In a virtual meeting, the Committee met to consider and adopt its 2021/22 budget vote report for the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWPD) and its entities.
After being taken through the report, on Committee observations, Members added to the report regarding the inaccessibility of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) website for funding applications, concern that “excellence and accessibility” was removed as an NYDA value and the Committee wanted to know why this was done and the concern of Members that there was insufficient consultation on the amendments to the NYDA Bill. The wording on the observation relating to the CEO violating policy was also included.
Regarding recommendations, Members noted the small budget of the Department and that the budget for persons with disabilities under programme four should be looked into given the work that still needs to be done to ensure the inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities. There was concern that reports of the CGE were not provided to the Committee timeously for effective engagement.
The Chairperson opened the meeting to note the agenda was to consider the Committee’s draft report on the Annual Performance Plan (APP) of Budget Vote 20: Department of Woman, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD) for the 2021/22 financial year.
The Committee also planned to go through a report regarding the salaries of the Commissioners of the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE). In 2020, the President communicated that he would not increase the salaries of Commissioners.
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities on the Annual Performance Plan (Budget Vote20) of the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities for financial year 2021/22
Mr L Mphithi (DA) said, regarding access to the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) offices and services, that the report make it clear that the online application process in terms of the grants have not been accessible. When going onto the website to apply for the four threshold grants provided by the NYDA for entrepreneurs, it is not possible to apply online. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a reliance on being able to access online resources, so it must be clear that one must go into the physical offices for grants.
The Chairperson responded that in terms of accessibility, the NYDA website does not allow for the further processing of applications. The NYDA responded that it is in the process of fixing its IT system.
The Chairperson asked for clarity on the matter from the Committee.
Ms F Masiko (ANC) said she was unsure of what the NYDA said regarding resolving the online applications for grants however the Department clearly displayed timelines of when the website would be up and running.
Mr Mphithi said that the Committee enquired about the online grant application process where young people and entrepreneurs were not able to submit their applications for grants online due to the online system flaw.
The Chairperson felt that there were concerns with removing the wording “excellence and accessibility” from the new NYDA vision and requested that the NYDA include these values.
Ms Masiko shared the concern regarding the wording. The Committee noted that the NYDA removed “excellence and accessibility”, which was correct. The NYDA did not provide reasons as to why, which the Committee requested further clarity on.
The Chairperson expressed concern that the Department had not come to a consensus regarding the Amendment Bill; certain offices were not aware of the amendments to the Bill. The Chairperson suggested that the sentence should begin by indicating that the Committee was concerned that proper consultation had not been conducted by the NYDA. It should also mention that NYDA branches in provinces were not aware of the NYDA Amendment Bill processes. The Department should go back and conduct the necessary consultations with the youth of South Africa.
Ms Masiko agreed that the proper consultation is required by the Department, not the NYDA.
Mr Mphithi added that NYDA offices should be used to invite other youth structures in the provinces to participate in the amendment processes and consultation.
Ms Masiko felt that the wording regarding the conduct of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) indicated a violation of the policy. The sentence should be rephrased as to not make the CEO guilty of a violation that has not yet been determined. It should rather read that the Committee was concerned about reports of whether the CEO committed a violation of policy. The Committee requested a full report into the violation within two weeks after the adoption of the report.
Ms Masiko suggested that the redundant wording should be omitted where it mentions that the Committee recommended coordination between the Department and NYDA under the recommendations.
Mr S Ngcobo (DA) recommended, concerning the small budget allocated to the Department, that the budget for persons with disabilities under programme four should be looked into given the work that still needs to be done to ensure the inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities.
The Chairperson recommended that the previously discussed timeframe of two weeks after the adoption of the role of Commissioners in provinces report by the Committee be included.
Mr Mphithi expressed concern surrounding the reports of the Free State and KZN which were submitted the night before. This did not allow for the Committee to have adequate time to deal with the reports presented. He recommended that the CGE present its reports in a timeous manner to the Committee to allow for engagement with its contents.
A separate point should be made stating that as needed, the Commission may be requested and have to present relevant reports to the Committee to ensure recommendations and concerns are addressed.
The Committee report was adopted with these amendments and additions.
The matter of the CGE Commissioner’s salaries was postponed to the next meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
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