Video (Part 1)
Video (Part 2)
In a virtual meeting, the Committee met to receive reports from the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD) and its Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) on the quarter four performance in 2021/22. The Committee also received a report from the Department's chief financial officer on its financial performance for the year. Finally, the Committee had to resolve whether they would establish a sub-committee to deal with the filling of vacancies at the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE).
The ARC and DWYPD reported 97% of their annual targets had been met, though there had been some challenges with underspending and weaknesses in backing up the online database. Members had concerns about the frequent use of virements, delays in the lease for the new DWYPD building, and the efficiency of the internal audit.
Issues raised included the relief for gender-based violence (GBV) and femicide victims that had recently gained traction on social media. The Department reported that they had conducted several initiatives to provide support in various forms. However, they were yet to issue a statement on events over the weekend. The Committee encouraged the Department to speak about these issues on TV and radio to start a discourse on GBV and show support.
The Committee was concerned about servers crashing at the CGE and asked that a detailed explanation be provided in writing for the Committee to follow up on in another meeting.
To deal with the CGE vacancies, the Committee resolved that all Members would form part of the panel, as the Committee would be completely responsible for the process.
Ms F Masiko (ANC) stood in as acting Chairperson while the Chairperson had connectivity issues.
The acting Chairperson said the meeting concerned the 2021/22 fourth quarter performance of the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD) and the establishment of a sub-committee to fill vacancies on the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE).
She encouraged Members to reflect on the recent shocking occurrences on social media. One instance involved a woman in the Eastern Cape, Namhla Mtwa, who had been gunned down by her boyfriend of 17 years in front of her home and family. Pictures, witness reports and messages on WhatsApp were presented to the Committee regarding an altercation between Namhla and her boyfriend. The Committee also noted years of emotional and physical abuse in the relationship.
Members appreciated the attention drawn by the public and responses issued from the Office of the Premier and the South African Police Service (SAPS). It was announced at provincial level that the issue had been escalated to a senior officer at SAPS for investigation. She also appreciated the response from the Committee.
Members noted the high levels of public backlash about how government responded to these cases. They hoped for a quick resolution regarding the case and that the perpetrator would receive the appropriate consequences.
Another case involved six-year-old Bontle from Witwater, Mpumalanga. She was missing for months and was recently found to be mutilated, raped and deceased near her home. The Premier and Provincial Police Commissioner had announced that her eyes, ears and mouth had been cut out. Members commended law enforcement agencies for their speedy response. Three suspects were confirmed to be arrested in connection with the murder. It was reported that one perpetrator was a female neighbour of Bontle’s. Body parts taken from Bontle’s body had been given to a local sangoma as a sacrifice.
The acting Chairperson felt these cases needed to remind Members of the diligent oversight that must be conducted in their work. She urged that governmental departments and important stakeholders respond to gender-based violence (GBV) cases speedily.
The Members were asked to keep in mind the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) people who were affected by the continuous storms. It was reported that KZN was still in the process of recovery from the storm on 11 April. The effects were that families were displaced, 450 people had died and numerous people remained missing or unaccounted for.
Audit and Risk Committee on 2021/22 Quarter 4 performance
Ms Gratitude Ramphaka, Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Audit and Risk Committee (ARC), reported that 97% of the annual performance plan (APP) targets had been reached. This excluded the Master Information Technology Strategy and Plan (MITSP) approval. The MITSP would be approved during the first quarter of the 2022/23 financial year, with assistance from a business analyst. The ARC internal audit had concluded that the fourth quarter report was useful and reliable.
Financial Performance Overview
Ms Ramphaka said there had been underspending by R31.6 million related to goods and services. This underspending was noted during the second and third quarters. The Department planned to reprioritise the budget and committed itself to a demand management plan review. According to the Department, the ARC listed numerous reasons why the reprioritisations had not occurred. It was recommended that the Department monitor underspending and respond timeously, which would be under the oversight of the ARC.
The Chairperson joined the meeting.
The Chairperson asked when the contract of lease was renewed after expiry. She said that it was previously presented to Members that the lease had expired, and the Department was searching for another building. She asked for clarity as to when the contract would need to be renewed.
Ms Ramphaka clarified that after November 2021, the Department had engaged in a month-to-month contract. She said that there was a one year lease in force. Between November 2021 and March 2022, a month-to-month agreement was accepted.
The Department had resolved 83% of the audit findings. Unresolved findings of the audit action plan (AAP) included:
- Weaknesses in backup management processes.
- Weaknesses in patch management processes.
- Limitation of scope: Information not received from various requests for information.
- No steps taken to investigate the unauthorised and irregular expenditure.
The ARC said that the weaknesses in backup and patch management processes were due to a miscommunication between the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) and the Department. The Department had thought that the matter would be dealt with during the migration to cloud services.
Ms Ramphaka said that since the inception of the information communication technology (ICT) strategic committee, chaired by an independent person, there has been progress on ICT matters.
On irregular expenditure recommendations, the ARC said that they would use internal audits to verify figures and prepare for the external audit of the Department.
The Chairperson said she found the recommendation to be progressive. Members found the many virements of the ARC showed poor planning by the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). This had been raised with the Department. There was concern that when budgets were planned, they had to include fewer virements.
The ARC said that they would prioritise the Chairperson’s inputs.
Ms Desree Legwale, CFO, DWYPD, referred to the underspending and virements and said that the Department continuously and extensively monitored their spending patterns in the budget committee meetings.
She confirmed that in the financial year, a review of the demand plan revealed a need to reprioritise the budget to cater for activities which were not originally planned. This included new projects identified by ICT to deal with issues within the Department and goods and services required to move to the new building.
According to the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) plans, it was expected the building would be complete and ready to move into from April 2021. Due to unforeseen circumstances in the DPWI, the move was delayed, which led to reprioritisation of the building and increased ICT infrastructure for the move.
The CFO said that the Department needed to reprioritise funds to support projects that were not originally satisfactory. This was because the budgets were based on estimates which were usually below or above what was projected. This had led the Department to the use of virements. These virements were compliant with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) before being submitted to and approved by National Treasury (NT).
Adv Mikateko Maluleke, Director-General (DG), DWYPD, asked the CFO to address investigations not conducted after the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) had approved them.
The Chairperson asked for clarity regarding the occupation of the building in April.
On unauthorised expenditure, Ms Legwale said they had assisted during the internal audit because they had previously experienced problems gathering information dating back to 2010. Registers were looked at in the annual report to identify expenditures approved and audited by the Auditor-General (AG).
The ARC had applied to NT for condonation in their internal audits, which was permitted within their framework. Under this framework, they could also remove transactions from irregular expenditure where records were not found.
The ARC had applied for access to records from SITA and NT for 2010, 2011 and 2012 on the basic accounting system. The ARC requested a report of all transactions paid for by the Department to service providers in those financial years. It intended to still find links between the transactions raised by the AG and the records from the Department.
Ms Legwale said the ARC was focused on preparing for the year-end financial statements. This was challenging as they did not have the resources within the financial accounting unit. The ARC relied on the services of the director and junior accounting club. This was caused by budget reductions during COVID by NT. Once the ARC had finalised the preparation, they would revert to retrieving the outstanding financial year records. She felt the ARC was making strides towards this and had made the records available in an internal audit.
The transaction reported in the first quarter was investigated and the necessary action was taken against the officials involved in the process.
On irregular expenditure, Adv Maluleke said some of the issues raised or classified as unfinalised were because of a lack of understanding of the law or processes of the internal audit. She said that there was no irregular expenditure on the lease. She explained that the lease expired in 2020 before being extended by NT for a year.
The ARC had requested a new building from the DPWI since 2014 due to expenses. At the end of the extended lease, NT said they could not find a new building for the Department. The Department in 2021 found a new building in another unit of the DPWI to move into in 2022. A lease had been entered into on a month-to-month basis.
At the beginning of 2022, NT had said in a circular that they would no longer allow month-to-month rental of buildings for government departments. The DPWI entered into a lease with a one-month cancellation clause for a year. The process of moving into the new building had been delayed due to changes to make it compliant with state security agency requirements. Adv Maluleke strongly disagreed that the building lease fell under irregular expenditure.
Ms Masiko felt concerned that the response from the Department contradicted reports from the internal audit. She asked if the internal audit was effective. She was also concerned about financial management and the rolling over of funds in the ARC.
Members heard that the ARC had asked the Department whether they had processes in place to address challenges faced by the business units. It was indicated that the CFO could receive, in advance, the challenges impacting the budget and spending.
She said that matters brought to the CFO were done very late in departmental meetings. She asked how the CFO approved financial matters from the programmes, as they were presented quite late.
The Chairperson referred to the efficiency of the internal audit and said that there would be repercussions for this. The Department had appointed the wrong people who did not understand the law and had questionable integrity. She hoped that the Department had these concerns themselves and attempted to correct them. She did not understand how internal auditors were appointed, even if they were not competent. It was the responsibility of the CFO to be the first to notice dangers in the Department, especially in financial management.
On financial management by the CFO, Adv Maluleke said that she did not understand how the CFO received news late, as she sat in meetings planning many of the events. The CFO usually had first access to the requests for approval before procurement took place.
On virements, the DG said that all government departments did virements. In 2022, the President had put the Nelson Mandela youth dialogue and the Presidential summit on GBVF as part of the Department's plans, even though they did not have the budget. Virements did not necessarily reflect poor financial management, rather it was just how government operated in these circumstances.
On accommodation, the DG corrected herself that internal auditors did understand the law but sometimes made mistakes when interpreting it. The month-to-month rental could not be seen as irregular expenditure because it was allowed by the PFMA.
The DG also denied that the Department knew a year before that they were required to move. In June or July 2021, the Department met with the Deputy Director-General (DDG) of the DPWI to complain about the delays in finding a building. After this, the DDG informed the DWYPD there was a building available for them, which the Department agreed to occupy. The building was not ready in terms of the requirements, and this had caused delays to the State Information Technology Agency's (SITA's) refurbishments and the moving in process.
The Constitutional Court decision on the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA) regulations called for all tendering processes to stop for a year. The Department had asked SITA to approach NT to continue the moving processes. The DG claimed that there was no irregular expenditure, as the Department had entered into a one year lease and was given one month's notice at the current building, as they were moving in June.
On SCOPA, the Department wrote to them as some issues investigated by internal auditors were already concluded and responded to by NT.
The Chairperson thanked the DG for clarifying.
Ms A Hlongo (ANC) said that the Committee tended to pick up on GBV issues only once they had been highlighted on social media. Even in this case, it presented challenges for the Committee because social media was not accessible. She felt that the DWYPD should be on TV, radio and other media when speaking on issues of GBV.
She encouraged the Department to deal with these issues to show their support and involvement. She asked the DWYPD what support they were bringing, especially to KZN issues. She also asked the DWYPD when they would share the documents on the South African Youth Development deal with the Portfolio Committee and why it had not been shared yet.
Ms Ramphaka agreed with the DG that the lease issue had been clarified and settled. She said that this was why it was included in the presentation to allow Members to see it had been resolved.
On underspending, the ARC said that their processes were effective and did not affect management of the budget. Challenges were experienced but they were unrelated to processes involved in managing the budget. It was recommended that they continue to follow the existing budget management monitoring processes because they were effective by design.
She highlighted that some of the outputs from reprioritising and reviewing the demand management plan had experienced challenges. It was a priority of ARC and the Department to look into these matters. In the meeting on the fourth quarter reports between the ARC and the DWYPD, issues were presented and they had agreed on a satisfactory way forward.
The Chairperson emphasised the importance of clarifying matters between the ARC and DWYPD so that Members could understand the issues.
Ms T Marawu (ATM) asked how often the DWYPD met with the ARC and internal audit committee to address issues in the Audit Action Plan (AAP) brought up by the AG.
Ms Masiko requested a full report about the lease, starting from 31 March 2021, to understand the matter fully.
The Chairperson agreed with Ms Masiko. Members wanted a report on this for a while to invite the DPWI and ask them about delays.
The Chairperson said that while they understood the reason for virements, they still felt there were too many. Even though unexpected expenses popped up, the Committee still requested explanations from the CFO about the number of virements.
The Chairperson asked the acting CEO of ARC whether the previous CEO had resigned.
Ms Ramphaka said that the previous CEO had elected not to spend another term at the ARC. The Department was in the process of finding a new acting CEO, though the other candidate had also resigned during the first term. They were waiting for the Department's response on appointing a chairperson and finding a fifth member for the ARC.
She said that the ARC met at least once per quarter, where the monitoring of processes and implementation of the AG's report took place. It only met with the internal audit committee when it met with the DG as an oversight committee. The internal audit unit verified the progress and implementation of the Department's action plans to the ARC.
Action plans were staggered and monitored throughout the year by the Department. Annual financial statements from the AG were prepared at the end of the year. Ms Ramphaka clarified that the action plans presented in the meeting were meant to have been done by the end of last year.
Ms Marawu said that heads of departments had miscommunications because they did not all attend the meetings.
The Chairperson said that to resolve the matter, the Department must provide a full report on the lease, and the DPWI and NT would be invited to speak on the rolling over of funds and issues involving moving into the building.
DWYPD on 2021/22 Quarter 4 report
Adv Maluleke said that the Department had achieved 97% of its targets for the fourth quarter of 2021/22.
The Chairperson asked the DG to speak about the DWYPD's contribution to offer support during the ongoing floods.
The DG said that the Minister, joined by the Minister of Social Development, had recently visited the KZN area. They had delivered over 1 000 packages of goods for women in the shelters. The packages included sanitary pads, washing rags, soap and face wash.
Before this donation, the Department had procured many sanitary and dignity pads to give to these women. It was in talks with the Social Development portfolio in KZN to facilitate issues with counselling, especially concerning GBV. The DWYPD had established over three response teams in KZN to respond to these needs. Money was also contributed from the directorate toward the victims of the floods.
On GBV, the DG requested that the latest press statements be shared with Members. This included recent statements on issues in the Eastern Cape and about Namhla Mtwa. The Minister was invited on TV to address these concerns, and it was broadcast on many TV networks and radio stations.
Adv Maluleke recalled that she was called when a woman was assaulted by a businessman who had fathered her children in 2021. While the woman was in the intensive care unit (ICU), the man had laid a charge against her at the police station. The DG had intervened to call the police, and the man was arrested. The DWYPD had a WhatsApp line per the national strategic plan (NSP), and cases were sent to the police to be handled.
The DWYPD warned that the National Council on GBV could not single-handedly solve GBV issues, and the police were more capacitated and crucial to be involved in these issues. The Department had requested funds from the European Union (EU) to pilot the process. Two people were put in the Premier's office to collect data on the implementation of the NSP and another two collected data on gender-responsive budgeting.
This had been placed in KZN, the Eastern Cape and Gauteng before being rolled out in other provinces. This would require support from the Department, as these people collected data.
She said the National Youth Development Agency Bill had been tabled in Parliament on 28 April.
The Department had hosted two different measures with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) to ensure that the Eastern Seaboard development mainstreamed women. She said that there was already progress on this. The Department was also informed that they must revive a programme of the President that had not taken off.
Ms Masiko said that the Department was yet to issue a statement on Namhla Mtwa. She felt that it was too late to do this now, given the public attention on the case and outcry coming from the Department.
The Department had said that the statement was supposed to be issued yesterday. She felt it was important that the issue was not just a response to the public outcry. There were also issues of witchcraft because it was relevant to the statement. She said that the contents of the statement were important, not just when it would be said.
Ms Masiko had noted the response, though she was not satisfied. She said that the voice of the Department should be heard in real time on these issues, irrespective of the investigations taking place. She said that when a case received such a great public outcry, it was important to hear from the Department covering these issues. She said that members of the public were looking for input from the DWYPD.
She felt that the Department should say that they were still investigating the matter to give the people confidence in government.
The Chairperson referred to the Bontle case and said that the DWYPD communications team must be vigilant and work proactively. Members must also use social media to monitor what is going on. She felt that the Department must change its strategy when dealing with these issues. The communications division must keep the Department informed of these cases.
The DG said that many women had died, and the Department's statements planned to include all of them. This included a woman found in the forest over the weekend. The Department said that every time women died from GBV, they issued a statement, though the Namhla issue had been delayed.
She felt that civil society organisations and the public were fighting amongst themselves. The Department itself was under-resourced to tackle GBV on its own, without major assistance from the police and the courts.
She explained that the national council on GBV would help generate funds for civil society organisations but could not tackle GBV as a whole on its own -- it would need to be addressed by the criminal justice system.
The Chairperson agreed that it was an issue for the criminal justice system. She said that the general public trusted the Department to resolve these problems. The Department was encouraged to show sympathy towards the public. Its communications division was instructed to communicate frequently and timeously with communities.
She said that the backlash experienced against the Department was also felt by the Portfolio Committee.
Ms N Hlonyana (EFF) said that when the Department issued statements, they put pressure on the system, the police and the courts. They would have to ensure that justice for these women happened. She said that this had worked previously.
She said that the Department was the most powerful institution that could fight for women, and when they applied pressure, they created a ripple effect that better-protected women.
The Chairperson said that she often touched base with relevant departments and law enforcement agencies to investigate or arrest perpetrators before Members had even held meetings. She encouraged the Department to see Members' points of view on these issues.
Financial performance of DWYPD in Quarter 4
Ms Legwale detailed the success rates of budget spending within the programmes and provided reasons for underspending in the relevant programmes.
(See presentation for reasons for underspending.)
The Chairperson asked the DG what backup systems were in place to save their information. She said that there was a need for a supporting system as a government department.
Adv. Maluleke said that information in the budget was not hosted in the Department. The information lost was related to performance before a backup system had been put in place. When she joined the Department, she had been told it was only an issue concerning the licence, only to find out that there was no system in place. This had inspired the Department to move towards cloud storage to ensure it was always backed up.
The Chairperson asked why there were not any copies in the Department, knowing that there was not a backup system at the time.
The DG responded that this had prevented the Department from investigating.
Ms Legwale said that the irregular expenditure reports audited by the AG had been considered in the investigation. Some registers had been lost during the crash as they were saved on the Department’s server and could not be retrieved.
The DWYPD had gone to the AG for assistance in getting information to enable the Department to identify transactions. This had been made available to the internal audit. The registers had had to be reworked based on the AG's reports. The Department had requested SITA to open the report transactions to retrieve information, including all past versions.
The Department had managed to request the reports from SITA’s system. It was still outstanding to identify the transactions regarded as irregular from past reports, and physical archives had to be considered to find supporting documents for these transactions.
The Chairperson asked the CFO why the system had crashed. Had it been hacked, and who was responsible for the safety and security of their information? She asked if the Department had appointed someone to be in charge of their system and information after the crash. This was an important role, as the person would be informed as a specialist and it allowed a degree of accountability in these instances.
The IT specialist in the Department was asked to speak about these issues but could not due to technical difficulties.
The Chairperson said that these matters needed closure to move forward.
The CFO agreed and said that this had been the basis for approaching SITA.
The Chairperson asked for a formal written report from the DG on the server crashing in 2010/11. The matter would then be addressed in another meeting.
Ms Marekwa supported the proposal.
Ms Masondo seconded the proposal.
Ms Masiko also asked for reports on the targets met in 2021/22 related to frameworks and strategies.
Five days were given for the DG to respond to outstanding issues, especially the IT problems in 2010/11.
Advice on the filling of vacancies in the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE)
The Chairperson referred to the two part-time Commissioner vacancies that needed to be filled by the Portfolio Committee, according to the decision of the presiding officers. The legal representative of the Committee was asked to gather information on establishing a panel which consisted of the entire Committee or a sub-committee.
The composition of the panel required that opposition parties must be represented. If all Members dealt with filling in these vacancies, they would be represented through proportional representation. In the following meeting, Members would discuss adopting the programme.
The Chairperson explained that this work would run parallel with the normal duties of the Committee. She urged Members to aim to submit the programme officially and adopt it. Additional meetings would be convened to ensure the deadline was met.
Ms Neliswa Nobatana, Committee Secretary, took the Members through the document, which detailed the rules and processes the Committee must follow when establishing a sub-committee. The Committee could decide if they wanted to make a sub-committee or not.
Dr Herman Tembe, Office of Institutions Supporting Democracy (OISD), said it was up to the Committee to create a sub-committee. He explained that forming ad hoc committees was a political decision, and they were accepted if they could be appropriately motivated.
The Chairperson said that some vacancies were created by ad hoc committees. In the past term, she had chaired two of these committees. The representation fell in line with that of the Portfolio Committee. The presiding officers decided that the Portfolio Committee would create a panel as they were the ones to take responsibility for the vacancies.
The opposition parties must be present within the panel to have proportional representation. All parties must participate in the filling of vacancies.
Dr Tembe said that previously he had dealt with a similar case in the Public Service Commission (PSC). The Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration had established a sub-committee to fill their vacancies. The composition was not reflective of the different parties in the Portfolio Committee. Four members were ANC, and the rest were from the opposing parties.
The Chairperson asked the Members for their thoughts on whether the entire Portfolio Committee would sit as a panel or if they would establish a sub-committee.
Ms Masiko supported the proposal that the entire Portfolio Committee be used when filling vacancies. She said it made sense, as they were all determined to be responsible for this task.
Ms Marekwa seconded the proposal.
Ms Masondo supported the view that a sub-committee should be established for the panel.
Mr S Ngcobo (DA) supported the proposal that the Portfolio Committee serve as the panel.
Ms M Hlengwa (IFP) supported the view that all Members should constitute the panel.
The Chairperson said that it would be represented as follows:
- ANC: Six Members
- DA: Two Members
- EFF: One Member
- ATM: One Member
- IFP: One Member
The Chairperson said that only full-time Members would be allowed to vote on the panel, and it was resolved that the entire Committee would form the panel. She said there would be a follow-up meeting about the work for vacancies.
The meeting was adjourned.
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