The National Strategic Plan (NSP) on Gender-based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) was developed by a steering committee comprised of a variety of government stakeholders, including the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD) and the Department of Social Development (DSD). It provided a multi-sectoral strategic framework that aimed to eradicate GBVF in South Africa. Six departments that had implemented various programmes and strategies to deal with GBVF described the progress of their implementation processes, on NSP pillar one.
Members said they were appalled by the disturbing statistics of sexual assault and rape during Women’s Month. The women of South Africa were crying for help, and not enough was being done to protect them. Issues such as the under-reporting of sexual harassment on women in the workplace were distressing. The Department of Employment and Labour was asked about the interventions being used to prevent this from recurring. Women were reluctant to report due to fears of victimisation.
Members asked government departments to raise awareness and to prioritise the emergency hotline number for the GBVF command centre. The Department of Communication and Digital Technologies spoke about the criminalisation of revenge pornography and the protection of minors online. The renewal of lapsed contracts for auxiliary social workers was raised, but the issue could not be resolved as the responsible department, Correctional Services, was not present. Members questioned whether the required 40% procurement level from women-owned small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) was being adhered to, and also sought detailed information on gender mainstreaming in departments. The Committee criticised departments for failing to present their frameworks, which included the departmental targets, to the Committee. This meant monitoring and evaluation could not take place, and reduced the effectiveness of the implementation process.
The Committee was not satisfied with the programme for the Women’s Parliament scheduled for August 26. It was decided that it would request to be included in the process of structuring the programme at a much earlier stage, rather than two days before the time. The Committee believed that its input could be valuable, and that it was important to inform Ministers of its expectations when it came to reporting to the Parliament. The inclusion of opposition parties in the programme was also requested.
The Chairperson said the national strategic plan (NSP) on gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) had allocated certain lead roles to various stakeholders. Pillar one of the NSP on GBVF had allocated various roles to the following stakeholders:
the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD);
the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA);
the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA);
the National Council on Gender-based Violence and Femicide;
the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL); and
the Department of Communication and Digital Technologies (DCDT).
Today, these entities would present on progress in relation to NSP Pillar One.
With regard to the National Council on GBVF, the DWYPD would give an update on its establishment by the National Parliament. Parliament had been tasked to establish an oversight committee for the NSP. This idea had been welcomed by the Steering Committee of the Women’s Multi-Party Caucus until Parliament decided to adopt a GBVF framework. Earlier this year, it had drafted a GBVF framework where political party representatives had been requested, to give input after which the framework was adopted. The aim of the framework was not to establish a separate committee to oversee the NSP, but to provide a coordinated approach for Parliament in addressing GBVF. The coordinated approach had led to various committees being adopted to ensure that the NSP was implemented. These Committees were expected to schedule meetings by focus areas according to the NSP pillars, and to report both quarterly and bi-annually.
The Multi-Party Women’s Caucus was one of the parliamentary Committees that were expected to ensure the implementation of various pillars of the NSP and to report quarterly as required. The Committee would be overseeing the implementation of the NSP in compliance with the parliamentary GBVF framework. She welcomed members of the Steering Committee to the meeting.
Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and People with Disabilities, said that departments and committees needed to engage on the implementation process of Pillar One of the NSP on GBVF. This Pillar was anchored in the principles of accountability, coordination and leadership. This pillar had been set out to develop structures at the national, provincial and local levels that would facilitate cohesive, coordinated and grounded multi-sectoral responses to GBVF. It had established objectives to ensure accountability at the highest political level across all spheres of society through firm Individual and collective objectives.
The Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on GBVF had remained cognisant of this. Since the formation of the IMC last year, there had been six meetings held to discuss pertinent issues and solutions on how to respond appropriately to the challenges. The provision for strategic guidance and political relationships was supported by a technical task team compromising key departments of the relevant ministries. They remained committed to building a structure that was agile and adequately prepared to deal with GBVF. Administratively they had strengthened accountability with Director-Generals (DGs) to ensure that they were kept in the loop with regard to the process of implementing the NSP on GBVF. This would enable the identification of mechanisms and progress across the private sector, and working with civil society to help prevent GBV effectively.
The departments would take Members through the achievements of the first year. The overall goal had been about institutionalisation of the plan across government and building firm institutions. Institutional mechanisms had been established at various spots, embedding the NSP on GBVF through provincial and local engagements. Collaborations had been functional, offering a multi-sectoral platform for the Pillars.
South Africa continued to experience excessively high levels of GBV. Over the past year, the pandemic had added to the impact on women, children and people within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning, intersex, asexual and more (LGBTQIA+) community. The increase in GBVF had masked all the efforts of stakeholders.
The Presidency, in partnership with the office of the DPME, had compiled a report for the first year on the implementation of the NSP. This report had been effective in providing a review of efforts to address GBVF with the NSP-prioritised initiatives. A key achievement that had emerged over year one had been the promise of effectively mobilising a government-wide response, which was starting to take shape even during the difficult times they were in. As part of accountability in government, the Department would be hosting the first multi-sectoral national engagement forum on 30 August. The purpose was to share the year one effective report and provide space through which they could collectively reflect on the work.
DWYPD: Progress with implementation of Pillar One
Ms Shoki Tshabalala, Deputy Director-General, DWYPD, presented the strategic plan for countering GBVF, with the focus on accountability, coordination and leadership.
Five-Year Outcomes -- 2020- 2024
The plan envisages bold leadership, with strengthened accountability across government and society that responds to GBVF strategically, and with clear messaging and adequate technical and financial resources. Multi-sectoral coordination and collaboration would be developed across different tiers of government and sections of society, based on relationships of trust that give effect to the pillars of the NSP.
Leadership -- Coordination structures and accountability
There had been a continuous upsurge of GBVF over the last two years. In March 2020, Cabinet had approved the NSP on GBVF for 2020-2030. GBVF was prioritised as a dual pandemic. The IMC had been set up in June 2020. The IMC served to ensure the integration of the strategy into government planning processes. The Bill that regulated the mandate had been halted by the Council, and the draft was currently undergoing cluster processes.
Accountability -- Institutionalisation and localisation
The first year of the NSP on GBVF focused on institutionalisation. In February 2021, the private sector GBVF Response Fund had been launched. A R21 billion medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) had been allocated by departments over a three-year period to implement the six Pillars of the NSP. The process of localising the NSP on GBV was in progress. The DWYPD and COGTA were collaborating towards embedding the NSP within the District Development Model (DDM).
Multi-sectoral coordination -- Building ownership:
The establishment of a voluntary multi-sectoral implementation collaborative had ensured the participation of all stakeholders, in particular civil society. The Department had also been supported by United Nations Women, which had grown from 36 to 82 organisations. The platform implemented high level rapid interventions to support the broader outcomes of the NSP. The Faith Action to End GBV had been established to transform communities into healing spaces. The delays in implementation had been dealt with via appointments of officials on a contract basis. A website had been set up and social media was operative.
The strategy includes monitoring and evaluation frameworks. The consultation sessions on the draft framework and plan were held with national departments, and the focus now was on other government tiers. The Department had developed a draft Comprehensive National Prevention Strategy, with a multi-stakeholder consultation process commencing in July 2021 in order to strengthen the draft prevention plan.
Since 2020, there had been 30 progress reports submitted to the President’s office. July 2021 had included the reports from 22 national departments. Critical departments such as the Departments of Sport, Arts and Culture, Transport, Science and Innovation and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) had zero percent compliance. Departments with more than 50 percent compliance included the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Department of Basic Education (DBE). The pace of reporting on average involved ten departments that submitted consistently. There had been repetitive reporting, which was due to its consistency. Current interventions were not at the scale to create an impact as yet. Interventions from the provinces were not finding their way into all the reports.
Reflecting on the first year, Ms Tshabalala said there was a need for mechanisms to strengthen multi-sectoral reporting, and the need to use communication channels to share progress. The focus in the second year would be on consolidating and strengthening the institutionalisation of the NSP at the national, provincial and local levels. This would ensure finalisation of the National Prevention Strategy. The Council's legislative bill needed to be fast-tracked, and the systematic blockages need to be addressed.
The Chairperson thanked the DDG and called the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ&CD) to the platform.
Mr John Jeffery, Deputy Minister, DoJ&CD, said that the Department was more involved in Pillar Three of the NSP than in Pillar One.
DoJ&CD: NSP Pillar 1 -- Accountability, Leadership and Coordination
Adv Praise Kambula, Chief Director: Promotion of the Rights of Vulnerable Groups, DoJ, led the presentation.
Presidential Summit Declaration against GBVF, 2019
The President had said that every individual in South Africa should take responsibility for eradicating the problem of GBVF. Political government, business, community leadership and families needed to be held accountable for the actions and omissions that were contrary to the achievement of a South Africa that was free from GBVF. This meant that if an individual stood by and watched a criminal act taking place, they should be criminalised. The act should be criminalized. There was a call of action for people to act as change agents. This call was a part of a global campaign. Everybody should choose to challenge patriarchy, GBVF and gender inequality.
Relevant key interventions for NSP Pillar 1
One of the key interventions was to strengthen leadership and accountability across government and society so that they could effectively respond to the GBVF crisis. The second key intervention was effective multi-sectoral coordination by the lead agency, and collaboration across different tiers of government and across different sections of society based on relationships of mutual benefit and trust, to give effect to the pillars of the NSP. GBVF was rooted in patriarchal social norms, gender inequalities, socio-economic inequalities and family dysfunctions – some of these core drivers could not be addressed by law.
Recent legislative developments
The initial draft bill for the National Council on Gender-based Violence and Femicide had been developed by the Department of Justice. The Minister had approved the regulations with regard to sexual offences courts. The Domestic Violence Amendment Bill of 2020, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Bill of 2020, and the Criminal Matters Amendment Bill of 2020, were all in development to deal with the crisis of GBVF. All of the above bills support Pillar One.
Governance structures in support of Pillar 1
These structures include the IMC and its technical task team. The Intersectoral Committee for the Management of Sexual Offences Matters was chaired by the Department of Justice. The National Intersectoral Committee on Domestic Violence and Femicide was also chaired by the Department of Justice. A national and provincial task team on LGBTQIA+ persons had also been established. There was also a national men’s committee that was all in support of Pillar One. These structures would ensure the effective implementation of the NSP on GBVF.
The Intersectoral Committee on Sexual Offences would be involved in coordination of the development of the annual reports that the Minister of Justice was required by legislation to submit. Parliament would do the monitoring and oversight of the Intersectoral Committee that reported directly to the Committee.
Key Intervention -- Public awareness programmes 2020/21
The conveners for Pillar Three had held six webinars on the Victim Centric Justice System. A move for the criminal justice system to be victim centric. This would ensure a reduction in the incidence of secondary traumatisation from the system. There had been 71 GBVF public education interventions on multi-media platforms which had been conducted on radio talk shows. This had been key during the national lockdowns. The dialogue of these shows had included conversations around LGBTQIA+ persons and women, youth and people with disabilities.
The Chairperson called on the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) to present.
DPSA: Holding state and societal leadership accountable for firm stand against GBVF
The DPSA presentation was led by Dr Chana Pilane-Majake, Deputy Minister, and Ms Yoliswa Makhasi, Director-General, who dealt with the establishment of mechanisms and processes to hold state and societal leadership accountable for taking a firm stand against GBVF.
They said the DPSA had tried to improve the implementation of existing policies and strategies regarding GBVF and sexual harassment. If properly implemented, this would curb sexual harassment in workplaces. The Department was responsible for the monitoring of the public service and the DWYPD was responsible for monitoring all sectors. It was important to monitor and evaluate initiatives, as they provided an evidence base for the response from the public on budget allocation decisions. This helped with the addressing and identifying of challenges so that there could be an efficient success rate. The submission of reports on the implementation of the policy and procedures on the management of sexual harassment in the public service had drastically declined in 2020, but had gone up again in 2021.
Workplaces with sexual harassment policies in place
All departments have either drafts or approved sexual harassment policies, and some have adopted the Policy and Procedures on the Management of Sexual Harassment (PPMSH) in their departmental bargaining councils. 90% of the departments were aligned to the PPMSH. 35 sensitivity sessions had been conducted by departments in 2019/2020, and 12 778 officials had attended these sessions. The information had disaggregated by salary levels, age, race, and gender, and 33 departments reported that they had appointed sexual harassment advisors as required by the policy. 40 cases had been reported by departments, and 19 cases were carried over from the previous year as they were not resolved. In the Gender Mainstreaming Course offered by the National School of Government (NSG), there was a section that focused on sexual harassment, and to date 6 000 officials had been trained in all three spheres of government. However, as of 1 April 2020, there had been a stand-alone training programme based on the PPMSH private sector policy that had been developed by the NSG, and to date the course had been attended by 238 officials. The DWYPD was responsible for monitoring the private sector.
The DPSA referred to the challenges that hamper progress it had made in terms of the above, and steps taken or required to mitigate them. The challenges included the poor submission of reports by departments. Very few departments conducted sessions for training officials for sensitivity training, and not all cases of sexual harassment in the workplace were reported. Departments would report that they have no cases arising from sexual harassment cases, and yet on the Personnel Administration System (PERSAL) there would be a record of such cases. The highest number of cases were in the Departments of Education in all nine provinces. The reason for the lack of resolution to these cases included victims, witnesses and perpetrators refusing to cooperate, the unavailability of presiding officers, and insufficient evidence. Very few people report sexual harassment for fear of victimisation and retaliation.
Letters had been sent to Heads of Departments (HODs) to request reasons for non-compliance, both in terms of reporting requirements and non-compliance with policy implementation. Responses on interventions from departments were currently being collected and documented.
The Chairperson called the Department of Cooperative Governance to the platform to present.
COGTA: Progress on implementation of Pillar 1 of NSP
The presentation on COGTA's progress on implementing Pillar 1 of the NSP on GBVF (Accountability, Leadership and Coordination) was led by Ms Avril Williamson, Director-General.
Localising the response through the DDM approach
Ms Williamson said the Department was committed to ensuring that District Development Model (DDM) framework included gender responsive indictors and targets aligned with the NSP on GBVF. Through the Department's annual performance plan (APP), the indicators and targets of the NSP on GBVF were incorporated into the DDM framework. The overall adoption of a "gender lens" (gender mainstreaming) was critical in the development of municipal plans in order integrate the NSP on GBVF priorities. Implementation of the GBVF NSP was also a standing item on the agenda of the National Public Participation Coordinating Forum, and the inter-governmental relations (IGR) structure established to support and monitor community participation in municipalities. The Department also provided direct support to provinces to customise performance indicators relating to the implementation of the NSP and their inclusion in their APPs.
Effective multi-sectoral coordination
Ms Williamson referred to effective multi-sectoral coordination by the lead agency, and collaboration across different tiers of government. Two provinces had been supported to prepare for the establishment of new ward committees following the 2021 local government elections. These committees would be included in the prevention and response to GBVF incidents. Gauteng, the Western Cape and Mpumalanga provinces had already committed to include GBVF in their ward committee inductions, as well as in ward operational plans. A GBVF feature on the GovChat App was launched on 8 March 2021, and to date, 51 GBVF-related reports and nine relating to domestic violence had been received. 50 requests for the GBVF contact centre details and 31 safe space ratings had been made through the platform.
COGTA was consulting with the United Nations for support in the implementation of the DDM. The Department was currently working with three pilot districts, which would help in establishing the development priorities of the DDM. The implementation plans were based on three interrelated pillars -- economic value chains, social transformation, and service delivery enhancement.
Community work programme activities on GBVF
The Eastern Cape, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Gauteng had their own programmes that were being conducted for communities. The aim of these activities was to raise awareness about issues of GBVF. The provinces were hosting these programmes, where groups lead or provide support in terms of counselling. These programmes also look at men’s forums.
COGTA had also looked internally at the women in local government, and hosted a session around this. The Department was looking at various programmes which would follow the eight principles and action plans for promoting women's empowerment and gender equality within the workplace. The Department had activities and programmes lined up for women in management in particular. A survey had been conducted to assess the level of sexual harassment within the Department, and it was a cause of concern. This would be addressed by work-shopping and dealing with the issue going forward.
The Chairperson called the Department of Employment and Labour to the platform to present.
DEL: Pillar 1 of NSP on GBVF
Mr Boitumelo Moloi, Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour (DEL), led the presentation.
Labour laws on violence and harassment
He said the labour laws dealing with violence and sexual harassment included the Employment Equity Act (EEA) of 1998 and the Labour Relations Act of 1995. The EEA deals with sexual harassment cases and also includes the Human Resources Code for dealing with harassment in the workplace. It provides guidelines to employers and employees on the prevention and elimination of harassment, which is considered to be a form of discrimination in the workplace. The EEA also guides human resource policies, procedures and practices on how to deal with incidents and prevent the recurrence of incidents.
What had been done by the DEL to hold the private sector accountable? Advocacy campaigns had been conducted in all provinces to raise awareness about violence and harassment within workplaces. There had been joint employment equity (EE) campaigns with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
Challenges that hamper progress
Challenges include non-compliance by employers to their legal obligations; limited knowledge of employees of their rights to equality and fair treatment; measures on the prevention and elimination of sexual harassment were inadequately covered in collective agreements binding on both employers and employees; training and induction programmes did not cover the issues adequately; advocacy and education campaigns seemed to be reactive rather than pro-active.
A draft code on the prevention and elimination of harassment in the workplace was expected to be published for implementation by the end of March 2022.
The Chairperson called the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) to the platform for their presentation.
DCDT: Pillar 1 of NSP on GBVF
Ms Nonkqubela Jordan-Dyani, Director-General, DCDT, led the Department's presentation.
She said the Department's responsibilities included the strengthening of the NSP on GBVF. The programmes include connectivity and cyberactivity. The Department continued to work with their social partners in terms of the call to action -- for men as partners and boys to stand against rape and the sexual abuse of women and children. The Department also wanted to increase awareness and drive change.
The Department was implementing a mandate that would ensure that the country was digitally ready and had the best technology that could play a role in combating GBVF and domestic violence. It had a cyber security programme and was driving for cyber security awareness in schools and communities. The Department was also working with state-owned entities (SOEs) in terms of raising awareness.
Implementation to date by DCDT
The Department had included gender equity and women’s empowerment targets into its business plan. Its main focus was the online safety of children through cyber security, targeting the general population. This included fake news and the issue of sexual offences as they were perpetrated online through the utilisation of online platforms. Gender mainstreaming and gender equity targets had also been included as a part of the 2020/21 business plan. An information communication technology (ICT) strategy was the guiding document for the Department in terms of the implementation of gender programmes. It was looking at supported Places of Safety for women and children through facilitating access to ICT training and ICT equipment.
Work done by DCDT entities
The Department consisted of 11 entities. The SABC continued to rollout national programmes on all of their platforms. Campaigns from the SABC included those on GBV. It had an education programme against femicide and rape. A budget had been set aside for television and radio. The SABC continued to support non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on GBV.
The State Information Technology Agency (SITA) had specific departments that focus on gender. It also had information systems on security to seek to enhance performance online. Information Systems Security was working collaboratively to ensure compliance and adherence to a zero tolerance approach to cyber-bullying and violence.
In 2019, the South African Post Office (SAPO) had launched a gender desk that included both genders to coordinate responses to the crisis of GBVF. SAPO used the Uyinene case as an example to educate all their staff members. The entity sought to challenge patriarchal norms. The Post Bank had developed policies that dealt with sexual harassment, ethics, and disciplinary and grievance issues. It offered employees assistance and support through programmes that deal with counselling for trauma victims. Empowerment programmes had also been used as a way to support women in the economy.
Broadband Infraco (BBI) had incentives that deal with GBVF, and they have a zero-tolerance approach to cyber-bullying. The Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA) also had programmes on GBVF and were looking at the gender equity in their departments. The Film and Publication Board (FPB) Act had played a large role in terms of the training of Child Protection Officers. The FPB did online monitoring of various sites and distribution sites, and had destroyed discs containing adult material from the Northern and Western Cape.
Broadening participation in the economy
BBI continued to have a set-aside target of 30 percent for supply chain management (SCM) on procurement by small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), with a focus on those that were women-owned. The same applied to SITA, which had over-achieved its procurement target over the last financial year, when 40 percent had gone to female SMMEs. The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) was currently busy with the licensing of the wireless network spectrum, and a threshold requirement was 20 percent black women's ownership. This was helping in terms of transformation of the sector. With the broadcasting and local content, more women were being asked to participate. The sector statistics show that board representation was at 25 percent, executive directors were at 25 percent, black female executive management was at 30 percent, and senior management was at 30 percent. There had been a slight improvement with both middle and junior management.
The Chairperson said she would allow Members to ask questions. Once all the questions had been asked, each Department would have a chance to respond.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) shared her concerns about the increase in statistics with regard to GBV during Women’s Month. There had been 10 000 cases between April and June. The NSP was a step in the right direction, but not enough was being done to fight GBVF. The DPSA had spoken about the under-reporting of sexual harassment. The Department should give the Committee an indication about what they would do differently, while still ensuring that the victims involved were being protected.
The Department of Cooperative Governance was making use of a government act that was used for people in government for them to be able to report. Perhaps this could be utilised to allow for the anonymous reporting of cases. Departments should ensure that the emergency number for the GBV command centre was widely available for the public and employees. The emergency number should be promoted more and better publicised. The emergency number for GBV had a "Please Call Me" service available.
The SABC was doing its bit in promoting and fighting the pandemic against GBV and by promoting women’s rights. However, the command centre number should be more actively promoted by the SABC. The Department of Communications had spoken about the representation of females in departments with regard to leadership and management. The other departments should also indicate their statistics. A Cabinet resolution in 2018 had all departments employing social workers. These social workers were deployed by the state. Social workers play an important role in education, Women in the Presidency should ensure that social workers were aligned with the resolution of Cabinet in 2018 in order to help resolve violence.
Ms C Ndaba (ANC) said that the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities would be inviting all of the departments present in the meeting so that the Committee could engage in detail with them on all the presentations made. The Committee would track the progress of everything that had been reported on.
Ms N Sharif (DA) agreed with Ms Ndaba, and said that it was important for the departments to present to the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities. Departments must ensure that they brought frameworks with so that the Committee could be informed of their targets, so that progress could be properly tracked and implemented. Effective progress was achieved through monitoring, evaluation and frameworks. The Committee had a duty to present and account to the public on progress. It was important for the Multi-Party on Women’s Caucus to receive reports on progress so that women could engage and give recommendations.
The Department of Public Service and Administration was questioned about the challenges indicated in slides 10 and 13 of their presentation, which recommended writing to the department head. It was important the party involved was made aware of the interventions the department would make to ensure that the party could request what was necessary from the department. Each challenge that was stipulated should have its own intervention. The DCDT was questioned about the new technology that assisted in the capture of perpetrators who were involved in posting revenge porn. Was the new technology of the Department helping employers with vetting? There needed to be call for vetting so that an incident such as that involving Uyinene could be prevented.
Dr S Thembekwayo (EFF) directed a question to the DWYPD, and asked how effective and accessible the website was, including social media to communities in the rural areas. The Department of Justice was questioned after its failure in the past to respond to an issue raised by her involving restorative justice. The Department and Correctional Services had had social auxiliary workers working on renewable contracts since 2015 to date. With the recurring contracts, there had been some periods where the contracts would end but the workers would stay on for periods ranging from three to six months, without proper communication taking place. To date, their contracts had ended, yet their same positions had been re-advertised. As a result, uncertainty remained as to whether their applications would be considered. During the strategic planning session held between 16 and 20 July 2018, an important decision was taken by the Justice Department, which was reflected on page 35 of the report and the following was stated clearly: ‘the current social auxiliary workers appointed on a contract basis must be incorporated into a permanent structure (positions).’ This had not been implemented, and decisions like this were binding. She wanted to know why such decisions had not been implemented.
Her following question was directed towards the Department of Public Service and Administration. The Department had spoken about training held throughout the years. She wanted to know how the training success was evaluated through its implementation -- if, however, there ever was implementation of the training.
She asked both the DPSA and the DEL how they were planning on making it easier for people to report sexual harassment without feeling as if they would be victimised. People lost their jobs for reporting these matters, so what interventions were the departments planning on?
Her final question was directed to the DCDT. She asked how effective their call of action had been for boys and men to stand against rape and sexual abuse against women and children. The statistics for this had still not reduced, but had in some cases escalated to murder and the dismembering of bodies.
Ms R Semenya (ANC) asked the DCDT to clarify its presentation on empowerment with regard to the wait for legislation, where a target of 40 percent was to be adopted. The President had stated in the State of the Nation Address (SONA) that it was a policy on its own that needed to be implemented without having to wait on other legislation. The majority of the departments present had spoken about the need to mainstream gender in their departments. They were asked at what level there were focus persons in these departments. The SABC was screening material showing the insubordination of women, which she says promoted violence against women, and she wanted to know what could be done about it.
Ms M Hlengwa (IFP) said that it was disappointing that Women’s Month was nearly over, and several women had been killed this month, including pregnant women. A perpetrator had said that 15 years in prison did not mean anything and that when he was released back into society, he would do the same thing. This was worrying for women all over South Africa. She was not convinced that the police would come on board. More stakeholders needed to come on board. Leadership and people with authority in communities needed to raise awareness and be advocates against such violence. There was a need for accountability. The departments were questioned on how they could instil belief in accountability among leaders and communities. The women of South Africa were crying daily calling for action. Women and children were being killed by people that supposedly loved them. Enough was enough.
She asked for clarity on awareness and advocacy within the education sector. The education sector needed educated on these matters. These issues had to be implemented in the curriculum. There was still enough time to ensure that the children in the education system could grow up to be good citizens of South Africa. The Department of Education needed to be a part of this discussion. Bullying was still a huge problem at schools. It was important for people to use their culture as tools to mould their children so that they could grow up to be respectable and responsible.
Ms Tshabalala responded on the Cabinet's resolution to absorb social workers. As a Department, they were not responsible for the absorbing of social workers. This issue lay with the Department of Social Development, the Department of Health and the South African Police Service, in all of which social workers play an important role in terms of the work they ought to do. She would follow up with these departments to see if they had managed to persuade the various government departments to do so. At the national level and provinces within the Department of Social Development, they had managed to absorb social workers within their baseline, and had reprioritised their budgets to the best of their ability up to the point where they could no longer absorb them. Whether the other government departments had managed to absorb them was a matter that could be better responded to by the Department of Social Development.
The Department was now focusing on the NSP on GBVF in terms of implementation. The targets that were not achieved in the previous policy had been implemented in this one, to ensure that the mandate was upheld. The two policies have been infused and have found their strategic path into the monitoring and evaluation framework that was being finalised. What had not n implemented in the previous policy was being catered for. The Department agreed and realised that there was a need for a call to action, and this was a path that would be pursued. There was a need to heighten awareness. The Department was working on a prevention strategy and as soon as it was concluded, finalised, adopted and endorsed, this would be a strategy implemented in all workplaces, including the private sector and civil society.
There was work under way with the Education Department and the curriculum.
The issue of social auxiliary workers was also directed to the Department of Social Development. She did not know what had prompted them into entering into contracts, but contracts were premised on particular periods of time as to when they would end, and were also informed by the availability of budgets. From the beginning, individuals were informed of the expiration of their contracts. Therefore, the ending of a contract should not be a surprise. However, the Department hoped for employment, due to the severe increase in the unemployment rate.
Together with the DCDT and Social Development, the DWYPD would work on how to reach out to the SABC on the GBV command centre emergency number. The Department would ensure that it establishes what awareness and marketing strategies were used.
Ms Esther Maluleke, Chief Director, DWYPD, said that its website was fairly new. The platform was a collaborative one that included civil society and the private sector. The website was doing well, and the Department was doing its best to include information about GBVF. The website content was not limited to Government -- everybody had the right to access it and share the content or work that was related to GBVF. Social media platforms had been established, and the Department would like to start interacting with South Africa about GBVF and the implementation surrounding the NSP. The first newsletter had been published on the website. The Department would communicate the work and progress around issues that affected the GBVF pandemic. It was trying to source partners in terms of funding so that it could employ individuals to run the website and social media platforms in order to maintain constant communication with the public. The platform also needed to be fed information constantly. The Department was in need of someone who could manage the platforms.
Deputy Minister Jeffery responded to Dr Thembekwayo on the social auxiliary workers, as the question had been directed to him. However, the matter involved the Department of Correctional Services, and the officials present were from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. Her question could be tabled as a parliamentary question to the Minister.
There had been a question on women in senior positions within the DoJ&CD. The target for women in senior management service (SMS) was 50%. From the July statistics, the actual percentage achieved was 47%. There was also a target of 2.3% for people with disabilities, and the actual achieved was 2.2%.
Adv Kambula said that the Department of Basic Education (DBE) was a member of two committees, which included the Director-General and the Inter-Sectoral Committee on Sexual Offences and Child Justice. The Department interacted on these platforms and was providing quarterly reports for monitoring purposes. It had been concerned by the serious and violent crimes that were being perpetrated by children. The Department collected the statistics on child justice that had been desegregated into age groups. There had been findings throughout three consecutive financial years that children were committing mostly sexual offences. For 2020/21, the Department had found that the top three offences that children had been charged with were rape, assault with attempt to cause grievous bodily harm, and murder.
In order for the Department to assist the DBE, a partnership had been formed. A schools campaign had been started three years ago, but last year there had been no campaign due to Covid-19 restrictions. The figures for the 2019/20 school campaign were that 310 schools had been visited, and 69 810 students were reached. In this financial year, two webinars had also been conducted, focusing on learners and schools that were invited to participate. The webinar was about online child exploitation and cyber-bullying. The aim of the webinars was to sensitise children to the national list of sex offenders and the legislation on sexual offences. It was a serious concern to the Department that children were committing rape.
In responding to Ms Tshabalala on the issue of sentencing which needed to be reconsidered, he said serious sentencing did have ramifications regarding their effectiveness. These were issues that needed to be deliberated. The National Prosecuting Authority had reported that they had a conviction rate of 74% for sexual offences, and had reported on the prison sentences and life imprisonment sentences that the courts had imposed in these cases. The issue of impactful sentencing needed to be deliberated. There had been 267 life sentences imposed in 2019/20, and 154 sentences of between 20 and 25 years' imprisonment. Courts were responding to the call that had been made by women. The number of life sentences being issued was increasing.
Ms Makhasi responded to the question on the reporting of sexual harassment in the workplace. She said that the Department's presentation had indicated and highlighted interventions such as exploring technology capability that would allow for the centralisation of reporting of these cases. The Department was a part of the forum that includes South African Director-Generals. It presented reports to them. It had conducted provincial visits and engaged with seven of the nine provinces on the issue of GBV and sexual harassment. It would ensure that it updated its presentation with this information.
The Department would take the feedback that stipulated that it would need to have an intervention for each of its challenges. A sample of individuals had been trained at the School of Government, and from that training session the Department would get its feedback from them on the impact of the training. From the survey that was referred to earlier in the meeting, some of those questions would be implemented in the feedback forms.
If a report had resulted in the loss of a job, due to existing laws the matter would be investigated and dealt with as outlined by the CCMA. However, if the Department received complaints, it followed the necessary processes to deal with the issues accordingly until the matter was resolved. It did have a helpline that deals with employees that had been suspended.
There were opportunities in the Public Service to promote and prioritise the number for the GBVF command centre. The number would be available to the Department as well.
The national report on SMS representation the end of the financial year showed that it was 44% comprised of women. The public service was not yet on target, but this would be monitored and the matter would be brought to their attention. The issue of non-compliance allowed for matters to be raised if departments were not complying. The DPSA would raise the issue in Parliament and to the Cabinet. Colleagues could not be forced, and the Department's options were limited. The framework would be presented to the Department as recommended.
Ms Williamson advised that she had network problems, and that she would respond to questions in writing.
Deputy Minister Moloi said that the Department made it known to employers that it was their responsibility to protect victims of harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace. The current advocacy campaigns were not assisting with these particular issues, and more needed to be done. The CCMA dealt with these cases on a regular basis, and it empowered the Labour Courts to deal with what should follow after. Victimisation went as far as getting individuals fired. Workers needed to be educated on their rights in the workplace. Departments should always strive to be on the side of the victims, and there was a need for this narrative to be promoted. She supported the matter raised by Ms Sharif. More needed to be done with regard to the GBVF Hotline. Sessions should happen on a quarterly basis.
Ms Jordan-Dyani said that the Department would work with the SABC to ensure the GBVF command centre number was prioritised on the platform. She was hoping the DWYPD would talk about their policy on the set-aside, as there were issues with implementing it. This meant that the procurement legislation would have to be changed at National Treasury.
Ms Ndaba interrupted by asking what the challenges were in dealing with procurement. The Committee would like to know what challenges were, rather than having the Department highlighting it or just mentioning it. The Committee wanted to know exactly what the Department was referring to.
Ms Jordan-Dyani said that the Department needed to change the Procurement Bill which National Treasury had. In the DCDT's engagements with National Treasury, it did not seem like this matter was receiving their necessary attention. The Department could not enforce it or implement it if the Procurement Bill did not change and was very precise that 40% should be set aside. SITA had made a commitment, but it was not prescribed in the law. Until such time when amendments could be fast-tracked and it was ensured that this was compulsory, implementation would be difficult.
Responding to Ms Sharif on how the Department went about prosecution, she said it was in the process of finalising the amendments to the legislation to criminalise revenge pornography. The process of legislation took a long time. The FPB was working with the SAPS Family and Child Protection Unit where these incidents were reported. The Department also listed it on their website in terms of naming and shaming.
With regard to the SABC adverts that were subjective and demeaning towards women, the Department would bring this matter up with the Corporation. However, due to its editorial independence, it was important for members of society to report this, because it was bound by a code of conduct that was regulated by the Broadcasting Complaints Commissions, as well as the Independent Communications Authority. The vetting processes were ongoing. This was being done through the State Security Agency (SSA).
Ms Semenya asked if the President’s announcement on procurement had been accepted as a policy, with a requirement that it should be implemented. Should Members wait for further legislation? When the President made announcements about policies, they usually get implemented. With regard to the 40%, did it have to wait for the legislation? She proposed that the Department of Women take up the matter, because she did not agree with the Department of Communication.
She repeated her question about the level at which the focal persons were in all the Departments that had presented.
Ms Ndaba asked for clarity on Ms Semenya’s question in terms of levels. Was she referring to salary levels?
Ms Semenya said she was asking about the position. Were they at the level of Deputy Director-General or Deputy Director -- were they in a position to make sure that there was gender mainstreaming in departments?
Deputy Minister Pilane-Majake responded about the gender focal points, saying gender mainstreaming needed to take place across the board. The Steering Committee should interrogate this and at a later stage look at what departments were actually doing. The DPSA was worried about the type of attention the focal points were getting across Cabinet, if they were not properly structured. The Committee and departments needed to ensure that they galvanised the mainstreaming issues of women. Important players were left out when matters of this nature were discussed.
Women’s Parliament proposed programme
Ms Z Nkomo (ANC) took Members through the proposed programme for the Women’s Parliament on 27 August.
She said the programme had been drafted by the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) because the approach of the Women’s Parliament this year was that they would reflect on the resolutions of the 2019 and 2020 Women’s Parliaments. Departments had built on the issues that had been raised, and would come and respond on the work that had been done. Women wanted to respond to the issues, and Ministers would be giving feedback on the matters raised in the Women’s Parliament. The programme consisted of a discussion, and the second session would allow provinces to give their input about women in their provinces.
The Chairperson asked Members to discuss the proposal.
Ms Sharif said that committees were tired of having the Women’s Parliament being a talk shop. She recommended that Ministers look at the targets so that the Committee was informed about what had so far been achieved. The Committee wanted to know how targets were being implemented with regard to the budget allocation and expenditure. It should also be informed of the risks and mitigation plans, and Ministers must be to the point.
Ms Ndaba said that the Committee should write to the Ministers to let them know what their expectations were with regards to their reports. Ministers should include everything that Ms Sharif had mentioned. The Secretary of the Committee could write to the Ministers explaining what Members expect from them so that they could included it in their speeches on Friday. Opposition political parties, such as the DA and EFF, should be included in the programme next time, so that it could reflect properly.
Dr Thembekwayo asked who had planned the programme. The Committee could not make changes to the contents on a Wednesday for something that had to be presented on Friday. She asked when the Committee expected provinces and the programmes to address these issues. Ministers would talk about their resolutions. For the Committee to change the programme of meetings of such high magnitude at such short notice was unfair.
Ms Semenya said that the programme was a parliamentary one that had been organised by the Deputy Speaker and the Deputy Director-General of Parliament. It was suggested that the Multi-Party Women's Caucus request to be involved in discussions surrounding the programme. It was important for the Committee to be a part of the planning. The Committee could not change the programme as it was not its programme.
Ms Ndaba said that the request motivated Members and made them feel like they belonged. She asked Ms Semenya why she had said the programme was not a part of the Committee's agenda, because this meant that the Committee was wasting its time by discussing it.
Ms Semenya responded by saying that the programme was being briefed, not discussed.
Ms Sharif agreed with Ms Ndaba, saying that the Committee could not change what the Ministers had prepared in their speeches. However, it was better to inform them about what was expected from them in these reports.
Dr Thembekwayo asked why the Committee had not been included in the planning.
Ms Sharif asked why the NCOP had excluded them from the preparation.
Ms Ndaba said it was unfair.
The Chairperson intervened, and said that the programme being presented was a proposal. The Steering Committee had its own way of dealing with how it raised issues. In future, the Department should be included. If Ministers left out information such as the issue of targets, they should be reminded in advance that that was what was expected of them. The Secretary would send out the information to the relevant departments to ensure that they know what should be included. This did not change anything, because the Ministers should have known that even if they had not asked, it should have been included. The proposal was good, and the recommendation would be made with regard to the inclusion of opposition parties.
Ms Van der Merwe said that the important point was that in the future, the Steering Committee must be involved in the planning at a much earlier stage, so that recommendations of adding in opposition parties could be included. The Committee was always an afterthought, and should be included much earlier. The Committee could make a meaningful input if included earlier.
The Chairperson agreed.
The meeting was adjourned.
Bilankulu, Ms NK
Hlengwa, Ms MD
Jeffery, Mr JH
Masiko, Ms F
Mkhize, Prof HB
Moloi, Ms BE
Ndaba, Ms CN
Nkoana-Mashabane, Ms ME
Nkomo, Ms Z
Nxesi, Mr TW
Pilane-Majake, Dr MC
Semenya, Ms MR
Sharif, Ms NK
Thembekwayo, Dr S
Tlhomelang, Ms KB
Tolashe, Ms N G
van der Merwe, Ms LL
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