In a virtual meeting, the Committee met to consider and adopt its report on the adjusted Annual Performance Plan (APP) of the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD), the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), and the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) for the financial year 2022/2023.
Members said the targets were not meaningful. There was a concern around the merging of disability and youth programmes. These two programmes each have its own core functions and should operate independently.
The Committee also noted certain provinces were visited regarding the NYDA projects. It was recommended all nine provinces should be visited to establish what is being done. This includes mentorship programmes for youth entrepreneurs. It needs to be established if the mentors are doing what is expected of them.
Members were concerned about the critical vacancies within the CGE. A letter was received to inform the Committee it will be its responsibility to fill these six critical vacancies.
The Committee adopted the report with the amendments. The Committee confirmed it will establish a sub-committee to fill the six critical vacancies of the CGE.
The Committee met to consider and adopt its report on the adjusted Annual Performance Plan (APP) of the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD), the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), and the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) for financial year 2022/2023.
The Chairperson asked for a short prayer before the meeting began. She noted there were some discrepancies in the initial report. Ms Kashifa Abrahams, Committee Content Advisor, updated the report and resubmitted it to Members late the previous night.
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities on the Annual Performance Plan (Budget Vote 20) of the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities for financial year 2022/23
Ms Abrahams took Members through the report.
Ms F Masiko (ANC) said she was very appreciative of the work the Committee researchers and content advisors have been doing. The DWYPD, NYDA and CGE should ensure when reports or any documents are submitted, the recipient actually receives the documents.
There are recommendations for the DWYPD in the APP, which relate to reworking targets related to the youth, and also related to allowing the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and NYDA to perform duties. The DWYPD should look at how it will support the NYDA to implement its mandate. There is a problem with the targets in this area and it should be reconstructed.
She raised concerns about the merging of disability and youth. There was no recommendation included regarding the Committee not recommending these two programmes be put together. The recommendation the NYDA should monitor the projects funded by it, check on the progress made, the challenges faced, and the NYDA should follow-up on the projects which are struggling, was visited. The sentence did not make sentence as it was, and it had to be corrected to insert the fact the Committee had visited and found the projects to be struggling.
The Chairperson said that there is a recommendation from the Committee that the two programmes, disability and youth, should be merged. Each programme should function as an independent programme. The Committee recommended National Treasury be invited to a meeting to explain why the two programmes should be merged. These are two core functions which should be separated, because if it merges, it becomes sub-programmes, and is not meant to be this way in the DWYPD. These two programmes should be separated according to the mandate of the Department and according to how the President proclaimed the Department to be, which is the DWYPD. The idea of measuring the two core functions is not correct.
Ms Abrahams said there was a request to engage with National Treasury. The Committee maintains each of these programmes should operate independently against these two core functions.
Mr L Mphithi (DA) said there was concern around the targets on youth development, specifically concern around the targets for the Youth Development programme. The Committee said those targets were not meaningful in any way and only played an oversight role over the NYDA. The Committee asked DWYPD what it is it was doing, particularly with its own resources and its own plan. This observation had to be inserted, and he referred to the position of the two chief directors for one programme.
The Chairperson said the Committee did not believe this was advisable. There was no clear indication on why there was a merger, and it seemed it was only done for compliance sake. The Committee disagrees with National Treasury and the DWYPD on this merger. The Committee was not convinced there were meaningful targets, and the targets are not in compliance with Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART). There is also no clear indication on what exactly the DWYPD is doing.
Ms Abrahams said the Committee was not convinced the target focusing on youth in Programme Four, addressed youth development in the country. The Committee was unclear how the DWYPD would be driving youth development in the country when its targets were focused on what it termed oversight and production of the reports in the main.
The Committee was unclear about the Chief Director positions for the disability and youth component and how these positions would function practically.
Mr Mphithi thanked the Committee researchers and content advisors for the work it was doing. The issue around the R19 million CGE returned to National Treasury had to be phrased better. The Committee has asked the CGE’s budget to be increased so it could do more work. The CGE mentioned it returned the money because of accruals. It should be clear CGE returned the money with reason, and he asked for clarity on this.
The Chairperson said CGE returned the R19 million to National Treasury, but then had to ask for additional money while it saved R19 million. This was because the R19 million was for accruals, it was money which was committed. At the end of the financial year, CGE could not pay on time and it needed this money which was also committed to something else. CGE had to ask National Treasury to give it back so it could pay what it was supposed to pay.
Ms Masiko said she was not happy with this explanation from CGE because it boils down to poor planning.
Ms Abrahams said the Committee asked for clarity on the matter and the CGE’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) explained. However, the Committee was not satisfied with the explanation and noted there was still a level of poor planning which resulted in the situation at hand.
Mr S Ngcobo (DA) said the DWYPD should rework its targets. He recommended the DWYPD should include a specific target related to the development of the National Council on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (NCGBVF) Bill, Women Empowerment and Gender Equality (WEGE) Bill and the Disability Rights Bill for the 2022/23 Annual Performance Plan (APP). The target of the NCGBVF Bill must be prioritised as a matter of urgency. The Committee asked for specific timelines for the development of each of these proposed Bills.
Ms Crystal Levendale, Committee Researcher, said the WEGE Bill was added to the narrative in the APP, under the Strategic Plan, but there was actually no target mentioned even though it was tabled. There was no actual annual target.
The Chairperson asked if anything was said about monitoring and evaluation.
Ms A Hlongo (ANC) addressed the recommendations of the NYDA. The following was inserted: The Committee asked the NYDA to extend its monitoring and evaluation to all projects funded across the nine provinces, and to report to the Committee accordingly.
The Chairperson said there were projects in other provinces which the Committee could not visit. She agreed other provinces should not be left behind. There must be a review of the appointment of the mentors for these projects. There should be a focus on how to mentor young people who are entrepreneurs, and there must also be people to check if the mentors are doing what the mentors are supposed to be doing. A weakness was identified, namely, mentors are not doing what is expected and this creates a problem.
It was therefore inserted as follows: The NYDA should reassess the mentorship offered to beneficiaries to determine if the mentor is doing what is expected.
The Chairperson said the failure of the NYDA, which failed to fill senior executive positions for almost three years, and goes to the performance of the CEO. She asked how an accounting officer does not fill a critical position; how an institution runs effectively and efficiently; and she asked the members for comments on this issue.
There is an absence of legal counsel. This is how easy it is to do illegal things. It needs to be evaluated if laws are implemented correctly and if there is inequality. She gave an example of one colleague who discriminated against another colleague openly. These issues need to be addressed.
Ms Abrahams referred to filling critical vacancies at CGE within three months of 11 May 2022, and said CGE should report back to the Committee on this. There should be a detailed report within two weeks which should clearly articulate which monitoring and evaluation activities will be undertaken by the DWYPD in the current financial year, using existing frameworks such as talking about the issue of the regulator, what it means, and how it is going to monitor and evaluate its frameworks. As an example, she referred to the Gender Responsive Planning Budgetary, Monitoring, and Evaluating framework.
The Chairperson asked the Members to add more comments before the adoption of the report.
Ms Abrahams asked Mr Mphithi about the recommendation for the DWYPD to rework its targets. She included in the report the DWYPD should clearly state how it intends to advance youth development in the country in the current financial year.
The Chairperson said the NYDA has a role to play, but must not micro-manage. The NYDA has a right to initiate policy. Mandates, recommendations and such should be correctly captured because these reports are available to the public.
Ms Masiko noted the due diligence regarding the corrections made and the good work of the Committee researchers and content advisors.
The report was adopted with the amendments.
Dr Herman Tembe, Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy (OISD), said the letter sent to the Committee pertains to the vacancies which currently exist at the CGE and pending vacancies for the end of October 2022. The letter was sent to remind the Committee of the vacancies. There are two part-time vacancies, and the other four vacancies are from the commissioners whose time lapsed. It is the responsibility of the Committee to fill these vacancies.
The Chairperson told the Committee it is now its responsibility to fill these vacancies. These six positions should be advertised simultaneously to reduce costs and time. She asked if this was allowed by law and if a resolution should be tabled in-house first. She asked Dr Tembe to guide the Committee on what it can do.
She also said a sub-committee should be established. This will help to fill the two vacancies as fast as possible and when the term of four commissioners expires, the other two would have started, so there is no gap and the work can continue.
Ms T Masondo (ANC) agreed with the Chairperson about the positions being advertised simultaneously. She said there are only three months left, there is the process of advertising, interviewing, and selection. If the law allows the Committee to advertise the posts simultaneously, it should be done so.
Mr Mphithi said the filling of these vacancies needs to be prioritised. He asked Dr Tembe if the filling of the vacancies and the outstanding issues can happen simultaneously; and asked if any of the current commissioners who want to reapply could be impacted by the outcomes of the different issues. He wanted clarity on this and agreed the posts should be advertised simultaneously. This will help when at a later stage there is no commissioner impacted or there is a commissioner who failed to operate within the confines of the code of conduct.
He asked if there is no ad hoc committee, and if so how it will be managed, if there will be nominations or if the entire Committee would be the actual panel.
Ms Masiko said there are no current issues before the Committee. This article refers to the recommendation made at the last meeting regarding the conduct of some of the CGE members who were asked to rewrite the report to make it clear. This might then have an impact on the eligibility of commissioners to reapply for appointment.
Dr Tembe clarified the issue of the pending vacancies. He said according to the Act, the President may appoint new members for the unexpired portion. It is advisable for the Committee to fill the positions which open in October 2022, now. It has been observed it takes more than six months to fill a vacancy because of the process and other factors which need to be considered. He agreed it would be effective and cost-efficient to start the process now.
The CGE Act says a Commissioner shall only hold office for a fixed term not exceeding five years, as the President may determine for each appointment, provided the term of office of the full-time members have not expired simultaneously.
A Commissioner cannot hold more than two terms and therefore reappointment of the Commissioner cannot always be possible. The issue of sub-committee is a political issue. The letter says the Committee is responsible for filling the vacancies.
Regarding the conduct of the members of the CGE, currently there has been no indictment. It is necessary to fill these critical vacancies as soon as possible.
The Chairperson asked for clarity regarding if it is the responsibility of the Committee to fill these critical vacancies. Since the Committee received the letter, she asked if it meant a decision has been taken by a full political committee, or presiding officers. She wanted to know if the Committee must take full responsibility for filling these vacancies.
A sub-committee has to be established the same way the Committee dealt with the vacancies of the NYDA. She asked if there has to be a resolution. The sub-committee should be structured correctly based on the rules of Parliament. The Chairperson said the sub-committee will be established and will then write a letter to the Speaker.
Adv Kaya Zweni, Head: OISD, said it is the decision of the Committee to establish a sub-committee on its own. The report of the sub-committee has to go to the main Committee. There does not need to be a resolution.
Ms Hlongo read the rules of a sub-committee. It was established by the rules that the sub-committee is accountable to the parent committee and must carry out its responsibilities within the policy framework determined by the parent committee. Any directives, guidelines, or regulations issued by the parent committee must be consulted and its own working arrangements may be determined, subject to these directives. The parent committee of the sub-committee must appoint members of the sub-committee among its members, if appropriate, and determine the period within which the sub-committee must complete its task. The date can be extended, which may be determined later with a timeline and report, and any of its powers may be delegated to the sub-committee to perform its tasks. It may strike the sub-committee to perform any of its powers.
Dr Tembe said he looked at the Constitution and it empowers the Committee to nominate members for its sub-committee.
The Committee agreed to establish a sub-committee to fill in the vacancies of the CGE. This establishment of the sub-committee will be finalised next week.
Adoption of outstanding minutes
The Committee went through the minutes of the three previous meetings. The minutes of 6 May 2022, 10 May 2022, and 11 May 2022 were adopted as is.
The meeting was adjourned.
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