Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities 2023/24 Annual Performance Plan; with Minister

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

05 May 2023
Chairperson: Ms C Ndaba (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Video (Part 1)

Video (Part 2)

In a virtual meeting, the Portfolio Committee discussed the findings of their site visits to Mpumalanga and Kwa-Zulu Natal with the Department of Women, Youth and People with Disabilities (DWYPD). It raised their concerns about the absence of the Department's officials during the visits, and the lack of knowledge of provincial officials on the role of the Department.

Serious concerns were raised around the sanitary dignity project, such as the distribution of non-South African Bureau of Standards (SABS)-approved products, the lack of distribution to certain schools, and the price discrepancies between provinces. The findings at Thuthuzela Centres were also raised as a concern, as some facilities were sub-standard, and there was a lack of awareness of these centres in the provinces.

The Department also presented its annual performance plan to the Committee. Members raised questions about the quality and measurability of the targets, referring specifically to targets that mentioned only the oversight and monitoring of entities, without providing any tangible targets of what the Department would do in such areas.

The Department responded that a huge part of its role was to oversee the work of entities falling within the Department, but they also undertook to be more forthcoming to the community regarding the work being done and the projects available to the designated groups in the community.

Meeting report

Feedback on oversight visits

The Chairperson said the Committee would give feedback on their oversight visits and findings for the information and action of the Department of Women, Youth and People with Disabilities (DWYPD). She expressed her concern about the departmental project to provide sanitary pads to schools, specifically regarding their oversight visit to Mpumalanga. In Mpumalanga, the project fell under the Department of Social Development (DSD), and not the Department of Basic Education (DBE), as in other provinces. It was concerning to the Committee that there was no uniformity across the country.

A concern had been raised about the quality of pads provided, as they were not approved by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). Concerns were raised with the Department but no response had been received. The last time the school visited by the Committee received sanitary pads was in September last year.

The Chairperson also raised her concern about the response received from the Department when they were informed about the site visit. They had indicated that they would not join the Committee as there were no funds for catering. The Committee had never requested the Department to provide catering for on site visits. 

Two officials had attended the visit to KZN, but inaccurate information had been provided to the Committee about Thuthuzela Centres. Problems had been resolved in Thuthuzela Centres in Mpumalanga, as there were open and honest discussions. The placement of people after the floods in KZN raised a concern, as the necessary arrangement for school transport was not in place.

Ms N Sharif (DA) raised her concern about the absence of officials during the Mpumalanga site visit. A lot of questions had gone unanswered due to their absence. She also expressed concern about the lack of accountability concerning the sanitary pad project and the discrepancies between the reports to the Committee compared to the facts on the ground. She requested a clear response from the Director-General (DG), as the catering excuse was unacceptable to the Committee.

The Chairperson said it was unacceptable for the Department to refuse to provide contact details of provincial staff to the Portfolio Committee’s Committee Secretary. Doing that was sabotaging the work of the Committee.

Sanitary Dignity Project concerns

Ms F Masiko (ANC) raised her concern about the problems still persisting in the sanitary pad project. She added that recommendations made around empowering women in the industry had not been taken on board. Matters raised with the Department two years ago were still present in some provinces. It was shocking that the reports received from the Department on Thuthuzela Care Centres were not true, as the reality on the ground was very different. The treatment of people at the Centre in Mpumalanga could be seen as secondary victimisation; that was how bad the conditions were. She proposed that the provincial gender missionary, as implemented in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), should be used in other provinces, as it was successful.

Ms N Sonti (EFF) expressed her dissatisfaction that she was not contacted to attend the oversight in Mpumanlanga, and asked to be recognised as a Member of the Committee.

Ms M Khawula (EFF) asked that both EFF Members be recognised in the Committee. She expressed her concern about using sanitary towels not approved by the SABS, saying it was dangerous to females’ health.

The Chairperson reminded Members that if they could not attend a Committee engagement, it was that Member’s responsibility to inform the alternate Member to attend, not the responsibility of the Committee support staff.

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma:  Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and People with Disabilities, said it was her first appearance before the Committee. Due to connectivity problems, however, she could not address the Committee.

Adv Mikateko Maluleke, Director-General, DWYPD, said the Department was aware of the challenges in provinces. The Department originally piloted the sanitary project, but after approval, it was decided by Treasury that the money would be sent to the Office of the Premiers, and they would award the responsibility to a department, so different departments were responsible for the project in different provinces. Those departments were then responsible for the tender and procurement processes. The DG requested Mr Sipiwo Matshoba, Chief Director: Social Empowerment and Participation, to brief the Committee on the actions taken after the Department became aware that provinces had used expired or non-SABS-approved products.

The Chairperson informed the Department that they were informed that since the matter was reported to Mr Matshoba, nothing had been done about it.

Mr Matshoba said that there was a general requirement that all procurement products must be SABS compliant. They were aware of the situation in Mpumalanga, where a brand of sanitary pads had been procured in the 2021/22 financial year that was not SABS approved. He was in possession of proof of communication with the province in this regard. Confirmation had been received and verified that the products had been withdrawn from the schools.  

Limpopo had a procurement process that resulted in not a single girl receiving sanitary pads. The process, including budgeting as well as specification and quality control, should be overseen by Treasury. Currently, each province has its own process and criteria.

The Chairperson expressed dissatisfaction that the information provided by the Department did not align with the reality on the ground. Alleged corruption had been raised, but no reports had been submitted to the Portfolio Committee. Mr Matshoba was requested to provide a full report in writing on the matter. All parties involved- the Department, Treasury and provincial departments- must be in one room to report on the roll-out, monitoring, evaluation and implementation.

Ms N Marchesi (DA) asked the Department what the average price of sanitary pads was across the provinces, as the current price differences paid by the provinces were alarming.

Ms Sharif raised her concern that Mr Matshoba had told the Committee things that they already knew for years. Her question was, what had the Department done since 2021 when these problems were raised with them? What monitoring and evaluation was in place, and what was the plan to make it uniform? She requested that a full report be submitted on the sanitary dignity project (SDP) that included what was happening with the implementation of the framework, what monitoring and evaluation were in place, and what mitigating factors had been put in place.

One of the concerns mentioned in the oversight meeting in Mpumalanga was the increase in the budget versus the decrease in the target. It was evident that the money was not spent on procurement of the product, and was not in line with the SDP framework. Again the Department was asked what they were doing to rectify the problems, and ensure uniformity across provinces and adherence to the framework. She agreed with the proposal that a full report be submitted to the Committee. She asked that it include how the Department was monitoring the implementation, what monitoring and evaluation procedures were in place, and what mitigating factors were used.

Ms Sonti was concerned that not all schools were receiving sanitary pads, and those distributed were sub-standard and harmful to the girls. She urged that people who were benefiting wrongfully must be investigated.

Ms Khawula raised her concern about the answers and information provided by Mr Matshoba. The distribution of sanitary towels was not uniform across the country in rural towns, and areas in some provinces were not even aware of these projects.

Adv Maluleke indicated that the Members were not listening, as Mr Matshoba had reported that the Department was doing something about the matter, and what actions had been taken.

Ms Sharif raised a point of order, and asked that the DG withdraw the comment.

The Chairperson repeated the request to the Department to provide a full report on the matter, as the Committee was in possession of proof to the contrary of what the Department was reporting.

DWYPD's annual performance plan 2023/24

On 29 May 2019, the President announced the National Executive and their respective portfolios of the sixth Administration. The announcement set the basis for the reconfiguring of government departments: mergers of departments, name changes and the transfer of certain functions. The Department's mandate had been expanded to include youth and persons with disabilities. This necessitated the Department's involvement in the National Macro-Organisation of Government (NMOG) 2019 process to manage the transition to the new administration.

The Department conducted a strategic planning session in July 2019 to respond to the expanded mandate, where the Minister gave strategic direction for five years. In the 2020/21 financial year, the Department conducted another strategic planning session, with revisions to the strategic plan for 2020-2025. The revision was on the outcomes, and included the District Development Model (DDM).

As a result, the Executive Authority directed the Department to revert to its initial mandate. An addendum to the APP arising from a retreat planning session convened by the executive authority (EA)  would be tabled to Parliament on the additional/revised priorities included in this presentation.

The DDM had been revised to focus on ten poor districts identified nationally. However, for the financial year, the Department would focus on five districts to ensure an impact on implementing programmes.

The DWYPD had set the following priorities for the 2023/24 financial year. In the last year of the 6th Administration, they were advocating for a significant change in their positioning and character. They proposed to transform the Ministry into an effective advocacy, project management and implementation arm of the Presidency, with matters relating to the wellbeing and advancement of the interests of WYPDs. They would continue to engage all stakeholders working on the wellbeing and interests of these vulnerable groups.

They would advocate and make proposals on youth unemployment and gender-based violence (GBV) as a national crisis. They undertook to be of value to policy-making, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. Their work would be data-driven and fundamentally collaborative. Priority would be given to the values of accuracy, relevance, predictive capacity, timeliness and people first.

Their legislative priorities were:

  • The National Council on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Bill. Status: tabled in Parliament.
  • The NYDA Amendment Bill. Status: tabled in Parliament.
  • The Promotion of Women's Rights, Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill. Status:  yet to go to Cabinet.
  • Constitutional Amendment to recognise Sign Language as the 12th official language: Status: Tabled in Parliament by the Department of Justice.

The following priorities would focus on Persons with Disabilities:

  • Develop six best practice manuals and guidelines, in partnership with the Department of Health and related stakeholders, on disabilities in the areas of mental health, autism, epilepsy, acceptable terminology on disability, wheelchair provision, and deaf and blind disabilities. 
  • Education, advocacy and awareness around preventing discrimination and violence against persons with albinism.
  • Strengthen access to justice and law for persons with disabilities, especially blind people.
  • Monitor compliance with national and international obligations for the rights of persons with disabilities by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Department would work on this with relevant stakeholders, particularly the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI).
  • Shine a spotlight on climate change adaptation and vulnerabilities of persons with disabilities. To this end, amongst other projects, support a research project on climate change, adaptation and the well-being of persons with disabilities, in collaboration with the University of Johannesburg, the University of Ghana and York University.
  • Mobilise public and private sector resources to support the needs of special schools, with assistive devices to improve the quality of teaching and learning and educational outcomes.

The following priorities would focus on youth:

They would conceptualise, model and operationalise livelihood improvements and wealth creation special projects in response to the rising tide of unemployment, extreme poverty and conditions of basic insecurity amongst youth in general, and young women in particular. They would rally government to treat and respond to youth unemployment as a national crisis, evaluate and strengthen existing youth employment programmes,  establish and strengthen innovation and industrial hubs, and research skills-to-industry pipelines for youth in the 'not in employment, education or training' (NEET) category. They would also establish an innovation centre at Lusikisiki in partnership with relevant departments and the private sector.

The following priorities would focus on women:

  • They would rally government to treat and respond to GBV as a national crisis. This would include monitoring the implementation of the national strategic plan on GBV.
  • 18 GBVF rapid response teams (RRT) would be established at the district level.
  • Partner with research institutions to conduct comprehensive research into the drivers of GBV in communities.
  • 12 stakeholder engagements were conducted on empowering women, youth and persons with disabilities.
  • They would benchmark with Brazil-Russia-India-China-SA (BRICS) nations on their poverty reduction and livelihood-strengthening programmes
  • They would seek a Presidential proclamation to be gazetted on procurement from businesses owned by women (40%), youth (30%) and persons with disabilities (7%).
  • They would lead the conceptualisation and establishment of a cooperative bank.

Ms Val Mathobela, Chief Director (CD): Strategic Management, said that the structure of the Department had to be adjusted to align with the new mandate and functions allocated to it. One of the two posts of Director: International Relations, had been unfunded and the funds transferred to the Directorate: Human Resource Management (HRM), to create a post of Director: HRM to provide management capacity.

The former Executive Authority had approved the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) HR plan on 31 March 2021. In terms of the plan, four strategic interventions were identified:

  • Redesign and implement a revised organisational structure in support of the DWYPD's strategic objectives;
  • Implement the workplace skills plan to capacitate and develop the skills of employees;
  • Establish a comprehensive and fully capacitated employee health and wellness programme; and
  • Establish a comprehensive and fully capacitated labour relations service.

The implementation of the HR action plan was monitored and evaluated by the HR management committee, and implementation reports were submitted as prescribed. Progress was reported to the management and governance structures of the Department. However, the predominant challenge facing implementing the current HR plan was the prevailing financial constraints experienced by the Department. To effectively deliver on its mandate, it should adopt an incremental approach to the organisation's growth based on its achievements if it successfully leveraged additional funding to ensure that it impacts the lives of women, youth and persons with disabilities in South Africa.

Under Programme 1, Administration, the Department would aim to have an unqualified audit opinion on predetermined objectives and compliance matters and approve a business continuity plan. They would aim to pay all valid invoices within 30 days and obtain an unqualified audit on financial statements. As part of financial management, they would aim to spend 40% of procurement on women-owned entities.

Concerning corporate management, they would aim to maintain a vacancy rate of less than 10%, and have four reports on the human resource plan implementation and four reports on the Master Information Technology Strategy and Plan (MITSP) implementation.

Programme 2: Mainstreaming Women’s Rights and Advocacy, would produce progress reports on implementing the WYPD socio-economic empowerment index. They would have four interventions to support economic empowerment, participation and ownership of women, youth and persons with disabilities.  Progress reports would be produced on implementing the strategy for the economic empowerment of the WYPD and the Women Economic Assembly (WECONA) provincial roll-out developments. The Department would also aim to produce four progress reports on implementing the sanitary dignity programme implementation framework by provinces, and have four interventions to support social empowerment and the participation of WYPDs.

The National Strategic Plan (NSP) and GBVF would be monitored across national departments, provincial departments and municipalities. 18 GBVF rapid response teams would be established and reports would be produced on implementing the comprehensive national GBVF prevention strategy.

To ensure an improved rate of educational attendance and retention of young women and women with disabilities in public sector institutions, the Department would focus on health, education and skills activities involving WYPDs.

Under Programme Three: research and knowledge management, two progress reports would be produced on the piloting of the integrated knowledge hub, research reports on government priorities focusing on WYPDs would be produced, and a report on compliance with international and regional instruments on women would be produced.

Under Programme 4, mainstreaming youth and persons with disabilities’ rights and advocacy, the Department would aim to produce four national youth policy (NYP) implementation monitoring reports, develop the South African Youth Development Bill, and produce four NYDA reports convene four national youth machinery meetings. Reports would be produced on awareness campaigns on disabilities' progress, and government departments' progress on frameworks monitoring WYPD rights. Advocacy manuals on disabilities would be developed, a draft disability advocacy and mainstreaming strategy would be produced, and two rights of persons with disabilities (RPD) machinery meetings would be convened.

The Department would monitor compliance with national and international obligations for the rights of persons with disabilities, analyse reports produced on draft APPs for national government departments, evaluate reports produced on the implementation of the White Paper and the rights of persons with disabilities, and research the evaluation of access to education support and services for children and young people with disabilities.

The Chairperson raised a concern around the targets of WECONA, saying tangible targets were required.

The DG responded that WECONA was not a formal organisation but more a lobby group that the President recognised. They did not exist in the provinces and would report back to the Committee as they were established in the provinces.

Ms Desree Legwale, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), informed the Committee that the budget of the Department for the 2023/24 financial year amounted to R1 036 billion. Included in this budget was the allocation earmarked for transfers to the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) and the NYDA amounting to R94.4 million and R733.1 million respectively.

In addition, the Department had received an earmarked allocation amounting to R5 million for establishing the National Council on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide under programme 2. This left the Department with an operational budget of R208.9 million. The Department’s major area of spending was in the compensation of employees (CoE), constituting 60.6% of the total operational budget. Spending on goods and services was projected to amount to R76.5 million. The allocation in this category of expenditure was also set aside for the implementation of key priority projects of the Department.

The CoE had increased in the 2023 medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) by annual inflationary adjustment increases, and savings from goods and services would be used to fund critical posts in the Department. The budget decrease in goods and services was linked to the savings on office accommodation, which had been reprioritised to CoE through National Trasury approval to fund the critical posts. The allocation for transfers and subsidies was earmarked for transfers to the CGE and NYDA. The budget increases in machinery and equipment over the 2023 MTEF was linked to annual inflationary adjustment increases.

The Department relocated during September and October last year to new premises. The building had backup power generation, which enabled the Department to still function during load-shedding.

See attached for full presentation


The Chairperson asked what positions were included in the 18 posts that would be advertised.

The Department had indicated that it included deputy directors-general (DDGs), assistant directors and some administrative positions. The posts were spread across all units.

Ms Sharif asked why the Department had a target to provide oversight over the NYDA. She was of the opinion that the Department should be more service delivery focused, while the Portfolio Committee was responsible for oversight. She also wanted to know why the budget for consultants had increased when there was a continuous call on departments to reduce consultants. She raised a concern that the key priorities were not reflected in the key performance indicators (KPIs), as this would make it very difficult for the Committee to monitor and track priorities if they were not in the form of targets.

She expressed disappointment that the recommendations of the Committee since 2019 had still not been considered. One measurable target was not a good use of resources, and one could not measure the work done by the Department. People with disabilities felt that they were not taken seriously and it showed in the APPs as presented to the Committee.

Ms T Masondo (ANC) asked what the reasons were for the slow progress in legislation regarding people with disabilities. She asked what the South African Law Reform Commission’s responsibility was around the legislation, and what the role of the Department was. The Department had drafted a number of frameworks, but who had used them? She also asked if key vacancies had been filled within the Department.

Ms Masondo expressed her disappointment about the targets set for the Department, as they referred only to producing reports and did not refer to anything that would impact on the lives of people with disabilities. She recommended that the Committee meet with key stakeholders.

Ms Masiko raised her concern about the role and existence of the Department. She was of the opinion that there was a lack of clear understanding of the existence of the Department with the general public and WYPDs were not aware that there was such a Department and what it could do for them. Even the understanding of the mandate of the Department in the provinces was unclear to staff, which was problematic for the Department and the people who had to receive assistance from it. She said the recommendations of the Committee around the splitting of programmes had still not been taken into consideration and put into effect.

Ms Masiko expressed concern about the lack of tangible integration and coordination between programmes. The silo mentality was a challenge, as there needed to be synergy between the programmes. She agreed with other Members that the indicators were weak and not measurable.

She requested clarity on the five laws that would be developed by the Department during the 6th Parliament, as there was no legislation listed in the revised targets. If there was some legislation planned, what were the timeframes, as it must be taken into consideration that 2023/24 was a pre-election year?

Ms Masiko referred to the recommendations by the Committee in the Budgetary Review and Recommendations (BRR) reports, and asked for an update on their implementation. She also asked the Department to give a differentiation between the oversight role of the Department, as outlined in the APP, and the oversight role of the Portfolio Committee.

The Chairperson commented that the APP seemed to be a copy-and-paste process since 2014. She asked what new projects there were -- something out of the ordinary. What did the DWYPD have planned to change the lives of young people?

Ms Marchesi cautioned the officials that lying to Parliament was a punishable offence. Such reporting prevented Members of Parliament from doing their work. She reminded the Department that a report had been compiled in 2014 around flaws in the recruitment processes. It mentioned nepotism, flawed disciplinary processes and overtime fraud. Although she had received a copy of the report, it was incomplete. She had noticed that some people implicated or mentioned in the report were still in the Department. She indicated that the Department had not been helpful when she asked for an organogram of the Department, as they had provided an organogram without names.

She asked why the molestation of children and child/human trafficking was not even mentioned in the report by the Department, despite the high incident rate. There also did not seem to be any collaboration between the Department and the Departments of Basic and Higher Education.

Ms Khawula asked how the Department would deal with targets they had not achieved in a previous financial year – were they just left? What was the Department doing about the unemployment of the youth?

She asked if the traditional chiefs were included in the group of stakeholders that had been considered for comment, and said that people should not look down on the churches, as they still represented people. She asked what all were classified as disabilities. Physical disability was easy to see, but what was happening to people who were mentally disturbed? Were they cared for, and did the Department visit mental health facilities to ensure another Life Esidimeni tragedy did not occur?

Department's response

Ms Mathobela said that the APP had gone through numerous structures and processes, including the Auditor-General (AG), before being presented to the Committee. The APP, as presented, had been certified by the AG as being aligned to the role and function of the Department of Monitoring. She briefed the Committee on how the planning and compilation process of the APP unfolded.

Adv Maluleke explained to the Committee who were classified as consultants. This included services like research, sign language, and the Presidential youth employment agency administration, to name but a few. This was done in line with the guidelines received from Treasury.

The Chairperson asked that the information as to what the consultant fees would cover, be provided to the Committee.

Ms Legwale said that a meeting had been held with National Treasury to discuss splitting of youth and people with disabilities. However, the window period to effect that change for the 2023/24 financial year was already closed, and that change would be effected only in the next financial year. This would also result in an application to Treasury to split the two budget programmes.

Ms Shoki Tshabalala, DDG:  Social Transformation and Economic Empowerment, thanked the Committee for the inputs around WECONA, and said they would be considered. She said four provinces had been identified, and action plans would be drafted for these provinces based on the needs on the ground. There would also be a partnership with the agriculture sector to support and capacitate women in that field.

Ms Tshabalala explained what actions and processes had been followed in preparation for the site visits of the Portfolio Committee to provinces. She indicated that the Department had tried their best to be prepared and provide the necessary presence and support to the Committee, and did not try to sabotage the work of the Committee or withhold information.

Adv Maluleke indicated that they were still awaiting the SA Law Reform Commission report, as they promised in the last meeting with the Committee. They had indicated that it would take them up to four years to finalise the bill, and the Department had therefore removed that target from the APP.

Ms Phuti Mabelebele, Chief Director: Advocacy and Mainstreaming Rights, informed the Committee that the Department had embarked on awareness-raising campaigns in Limpopo, Gauteng, North West, KZN, Northern Cape and the Western Cape, where government departments and municipalities had participated. She said the manuals, as outlined in the APP, had been developed to raise awareness and inform people about certain disabilities. Five disabilities were targeted, where people would be educated as to what the disability entailed as well as the assistance and treatments available to them. She acknowledged that the Department could improve its visibility.

Dr Bernice Hlagala, Chief Director: Youth Development, advised the Committee that the oversight outlined in the APP was in terms of the Treasury regulations, where entities were required to report to their respective Executive Authority. Also, in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), it was required of the DG to ensure the entities reporting to the Department had the necessary administrative capacity to fulfil their mandate.

Ms Khawula and Ms Sharif reiterated that the KPIs did not reflect any tangible actions by the Department that would improve the lives of young people.

Dr Hlagala responded that they monitored the NYDA on financial and non-financial matters. The Department had developed the national youth policy that guided the work of the NYDA, government departments and provinces. Provinces were monitored through machinery meetings, where best practices were shared.

The Chairperson asked why the Department was not calling Imbizos to inform the youth about the projects embarked on by the NYDA and the Department.

Dr Hlagala undertook to discuss the arrangement of Imbizos with the NYDA. That would be additional to the already existing inter-generational dialogues.

The Chairperson again emphasised that the Committee brought matters to the attention of the Department that people had raised with them. It was not criticism, but was done for the Department to improve. She also asked the Department to refrain from barring the unions from interviews, to give legitimacy to the recruitment processes.

The meeting was adjourned.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

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