The Steering Committee for the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus (MPWC) met virtually with the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities for a preparatory session preceding the full MPWC meeting to be held thereafter.
The Department outlined that what it would be presenting at the full MPWC was a presentation on the Gender-Responsive Planning, Budgeting, Monitoring, Evaluation and Auditing Framework (GRPBMEAF). The Department then briefed the Committee in explaining that the presentation would focus on providing some introduction and background to the GRPBMEAF and thereafter go through the ten pillars of implementation. From then on, the Department would speak to the progress made in the implementation of the GRPBMEAF and what it had done to ensure and monitor the implementation. In this regard, the Department provided some background and examples to the presentation to provide the Committee with some guidance in terms of what discussions it should have around the presentation. Members who had attended this meeting would thus be able to engage on an informed view in terms of the agenda for the full MPWC meeting.
The ensuing discussion by Members in interacting with the briefing included: the Department’s engagement, implementation and challenges regarding the GRBPMEAF; gender-responsive budgeting; 40% procurement as announced by the President; gender focal points to monitor or influence policies in Departments; consequence management for non-implementation of the GRPBMEAF; monitoring tool within Government systems; institutional arrangement; National, Provincial, and Local Government monitoring, implementation and engagement; progress regarding the WEGE Bill; advancement of the status of women in South Africa; and getting women employed in areas where there are hard skills i.e. closing the gaps.
The discussion was to be continued in the full MPWC meeting.
The Chairperson greeted the Members and everyone on the platform. The agenda of the day was displayed on the screen and she believed that each and every Member was in a position to see it as well as it had been circulated by the Committee Secretary. She trusted that everyone was doing well under the pandemic and that the meeting could be proceeded with. However, before proceeding with the meeting, there was a concern regarding Members’ attendance – even now, the meeting was starting late. Sometimes, when Members had commitments, they did not even inform the Committee Secretary, Ms Mandy Balie, of their whereabouts which was costing the Committee. The Committee thus sometimes failed to quorate simply because of this. She then started the Committee meeting which would be followed by the full Caucus meeting. She said that the Committee had invited the Department to brief them, and welcomed everyone to the meeting. She asked that the agenda be adopted.
The Committee moved for the adoption of the agenda.
The Chairperson asked if there were any apologies.
The Committee Secretary confirmed that there were apologies from Ms N Sharif (DA), Ms L van der Merwe (IFP), and Ms M Hlengwa (IFP).
The Chairperson noted an apology from Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister in the Presidency for Woman, Youth and People with Disabilities.
Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize, Deputy Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and People with Disabilities (DWYPD), said that since this was a preparatory meeting the Department thanked the Committee and appreciated the opportunity. She briefed Members that when everyone proceeded to go to the full MPWC meeting later she would make opening statements. She thought that what would help in the preparation. In the interim, Prof Mkhize explained that Adv Mikateko Maluleke, Director-General, Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, would brief the Committee on the highlights in terms of gains, challenges, and concerns that she might have it. However, she confirmed that she would be making a statement in the full meeting.
Adv Maluleke requested that Ms Lanwani Hlaisi, Director: Monitoring and Evaluation, DWYPD, take the Committee through the highlights.
Ms Hlaisi said that what was going to happen was that the Department would be making a presentation on the GRPBMEAF. The presentation was going to give a brief on what the GRPBMEAF was all about and what it was that put the GRPBMEAF in place (e.g. the issue of gender mainstreaming in the country). In that regard, the GRPBMEAF was put in place in order to assist in ensuring the institutionalisation of gender mainstreaming in the country. The GRPBMEAF has brought in a change in the whole system of planning, budgeting, monitoring, and evaluation. The GRPBMEAF was taken through the process of Cabinet until it was approved for implementation. The main area of feedback in this meeting is taking the Members through the implementation, which will indicate the process so far in the implementation of the GRPBMEAF. The presentation will go through the ten pillars of implementation which speaks about the gender-responsive planning, institutionalisation planning, policy priority, evaluation, knowledge and evidence, monitoring, responsive budgeting, other processes (including Cabinet and Parliament), legislation, performance management, and advocacy and communication. These areas represent the ten pillars that she would go through in the meeting. From then on, she would talk about the progress that had been made in the implementation of the GRPBMEAF. For example, when speaking about country planning, she would be giving feedback on what the Department had done working with the Department of Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) and National Treasury in ensuring that the policies of the country inform the implementation that will be responsive to gender in the country. This is very key in the sense that if policies are not influenced it will be very difficult for the Department to reach everybody. In this, key policies are mainstreamed, and they instruct and give guidance on how to ensure that the plans and budget are responsive.
The presentation will also highlight what the Department had done to ensure and monitor the implementation. For example, the Department was doing an analysis of the strategic plan and the Annual Performance Plan (APP) after it had influenced the framework that informed government on how to ensure that the plans are mainstreaming. The Department had thus investigated and picked up that the Department was now gradually getting there in understanding what mainstreaming is and ensuring that the indicators and targets reflected are responsive to the issues of women. The other key thing that the Department was doing was ensuring that it assisted government and provinces to understand and move from the previous understanding that, when speaking about the issues of gender or women, it was an issue that was going to sit with a gender focal point in the Department. The Department was thus moving government away from that understanding, which she said was called institutionalisation. The Department moved government from understanding that each and every manager in every Department had a responsibility to mainstream gender – which the Department saw that it was winning in. In this regard, the Department had held meetings with provincial and national government departments, taking them through what they needed to do to be able to mainstream. The Department had done a lot in this part although the challenge that would come at the end of the presentation was that the Department was small and could not reach out as much as it would want for everybody to understand the matter.
In this regard, the positive response that the Department had seen from national and provincial government was that they personally initiated to call on the Department to assist them in capacity building. For example, one would find a province calling the Department where it had brought in all stakeholders that were relevant. This was seen in a province bringing in all Departments in the province as well as all state-owned companies in the province to sit in the meeting and get an understanding of what it was that it needed to do. The Department would find that the provinces got to understand the issue of mainstreaming because the key was to ensure that the plan put in place was responsive. If the plan was immediately responsive, then the implementation would automatically take cognisance of the issue of mainstreaming. For example, if one was ensuring that they were providing financial support to enterprises and their plan set a target in that of these enterprises a certain amount must be owned by women, youth or persons with disabilities, then during any process this target would be taken into consideration. This was what would be presented, touching on the ten pillars in order to really show how the implementation of the GRPBMEAF had been taking place in the Department.
The Chairperson thanked Ms Hlaisi for the briefing. She hoped and believed that in the full caucus the Committee would receive more clarity. She asked that Members interact with the briefing.
Ms R Semenya (ANC) appreciated the briefing and welcomed the work that the Department had done and engagements that it had held with various departments. In terms of the Department’s engagement, one of the things that it had mentioned was that the responsive budget would become successful if all the Departments’ gender focal points were structured such that they are able to monitor or influence policies in those Departments. She asked whether there was general agreement, as this policy had been tabled through Cabinet. Are there any measures that will punish those departments that are not implementing? She asked that the issues be checked on regarding structure in terms of institutional arrangements in all of the departments and provinces – including municipalities. Some of the departments were implementing agents and some municipalities were not responsive and therefore this good policy might not be implemented. She also asked that the Department check on the issue of the monitoring department and whether it had enough through the institutional arrangement to monitor and enforce. She further asked about the Department, as the Presidency, having consequence management around those Departments that do not implement the GRPBMEAF.
Ms K Tlhomelang (ANC) said that her process of engagements includes the municipality. She knew that if the provincial government had been communicated with, it was their responsibility to also cascade it down to the level of the municipality. She asked whether the Department was winning or if there were any other challenges. The Committee was on the ground, but it could see that there was not yet any focus.
The Chairperson said that she unfortunately did not get everything that Ms Tlhomelang had said but would check with the Department as to whether it managed to grasp some of the things she had asked.
The Deputy Minister said that Adv Maluleke would help the Department prepare for the bigger meeting, taking into consideration the issues raised by Members. She highlighted that the Department stood to be guided. Hopefully, Adv Maluleke would guide the presenter to emphasise the slides where there is an expectation for Members to take certain actions within their committees. As a Department it reported the policies, that the Directors-General and Cabinet had met etc. – which was a typical government thing. However, the Department was at the point where it was looking for benefits for women, youth, and persons with disabilities that the public purse should impact positively. Besides the Department’s systems, all persons within their committees had to make sure that all of their entities adhered otherwise the Department could regulate forever. The sixth administration would then be gone, and nothing would have been achieved. The Department would explain what it was doing but asked the Chairperson to encourage Members to take full responsibility to monitor the departments and entities where they sat and ensure that they are adhering. Members and officials had to bring their own activism on this matter. Even when the budget was presented by National Treasury, nobody sat back and asked if it was gender responsive. When budget votes had gone through, afterwards the expectation is that the officials will sit and budget but if there is no commitment then it became another talk for year on year and no one saw where things were going. The Department would thus present what it was that it was doing. The Department’s plea was that it would be really good to get the commitment of each and every Member to begin to speak the language of gender equality, women empowerment, youth, and persons with disabilities in the portfolio committees that they are in, the spaces they occupy, and entities they lead through the public purse.
Adv Maluleke said that she could not hear Ms Thlomelang’s question due to poor connection. The first question spoke to the gender focal points in government departments. The Department was now talking about women, youth, and persons with disabilities focal points. The challenge in government was that it would be found that women, youth, and persons with disabilities were under one directorate. This directorate did not impact on strategy or anything else – it was only used on 3 December when it was international disability day or 9 August and Women’s Month etc. These people were supposed to assist them to mainstream women, youth, and persons with disabilities in their departments. The Department had now prepared a framework which it wanted to take to Cabinet so that it could be a Cabinet decision. On policy, there was a National Gender Policy Framework which required all gender focal points to be at director level – this was the gender focal point without youth and persons with disabilities, and which is what the Department was communicating with the Department of Public Service and Administration to ensure that it happened. In the province and in local government there was always abuse and this was the biggest challenge.
As a Department, because of its capacity, sometimes it was difficult for it to monitor because it was just at national office and did not have representation in the provinces or local government. However, in terms of the strategy that the Department was using, it had had several meetings with the Director-General of the Department of Cooperative Governance so that the Department could mainstream it in its strategy and take responsibility to ensure that all local government mainstream issues of the focal points, the National Strategic Plan, and GRPBMEAF.
Adv Maluleke reiterated that the department requested the Committee and its Members to address certain things. For example, she mentioned the 40% proclaimed by the President in August 2020. When the Departments were to be asked about this, the answer that she thought that they would give the Committee is that there is no legislation that supports the 40%. She did not agree with this and she told the Departments that the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act said, “at least 30%”. If it said at least 30%, this meant not below 30% but that it could be 40% etc. She narrated that the previous morning she had had a meeting with the Director-General in the Presidency to strategise in terms of how the Department can force departments to report so that it was a standing item agenda and enforce it so that it can report on the 40%. If the Committee could push this, it would be really important – as well as within their APPs by literally highlighting women, youth, and persons with disabilities in their strategies and APPs and the costs that go to them.
When looking at the Economic Recovery Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, there is a part that talks about women being part of the vulnerable groups that will benefit. She added that women were not just vulnerable groups as there were women in business, and women who wanted to contribute to, participate in, and benefit from the country’s economic plans. However, this was not happening. The other thing that the Department requested from the Committee, as had been similarly requested from the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth, and Persons with Disabilities (the Portfolio Committee), was to compare the DPME and the Department. The Department and the DPME were doing nearly similar work but the Department had a bigger mandate than them. This was because the Department had a role for Government, private sector, and civil society. The DPME did not have to work with civil society and did not have to consult. When the Department came before the Portfolio Committee, it would ask the Department about equality in the private sector. With the structure that the Department had, it was structured and resourced to fail. The Department would not succeed as long as it continued as it was, so the Department was in the process of restructuring. The Department also requested that the Committee support it in terms of the restructuring. The Department did not even want to be half of the DPME despite its focus being one third of what the Department was doing. The Department was just asking for the little that it was requesting so that it would be able to regulate, coordinate, and facilitate.
Ms Hlaisi said that she had also not heard the second question by Ms Tlhomelang. However, what she had caught was how the Department rolled out to municipalities. Regarding the gender focal point, the Department saw that municipalities could be of help to the Department. The Department was trying hard to capacitate the municipalities and make them understand that they could be able to take that role in their provinces to do what the Department was doing and to be able to investigate monitoring the plans of the Department to ensure the mainstreaming of women, youth, and persons with disabilities in their plans. The Department was trying to make sure that this happened when it deliberated with provinces so that it got help as it looked into the issue of capacitation of the Department. About monitoring and evaluation, the Department did this in the form of sending a tool to government and provinces asking them to inform the Department on the progress that it had made in the implementation of the framework in line with the pillars – in which regard it would send the Department the information. This was the first time that the Department would be looking into responses from the provinces and government in order to identify the progress that had made so far. The Department was planning to have the report submitted until Cabinet level in order for the Cabinet that had approved the framework to look at how far it had gone so far. This was another way of increasing the responsibility that should be taken by the implementers.
She said that she had heard the Deputy Minister speaking about the responsibility of all and begging Members to take part in the implementation of the framework. She emphasised this by saying that during the process of the development of the GRPBMEAF, the Department had had a very big international conference where they brought in speakers from other countries to share what they were doing with regard to this kind of work. The Department identified that Uganda had a process whereby all of the plans were approved only by Parliament if they had been very clear in how women were going to benefit – particularly the responsive gender budgeting. A certificate would then be given to the Department to say that their plan qualifies because it had included these issues. She further said that Parliament may want to identify means of ensuring that they promote gender-responsive budgeting by a certain means that could be found on the side of the Committee and that should bind everybody else and not only the Department because it was an issue that affected everyone. She took note of the issue in that there needed to be emphasis on how the purse of government was to be used to benefit women, youth, and persons with disabilities. She thought that this would be looked into in the next presentation.
The Chairperson asked Ms Tlhomelang if the Department had covered what she had wanted to ask. She also wanted to check on the issue regarding the 40%. How did the Department want the Portfolio Committees to assist in this regard, in order to make sure that at the end of the day this 40% is adhered to by all Departments according to the pronouncement that had been made by the President? Secondly, on the issue of monitoring when it came to the local government and provinces, to her it seemed as if this department in the provinces was like a programme sitting in the Office of the Premier. If this was correct, she thought that it was the other challenge that was being faced when it came to monitoring, as a Department at national level, but going down to the provinces and local government there was no department but there was a programme. Nationally, the Department failed to monitor this going down to the provinces and local government. She thought that everything that was spoken about was happening mostly at the local level because this was where there were constituencies. At National level there were no constituencies.
Dr C Pilane-Majake (ANC) apologised for joining late as she had indicated that she had another meeting. She asked to be pardoned if she was asking something that had already been discussed. Where are things in terms of the WEGE Bill? Is the Department pushing for the Bill to be reintroduced to Parliament? Everyone was worried about gender budgeting, women being included in the budget of the country, and noting the fact that Departments will be submitting their APPs by the end of September. One needed to be sure that the APPs, when Parliament did the Budgetart Review & Recommendations Reports (BRRR) or Budget Review Process, across the board, all Committees should be in the position to be looking at the extent to which the budgets were going to be representative of women. She imagined that if there was not a tight policy that would actually help to guide the Parliamentary processes, the Department and Committee would keep talking about gender budgeting etc. and find that it becomes very frustrating to manage in order to realise these goals. What was being done with the WEGE Bill? She had come from a meeting where she had also lamented about this point and she was coming to this platform and lamenting about it again because somebody needed to tell the Committee what the problem with it was as the WEGE Bill was a very important advancement of the status of women in South Africa. This is because it was known that the WEGE Bill was about pulling out what was in the National Gender Policy Framework, which was a framework that had been started with right at the beginning and that clearly articulated the agenda of women in South Africa, how to actually manage to achieve the total emancipation of women in South Africa.
Ms Semenya said that she had raised her question based on Parliament and that the Portfolio Committee could be found but that Parliament dealt with the report that came after the work would have already been done. She asked about the monitoring systems in government where the Presidency was able to intervene with the Department that was not implementing the plan? The plan could be made, and it was known that in South Africa we were good at planning, but that implementation has been the problem. In terms of the monitoring framework that she was talking about based on government, Parliament received a report after the work had been done and an excuse would just be received. For example, she said that she was in a construction department where it would say that women are not qualified or coming forth. How does one make sure that in the government system the Committee and Department are able to monitor and persuade government departments to make sure that there is a system that addressed the predicaments that there were in terms of getting women in the areas where there are hard skills? Departments should be able to make sure that they assist in making sure that women are able to go into those systems. If this is not in place, at the time that Parliament receives the report, anybody could come and say that this is what they had planned, to give 40% to women but in construction they did not have women with grade eight or grade six and in construction women needed grade eight or grade six. If there was no monitoring tool within government systems that would say that it could be agreed that, for example, human settlements are building the Lesotho Highlands Project which needs grade eight or grade nine, what mechanism could be put in place so that it could be made sure that women participate in those areas before implementation? When it came to her, it would be said that women did not apply because the majority of women were at grade three or two or one. How did government use its capacity and muscles to make sure that women from this level are brought towards participating at that level? As long as the gap was not closed, women would get excuses as had been previously received. The monitoring that she was talking about was thus based on government systems and the implementation part because, when looking at the plans, the plans had been talking about the same thing but there were no women engineers etc. How do we make sure that we close that gap so that, with the sixth administration, it could be said that the GRPBMEAF was put in place as it started and that this is where women were until a system was put in place that assisted them to their current level? The seventh administration would then be able to say that women are now at a higher level, so there should be a tool that tracks this monitoring process.
Ms Z Nkomo (ANC) took over as Acting Chairperson as the Chairperson lost connectivity. She asked the Director-General to sum up and that other issues could be taken over to full caucus meeting.
Adv Maluleke started with the WEGE Bill. In the previous year, the Leader of Government Business had issued an instruction that no new legislation will be entertained, and that government departments must prioritise and just bring one piece of legislation. The Department had chosen the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) Amendment Act because of the challenges that went with it. This year again on 5 March 2021 there was another circular that came from Government business leaders saying that this year, because of the elections, no new legislation would be entertained. The Department now requested that it be allowed to fast track even though no new legislation is supposed to be fast tracked – being in terms of the National Council on Gender-Based Violence. Although the Department was working on this Bill and actually changing the name from Women Empowerment and Gender Equality to the Promotion of Women’s Rights, Empowerment and Equality so that it covers everything, on the issue of infrastructure, the Department requested the United Nations Women to appoint economies for them. The Department was doing research and looking into the infrastructure so that it is able to produce a report and so that it will help it to be able to draw up the scorecard and be able to monitor the infrastructure development. She reiterated that the challenge with the Department was capacity as it definitely did not have the capacity.
On the 40% procurement, she knew that when government departments came, they came after having implemented. However, when the Members asked them to come back, at the next meeting Members would ask them to present on the 40% and show how women were benefitting on 40% of the programmes that the departments are running. The Department was in the process of developing indicators and had agreed with the Director-General in the Presidency that it needed to be pushed together so that it could be fast tracked. With infrastructure, the Department was meeting with the South Africa office and South African infrastructure project because the Department was saying that it wanted to develop indicators that could be put into the programme. The challenge was also that it is an elusive programme as it was just seen there, and one did not know when it started. Some of the things that were being challenged was thus who gave the programme and where it started. How did women put their programmes in this programme? She knew that there were women and that most of the time Departments would say that there are no women, but they had the responsibility to develop women to participate in those programmes. In the next meeting, the Department would be able to list all the programmes that it was trying to implement within the infrastructure programme so that women could benefit. When the President spoke, he always spoke about the trillion Rand that the programme was worth. How do women get 40% from this structure? She thought that the Committee should call a meeting to discuss the infrastructure.
The Acting Chairperson said that the discussion would be continued in the full caucus meeting. It was at least better for Members who had attended this meeting as they would be able to engage on an informed view in terms of the concerned items of the agenda.
The meeting was adjourned.
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