In a virtual meeting, the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities presented its 2021/22 Annual Performance Plan, Strategic Plan and Budget before the Portfolio Committee. In attendance was the Minister, Deputy Minister and other senior officials from the Department.
The Minister had presented an overview of the Department’s performance in the last financial year. This included the drafting and finalisation of the Gender Equality Bill, working with various government departments to allocate resources to fight gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF), and for the empowerment of youth and persons with disabilities. She reported that the Department was trying to increase its capacity to implement its programmes as well as align to the implementation of the National Strategic Plan both within the Department and in other government departments, agencies and civil society.
The Minister appreciated the launch of the GBVF Response Fund by the President in partnership with the private sector to provide rapid response to addressing GBVF. Twenty-one government departments had been identified to reallocate resources to fight GBVF and comply with the NSP. This achieved was attributed to the consistent work of the Department. The Department is currently working on the amendment of the National Youth Development Bill (NYDA) as well as the drafting of the Youth Development Act. These are currently at Nedlac and would be submitted for approval by the Cabinet. An issue paper by the South African Law Reform Council on disability has also been drafted to address accessibility and universal design for persons with disabilities, with further discussions taking place between May and June 2021. The Minister tasked her Department to ensure that women, youth and persons with disabilities participate in the local government elections in October 2021, so that their interests and concerns are heard at the ballot box.
The Director-General had presented to the Portfolio Committee a change in its mandate from being that of a facilitation department to that of a regulatory department. The Department wanted to ensure that its programmes were being implemented as well as to ensure that government departments, civil society and the private sector were taking various steps to empower women, youth and persons with disabilities. The Department said that, being a facilitation department, it had the expectation that it was solely responsible for the resources required to ensure facilitation when its role was to ensure frameworks were being implemented and that there is compliance in all spheres of business and government.
The Committee raised concerns about this changed mandate, leading to confusion. The Committee was unsure if the Department had completely moved away from its facilitation role or if it was focusing on both facilitation and regulation. The Committee had also expressed concern that the shift from facilitation to regulation isolates the Department away from its target group which looks to the Department for support and guidance when dealing with marginalisation pertaining to gender, age and disability.
The Department clarified that it was not moving away from its core mandate of facilitation, however it wanted to ensure greater compliance and implementation of its frameworks of all stakeholders that work with women, youth and persons with disabilities. The Department had also affirmed that they would ensure that while they carry out their facilitation mandate, they do it alongside their regulatory mandate.
The Department had reported an overall decrease in its budget which officials say will hinder the Department from effectively executing its mandate. They also raised the staffing capacities between the Department and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, which latter has twice the staff complement of the former. The Department had asked the Portfolio Committee to assist in increasing the Department’s staffing component so its mandate can be implemented.
The core points that were discussed during the Committee meeting was the National Strategic Plan, the establishment of the National Council on GBVF, and programmes and frameworks for youth development and persons with disabilities.
The Committee asked how the NSP would be implemented between the Department, provinces and municipalities. They also asked about the formulation of the National Council on GBVF as it was promised in the last financial year. The National Council on GBVF could not be constituted due to inadequate documentation from the National Treasury, however it is being considered for the 2021/22 financial year. The National Council, once constituted, would be responsible for coordination between provinces and municipalities.
The Committee wanted to know why its youth programmes and frameworks seemed to receive significantly less attention than its other branches and how its work was different to that of the National Youth Development Agency. The relationship between the Department and National Youth Development Agency is one of implementation and monitoring. The Department works with the Agency to ensure youth can access the agency’s programmes, and ensures that the agency implements these programmes. The Department assured that the Committee that they would place more focus on its youth branch.
The Committee was briefed on the consultations between the National Disability Rights Missionary Group and the Department. The consultation between the Department and the Group have formed part of the South African Law Reform Council’s work in drafting the Disability Rights Bill. This has also had the involvement of persons with disabilities.
Committee Members requested that the Department provide details on all outstanding matters raised in previous Committee meetings, and that questions not answered in the present sitting should be responded to in writing.
The Chairperson welcomed Members to the start of the parliamentary term and asked that they prepare themselves for the large workload expected for the term. She had noted reports that Gauteng would likely be hit by the third wave of coronavirus infections. She had asked Committee Members in the province to follow the social distancing guidelines and regulations to ensure their safety. She told Members that the late former MP, Ms J Mofokeng (ANC), had passed away due to COVID-19 complications, asking members to take care of themselves due to the severe nature of the disease.
She requested of Members to remind their constituencies and communities to follow the guidelines and regulations. She was concerned that people in her community were not taking the pandemic seriously and therefore needed intervention from members.
She handed over the meeting to the Department, asking the Minister to make her presentation on the Department’s 2021/22 Annual Performance Plan, Strategic Plan and Budget alongside senior Department officials.
Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and People with Disabilities, thanked the Chairperson for the opportunity to present the plans and that she was looking forward to constructive feedback and guidance from the Committee about the Department’s presentation.
She started her presentation by welcoming the Cabinet’s decision to declare 2021 the year of Charlotte Maxeke, whom she said was an unsung hero who needed to be commemorated. She said that she was pleased to see that people from all walks of life from parliamentary Committee Members, ambassadors, community members and children, all being involved in commemorative events. She said it was important for heroines to be commemorated alongside their male counterparts who have fought for freedom and the equality of women. She said that there is an agreement with the President that commemoration should not merely be celebrated but tangible results need to be delivered such as economic emancipation for women and access to various services that can empower women.
She said that the Department was leading a concerted effort in the drafting and passing of the Gender Equality Bill and for more attention to be placed on the rights of women, youth and people with disabilities.
She said that the Gender Equality Bill will enable the government to respond to challenges affecting women, youth and people with disabilities, such as the pandemic and its effect on the livelihood and general wellbeing of those affected.
The Minister reported that there was an improvement from government departments to allocate resources to fighting gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF), supporting women empowerment, gender equality infrastructure development, youth empowerment and job opportunities as well as opportunities for people with disabilities.
She reported that the Department was capacitating itself and the government to implement programmes that can empower and ensure participation of its constituency. It is currently redesigning its functional and organisational structure to streamline its work and to align with its mandate, and also ensuring that there is adequate advocacy for its programmes and to ensure effective monitoring and evaluation processes. This is a work in progress with consultations underway with the DPSA and the Treasury before finalisation with the Minister of Public Service and Administration.
She said that the Department was still under-capacitated and requires more financial and human resource support to deliver its targets and responsibilities set out by the President; this needs to be addressed, she said.
The Minister welcomed the President’s February 2021 launch of the multi-sector Respond Fund to address GBVF. It aims to improve the country’s GBVF response as well as support the implementation of the National Strategic Plan (NSP).
The Minister said that South Africa is playing a leading and collaborative role in the International Women's Forum. The launch of the Respond Fund amplifies the collective and strategic partnerships such as with the International Women’s Forum in dealing with GBVF.
Since the launch, the Department has provided technical assistance to national, provincial and local governments to integrate their GBVF response plans in line with Department’s APP’s and the NSP, as well as ensuring that each sphere of government provides implementation reports to the Department and the President. She said that this intervention by the Department has seen 21 government departments account and comply with the implementation of the NSP on GBVF. This is an increase from 11 government departments providing progress reports on their implementation.
There have been consultations between government departments, including the Labour Department and other stakeholders, in refining the NSP operation plan on GBVF as well as monitoring and evaluation systems. National departments are now using operational plans to monitor and report on their performance, and there are continuous discussions between stakeholders in ensuring that the NSP is being implemented and that recommendations are taken into account.
At the Beijing Plus 65 Body conference, South Africa was seen as a qualifying member to be the Chairperson of the Body due to the country’s conscientiousness in dealing with GBVF. The Minister said that this was an important reminder that more work needed to be done in addressing GBVF with efforts coming from the government, Parliament and civil society.
South Africa is one of few countries in the world where more women are murdered at a rate which resembles numbers similar to war-torn countries. Unfortunately, most perpetrators of violence against women are intimate partners or someone whom they trust. This is an area the Department is continuously working on and would appreciate the support of the Committee in ensuring its efforts reach most of the country, in line with the Gender Charter the Department has previously promised to launch.
The Department plans to develop and finalise a gender, youth and people with disabilities coordination framework which will serve as a platform to coordinate and integrate the three groups it is mandated to serve.
The Department is continuing to implement its Gender Responsive Plan as well as its Budgeting, Monitoring, Evaluation and Auditing Framework approved by Cabinet. The Framework will also include youth and disability sectors.
The Department has initiated the review of the wage bill with consultations being initiated during the year. The Department has also concluded consultations of the National Youth Development Bill which is currently being discussed at Nedlac. Once discussed, the bill will be tabled to Parliament via Cabinet for consideration and approval.
The Department has added to its APP targets of developing the Youth Development Act and expanding framework legislation for youth development in the country, increasing access to services and programmes to the youth.
The persons with disability branch of the Department has submitted the Universal Design and Access Framework and Reasonable Accommodation Framework, which is currently awaiting approval.
The RPD branch held a reposition and operation plan workshop in March for 2021/2022 and has since developed a framework that has been developed, approved and aligned to the Department’s strategic plan and APP for 2021.
Drafting, development and consultation of the disability rights reform bill continues. The South African Law Reform Commission has published an issue paper that will be discussed between April and June this year. The Commission and the Department have held two consultations with the Presidential Working Group on the issue paper in April. Further discussions with disability rights stakeholders will take place between May and June this year.
The Department’s budget for the year was set at R763.5 million, a reduction of R133.2 million from the previous year. This is because of the budget cuts to support COVID-19 relief plans. The Department’s expenditure is anticipated to increase by 8% between now and its 2023/2024 budget. Part of the medium-term budget will be allocated to the Commission for Gender Equality and National Youth Development Agency.
The President has recently announced that Local Government Elections will be held on 27 October 2021. The Minister has instructed the Department to work with the IEC to increase participation of women, youth and people with disabilities in the voting process. Recent reports show that the youth are losing interest in the democratic elections process. The Minister wants the youth to honour the legacy of Charlotte Maxeke in participating in the elections to improve service delivery at the local government level.
The Minister asked the Committee to request other government departments to include in their APPs empowerment programmes and initiative directed at women, youth and people with disabilities.
Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD) 2021/22 APP
Adv Mikateko Maluleke, Director-General (DG), DWYPD, then presented the Department’s APP to the Committee. She had presented five key programmes that centred on the Department’s mandate. Before doing this, she said that the Department’s mandate had changed from that of facilitation and advocacy to that of regulation, and therefore the Department was now a regulator of its own programmes. She said this was done to ensure that government departments, their partners and civil society implement its programmes and that they comply with the Department’s guidelines, frameworks and policies. She said that the Department was unsatisfied with the rate of implementation of its frameworks, which is why the Department has taken a regulatory approach: this will give them a chance to see how their programmes perform and what feedback there was in general society.
She said that the previous mandate of the Department was that of facilitation which often leads to the expectation that the Department is responsible for every aspect of facilitation including providing resources which the DG said was not the case. As a regulator, the Department can ensure compliance as well as be an anchor in protecting the rights of marginalised groups.
The Department produces directives, according to which other government departments would implement or promote the rights of the targeted group, which is already happening before guidelines have been issued. This is because directors general in various government departments had taken heed of the Department’s call to address the mandate put forward by the Department and the President.
Visibility of the Department is crucial which is why they meet with government departments, provinces municipalities. Training is also given to other departments to implement their women, youth and persons with disabilities programmes. Additionally, the Department is working on its branding and marketing and to try to be more active on social media.
She said the Department is taking a service delivery approach in implementing its mandate by ensuring that there is a culture of professionalism and integrity in ensuring those who need the Department’s services, get quality service that ensures trust and deliverance of the Department. All people employed by the Department need to know why they are there and that they earn a salary to deliver services to the public.
The first programme presented was called “administration.” The Department had reported a 100% unqualified audit on its annual financial statements and predetermined objectives as well as a 100% rate in paying invoices within 30 days of receiving an invoice. Its vacancy rate is below 10% and its HR Plan has been drafted and implemented. The Department has approved its Master IT Strategy and Plan.
Plans for the second programme, namely the “Social Transformation and Economic Empowerment programme, are in place in order to increase the participation of the targeted group by 40% in government business and to provide economic opportunities; although there is resistance from other government departments to keep the participation rate at 30%. The Department has met with Dr K Ramokgopa, the head of Investment and Infrastructure in the Presidency and Ministry of Housing, and the Gauteng and KZN provincial governments to include in their budget a line item for women so that they can be economically empowered.
The Department also seeks to ensure that departments follow and implement the NSP, which speaks to Gender-Based Violence and Femicide as well as ensure targeted groups have access to support and justice regardless of the department they approach. All provinces are engaged with the Department in ensuring the NSP is implemented and progress reports are given to the Department. The launch of the NSP on GBVF also puts in place the pathway for GBVF referrals and safety plans. This was seen as critical, especially during the lockdown.
The third programme, “Policy, Stakeholder Coordination and Knowledge Management,” along with the national gender framework, have been reviewed, along with the mainstreaming of regulatory frameworks that ensure compliance from all government departments and their stakeholders.
The fourth programme, “Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” which is the framework outlining the Disability Rights Awareness Campaign, has been developed and has gone through consultation with Nedlac and the Cabinet. This has also included the development of the Reasonable Accommodation Framework as well as the Universal Design and Access Framework to enable persons with disabilities to access opportunities and have ease of movement in places of work and living. The South African Law Reform Commission is also working on the Disability Rights Bill.
In the last programme, “National Youth Development,” the Department has refined the National Youth Development Agency Bill and is currently being considered and processed by the Cabinet. The same can be applied to the South African Youth Development Bill which is currently at an advanced stage of consideration.
Chief Financial Officer Presentation:
Ms Desree Legwale presented the Department’s 2021/22 budget which was broken up as follows: Department Administration is R98 million; Social Transformation and Economic Empowerment, R124 million which is a reduction of 0.4% from the previous year; Policy Stakeholder Coordination decreased from R49.6 million to R40.6 million, a decrease from 17.3%; Rights to Persons with Disabilities decreased from R19.9 million to R17.3 million, and the National Youth Development decreased from R491 million to R483 million a 1.6% reduction. The total budget decreased from R778 million to R763 million.
The budget for salaries and staff compensation decreased by 8.2% from R121.1 million to R111.2 million. This is a result of National Treasury: no wage increases will take place in the financial year. Goods and services budget increased by 1.1% to R85.8 million and machinery and equipment, including office supplies, increased from R3.6 million to R3.8 million. Part of this budget goes towards consultants, property payments and travel. The use of consultants will decrease due to the budget cuts. Transfers and subsidies decrease by 1.1% to R562.5 million. The total budget for the Department is R763.5 million with the NYDA being allocated R417.9 million, a decrease of 1.6%; and CGE allocated R91.3 million which is an increase from R89.9 million.
The expenditure of the Department is expected to increase in the next financial year from R778.2 million to R781.9 million. R15 million of its budget will go towards the establishment of the National Council on GBVF and the NSP. The cuts in the budget have meant the Department had not been able to fulfill critical vacancies.
Mr A Coetzee presented a comparative analysis of the establishment of posts between the Department and DPME. Following the establishment of the Department, staff compensation decreased in the medium-term framework, resulting in several posts being unfunded to align to Treasury’s allocation. This has resulted in 142 functional posts in the Department and an additional post of 8 posts of which 4 are spread between the Minister, Deputy Minister and two Special Advisors and the other 4 towards the GBVF Secretariat.
He said that both departments provide monitoring and evaluation services as they are the centre of government, however the DPME has 418 staff members compared to the 142 staff members employed in the Department. He said the proportion of resources are also not evenly distributed due to staffing components. In the administrative aspect, DPME has 181 posts which are 54% of the entire department.
Both departments run four programmes with DPME having a secretary for the National Planning Commission. As a result, DPME has an additional 206 available posts to provide services which constitute 49% of the posts established compared to the Department which has 65 personnel running its programmes which accounts for 46% of the total post establishment. This means that DPME has 3.2 times more posts in its four programme than the Department, and 2.8 times more posts in the administration. The total number of posts in the DPME is 2.9 times more than the Department posts established.
The Department is currently in the process of an organisational redesign as presented in its APP. Early indicators show that 109-110 additional posts will be required to fully compress the proposed architecture. With additional funding to enable the redesign, the post establishment would only be increased to 251 posts which is 1.7 times less than the DPME’s 418 posts. The reduction in budget further inhibits the ability of the Department's performance services, due to limited staffing capacity.
The Chairperson welcomed the decision by the DG to bring the Department’s Chief Directors to the Portfolio Committee so that they can fully account to the Committee and for questions to be posted directly to them.
She asked for an update on the ratification of the SADC Protocol, as it was previously tabled but no feedback was given. She said that the report needed to be reviewed by the Committee to table it before the National Assembly for adoption.
The Chairperson wanted an explanation of the Department’s change in mandate. She wanted to know if the Department would no longer be involved with advocacy work or if it is reprioritising its work. She said that the Department’s APP and its strategic plan needed to speak to one another for the Committee to play its oversight role effectively.
The Chairperson wanted to know how the Department would work with provincial governments concerning implementing the NSP.
She wanted to find out why the Department’s change in mandate to being a regulatory department was not included in its second programme priority. She said that it is important for the Department to do this in order for the Committee to analyse the Department’s performance and to see if it aligning with its mandate.
Ms F Maskio (ANC) agreed with the Chairperson and expressed concern that the DG had not given enough detail about what she presented to the Committee. She felt that the DG had mentioned particular programmes without giving substantive details for the Committee to engage with the risks; this was necessary for the Committee to have a better understanding of the Department’s processes.
She also agreed with the Chairperson that there was no clear understanding of how the Department reconciles its changed mandate of being a regulator with its output indicators and its targets.
The Chairperson said that how the Department is presenting its APP and its targets are not coherent as it does not provide specific information the Committee requires to have a full understanding of whether or not the Department is meeting its targets and fulfilling its mandate.
Ms N Sharif (DA) agreed with the Chairperson and said that the Department should present its operation plan at the next Portfolio Committee to provide substantive information to their presentation and their targets.
Based on the DG’s presentation, the Chairperson wanted to know how different its gender parameter was to the CGE, suggesting that their parameters are very similar.
She asked what would happen to the Department’s other frameworks such as the gender indicator framework, women financial inclusion framework and ender responsive budgeting planning, monitoring evaluation auditing framework, considering the Department’s changed mandate.
The Chairperson had expressed concern that frameworks will continuously be discussed and produced however there is little progress made on developing, passing and implementing legislation. She further expressed that there is no legislation also holding the private sector accountable. She wanted to find out what the Department is doing to address this.
Ms Masiko wanted the DG to clarify who would be implementing the Department’s intervention to its programmes as presented to the Committee. She wanted to know if the Department would solely implement its interventions throughout the State or would each government department be responsible for ensuring it complies with the interventions of the Department.
Ms Sharif said that the interventions from the Department are not regulatory and needed to be looked into. She had asked the DG for clarity of its mandate as the mandate was not thoroughly explicit during the Committee meeting.
Mr L Mphithi (DA) said that he felt confused by the Department’s presentation. He said that there needs to be a clearer understanding of the Department’s place and role in society and within the state. He said that the Department is meant to represent the most vulnerable people in society such as women who are facing gender-based violence, youth and people with disabilities. He said such constituents do not have the agency or power to fight the systematic oppression that they face in their daily lives, and hence they look for guidance from the Department. He expressed concern and disappointment by the Department’s change in objectives and mandate from that of facilitation to regulatory. This risks isolating the Department from the communities it is meant to serve.
He wanted clarification about the Department’s Frameworks which was also requested by Ms Masiko. The Committee had raised concerns with the Department’s indicators within the frameworks and how they would be included and influenced in other government department frameworks. No update has been given to the Committee as to how the issues raised would be corrected. The sudden move from being that of facilitation to regulator creates concern because it negates the call for help from those needing the Department’s assistance.
He wanted to find out what the difference was between the Department and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation as it seemed that both departments are doing similar work. The Department appears to be wanting to do work that other departments are mandated to do, which is concerning.
He said that the programmes do not align with the objectives of the Department which causes confusion for the Committee and the public.
He also asked about how the Department is streamlining its frameworks as this was previously discussed in a Portfolio Committee a year prior. It would seem the Department has opted to pursue different indexes and focus on its previous frameworks to consolidate its work. He said that until the confusions are addressed and a clear understanding of what the Department does is achieved, many including the youth will have expectations of the Department which may likely not be fulfilled.
Based on the presentation, the Chairperson wanted to find out if the mission and vision of the Department have changed?
The Chairperson wanted to find out how is it that the CGE can do more work with a smaller budget and with a smaller staffing component but the Department is not able to do so.
Ms T Masondo (ANC) asked how a reduced budget would affect programme implementation within the Department and if the Department had planned accordingly to ensure its targets are met. This is especially the case due to previously unmet targets as a result of various reasons such as the COVID-19 pandemic, would the Department be able to yield its desired outcomes?
She said that the monitoring of the NSP implementation on GBVF is not clear in the Department’s APP and also asked how the CGE will be incorporated in the implementation. She said that the implementation implications are also not clear. She asked what measures have been taken to meet the challenges of implementing the NSP and ensure that its results are actualised in society.
Ms B Maluleke (ANC) had asked for the timeframes for Policy, Stakeholder Coordination and Knowledge Management programme of the Department, considering that some of the indicators have not been met nor do they have specific timeframes. She wanted to find out what the specific timeframes were for this programme.
She also asked if the Department would meet its target considering its budget constraints for this financial year and also because of unmet targets being carried over from the previous financial year.
She asked how the Department intended to utilise consultants, considering the budget for consultants had increased from R8.4 million in 2019/20 to R16.4 million in 2020/21. She wanted to know when the Department would ensure appointed officials will do their work so that the Department will not need to spend lots of money on consultants. While she understood that the Department had gaps it needed to fill, the money for consultants could have been used for staffing capacity. She asked for a programme breakdown of the number of consultants working per programme and the cost of consultants per project.
The Chairperson asked why the majority of the Department’s staff were in programme one of the Department’s frameworks but not in core programmes.
Mr Mphithi asked how many consultants were allocated in programme five and what their relevance was. He also wanted to find out why this programme receives the smallest amount of money in the plan, especially as it pertains to youth. He wanted to know how these programmes work alongside the NYDA considering the NYDA has an R12.3 million budget. How are they going to utilise the fact that the NYDA has most of the resources and on-ground capacity that the Department doesn't have to ensure that it works and meets the targets that it's set out for itself? Does the Department believe that it can meet its targets under the National Youth Development programme based on the budget allocated to youth services and how does it align to the broader departmental framework?
He wanted to find out how the Department’s report on youth development differs from that of the NYDA, stating that there are similarities in reports. The submission of reports are not impactful as intended by the Department, does not translate to the lives of young people, nor does it help the oversight role of the Committee.
He asked about the impact of the National Youth Missionary meeting, stating they seem to be exclusive spaces that do not cater to youth and youth organisations from different backgrounds throughout the country, particularly rural and township areas, thus limiting their impact.
He wanted to find out what discussions has the Department had with young people about the NYDA Amendment Bill. The Bill has extensive amendments which should include input from the youth which he says is currently not the case. He said that since the Department and not the NYDA is facilitating the bill amendment, they should have the necessary mechanisms to ensure robust engagements from the youth and reflects their views.
He said that the Department’s youth programme needs improvement and that its budget of R12 million is not enough. The country faces high youth unemployment despite many who have gone to university to acquire skills to address the country’s unemployment figure. The Department should be tabling tangible and almost immediate solutions alongside tabling bills to address the youth unemployment crisis. The budget for youth development sends a signal that youth are not taken seriously in the country. There needs to be a more distinctive relationship between the Department and the NYDA to ensure solutions are tabled and implemented on the ground.
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Mphithi saying that the DG needed to concentrate on its youth programmes and make the necessary changes to its youth branch. She said the Committee does not see much work coming from its youth programmes as such, it needs energised people who can bring the necessary changes to the youth branch so that tangible programmes and results can be delivered.
Ms T Mgweba (ANC) had asked what mechanisms the Department has implemented with its lack of capacity and resources. She wanted a detailed status report of the Department’s wage bill. How exactly will the Department conduct its monitoring and evaluation of the equitable share location and the WASH initiative, given that provinces are fulfilling their mandate in ensuring that they deal with issues of women, youth and persons with disabilities? How will the budget allocation of R12 billion on GBVF be used across government departments and on which programmes and activities? She said that there is not a clear activity plan outlining the spending of the budget and that the budget had been announced to the people of South Africa.
The Chairperson followed up with Ms Mgweba’s question by asking for a response to the R5 million that was allocated to the department for GBVF. She said that as far as she knew, the money would be used to fulfill posts in the Department and to ensure the implementation of the NSP on GBVF.
Ms Masiko wanted to find out about the Sanitary Dignity Programme. The Committee has raised the concern about the implementation of the programme in all provinces and how there is a lack of uniformity in how the programme addresses the needs in each province. She said that she would have liked the programme to have been included in the APPs, with some reflections and progress made on the concerns raised by the Committee.
She said that the Department’s website has been down for a while. She wanted to know when the Department would address this as it limits access to the Department if a member of the public seeks to find assistance or participation in any of the Department’s programmes.
The Chairperson raised the concern that the Department has 41 staff members earning more than R1.3 million however the Department still relies on consultants to implement its programmes. The Chairperson wanted to find out why this is the case as the staff earnings are a lot and that the Portfolio Committee does not support the Department’s use of consultants until such time as a satisfactory explanation is provided for their usage.
Mr S Ngcobo (DA) said he was concerned about the small budget that was allocated to programmes dealing with persons with disabilities. He said that the budget allocation does not serve people with disabilities effectively, considering it is a core programme. He wants to know why this is the case as this has consistently been the case in all its budgets since its inception. There is a lack of mainstreaming of programmes dealing with persons with disabilities especially in services, programmes, infrastructure design and implementation.
In terms of the Disability Rights Bill, he wanted to know why there are no targets related to the bill’s development and why the South African Law Reform coalition was developing the disability rights legislation and not the Department itself. Which APPs will the bills and the Department’s progress be assessed on and when?
He wanted to know how often the Department engages with the Presidential Working Group on disability, what the relationship is like between the Department and the Working Group, and what priorities has the Presidential Working Group on disability identified for the short, medium and long-term.
The Chairperson wanted to know how the Department consolidates its work with other departments that seem to be addressing a key aspect of their mandate such as the Department of Social Development and the Sanitary Dignity Programme.
Ms Sharif said that financial resources have been placed on employees and officials however the Department is still not able to meet all its outcomes. She agreed with the Chairperson that the use of consultants is not feasible especially considering how much they will cost the Department. She wanted to know if the use of the consultants would mean a transfer of skills and/or learning in the Departments and for how long would the consultants be useful in the Department.
She wanted to know what the targets were in establishing the National Council of GBVF, considering that the establishment needed to be finalised in the previous financial year. She said that the Department’s presentation does not provide any targets regarding the Council’s establishment, which is concerning.
She asked how the Department producing guidelines and frameworks will ensure other government departments are held accountable in implementing these frameworks. The Department had previously said that it struggled to have accountability which brings into question what authority the government has to ensure its implementation and giving the Department critical information required to respond effectively to GBVF.
She said that when the Department speaks of its frameworks and monitoring and evaluation, they are not seen or felt on the ground. This is where the Department would need to focus on ensuring its policies have an impact on its key constituents. She referred to the Committee’s oversight visits around the country to Thuthuzele Centres which are under-resourced and cannot offer around the clock support to those in need of them. She made reference to the Eastern Cape where two Thuthuzele Centres closed at 5 p.m. due to rape kits and staffing constraints.
She said that she was disappointed by the loss of opportunity by the Department to be able to change its mandate to truly assist women, young people and person with disabilities on the ground. She said that there is no real change within the Department and that it would take the Department up to three years to research, draft and approve a framework and guidelines and will only be implemented in the last two years of the MTF timeframe. She asked the DG for more information on the service aspect of the mandate and what it means to people on the ground.
She asked if the R5 million allocated to the Department for filling posts were for the GBVF Secretariat or if it was for entirely new posts.
She asked what the Department was doing in monitoring the implementation of the NSP. She said that the Department has a history of struggling to monitor and evaluate the implementation of its frameworks and now that they are emphasising the regulatory role, it is a concern considering they take long to develop a framework. She said that the real weakness in ensuring justice for GBVF victims was the SAPS who do not take GBVF cases seriously, do not answer or return calls to victims, and also do not know when court appearances will be. She asked the DG to provide further feedback about providing justice to women as well as ensuring their safety.
Ms Sharif asked why the National Council on GBVF was not a priority. The Chairperson agreed with Ms Sharif, telling the Department that it needed to be taken seriously, considering the Department was supposed to have provided detailed feedback in the previous financial year. She asked that the Committee at the next sitting presents its report when all stakeholders of the Department are invited to account before the Committee.
The DG said that its role as a regulator has not changed its mandate of advocacy work. The Department will place more focus on monitoring the implementation of its guidelines by departments as well as ensuring that departments are adequately trained in making this a reality. The Department will ensure that its guidelines are also implemented and regulated by the private sector as well as civil society. She said that advocacy and regulatory work go hand in hand and to work with stakeholders, such a mutually inclusive relationship is required. The DG had asked the Committee for them to present their operational plan at the next Committee meeting, which was agreed to by the Chairperson.
In terms of the difference between the gender parameters by CGE and the Department’s monitoring framework, the DG said that the CGE was looking at how the government complies with legislation empowering women. The Department looks at how much progress has been made in implementing its frameworks so that it can write future guidelines for government departments to follow. She referred to the meeting the Department had with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, and a MOU was signed between the two departments to track the progress of land redistribution between women, youth and persons with disabilities. She also referred to the Department of Transport requiring specialised training on addressing GBVF in the transport industry which the Department was able to provide.
She said that the Department was not abandoning its other three frameworks, as raised by the Chairperson. As they focus on regulation, they will use the existing framework and legislation to ensure compliance and if none exist, they will be created.
In terms of the NSP and working with provincial and local governments to ensure its implementation, the DG said that the Department wanted to establish a trust, however it was not given the necessary documents by National Treasury to do so, despite R5 million being allocated towards its establishment. The Department had asked the Treasury how the R5 million would be allocated in the absence of the necessary documentation. They were advised that they could appoint personnel who could implement the NSP while work is being done. The appointments of personnel required the approval of both the Treasury and the Department of Public Service and Administration, both of which was granted. A director, two deputy directors and an administrative officer were appointed. Further appointments will be made in due course.
The responsibility of the council is to ensure coordination between the three spheres of government however, the five people currently hired are not enough to work with the country’s over 240 municipalities. The Department at present has enlisted the help of the EU to coordinate the implementation of the NSP. The Department is also compiling a comparative list between the top 100 JSC companies and state-owned entities to measure how both fair in terms of compliance.
The Department had asked the Portfolio Committee for their assistance in getting a bigger budget as its current budget was not adequate in being able to fulfill its mandate as well as implement its programmes.
The Minister had asked the Committee to calm down and said that the mandate of the Department has not changed. She said that the DG was over-explaining the expansion of its mandate, and she believed the Committee wanted to know what the Department would be doing now that its mandate had been expanded.
Ms Maluleke had expressed concern with the Minister’s response to the Committee in saying that the DG was over-explaining the mandate of the Department. She said that Committee members needed further clarification from the DG’s presentation as there was confusion on what role the Department plays in government and the public. The Minister’s comment suggested that the Committee takes no interest in what the Department is saying, hence not explaining. She asked for an apology and withdrawal from the Minister.
Ms Masiko agreed with Ms Maluleke and asked that the Department be patient with the Committee so that future oversight meetings take into account an understanding of where the Department’s priorities are as well as answering all concerns from the Portfolio Committee. She wanted to ensure that no Committee Member had outstanding concerns by the time the meeting concluded.
Mr Mphithi said that it was the responsibility of the Minister and the Department to provide clarity whenever requested by Committee Members when it makes its presentations. He said that Committee members have the responsibility to inform their constituents on the Department’s presentations as they have been selected to represent the people of South Africa in their various capacities.
He said that there is contradictory information being provided by the Department on its mandate. He referred to the Minister’s statement of instructing the Department’s mandate to change from facilitation to that of regulation, however before the Committee the Department stated that its mandate had not changed. He wanted to find out if the information on the Department’s mandate before the Committee is incorrect and that its previous mandate remains. He wanted to know what the difference was between the Department’s current and previous frameworks and indicators as they seem to be very similar, despite the supposed change in a mandate by the Department. He said that the Department seems to be duplicating the work of the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation with the supposed change mandate, raising the question of how are the two departments different from one another.
The Chairperson had agreed with Mr Mphithi, stating that the Committee could not proceed further with its presentation as its core mandate was not clearly understood which would affect its future oversight function.
The Minister apologised to the Portfolio Committee for her previous comment in stating that the Department did not need an oversimplified explanation from the DG. She wanted the DG to emphasise to Committee the various programmes that the Department will be implementing, however the Department’s core mandate of facilitation remains the same. The Department wants more accountability by working with government departments and agencies to implement its frameworks. She apologised for confusing the Committee while she attempted to explain its mandate, saying that the core mandate cannot be changed but there is room for improvement which the Department is currently undertaking. The Department would continue to be a champion and voice for women, youth and persons with disabilities.
The Chairperson thanked the Minister for her apology and explanation. She said that the Portfolio Committee is not rejecting the Department’s initiatives. There needed to be clarity on whether or not the mandate had changed. Seeing as the mandate has not changed, how does the Department incorporate its regulatory role with its existing mandate as this is not clear? She said that from the last Committee meeting, the same issue of contradictory information being presented had been raised by the Committee, hence their request for clarity to the Department’s presentations. This ensures effective monitoring on the part of the Portfolio Committee.
Ms Maluleke also thanked the Minister for her apology and said that the Portfolio Committee was not against the Department and was trying to establish which direction the Department was going in so that the Committee could ensure oversight.
The DG understood the Committee’s concerns, saying that the Department needs the Portfolio Committee’s support so that it can effectively implement its mandate and create adequate structures to do so. She said that the Department continuously seeks to reposition and improve its plans so that it can serve its constituents and ensure their rights and dignity, and that participation in society is promoted and protected. Agreeing with the Minister, the DG said that mandate of the Department had not changed, but simply refined to make sure there is accountability for its programmes when implemented. She said that the Department wants to ensure that other departments, civil society and the private sector heed its call and authority so that they cannot have reasons or excuses for not implementing the Department’s plans or its programmes. The regulatory aspect of the department is to ensure compliance across the board.
She said that the interventions provided by the DG and Ms Val Mathobela, Chief Director: Strategic Management, such as the aforementioned conference, serve as a form of monitoring and evaluation to its frameworks in ensuring that there is agreement that its frameworks are being implemented, what the feedback is and, if need be, whether further development needs to be undertaken. Both the DG and Ms Mathobela said that this is also to ensure that monitoring and evaluation guidelines are understood by all parties for them to understand how the Department tracks their progress, which is why its gender-responsive planning, budgeting, monitoring, evaluation and auditing framework is a central framework in which to do this.
The Department is working with SALGA to train some municipalities with aligning to the national gender framework policy as they understand that they need to comply with it. The policy has not always been used as a measure in ensuring compliance which is why the Department opted for its review so that it can ensure all plans and initiatives can be implemented.
She said that the frameworks ensure government services are easily accessible. There have previously been complaints that the Department has not made accessibility possible which is what the Department seeks to rectify. This, according to the DG, has been consistently done since she was appointed DG. She referenced the Presidential Working Committee on Persons with Disabilities where the Department recently held a meeting to reposition the disability programme, as its achievements were unsatisfactory. This has since changed where they have made steady improvements since the meeting took place.
The DG assured the Committee that its mission and vision has not changed: The rights of women, youth and persons with disabilities need to be realised. There is a sense that their rights per the Constitution are not realised which the Department needs to address and offer support where possible. The DG referred to the economic empowerment programme. The Department is working with the DG of the Gauteng provincial government. The programme is being implemented in selected townships in the Province and seen to be a model that could be implemented in all of them if proven to be a successful blueprint. The Department is not contributing financially to the programmes however it is tracking how successful the programme is at ensuring economic development and empowerment. It is in this way that the Department demonstrates its facilitation mandate as well as that of a regulator.
The DG said that the Department represents vulnerable groups such as the unemployed, women, the elderly and the youth. They also seek to address gender-based violence and femicide which is why they seek to ensure all government departments from all spheres of government implement the NSP, particularly the economic and finance, justice and governance clusters.
She said that once the review of the national gender framework is concluded, a request for it to be a standing agenda item will be instituted with all government departments such as the GRPB in all DG cluster meetings. This is to report on whether departments comply with the GRPB. If there is no compliance, the DG, Minister or the President will query their compliance which tends to ensure that they make a plan in doing so. She referred to the Chairperson of the Economic Cluster being called by the President for non-compliance and the Chairperson seeking cluster ministers to do so. A DG of COGTA had called DDG Shoki, asking for assistance with mainstreaming the frameworks from Department to ensure compliance. The Department of Housing has needed assistance from the Department to assist with its budget on vulnerable groups which the Department is currently researching.
The Deputy Minister said that the discussions in the Committee also help the Department ensure that its officials have a clear understanding of the Department’s directions. She conceded that it could have been possible that the Department went to the extremes of being a regulatory department from its strategic plans or that the manner way its documents were written; it gives off this impression. She proposed that the Department ensure that its core mandate is not confused when in written format and that it takes into account the improvements or additions that it seeks to make. There needs to be an alignment between its facilitation role and that of regulatory enforcement to ensure that it does not isolate or confuse the rest of the country who have to expect the Department to continue with its longstanding mandate.
The Chairperson said that the Deputy Minister correctly summed up the Committee’s concerns. She said that it was the Committee who said previously that the Department needed more authority than at present, it seemed that this was not the case. She said that the Department needed to ensure the to have more authority, it has to centre its mandate correctly so that its enforcement role can be adequately enforced in line with its mandate.
Ms Masiko expressed support for the Deputy Minister’s comment on reflecting on its mandate to clear up any confusion from the Committee. The Department would benefit greatly from a debriefing session and take note of the Committee’s comments. She also supported the breakdown of consultants to get an understanding of how the budget is allocated per programme and how consultants fit into these programmes, noting a budget increase for consultants.
The DG said that the reason that the South African Law Reform coalition was involved in the drafting of the Disability Right’s Bill was that before the incorporation of persons with disabilities within the presidency and the Department, the Department of Social Development had asked the coalition for assistance with drafting the bill. A discussion paper has been issued and is now in its consultation phase, with the hope that a bill will be drafted. Once a bill is drafted, the Department will be able to ensure the bill is robust and speaks to its mandate.
The DG said that the Department needed the services of consultants in special cases and the way the Department is structured, it relies on their services to ensure efficiency in the Department. Mr Mbhazima Shiviti (Chief Director: Corporate Management) said that its budget for consultants ensures risk management that deals with the incapacity leave policy and the Soma initiative. When people are hired in the SMS in the public service, they undergo a competency test as well as a qualification verification process. This is budgeted for under the consultancy line item. He said that special services like translations and interpreters are also factored into the budget of which he can provide a budget breakdown for the Committee. He said that additional consultants have been brought in to work on the implementation of the GBVF strategic plan. He said that this also falls under the compensation of employees’ line item.
The Chairperson questioned this, asking why then were they factored into the consultancy item which could result in possible budget mismanagement.
Mr Shiviti said that in terms of the classification in the budget, consultants are under goods and services and not under the compensation of employees’ budget. He said that it is in the manner in which Treasury allocates it and that the CFO would be able to provide a better understanding of this. The Chairperson said that this was misleading and does not agree with Mr Shiviti’s explanation.
Ms Legwale had clarified his points by saying that consultants being under the goods and services category are seen as a consistent service. She said that the Department will provide a detailed breakdown which will show the consultant breakdown per project and more insight as to how it aligns with the Department’s APP.
Ms Maluleke said that the budget for consultants was high in comparison to its budget for its core business. She said that the majority of its budget must be dedicated to its core business so that women, youth and persons with disabilities can reap the benefits of the Department. This was supported by the Chairperson.
The DG said that without the consultants, the Department will not be able to perform its function. She said that the Department is understaffed and that current staff are overworked and expected to deliver more than what they can handle at most times. She asked for the Committee to speak to the DPSA to get a breakdown of people’s job responsibilities and to see how it relates to capacity in the Department. She said that DPME’s focus is restricted to the government whereas the Department has to work with the government, civil society and communities with an overstretched staff.
The Chairperson asked about the building of the Department saying that the last appearance by the Committee spoke to the Department’s lease being on the verge of expiry and that a new building would be sourced. She said that the Department should be speaking to the Department of Public Works in addressing its building needs and not hire consultants to do so. She said the Department has to demonstrate why such a need for consultants is warranted as the Committee does not support the Department on its reliance on consultants.
DDG Shoki Tshabalala responded to the Sanitary Dignity programme, saying that the Department participated in the provincial consultation session. However prior to the consultations, the Department instituted its audit and its findings aligned to those of the provincial consultations. The Department currently has a plan in place which has been briefed to the ARC. A workshop has been scheduled for 12 May 2021 to speak to the standardisation of the programme and distribution frequency. The Department will look at ensuring that children receive sanitary towels and are not affected when schools close down due to the pandemic alert levels.
The Department is working on gaining support from provinces to endorse the idea of having one department within national and provincial governments receiving the disbursement of funds and sanitary resources, that is, receiving funds and resources under the Department of Social Development in all provinces instead of one province under education and the other under social development. This decision has been requested and approved by the Treasury. Before the sanitary framework, provinces had already started with the initiative of providing kits under their chosen departments. Treasury did not want to disrupt the status quo until such a time as a streamlined approach was agreed to. Social development has been seen to be the best-placed department to handle the distribution of kits as they have been able to reach children during the lockdown and they have the mechanisms to ensure most children receive their kits despite the lockdown.
There has been the proposal of Treasury to consider funding one provincial administration to be responsible for the disbursement of funds and resources instead of different provinces. This is to ensure all provinces get assisted equally. This is still up for discussion and so far there are no objections from the ARC.
The Chairperson raised the main concern is the economic empowerment of women, youth and persons with disabilities. It was established that provinces would not award tenders to people within their provinces and would rather outsource to big businesses and sometimes outside their province. It was particularly concerning that women, youth and persons with disabilities would not be included in the tendering process. She referred to Limpopo which sourced a company from Cape Town to provide a sanitary database instead of within the province. She said the Department and the Committee must push for more provincial empowerment to take place so that the target groups within provinces benefit from economic empowerment. This has also been agreed to by the provinces.
The Department, in partnership with the Presidency, has embarked on several programmes to train women in businesses on how to conduct business with the government and its tender processes. The government’s radio show once launched will also serve to empower women, youth and persons with disabilities as it will provide more information on how the targeted group can work with the government and access the benefits from government services. The Department will also work with provinces to ensure that the reach of the training is increased and for the monitoring of the training to occur. The Department needs to ensure women form part of the economic value chain.
The DDG is only aware of three sources of funding which is R20.9 billion, pledged by the President when launching the GBVF Response Fund. Government departments have looked at their APPs to see the resources they have in the implementation of the NSP which enabled the state to pledge this amount over the MTF. The Department is working with the Treasury to have monitoring and evaluation frameworks of amounts paid to departments which provide a breakdown of the payments. As soon as the frameworks have been approved and accepted, they will be referred back to the DG cluster’s meeting for adoption and implementation.
In terms of the funding regarding the establishment of the National Council for GBVF, the Department has used part of its R5 million allocation to hire a Secretariat and a administrator to fulfill the post of a director and two deputy directors to carry out the work that the Council will carry out once it is constituted.
The funding from the private sector is not in the scope of the Department’s purview. It is money that has been raised by women lead CEOs and through the private sector, donor funding and they are currently finalising the modalities in terms of their governance and funding structures.
The Department has a two-pronged approach to the NSP. The first is to advocate departments to find resources to implement the NSP and related frameworks in their departments. The continuous discussions between departments, DGs and other departmental stakeholders has resulted in departments reporting to the Department on how they align to the NSP. This also indicates that resources are available which also speaks to the financial contributions they have given to the Presidency in their call to fight GBVF. The Department wants to make sure that no government department claims that they do not know nor understand what the NSP is, nor how to implement it. There has to be an agreement between the departments and the Department on how the NSP will be implemented so that it can be monitored and responsibility can be taken from the departments.
On to CGE’s report of IRA, its recommendations have been noted. Before the issuing of the report, the government had already conducted a high-level assessment of what was achieved which the IRA report confirmed. The areas that were not fulfilled in the IRA report now form part of the NSP implementation so that they are not simply forgotten and not worked on. This reduces the chances of the Department having to hire a consultant to implement the IRA recommendations which would go against the stance of the Committee in the use of consultants.
Dr Bernice Hlagala, Youth Development, DWYPD, said that where youth development is concerned in the APP, the work of the unit is not limited to what was presented to the Committee. There is additional work done beyond the APP which the presentation only focused in a limited way.
She reminded Members that the Department was requested to appear before the Committee to present the differences, key deliverables and relationship between the NYDA and the National Youth Programme within the Department. She said that that presentation outlined the differences and objectives and that further input was requested from the Committee.
The relationship between the NYDA and the Department is that administrative support ensures the mandate is fully implemented. The NYDA reports to the Minister as the executive and shareholder of the entity. The NYDA Bill is also the mandate of the Department in ensuring that the NYDA complies with the legislation once approved by Cabinet and Parliament once tabled. She refers to the bill calling for ethical leadership which the Department will be enforcing with the Agency. She said that the drafting of the bill started in 2020 and requires intensive research and context in order for the state law advisors to draft the bill and for consultations to occur.
Dr Hlagala had assured the Portfolio Committee that the Bill had been extensively consulted on and had gone through all the necessary structures, processes and consultations with Cabinet, the public and youth agencies. The bill has now been gazetted and is with Nedlac.
Mr Mphithi raised the concern that the Department is not including all its targets and programmes in the APP. He asked why this was the case as the Chairperson had alluded that the Portfolio Committee will vote on what the Department puts in its reports and presentations. Mr Mphithi said that no other work will be acknowledged by the Committee or Parliament if the Department is not providing detailed accounts of its work. He also stated there needs to be a better symbiotic relationship between the Department and the NYDA because the last he checked, NYDA offices around the country do not know about the NYDA Amendment Bill nor has he seen an invitation to the public consultations of the Bill. He asked which young people had the Department consulted, as it seems to be a small amount of them, excluding those in townships or rural areas. He said that the amendment of the Bill needs to show how young people will be empowered as well as show the relationship between the NYDA. He asked for a breakdown of where and when these consultations took place. He said that the Department would experience dissatisfaction from young people because it is not fully accounting for its activities.
Dr Hlagala said that the Minister had extended an invitation to the Portfolio Committee to attend the public consultations of the NYDA Bill. The Department is working with the NYDA in working on the Bill and have attended various presentations about the Bill along with the Agency. Both the Department and the Agency are working on the M&E framework in monitoring the Bill once approved. Provincial visits have been undertaken by the Department and the NYDA where both youth bills have been presented. At the end of the consultations, the Department will provide a list of individuals and entities that have given input to the NYDA bill.
The Department is also working with the NYDA with its 4IR Skills Development Programme which has been presented before various clusters and also by Cabinet. The Minister last October has launched the National Youth Initiative which seeks to equip young people with skills to use during the pandemic. Both the Department and the NYDA worked together in ensuring that the Presidential stimulus package had a youth focus included and that there is currently consultations and guidelines being drafted about the National Youth Service programme.
The National Youth Missionary Meetings have been seen to be leaving out certain provinces, which Dr Hlagala denied. She said that these meetings serve as a platform to share industry best practice and youth development, with the hope that the information shared at these meetings are taken back to individual and organisational constituencies.
The Chairperson said that there needed to be an improvement of these meetings saying that in some areas such as Mthwalume in KZN, youth indicated that they have never been invited to these meetings. She said that the department needs to work with all types of youth stakeholders and not just those the Department usually works with most of the time. Dr Hlagala did agree that in some provinces where the meetings are held, there needs to be better coordination so that youth in those provinces can participate in these meetings. The view of the Department is that when it is designing programmes and frameworks, it is intended to help youth and make changes to their lives and will work with various entities to ensure that this becomes a reality.
Ms Phuti Mabelebele, Chief Director: Rights of People with Disabilities, DWYPD, said that the Department is in consultation with the Presidential Working Group and the South African Law Commission going through the Disability Rights Bill and how it can be implemented in various sectors. The Department is ensuring that consultations on the issue paper from the SA Law Reform Council are factored into the Bill. Consultations have started with the National Disability Rights Missionary as well as with persons with disabilities. These consultations will conclude at the end of June 2021.
The Department in the last financial year presented four frameworks being the Universal Design and Access, Reasonable Accommodation Framework, Self-Representation Framework and the Awareness Raising Framework. Each of these frameworks is at different stages of approval with Universal Design and Access now being with the Cabinet. The hope is for it to be gazetted by the end of the year so that awareness sessions can begin. Work will also be done with the National Disability Rights Missionary to include the framework in their programmes, project and services.
The reason the frameworks are not part of the APPs is that targets of the previous financial year cannot be dropped, but progress has to discussed in the reporting of those targets. In the previous financial year, only the Universal Design and Access and the Reasonable Accommodation had reached their targets. In this financial year work on the other two frameworks will be worked on as the frameworks targets have to be concluded by year-end to be approved and gazetted. She said that the frameworks will serve as the regulatory instruments as part of the Department’s monitoring scope per the White Paper on Rights of Persons with Disabilities. There are currently no instruments to direct departments to implement directives on persons with disabilities which the frameworks aim to address. She said that these will be reported quarterly and form part of the Department’s operational plan.
The work done with the Presidential Working Group on Disability is a continuation of the meeting held with the Presidency in December during International Day of Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This served as an opportunity to align with the Working Group’s goals about disability rights. These included short- and medium-term priorities.
The Chairperson said that there was no more time to continue the sitting as the Committee has gone over time. She said that questions that were not answered during the sitting could be responded to in writing. She said the Committee will send the Department all the questions that were asked so that they may be able to answer adequately.
The Chairperson thanked the Department for their presentation. She said that the Committee is confident that the Department will work on its feedback. She said that the Department’s role is to ensure oversight, provide constructive criticism and that that does not discredit any new initiatives the Department works on. The Committee will continuously support the Department in its journey to ensuring that women, youth and persons with disabilities benefit from the Department’s work and that they are afforded a better life as promised by the state and Parliament. She said that the DG should bring the Department’s senior officials at the next sitting to ensure accountability on all fronts of the Department. She also thanked the Minister and Deputy Minister for their input and attendance throughout the sitting. She also thanked the Portfolio Committee Members for their constructive engagement and for the tough questions that they fielded.
The meeting was adjourned.
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