deliveries are not made willy-nilly. The latest delivery is R30 million and the last order will be made before the close of the financial year so that when schools open the schools have pads.
The Chairperson said that there was controversy in the news regarding this project and sought clarity on who is involved and consequence management.
Dr Nzama responded that this was not in the presentation. There were three officials who were tasked with managing this project in 2016, namely DDG Dlamini and Ms Madlala. There was an oversupply that was reported to the Department by the media, unions and the community and Dr Nzama realised that it was true that there was a surplus placed in libraries and resource centres and yet, the terms of reference were clear that delivery was to be made to schools directly not to be kept in these centres. An investigation was started, as the managers did not alert the Department about the oversupply. With a budget of R1.9 million, instead of allowing the first R54 million to go through and that the sanitary towels worth that amount be distributed, they asked the service providers to delivery more in December and when the schools opened in January there was a lot pressure from the unions, officials and the communities on oversupply. The Department appointed a firm to investigate; a report is available and it implicated officials but they could not account for their actions. As a result, they were charged and suspended, and the matter has now gone to the labour court to get the truth and recover what is due to government. The project was given to someone else altogether and new terms of reference have been formulated.
Ms Jabu Khoza, KZN Department of Education, took the Committee through the presentation. KZN started this programme in 2016, focusing on all schools in quintile one to three as well as some quintile four schools. All special schools benefit. The age group is between 9-18 in both primary and secondary schools. The province will go back and provide dignity packs to boys. The service provider Access Medical was appointed to service the schools. It is 100% black-owned and includes people with disabilities. The towels are stored in the manufacturer’s warehouse. A pack costs R9.76 and learners get three packs at R29.28. The Department has rolled out the wash-water sanitation programme and all schools with shortages of water are provided with water and hand-washing basins, sanitisers and surface disinfectants. Monitoring and evaluation are conducted in district offices.
Ms Masiko welcomed the report from the KZN Department of Education. The first thing is the fact that the province assigned Access Medical; what was the process of assignment? She appreciated that learners are receiving towels but said that it is also important to look at the whole the value chain. So in terms of gender and race, who owns Access Medical?
On subcontracting, is it closely monitored by the Department? How many young people and women benefit, percentage wise? If you assigned a female, who is an HOD official, to capacitate women, the Committee accepts that but it is time that women on the ground get the full benefit of this programme. She appreciated that the contract is ending but reckoned that the Department should work closely with Department of Women to avoid mishaps of not adhering fully.
The Chairperson asked why there is one service provider in the whole province.
The HOD responded that the project started in 2016 and there was no tender available in the province. National Treasury organised a transversal tender and the Department was given Access Medical and procured sanitary towels through it. Later, a number of companies subcontracted. When the project started the Department did not work with the Department of Women.
The Chairperson said that the Department should provide details about the company, re its ownership. “We want to see women and youth and disabled people benefiting, and not just one company”. How many regions does KZN have?
Members responded that there are 12 regions in KZN.
Dr Nzama said the concerns have been noted and this will be revisited.
Ms Sharif said that if the HOD said that it was assigned a contract, does it mean that it had not done its own tender process in the province because every other province has done its own tenders and managed its own suppliers.
Ms Sonti asked whether all provinces started in 2016 to get the budget or if it was just KZN. There was a budget of R48 million, of which R30 million was spent on Access Medical.
She thanked the officials for recognising the boy child in the programme.
Mr Ngcobo requested the province to send a list of schools that have benefitted.
The Chairperson said that this should be done by next Monday.
Ms Hlengwa expressed that she is worried to hear about all the millions but since 2016 only 500 children benefited, and there is no knowledge of which schools they are in as well as the fact that there is only one service provider. Has Ms Khoza visited a school called Zamimpilo in Kwaceza? This is a special school and it is growing. “You promised to build boreholes and temporary classes and expand the hostels. Those promises are worrisome if not even one was fulfilled.”
Dr Nzama responded that last year schools could not be built, and mobile classes are not available because there is no steel in the country but would work with Ms Khoza on this. He confirmed that the Department was not forced into a contract but agreed to utilise an existing contract and never advertised a tender. National Treasury never prescribed it; the Department made a request thinking it was the right thing to do. Going forward, this will be changed. Only KZN started the project in 2016 other provinces started when the Department of Women came on board. The R20 million came from the equitable share of the province because the MEC wanted the project to start.
Ms Khoza said she had just contacted infrastructure to check on the project at Zamimpilo and a new site has been identified and will be in the stages of design. Currently, there are boreholes being built in the school and water is being supplied; they are operating in the old site until the new school is constructed.
The Chairperson said that Ms Hlengwa would have to go there to perform oversight on this.
Ms Khoza said that the Department had identified two schools, Zamimpilo and Musa, and the latter has been relocated to FET site as environmental affairs had shut it down. On the beneficiaries, she indicated that there are more than 500 000 beneficiaries.
The Chairperson said the Committee had been waiting for the province to come and account. “We are not talking about only who must benefit and how the project must benefit its beneficiaries. We will ensure all provinces will do the right thing. The project is for women so it will not be hijacked from them. If we do not represent their interests, it will not happen. We need a report on the happenings of 2016 to date.” Ms Tshabalala must go back to the drawing board to see how there will be uniformity in the provinces.
Ms Sharif asked that the Committee Content Advisor draw up a table on the number of pads distributed and how much they cost to compare for each province so the Committee can make recommendations.
Consideration and adoption of meeting minutes
The minutes of the 23 and 24 February 2021 were considered and adopted with amendments.
The Chairperson thanked the Members, support staff and all guests for attending the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.