Follow-up Meeting with the Commission for Gender Equality

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

01 September 2021
Chairperson: Ms C Ndaba (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

24 Aug 2021

CGE 2020/21 Quarter 1 & 4 performance

In a virtual meeting, the Committee met with the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) for a follow up meeting on outstanding questions the Committee had from a previous engagement. Members were displeased to hear about media reports which put the Committee, especially the Chairperson, in an unfavourable light as some CGE Commissioners took their grievances to the media. Members emphasised that the CGE needed internal mechanisms to deal with such matters and ensure there was a healthy working environment. Members also felt that their relationship with the CGE was such that matters could be openly discussed with the Committee instead of through the media. Members stressed that this would not deter them in fulfilling their duty of holding the Commission accountable even if this was sometimes uncomfortable. Some Members found it surprising that the CGE had resources for such matters when it failed to carry out its core objectives relating to GBV. This was even more concerning when the CGE had “real” problems as was evident in the audit reports.

In a prior engagement, the Committee had unanswered questions to which the CGE audit committee responded to in writing. The questions which were responded to included:

- Why have the concerns that were brought to the attention of the Committee that directly relate to operational matters and risk have not found expression in reporting under Corporate Governance or Risk Management? Did the RMC not deal with issues raised by the CEO in Q4 of 2020/21 and Q1 2021/22? If not, why not. If yes, how and why was it not reflected in the quarterly reports then?

-What were the key findings of the RMC for the FY 2020/21? How many of these are repeat findings? What were the key challenges identified by the RMC? What were the recommendations proposed by the RMC?

- What were the key findings of the RMC for Q1 of 2021/22? What recommendations were proposed by the RMC?

- What if any are the challenges experienced by the RMC?

In relation to the above, Members were concerned about unfilled but funded vacancies, Commissioner’s salaries, salaries of personal assistants, expenditure for recruitment agencies and the lack of evaluation within the CGE to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of the CGE – this is a massive problem. If the CGE is going to be doing monitoring and evaluation on external bodies, they need to be able to monitor and evaluate itself. Members discussed the need for an external assessment of the CGE’s governance, declaration of financial interests and a review of the CGE Act to ensure that it aligns with the current problems and challenges of society. Members highlighted irregular expenditure on expired contracts and the procurement of IT resources which were never used – Members lamented the wasting of taxpayers’ money.

The Commission committed to going back to look at the irregular expenditures and coming back with a well-detailed presentation to account before the Committee. 

The Chairperson, in closing, asked the Commission to come back to the Committee with a well-detailed breakdown of the costs included in the report.

Meeting report

CGE media reports

The Chairperson opened the virtual meeting, welcoming the Members and everyone present. The Committee noted the apologies.

She reminded the chairperson of the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) about the agenda items of this meeting that were sent to her. She reminded the Members of the Portfolio Committee (PC) that this is a follow-up meeting from the previous week’s meeting, and said that she received a letter from the chairperson of the CGE suggesting the CGE was not ready to present. This letter was asking for an extension to be granted to the CGE to give it time to conclude on those reports. The Chairperson assured the chairperson of the CGE that it will be given the extension by the PC so that it can conclude their report. The Committee needs an investigation to be conducted as well as a report of account.

The Chairperson said it is apparent from newspaper reports that in the CGE there is a concerted effort that wants to defame the integrity of the Portfolio Committee, but also defaming the character of the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee. This does not shake the PC; as long as the Members are in their line of duty, they will discharge their duties according to the oaths they took in Parliament, and they will scrutinise how public funds are utilised by institutions of government. When the CGE took a decision of part-time Commissioners being paid for a hundred hours, was it a blanket cheque? Were they saying it must be accompanied by work that has been done? This money must be accounted for, and if it is not, it must be returned. The timeframes that the CGE chairperson has requested must be adhered to, and there will not be any further extensions.


Ms F Masiko (ANC) noted the opening remarks of the Chairperson, although it was not an agenda item. She thought it would be a great disappointment to engage with the CGE in this manner, noting that some of the Commissioners have chosen to express their concerns or grievances in the manner. She joined the Chairperson in expressing her thoughts on the events of the past week.

Firstly, the channels in which these grievances have been expressed is really a matter of concern. If, in any way, there is an issue between the Portfolio Committee and the CGE, one would expect the CGE to follow the proper channels and express its grievances. A letter has been written to the Committee, but one would expect to receive the letter through procedure before the letter ends up in the media. “This shows that there is an element of bullying in this whole matter because, before they could even receive the letter as Parliament, and also as the Committee, you find journalists and the media harassing you on something that you have not received yet through the correct procedural channels”, she added.

This PC has a responsibility to monitor and oversee the work and budgets of national government departments as well as institutions that account to Parliament through this PC. The Committee has to hold them accountable in the line of executing this responsibility. The Committee will ask questions; some will be uncomfortable, but it must never be interpreted as the PC failing to execute its responsibility.

The PC has a responsibility to monitor the administration budgets and everything. There are no expectations of any attacks or counter-attack on the work that the Committee is doing. It is important that all the Commissioners understand that the Committee has a responsibility to account to the people of South Africa on the work that it does in its oversight responsibility; this is especially for the Commissioners who have expressed grievances – not to the Committee, but to the media first, before they even approached the Committee. This understanding will shelter the PC and the Chairperson of the PC from the negative public perceptions that the Commissioners are trying to paint on the institution. The CGE and commissioners have a responsibility to protect the PC.

Ms N Sharif (DA) shared the same sentiments as the Chairperson, and expressed some concerns over what the Members had found in the media this weekend. It is really a concern when there is questioning of a Committee’s integrity by the media, when these issues were not raised with the Committee. This PC is not a type of committee that is not willing to have a serious conversation about its conduct and holding itself accountable. In fact, if those who feel aggrieved would come to the PC, they would be given the space to express themselves, as it has been done in the past.

It is surprising to know that the CGE has resources to take on such cases when it cannot take on cases of gender-based violence (GBV). It may often seem that the PC is harsh on certain issues, and that is what it was elected to do. It was elected to hold entities and Chapter Nine institutions to account, and that is what the PC is going to do. When one looked at the Auditor Risk mid-year report, it is clear that there are real issues in the CGE. It is surprising that the CGE has so much time on its hands that they feel the need to attack the PC’s integrity when the CGE’s integrity is in question, and they need to clean up their own mess. In support of Ms Masiko, she said that the PC has a constitutional right and responsibility to hold the CGE to account when they are not meeting targets and when their targets are not suited to what is needed on the ground.

If Commissioners feel that they do not have a safe space to come and speak, then that is something that the PC has to deal with. If this is the issue, then the PC has to do some self-introspection and change how it works, so that Commissioners can come forward and speak about issued with the PC without feeling that they need to go to the media. Lastly, the internal battles within the CGE are spilling over to the PC. To make it clear, the PC will not be part of any fight.

Mr L Mphithi (DA) had two comments relating to the events of the past weekend, starting with the way in which Members of the Committee have been dragged in the media, including himself. He expressed his deep disappointment as an elected representative of the National Assembly of the Republic of South Africa, and added that the manner in which the CGE has dealt with this issue has been largely disappointing. The Committee is made up of Members from different political parties. The manner in which the Chairperson has been treated in this situation has been very unfair. This PC is the only committee that really deals with issues without playing party politics.

He said it is very disappointing that, in the third year of this term, after having fought hard for the CGE to have resources, to be supported, to have their concerns reach people who control resources and have access to making the change that it is calling for, the CGE is in the public’s bad books for the entire women’s month. It is not fair for an independent constitutional entity like the CGE to mention alleged victims in letters or in the media. How does the CGE expect to be seen as legitimate when they are dragging victims who have reported that they have been abused? This is not how an entity like the CGE is supposed to conduct itself. There is a huge GBV problem in this country, but today the CGE turns around and drags the very same victims they are supposed to be protecting.

Mr Mphithi said that his view is that he still wants to have a good relationship with the Commission and believes that it is still possible. But that can only happen when everything is put on the table and addressed, in order to move forward. The only thing that the Committee cannot forget is the mission that it has, the mission the CGE has, as well as the mission the Department of Women and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD) has in this country. That mission is to fight for the people who are most vulnerable in society. The CGE has not done that in the past couple of months, and that is a shame.

The Chairperson said that the other thing that the Commissioners of the CGE need to understand is that if they do not want to be held accountable by Parliament, they can simply write a resignation letter and leave so that other people who are willing to do the work and account can take their positions. It is not the PC that is going to beg the Commissioners to account; they have a responsibility to account.

She asked the CEO of the CGE to start with the Audit and Risk Committee Report.

Mr Mphithi raised the issue of the questionable attendance by the Commission because many members of the Commission had excused themselves for other commitments. There were many Commissioners, particularly those that go to the media and speak on the work of the PC, who do not attend these meetings. Many of them do not attend the PC meetings, they do not account, and they do not even speak in these meetings. It is not fair that the Committee Members’ names are being dragged on social media, when the very same Commissioners never attend these meetings and are never available to really account. The attendance records need to be checked, and the Committee needs to do something about those that are never available for these meetings.

The Chairperson suggested that the Committee draws up a report on the attendance of Commissioners and whether they are doing their work.

Ms C Phiri (ANC) said that when the PC receives more than three apologies from the CGE, this means that they are not ready. The Commissioners need to come to Committee meetings. She supported the suggestion by the Chairperson, of the Committee exercising its powers and taking its recommendation to the National Assembly.

Ms Masiko said that even before the COVID-19 times, the Committee noted the attendance of Commissioners, especially those that needed to fly in to Cape Town, from other provinces, for meetings. It was the issue of resources and travel time from other provinces that was noted. Now that the meetings are sitting on the virtual platforms, this is an issue that the Committee really needs to look at. It is the easiest and most accessible way of holding meetings now that those previously mentioned issues are no longer a problem. It should become a problem if Members and officials who were not able to attend physical meetings during pre-COVID times, when there were physical sittings, are still not attending meetings even now.

CGE Responses

Dr Nthabiseng Moleko, CGE Deputy Chairperson, thanked the Committee Chairperson and acknowledged all the comments made by the Committee Members in light of what is happening at CGE. In line with Section 51 of the Act, the Commission is required to present and table reports to Parliament. The CGE acts in accordance with this. The CGE also presents, to Parliament, its annual report and other quarterly reports, and the implementation of their strategic plan over the quarters, as required by the handbook and the Act.

What the CGE endeavoured to do was to continue to work, in line with its mandate. The Commission has not submitted any complaint in this regard, as an institution. To her knowledge, the Commission has not made such a submission. The Commission distanced itself from media articles.

If the CGE had made such a submission as an institution, that submission would have found expression in the institution’s highest decision-making body. It is important for the CGE to distance itself from the statements that are being made, because the institution has not made them. The CGE has an internal manual that is followed to deal with disputes. There is a section in the manual where there are guides on how to solve these matters efficiently and effectively. There might be some individuals within the CGE that go to the media to make these statements, but this is not the position of the institution.

Ms Tamara Mathebula, CGE Chairperson, thanked the Committee Chairperson for the invitation and the time offered to the Commission to come before the Committee and account for any public finances that have been allocated to the Commission, and whatever commitments the Commission has made. There is no way that the CGE cannot allow itself to come and account before the PC.

She said that she wants to respond and address the remarks made by the Committee Chairperson and the Members. Firstly, if there is a complaint within the Commission, there are internal channels existing within the Commission that are put in place to deal with these complaints internally. There has however not been any formal complaint brought before the Commission that has been interrogated or discussed internally. Therefore, the CGE would like to distance itself from any of these comments and statements written in the media. It is definitely not the CGE that goes to the media with these stories. On one or two instances they, as the CGE, have tried to respond to those articles.

She agreed with Mr Mphithi that the real people that have suffered because of those media articles are the very same people that the CGE is committed to protect. Their mantra is to be gender-sensitive, to be human rights-sensitive and to observe that there is no discrimination that happens within the organisation. She said they have been able to write letters to apologise to the public.

The CGE commits to trying at all times to implement its mandate and work towards achieving a society free from all forms of gender inequality. She reiterated that the CGE wants to distance itself from those media articles.

The Committee Chairperson asked the CGE to start responding on the Risk Committee Report.

Ms Mathebula introduced Mr Nkosini Mashabane, CGE audit committee member, who was representing the audit committee in the PC meeting. They started their work in January 2021. He was coming to account and present on behalf of the Audit Committee Chairperson.

Mr Mashabane thanked the Committee Chairperson and the Members. He wanted to respond to the questions in the sequence in which they were asked. The first question was on operational matters. He explained that these were raised by the CEO, but the audit committee needed to know why these did not make it into the report.

He responded to that question saying the CGE has two committees: one that is focused on risk management, and is the committee supporting the CEO. According to its charter, it is led by an external, independent member. At the moment, that position has been vacant, and there in no one leading the committee.

There is also an audit committee that is an oversight committee monitoring the effectiveness of the risk management committee (RMC) in the CGE, to ensure that the proper processes and the work undertaken by the risk management committee is in line with the guidelines and the prescripts that inform risk management in any other organisation.

The Committee Chairperson requested the report be presented which reflects on the audit outcomes not the response to the Committee. That report has the breakdown of all the activities they have done in terms of audit.

CGE responses to PC questions

Mr Mashabane presented a 16-page CGE Audit Committee’s Response to the Portfolio Committee questions.

The questions which were responded to included:

- Why have the concerns that were brought to the attention of the Committee that directly relate to operational matters and risk have not found expression in reporting under Corporate Governance or Risk Management? Did the RMC not deal with issues raised by the CEO in Q4 of 2020/21 and Q1 2021/22? If not, why not. If yes, how and why was it not reflected in the quarterly reports then?

-What were the key findings of the RMC for the FY 2020/21? How many of these are repeat findings? What were the key challenges identified by the RMC? What were the recommendations proposed by the RMC?

- What were the key findings of the RMC for Q1 of 2021/22? What recommendations were proposed by the RMC?

- What if any are the challenges experienced by the RMC?


See attached for the responses

The Chairperson suggested that because all the Members received the report with the responses directly from the CGE before this meeting, they must engage directly with the report.

Mr S Ngcobo (DA) and Ms Masiko agreed with the Chairperson.

Mr Mashabane brought to the Committee’s attention that the CGE needs to overhaul its governing structure; by doing that the CGE will function more efficiently. If they are to best align with the principles contained in the King report they need to start looking at the Act itself and make sure that it permits proper accountability in the organisation. This is to make sure that accountability is enforced, and they will know who can be trusted with the proper separation of duties.

He said that the other issue is the filling of vacancies that are critical in delivering on the work of the CGE. These are the two things that are critical to the CGE, and the CGE will require the assistance of the Committee.

The Chairperson said that she thinks that even the PC is worried about the filling of vacancies. Hopefully the Commission Chairperson, the CEO, and Mr Sediko Rakolote (CGE Commissioner) will tell the Portfolio Committee why these vacancies have not been filled.

The country has a high level of unemployment, and CGE has many vacancies it had not filled. One can ask oneself why these posts have not been filled, because for an organisation or an institution to be fully functional and efficient, HR needs to be there.

She said that an institution like CGE cannot have funded posts and not put people in those posts. When the CGE does not take issues of HR seriously, this suggests that people do not care about the proper functioning of an institution. She said the Chairperson, CEO and Chair of HR need to account on why these posts have not been filled. This excludes the posts that have not found resolution on their duties/responsibilities. This would help resolve the misunderstanding between the CEO and the Commissioners.

In the last meeting, it was suggested that the CGE should go back to find an amicable solution in dealing with those disagreements they have to ensure the smooth running of the institution.  She hopes that they have found a solution to this misunderstanding between the CEO and the Commissioners because it is unhealthy to try and run an institution if there are difficult working conditions for the CEO and the Commissioners.

Leaving matters unsolved for a long period of time makes the working relations very difficult, and this causes people to fight. The PC expects a positive feedback from the CGE.


Ms Masiko had two follow-up questions to the report. The first question was on page 4 of 16, which spoke to the issues of the HR audit where there have been internal control deficiencies identified. The first question was on paying of Commissioners’ salaries without supporting documentation noted on the report. It notes that from the period of April 2020 to October 2020, during the COVID-19 lockdown period, the part-time Commissioners were paid for 100 hours without any supporting documentation and no timesheets approved by the Executive Authority. How was this managed?

The Chairperson reminded the Committee Members that the CGE came to the PC and presented that they had taken a decision that Commissioners should be paid for 100 hours during the COVID-19 lockdown period last year. This was because it was difficult for Commissioners to do their normal work. The Portfolio Committee supported them with an understanding that they will work those hours out at a later stage. The CGE can remind the Committee about this issue.

Ms Masiko thanked the Chairperson for this reminder and moved to the second question. Her second question was still around the HR audit. The first part of her question was on the issue of salaries that are paid to personal assistants – that these are not aligned to the employment contracts as well as the designated payment scale. She asked why there were different pay scales on the report, compared to what is on the employment contract. The second question she asked was about the structure of the CGE organogram.

Ms Sharif raised a concern over the lack of evaluation within the CGE to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of the CGE – this is a massive problem. If the CGE is going to be doing monitoring and evaluation on external bodies, they need to be able to monitor and evaluate itself. This needs to be looked at. She agreed with the suggestions that perhaps the CGE needs to get an external body to come and assist them with the governance structure.

She said that she finds it very disturbing that there has not been any declaration of financial interests and thinks that as a Chapter Nine institution everything needs to be transparent at the CGE. She urged the chairperson of the CGE to make sure that this happens.

She expressed her concern over the IT issues, the fact that there are no back-ups, no infrastructure standards, and that no framework has been updated with at least full repeat findings. This is a massive challenge, considering that everyone is moving into a more technological space. The IT space needs to be looked at to ensure it is up to standard.

She agreed that the CGE Act must be reviewed to ensure that it aligns with the current problems and challenges of society. The wasting of money by the CGE on materials that they will not use is completely not acceptable.

The Committee Chairperson asked the CGE delegation to respond to the questions that have been raised on the report by the audit committee.


Mr Rakolote responded to the issues relating to the payment of part-time Commissioners, saying that a discussion was held within the CGE. Plenary sat and resolved that part-time Commissioners are to be paid a flat rate of 100 hours. This was not a blanket cheque. Commissioners were expected to submit their quarterly reports to the Chairperson. This resolution was brought before the Committee and the Committee approved it.

Previously, Commissioners would wait to be deployed first and then claim their hours for deployment. This however had to change during the COVID-19 lockdown period because of challenges with deployment. They were expected to work randomly and that memo of 100 hours was approved.

He said that the issue of the payment of PAs will be addressed by the CEO.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Rakolote and said that he represented those facts correctly. She asked the CEO to address the Committee.

Ms Jamela Robertson, CEO, CGE, thanked the Chairperson, and said that she wants to start from the top in addressing the questions that were raised. She said the issue of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) environment is an issue identified during the planning for the 2021/22 financial year. Within the Risk Management Committee (RCM), they have a list of activities they plan on executing in order to have their ICT environment revamped. What has partly been a challenge is capacitating the ICT space is that the CGE has two people in that space. Nationally, it is apparent that this is not sufficient. There are plans put in place to capacitate that space so that the IT environment can be revamped.

Ms Robertson agreed with Mr Rakolote on the issue of Commissioners being paid for 100 hours. She added that from the management side, what has been a challenge was that the audit book needs to be accompanied by a timesheet, and that is what the auditors were looking for. She believes that this is something that they can fix internally in order to be able to go back to the good books of the audit team.

She said the salaries of the PAs, as seen in the audit findings, is a situation where section 64 of the PFMA directive was taken by the Executive Authority to conduct the recruitment of the PAs. What the reports indicate is that there has been a recruitment process that was legitimately conducted by the secretariat. However, that process was stopped, and section 64 was invoked. From there, the internal recruitment policy was not followed. This is what led to the discrepancies in the salaries and the levels of the appointed PAs - details are included in the audit report.

The CGE had vacant posts in their research department, in January 2021. They tried to mitigate and resolve the conflict around this situation, especially as it relates to the iniquity between salaries of people doing the same job. They motivated for the use of these vacant posts to equalise the salaries of the two PAs. This is the current solution they have for this problem.

She said they are currently working on a formal system for members of the CGE to declare their financial interests. She received submissions from members of the CGE, and these are on her table. She added that they have been ongoing talks about reviewing the CGE Act, and it is part of the process they will embark on when they begin to articulate their business model as the CGE.

The Chairperson asked the Deputy Chair of the CGE to comment.

Dr Moleko added the CGE does have a register where financial interests of Commissioners are recorded and this is updated annually. On the issue of vacant posts, the adverts have been finalised, and the issue of the procurement process was on the CGE annual performance plan for this current year. This should be underway in the next quarter, and the Commission plans to finalise it before the end of this financial year.

She said, on the issue of segregation, that they have discussed this with the internal audit and risk, on the changing of the Act and the necessary recommendations. They have gone out to seek clarity and the necessary advice they needed on the changing of the Act.

Ms Mathebula said the committees are as follows: the evaluation will be done on the finance and fundraising committee; they will evaluate the HR and remuneration committee; evaluation will be done on the good governance and social ethics committee; further evaluation will be done on the IT and communications committee; the legal, education and research committees will be evaluated; the strategic plan monitoring and evaluation committee will also be evaluated.

The CGE agrees that as an institution it cannot evaluate itself. An external government expert was needed to come and look into the efficiencies and effectiveness of the CGE. There was however work underway guided by the terms of reference to begin to detail the functioning of the oversight providers. Reviewing the CGE Act was one of the APP activities for this year.

The Chairperson asked the CFO to respond on the irregular expenditure accumulated on the payment of expired contracts. She said the first contract is for telecommunications amounting to R125 000 and the second contract amounts to R1.4m. She asked why the CGE is paying service providers where contracts have expired. The audit committee is concerned about contact management as the previous contract expired on 01 April 2020 – why was this still being paid?

Mr Moshabi Putu, CFO, CGE, responded and said these issues were raised by internal audit during the course of the year, and management responded to these questions. Some of the issues have been resolved internally.

He said he wanted to talk about the contract management. The R125 000 that the CGE chairperson is referring to was related to the “Vox-telecommunications matter”. He believed the Committee is aware of the contents, the challenges and the progress of that contract. The other contract is with the Moolman Group, and it is related to parking space that is an “addendum” to property leased in Polokwane for the CGE Limpopo provincial office. At the beginning of the last financial year, March/April 2020, the contract was due for renewal because it has lapsed. However since occupying, they had to renew the contract. There has been correspondence between the two entities, but the lockdown period has made things difficult. The landlord could not respond to their correspondence timeously. That has since been rectified as part of the administrative formalities.

Mr Moshabi proceeded to address the issue of items/assets that have not been utilised. He said that lockdown has been the real challenge in getting most of the things done. The Commission has been facing challenges with getting these items installed in different provinces.

The Committee Chairperson was not satisfied with that response, especially when talking about the institution’s assets.  She noted that the Commission bought ten Samsung 49-inch Smart TVs on 02 April 2019, all at the value of R79 000, and these have never been used. There was procured software that has never been used. She said she does not understand how any of this has to do with lockdown.

Mr Putu responded that the CEO had alluded to material reasons noting the lack of performance and capacity in the ICT space – this has contributed to the problem. Part of the interventions to correct underperformance is boosting these functions and using other interventions such as Performance Management Development System (PMDS) interventions.

The Chairperson was still not satisfied with these answers. She read from the report page seven, bullet point two, which spoke to what the audit and risk committee had raised: “The teleconference phones were purchased on 12 December 2019 for an amount of R131 649.47 and were delivered to CGE offices nationally in June 2019 for the purpose of conducting stakeholders’ engagements telephonically. One (1) year and nine (9) months later, the project sign-off for these procured conference phones has not yet occurred”. She noted that it has now been one year nine months after the project sign-off for these procured conference phones, and the project intended for their use has not occurred. She asked the CFO why they have not been utilising these gadgets when the CFO noted the lockdown as a challenge.

She also read from the report page seven, bullet point two, “The Commission procured HR Premier Software with an intention to automate the performance management processes on 8 August 2018 for an amount of R30 621.05 and the project is still under development stage”. She asked how the project was still under a development stage from 2018 to 2021.

She asked about the assets that could not be verified by the auditors on page seven of the report and why the losses have not been recovered, as noted in the report. The Committee needs answers to these questions.

She asked if the CFO knows about this report. If so, what has been done?

Mr Putu responded that in-terms of the governance arrangement, there is an element of ineffectiveness derived from some of the design flaws. There is also a gap in the skills needed by these governing bodies. For example, the IT function is a very specialised skill, the lack of which leads to these shortcomings. The CGE can admit this. Expertise will solve most of these problems.

He addressed the issue of the lost items that have been reported saying this aspect is under custodianship of the ICT department. The matter has been escalated for a further report and recovery of the lost items.

The Chairperson said that she is trying to understand the answer the CFO is trying to give the Committee. There are items that have been bought with the taxpayer’s money, and they reflect on the CGE’s books. But when the audit is done, they cannot be verified. What does that mean? How is the governing structure dealing with the issues that have been raised by the board and the Committee? The CFO is responsible for managing finances on behalf of the institution. If the items were purchased but not used, why were they acquired in the first place?

Ms Nomasonto Mazibuko, CGE Commissioner, thanked the Chairperson, and addressed the policy on reasonable accommodation – she confirmed the policy does exist and was given to her. She asked the CEO and CEO to look at it and address what the discrepancy was with the PAs. She urged them to do the right thing.

Ms Masiko thanked Ms Mazibuko for the clarity around the existence of a policy. She asked whether there have been any consequences for those that have transgressed the employment policy, and what the institution has done about that issue.

Mr Mphithi thanked the CGE for the presentation. He followed up on the issue of equipment that was bought and now is reported to be lost. He said he has a problem with the mishandling of equipment, especially in a country which cannot afford to mismanage finances. This does not leave a good impression to the public.

He agreed with the Chairperson that it has now been a year and nine months since the equipment has been procured, and the country has moved between level five and level two of lockdown and movements have been allowed in-between. This type of work did not require anyone to move around as a group, which would violate the regulations that have been put in place by government.

This work should have been done, and he appealed to the CEO and the CGE to do what needs to be done to get this equipment to the relevant places. The work the CGE does in the country is really important, and having these hurdles shifts the focus from what really needs to be done.

Ms O’hara Ngoma-Diseko, CGE Commissioner, thanked the Chairperson and she said that she has been listening closely to what the Chairperson and the other Members have been saying, especially on the issue of asset management - this is an area that the oversight body of finance in the CGE needs to monitor more carefully to oversee how funds are used by the CGE.

She expressed concern about the items that are present as lapsed items in the report. She said that she will go back and focus on this issue, and will ask herself why these problems still persist. She does not think that it is acceptable to buy gadgets just for the sake of buying them.

She expressed her disappointment that the Commission finds itself in such a situation, and she takes personal responsibility to go back and look into this.

The Chairperson said that she is really disappointed by what she sees on the report. She asked why the CGE has not claimed on items that have been damaged by the courier service providers. It is like people do not care about government property. Why would anyone let the taxpayers’ money go to waste?

Ms Sharif agreed with the Chairperson that the spending of money and irregular expenditure is too much. She asked if the Commission had gone through third-party service providers of recruitment agencies and why the numbers are that high.

She asked the Commission what this money is used for. What does it relate to, and why were three different recruitment agencies used.

Mr Rakolote responded on the filling of vacant positions of senior managers. He reminded the PC that the last time the CGE presented this issue, it committed to filling these positions within three months. After that meeting, he consulted with the CGE chairperson to call all subcommittee chairpersons; they have since resolved on a timeline to fill those positions. They gave themselves three months to fill those posts.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Rakolote for this positive feedback. She asked the chairperson of the CGE to respond.

Ms Mathebula responded on the question on reasonable accommodation policy, apologising for missing the question. She reminded the Chairperson that around June/July 2020, there were issues of providing for Commissioners that needed reasonable accommodation. Between July and August, the CGE went back and looked what the policy says about differently abled employees. They discovered gaps in the policy itself, and they took it upon themselves to review the policy before they can move forward with it.

That process has been completed, and the policy was subjected to review; the review looked at different areas. These areas included “the policy was old and was not complying with relevant legislative policies and frameworks that are beginning to address issues of employee disabilities within institutions”.

Ms Mathebula said the Commission also looked at the fact that one of the biggest gaps was that the reasonable accommodation policy actually had to look at adjusting in terms of the working environment, “for employees with disabilities to overcome any practical or physical barriers in the office”.  They looked at gadgets that Commissioners and staff members would need. They needed to be procured and allocated to Commissioners accordingly.

She said, on the issue of engaging with the CEO, the chairpersons of several committees met last week. For the follow-up and recommendation of that meeting, the Chairperson of the institution has met with the CEO on 30 August 2021.

Ms Robertson said that she would like to clarify Ms Masiko’s question about what the consequences are for those that have transgressed the policy. She said the question of the reasonable accommodation policy is acknowledged - the challenge is that other systems do not supersede other existing policies and rules.

The audit finding is about the process of the recruitment policy. Therefore, this is difficult for the secretariat to respond to because this is a section 64 directive. The responsibility was taken away from management and the recruitment process for the PAs is led by the Executive Authority.

The Chairperson asked if there were any other reports that the CGE was meant to respond to.

Ms P Sonti (EFF) asked about the transformation within the CGE for women and persons with disabilities at top management - this has remained a challenge for the CGE.

Ms Mathebula said that according to the letter dated 25 August, risk and audit finance and HR matters were the matters raised. From the previous meeting, there were some issues that the Chairperson wanted Commissioner Diseko and Commissioner Mazibuko to report on. These were regarding oversight meeting in particular police stations. She asked if the Chairperson would like to get feedback on these.

The Chairperson allowed for this.

Ms Ngoma-Diseko said that as part of its work, the CGE is visiting all the 30 hotspot stations - 11 in Gauteng were identified as hotspots for GBV.

For their visit to Pholosong Hospital, they will compile a comprehensive report as with the visits to the police stations. She said she would like to present an analytical report to assess whether the environment is conducive enough for women who are coming to report violence against them, rape or any other matter and to see if the victim empowerment centres are available or not.

More stations were visited in Gauteng, but their specific question was around Tsakane Police Station, which is not identified as a hotspot. When they went and engaged with the commander, as the head of the station, it was clear that the police station should have been identified as a hotspot – the Commission will continue to monitor it. This was a follow up meeting with the station. The Committee Chairperson was present at the first meeting. They went to the station and met up with the station commander. Commissioner Mazibuko was also present. It was disappointing to learn that the station commander was soon retiring; this after the CGE invested much time in creating a relationship with him. They also met with the acting station commander sometime in June, and they were planning to have a broader meeting in July. However, all of that work has been put on hold because the country was then put on a higher alert level four of lockdown. They also went to Pholosong Hospital on a follow-up visit after the first visit undertaken with the Committee. They met with the Clinical Head at Pholosong as the CEO was not present. The CEO was also the acting CEO for the East Rand Hospital. When they engaged with the hospital, they were informed about the high levels of teenage pregnancy of children that were as young as 14 years old. They were informed that there is a Thursday antenatal clinic for the young children. This was of huge concern to the CGE as this was statutory rape. The question was: where are the perpetrators when these children are brought by their mothers to the hospitals? The hospital’s concern was that these cases never go forward to court. The CGE will be continuing with its visits to the hotspots and will compile a report that gives a clearer picture of the situation in these hotspots.

Ms Mazibuko agreed with Commissioner Ngoma-Diseko that they will compile a comprehensive report. The CGE also went to the Honeydew/Zandspruit area where many people have been murdered and they are still monitoring the area. On the issue of Khabonina Mkhonza, the CGE is going back to court on 07 September 2021. It has been interacting with the family, and this will be reported back to the Committee.

Ms Masiko took over as Acting Chairperson as the Chairperson had to attend to something urgent.

The Acting Chairperson said there is a question that has not been answered that was asked by Ms Sharif, on the use of three recruitment agency. The other was on the use of legal fees; that there is a salary discrepancy.

Ms Robertson responded and said that generally, the use of agencies, especially for senior positions, has been recommended. In December 2020, when the CGE advertised for the HOD legal and communications manager, it used a recruitment agency. Those were the urgent positions at that time and they were supposed to be filled. The CGE recently had a resignation of the HR manager, and had to rely on a recruitment agency to fill these posts.

On the issue of legal fees, she said she will also provide a general answer as she was not looking at the report. A few months ago, the CGE was internally concerned about the use of legal firms in the institution. She had requested the finance department give her a spreadsheet analysing what they were using and what their legal costs were.

Most of their expenditure was found to be on labour relations-related issues in the institution and legal opinions solicited. She accepted the CGE made use of these services, as it does not have conflict resolution skills. These are some issues the CGE has identified itself.

Ms Robertson asked to be guided on the salary discrepancy question, as she was not sure if this referred to the salaries of the PAs.

Ms Sharif clarified the report is titled ‘CGE Response to the Portfolio Committee 01 September 2020’, and it was slide six. She added that she cannot accept the explanation provided by the CEO that about R99 000 was spent on a recruitment agency and there was a salary discrepancy of R648 000. These numbers are so big, and she did not think the Committee can just be given general answers. She said the audit committee needs to put together a report that will detail what the spending was for. She urged the Committee to look at slide six of that report and see how high the numbers are.

The Acting Chairperson said that she hopes that the CEO can see these slides and the numbers actually go up to a higher amount than mentioned by Ms Sharif. She asked the CEO to respond.

Regarding the recruitment agencies, Mr Putu said that the amounts include the advertising of posts in newspapers and to connected administrations

[Mr Putu was inaudible for most of his response]

Mr Putu said that the matter of salary discrepancies is an issue of dispute between a number of staff members within the Commission. The staff members were claiming an additional 17% in lieu of the provident fund. According to the Commission, they were not entitled to this amount, and these staff members resolved to approach their lawyers. This matter was automatically under litigation, and the Commission had to incur legal fees to defend its position.

The amount indicated is material, R648 000. It involved six members of staff who have a claim to receive an additional 17% in salary. The other legal opinions were other instances reported to the PC, some of them requiring an investigation and others on whistleblowers. The Commission resolved, looking at the substance of the allegations, to hire a third party – which is a law firm in this case.

Ms Robertson thought the CFO covered the issue of salary discrepancies.  The case is on-going; the fees may continue to be incurred, as the CGE protects itself. This is a complicated case that started from 2008.

The Acting Chairperson thanked the CEO and reminded it to submit the detailed breakdown of costs.

Ms Mathebula thanked the Chairperson and Members for interrogating those report. She appreciated the questions and commits, on behalf of the CGE, to follow-up on areas where there has been a shortfall. She thanked the Chairperson for the extension on reports that need to be finalised and tabled before the Committee.

The Acting Chairperson thanked the Members for their attendance and participation, and thanked the delegates for appearing before the Committee.

The meeting was adjourned.

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