The Select Committee on Health and Social Services met virtually with the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD) for a presentation on the Department's annual performance plan and budget for 2023/24.
The Department said it had shifted its focus from advocacy to implementation, particularly in poorer municipalities, to alleviate poverty, hunger and youth unemployment. Vital implementing partners to recruit and employ the country's unemployed youth were the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and the Defence Force. It also highlighted the importance of agricultural projects to empower women and persons with disabilities.
The DWYPD welcomed the recent approval of sign language as an official language. It said everyone was responsible for ensuring its implementation in mainstream activities, such as parliamentary meetings.
The Committee expressed concern at the need for the DWYPD to show more commitment to the mandate it had adopted in 2021/22. Members referred to the challenges of recruiting staff and researchers for monitoring, evaluation and database management. They asked the Department to clarify its staff and skills shortages and the subsequent impact on its operations. They raised the issue of the high unemployment rate, particularly among women. Also, they asked the Department to update them on the regulatory instruments to address the high unemployment of youth, and the critical successes in addressing youth challenges since the implementation of the national youth policy.
Members emphasised the need to address the recent service delivery concerns of the persons in the disabilities sector, and asked the Department to clarify the budget for youth and persons with disabilities. They requested an update on implementing long-outstanding targets such as information technology (IT) and knowledge hubs. They welcomed the Department's partnership with the NYDA and the Defence Force to recruit and employ the country's unemployed youth. They emphasised the need for fast-tracking funding resources to enable proper implementation of programmes. Members commended the Department's renewed focus on implementing poverty alleviation projects in poorer municipalities, congratulating it on launching its community-focused radio station.
The Chairperson thanked his political party for giving him the responsibility of chairing the Committee which served the most vulnerable in the country. He was committed to serving the Committee.
Opening remarks by Minister and Deputy Minister
Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, thanked the Chairperson for the opportunity to brief the Committee on the annual performance plan (APP) and budget for 2023/24. She emphasised that the Department would shift its focus from advocacy to implementation, particularly in poorer municipalities.
It was essential to alleviate poverty, hunger, and youth unemployment. The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and the Defence Force were key partners. Agricultural projects were vital to empowering women and persons with disabilities.
She welcomed the recent approval of sign language as an official language. It was responsible for the format of mainstream activities, such as parliamentary meetings.
Deputy Minister Sisisi Tolashe thanked the Committee for the opportunity to provide an update on the DWYPD's role and mandate.
DWYPD annual performance plan and budget
Adv Mikateko Maluleke, Director-General (DG), DWYPD, and Ms Val Mathobela, Chief Director: Strategic Management, presented the annual performance plan (APP) and budget for 2023/24.
The Department's mandate was to lead on socio-economic transformation and the implementation of the empowerment and participation of women, youth and persons with disabilities through mainstreaming, advocacy, monitoring and evaluation.
The DWYPD ensured that interventions aimed at implementing the priorities adopted by the Sixth Administration resulted in the advancement, empowerment and development of women, youth and persons with disabilities by guiding policy and legislation.
The Department provided an overview of its institutional policies and strategies over the five-year planning period:
- Women's Empowerment and Gender Equality (WEGE) Bill;
- Disability Rights Bill;
- Reviewing the National Youth Policy and its monitoring and evaluation framework; and
- Amending the NYDA Act (No. 54 of 2008).
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 ten poorest district municipalities were Alfred Nzo, Amathole, uMzinyathi, OR Tambo, uMkhanyakude, Ulundi, Chris Hani, Harry Gwala, Dr Ruth Segomotsi, and Joe Gqabi.
DWYPD priorities for 2023/24:
- In the last year of the 6th administration, it advocated for a significant change in the DWYPD's positioning and character.
- To transform the Ministry into an effective advocacy, project management and implementation arm of the Presidency with matters relating to the well-being and advancement of the interests of women, youth and persons with disabilities.
- To make the most of the Presidency's available resources to drive impactful projects that benefit the country's most vulnerable citizens. To accomplish this, they intend to conceptualise, model and cost at least five special projects and to prioritise implementing these projects in the country's ten poorest districts, where the greatest needs exist.
- On advocacy, to continue to engage all stakeholders working on the well-being and interests of WYPDs to ensure support and optimal functioning of their machinery within available means. To this end, they would advocate for and lead the establishment of a community and constituency-focused radio station to ensure seamless communication and dissemination of information and receive feedback from communities about opportunities and government's collective work to support WYPDs.
- Through research, analysis and advocacy, forecast change in time. The Department would do something about it by providing foresight and insights about impending changes, which may be positive (representing socio-economic opportunities) or negative (representing socio-economic threats) to the well-being and livelihoods of WYPDs.
- Propose that government treat and respond to youth unemployment and gender-based violence (GBV) as a national crisis.
- Develop concept papers that inform the reasoning and form the basis for this call.
- To be of value to policy making, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) work that would be data-driven and fundamentally collaborative. Priority would be given to the importance of accuracy, relevance, predictive capacity, timeliness and people first.
DWYPD legislative priorities for 2023/24
The following were the Department's legislative priorities:
- 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 were the priorities for 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, 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 were the DWYPD's priorities concerning advancing the well-being and empowerment of youth:
- Conceptualise, model and operationalise livelihood improvement 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. Priority would be given to the top ten poorest districts in the country. The extent to which these factors threaten national stability and security would inform the urgency with which they would respond.
The following areas would be prioritised:
- Rallying all of government to treat and respond to youth unemployment as a national crisis.
- A revitalised, defence-led and all-of-government approach to National Youth Service.
- Evaluation and strengthening of existing youth employment programmes.
- Establishment and strengthening of innovation and industrial hubs.
- Research on the skills-to-industry pipeline for youth in the "not in employment, education or training" (NEET) category.
Priority sectors for youth employment, beneficiation and skills development were the creative industries, agriculture and agro-processing, manufacturing, digital and platform economies, the oceans economy, the green economy, construction, tourism, and cooperative and solidarity economies.
It was planned to establish an innovation centre at Lusikisiki in partnership with relevant departments and private sector partners.
The following were the priorities for advancing the well-being and empowerment of women:
- Rallying all of government to treat and respond to gender-based violence (GBV) as a national crisis. This would include monitoring the implementation of the National Strategic Plan on GBV.
- 18 GBVF rapid response teams (RRTs) established at the district municipality level.
- Partner with research institutions to conduct comprehensive research into the drivers of GBV in communities.
- 12 stakeholder engagements conducted on empowering women, youth and persons with disability.
- Benchmark with Brazil-India-China-Russia-SA (BRICS) nations on their poverty reduction and livelihood strengthening programmes.
- Gender, youth and disability responsive planning, budgeting and procurement. The DWYPD was seeking a presidential proclamation to be gazetted on procurement from businesses owned by women (40%), youth (30%) and persons with disabilities (7%).
- Leading the conceptualisation and establishment of a cooperative bank.
- Establish radio stations as a platform for advocacy.
According to the midyear population estimates (2022), the South African population was estimated at 60 million. Women constitute the majority (30.98 million) or 51% of the population, yet fewer women participate in the labour force, have a high unemployment rate, and are poorly represented in leadership positions. Male labour force participation rates and employment rates were consistently higher than females, while inactivity and unemployment rates show the opposite trend.
Data from the 2019 general household survey published on 9 March 2022 on subjective poverty depicts that across all poverty measures and age groups, female-headed households constantly reported the highest incidence of low-income families compared to male counterparts. Youth under the age of 35 years reported the highest incidence of poor households.
The Department's four programmes were administration; mainstreaming women's rights and advocacy; monitoring, evaluation, research and coordination; and mainstreaming youth and persons with disabilities' rights and advocacy.
The Department's current organisational structure and post-establishment were approved by the former Executive Authority on 14 October 2019 following the 2019 NMOG process, whereby functions and concomitant resources related to National Youth Development and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities were transferred from the departments of Social Development and Planning, and Monitoring and Evaluation, respectively, and were superimposed on to the structure of the former Department of Women.
The NMOG process did not allow for restructuring the functions of the newly-established Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities. In addition, the Department's capacity was only augmented to the extent that concomitant resources that performed those functions under the former departments were transferred, regardless of the expansion of the mandate of the new Department.
From an analysis of the departmental mandate and strategic intentions, it was apparent that the start-up organisational structure needed to be more appropriate and responsive to the Department's strategic choices and service delivery obligations. As a result, the corporate architecture was reviewed in consultation with respective stakeholders, the management committee (MANCO) and the Director-General, during which gaps in the current corporate design were identified so that various scenarios and options could be proposed to address them. These deliberations culminated in the adoption by MANCO and support by the Executive Authority of the proposed redesigned functional and organisational structures, and included in a request to the DPSA for concurrence.
Through the relocation to its new premises, the Department realised savings under office accommodation to be reprioritised for the funding of 18 additional posts to supplement capacity across all programmes, which had been reflected in increases to the 2023 medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) compensation of employees (CoE) baseline allocations.
In addition, one of the two Director: International Relations posts had been unfunded. The funds were transferred to create a position of Director: Human Resource Management (HRM), to provide capacity in this critical function.
In a letter dated 24 March 2023, the Ministry of Public Service and Administration (MPSA) concurred with the redesigned organisational structure. The revised forms and post-establishment had been routed to the Minister for approval.
Simultaneously, the Department had also embarked on an exercise to define an ideal organisational structure and post-establishment that would adequately resource the DWYPD. While it was acknowledged that such growth directly depended on the allocation of additional funding by National Treasury, the ultimate design guided the Department towards its objectives over the long term.
The former Executive Authority approved the 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.
The Department presented its annual performance plan in detail. This covered its four programmes:
Mainstreaming women's rights and advocacy;
Monitoring, evaluation, research and coordination; and
Mainstreaming youth and persons with disabilities' rights and advocacy.
(See attached document for details)
APP resource considerations
The Department's budget for the 2023/24 financial year amounted to R1.036 billion. Included in this budget was the allocation earmarked for transfers to the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) and the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), amounting to R94.4 million (9.1%) and R733.1 million (70.7%), respectively. In addition, the Department had received an earmarked allocation of R5 million for establishing the National Council on GBVF. This leaves the Department with an operational budget of R208.9 million, or 20.2%.
The Department's primary area of spending was in the compensation of employees, constituting 60.6%, or R126.9 million, of the total operational budget. Spending on goods and services was projected at R76.5 million (36.6%). An allocation in this expenditure category was also set aside to implement key priority projects of the Department.
The Department relocated during September and October 2022 to new premises in the Pretoria central business district (CBD). The building had back power generation, enabling the Department to function during loadshedding. The impact of loadshedding on events/campaigns had been included in the budgetary requirements where resources had to be provided. This included backup power generation, especially where the area was very rural/remote from urban areas.
(See the attached presentation for further details.)
Mr M Bara (DA, Gauteng) said that he felt there was a need for more commitment by the DWYPD to its mandate. He referred to the 2021/2022 planned recruitment of staff and researchers for monitoring, evaluation, and database management. He asked why there had been no progress and how the DWYPD would address the ongoing challenge. He asked the DWYPD to clarify its staff and skills shortages, and the subsequent impact on its operation.
Mr E Nchabeleng (ANC, Limpopo) welcomed the Department's partnership with the NYDA and Defence Force to recruit and employ the country's unemployed youth. The veterans of the Defence Force would be a significant capacity resource and actual beneficiaries of the recruitment programme. He emphasised the need for fast-tracking funding resources to enable the proper implementation of programmes.
Ms S Luthuli (EFF, KZN) asked what the advocacy manual's content, purpose and target audience would be. Would the manual require training for implementation? She requested an overview of the outcome of youth engagement activities in the reporting period. What was the status of the SA Youth Development Bill? What was the DWYPD's oversight role of the NYDA compared to its oversight role in Parliament?
Ms E Nkosi (ANC, Mpumalanga) welcomed the Minister's comments that poverty would be alleviated in the poorer municipalities. She expressed concern about the high unemployment rate, particularly women's unemployment. She congratulated the DWYPD on the launch of the community-focused radio stations, commenting that it would create greater awareness of the Department's activities.
Ms N Ndongeni (ANC, Eastern Cape) asked how effective regulatory instruments were in addressing the high unemployment of youth. What have been the critical successes in addressing youth challenges since the implementation of the National Youth Policy?
Ms D Christians (DA, Northern Cape) asked how the DWYPD would address the recent service delivery concerns raised by the persons with disabilities sector. Regarding the youth policy, she asked for an overview of the challenges and successes of unemployment and substance abuse. She also asked the Department to clarify the budget for youth and persons with disabilities.
She said that the 2021/22 APP had referred to a lack of IT skills in the DWYPD. How would the lack be addressed in the financial year? She requested the Department to advise on how many consultants were employed, and for an update on implementing long-outstanding targets, such as IT and knowledge hubs.
Minister Dlamini-Zuma said the Department would prioritise discussions on the issues highlighted by the Members, particularly the strategic partnerships, and would source additional funding for its budget.
Referring to the Department's NYDA oversight role, she emphasised that the latter received its budget from the Department. It was not overstepping on Parliament's oversight, but rather involved for monitoring purposes.
She thanked the Committee for welcoming the community radio stations, and called on the support of Members for the licence registration process.
She cautioned that the Department would not lead the youth employment mandate, but would only play its part. She encouraged the youth to be innovative in their sectors. The DWYPD would launch the South African Charter of the "40 Under 40 Innovators Award" programme to promote the activities.
Adv Maluleke submitted a correction, saying slide six should refer to "transforming the Department." She added that only five areas would be prioritised due to limited resources.
The entire Department's mandate was essential, considering its change from regulating to facilitating. The monitoring and evaluating function was limited, due to funding constraints.
On the employment of consultants, she said the DWYPD partnered with the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI).
The DWYPD had identified skills shortages and addressed the challenge in its overall activities. It had also downgraded its building expenses to address the situation.
She reiterated that the Department retained the oversight role of Parliament in its supervision of the NYDA.
Dr Bernice Hlagala, Chief Director: Youth Development, DWYPD, provided the highlights of the national youth missionaries. This was a platform connecting the national and provincial youth to disseminate information and joint planning. It tracked the progress of national and provincial governments on youth development, disseminated information on the national policy development of the DWYPD, and also served as a platform to consult with those focused on youth issues.
National and provincial departments were supported to develop programmes for youth. Subsequently, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), Limpopo, and Gauteng provinces had a fully integrated youth strategy. Furthermore, the Departments of Social Development and Agriculture also developed the same programmes. The Department would motivate Offices of the Premiers to advocate for similar strategies. The Office of the Premiers of KZN, Limpopo and Gauteng had approved the establishment of a youth fund.
The Department had amended the NYDA Bill, which Cabinet had subsequently approved. The Bill had been published for comment.
A recently published report showed the national youth policy's key achievements. It reported on five pillars, including school-level mathematics and science passes. The Department would share the policy report with the Committee at the next meeting.
The SA Youth Development Bill was in process. The DWYPD had consulted the office of the state law advisor on the Bill. The Bill was open for public and stakeholder comments, and would be submitted to Parliament for approval.
The unemployment and social challenges facing youth were being addressed through cooperation and outreach programmes with critical departments. Limited funding created barriers to reaching a large number of youths.
Adv Maluleke responded to the issue of IT and knowledge management, and said that although the Department would not recruit experts, it would prioritise staff accordingly.
Ms Praveena Sukhraj-Ely, Chief Director: Rights of Persons with Disabilities, DWYPD, responded to the issue of disabilities and the White Paper on the rights of persons with disabilities. She said the Department had developed a guide for implementing services by other vital departments and duty bearers. Monitoring was ongoing through regular meetings and awareness raising on disabilities, planning, programmes and services. The Department also developed an evaluation of the White Paper. The emphasis was on disability, inclusivity and responsiveness. The inclusion of disabilities in the planning of departmental programmes was essential. Disaggregation of the population to include disabilities was promoted.
The Chairperson thanked the Department for the presentation and engagement.
The Committee considered the draft minutes of the meeting of 2 May 2023. The minutes were unanimously approved and adopted to reflect the discussions.
The Chairperson thanked Members for their attendance.
The meeting was adjourned.
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