CGE Vacancies: Recommendation; Committee Legacy Report

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

20 March 2024
Chairperson: Ms C Ndaba (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


The Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities convened a virtual meeting to address internal Committee business items, including the adoption of the Legacy Report, the report on filling vacancies in the Commission for Gender Equality, and the adoption of minutes. Members gathered to deliberate on these matters, aiming to conclude their duties effectively before the end of the Sixth Parliament.

During the meeting, Members adopted the report on the filling of vacancies in the Commission for Gender Equality, which encapsulated the process of interviewing the short-listed candidates, as well as the recommendation of the successful candidates to the President for appointment as Commissioners.

The Members also adopted the Legacy Report, which covered the Committee's activities and offered valuable insights into their oversight and legislative roles during the Sixth Parliament. After careful consideration, the Legacy Report was adopted, signifying the culmination of the Committee's efforts and offering recommendations for the next Committee.

The meeting concluded with Members sharing heartfelt farewell messages reflecting on the work of the Committee over the Sixth Parliament.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed everyone to the meeting and indicated that they had only two items on their agenda -- the adoption of the two reports. She asked the secretariat to include all the minutes from their meetings for adoption purposes.

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities to identify suitable candidates for the filling of vacancies in the Commission for Gender Equality 

Ms Kashifa Abrahams, Committee Content Advisor, read out the report on the filling of vacancies in the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) to the Members.

The Chairperson thereafter invited Members to make any corrections

Ms M Khawula (EFF) spoke in the vernacular (25:55 of the audio).

Ms N Sharif (DA) asked if 11.2.1 did not form part of the recommendations.

The Chairperson replied that it did form part of the recommendations. She asked that 11.2.1 and 11.2.2 be moved under a new heading, as they did not refer specifically to full time commissioners, and were on recommendations as a whole.

Ms Abrahams said that the input of Dr Herman Tembe, Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy (OISD), was that they specify a sub-heading for part time commissioners as well as full time commissioners, and in addition to what the Committee recommended on part time commissioners, it would make further recommendations.

The Chairperson asked that they add a recommendation that stated that should there be a vacancy in a full time position, a part time commissioner should be given first preference for that position instead of recruiting full time commissioners from outside the organisation.

Dr Tembe pointed out that the Committee should actually exercise grammatical exactitude, because previous reports would not capture the issues clearly. In the recommendation being made, he indicated that the Act stated that part time commissioners may apply. The appointing authority, being the President, suggested the recommendation be adjusted to reflect the Committee’s wish being that part time commissioners be given preference. The recommendation should include the word "wish," because that was where the issue of the conversation came in.

On the issue of the full time commissioners and part time commissioners, he had observed that some part time commissioners had applied to become full time commissioners. However, the Committee would be unable to detect the timeframe within which the President appoints the commissioners because there are other considerations which the President needed to take into account to ensure that he complies with Act, and that everything was done procedurally.

The Chairperson thanked Dr Tembe for his input, but said that what was important for the Committee was that they had at least indicated which candidates may be considered for full time, and those that may be considered for part time. This was not a big deal. She had requested that the report on how many vacancies there were be given to her by the Chairperson of the CGE the previous day. She had checked and noted that they were still on the right track, so if there were any changes, the President could do it. In her opinion, they had handled the issue well by making that recommendation.

Ms F Masiko (ANC) said that she was about to raise the same issue raised by Ms Sharif, but she was happy with how they had dealt with it. She seconded the adoption of the report and appreciated the work that had gone into the entire process. The Committee Members had dealt with the issue quite well, despite coming from different political parties. The outcome of their work would assist the Commission on Gender Equality, and having those commissioners would also allow the CGE to be restored to its former glory, given the challenges they had experienced in the past few years, with some commissioners going rogue.

The Chairperson wished that the President could appoint commissioners by the end of March, because by the coming Tuesday, the Committee would be presenting the report to the House and Members would be expected to make declarations if they wished.

She thanked all of the Members of the Committee, the staff members and Dr Tembe, for their dedication and commitment. She also thanked the sign language interpreters and the interpreters for the good work that they had done. She said that the Committee had done justice to their reports, especially the one on security. In fact, some of the candidates that they had called in had submitted their information to the Committee, which she hoped the secretariat had circulated to Members, but there had been nothing criminal that could disqualify the candidates. She had gone through the documents alongside the staff members, so these candidates being recommended to the House next week were fit and proper to be appointed by the President to serve as commissioners for the CGE.

She thanked the Members again, and declared that the report had been duly adopted by all political parties, and there was no objection.

See full report here

Committee Legacy Report 2029-2024

Ms Abrahams thanked the Committee for working with the portfolio team for the last five years. The Legacy Report was testament to all the meetings held and oversight visits done, and once the Committee went through the report, they would be able to see the enormous load it had had to carry. She indicated that the report was 93 pages long, so she would take the Committee only through the summary of the report.

She said that the Committee's focus areas during the Sixth Parliament had been on assessing the extent to which the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD), the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) were giving effect to their respective mandates. A significant proportion of the term was utilised in monitoring, and evaluating the effectiveness of each of their programmes through consideration of their annual performance plans (APP), annual reports, strategic plans and quarterly reports, which culminated in the development of the budgetary review and recommendations report (BRRR) at the end of every year.

Key areas for future work included the implementation of an integrated approach in overseeing the national strategic plan on gender-based violence (GBV), which should include conferrals between committees for meetings and oversight visits. The incumbent Committee should urge the DWYPD to table the Disability Bill, the South African Youth Development Bill, and the Women's Empowerment and Gender Equality (WEGE) Bill.  

Concerning the CGE, governance, leadership and consequence management were key areas of concern and should be closely monitored. To that end, investigations into and consequence management for irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure should be prioritised. In addition, key vacancies -- particularly those relating to legal officers in provincial offices -- must be addressed urgently. Given the bad publicity that the CGE received during the Sixth Administration, increased awareness of the CGE within communities and improved public profile was an area that required attention. The focus areas should continue to the Seventh Parliament, with follow-up on implementing recommendations proposed by the CGE.

Concerning the NYDA, the Presidential Employment Youth Initiative was a key programme that required ongoing monitoring and evaluation. Similarly, programmes focused on training and development of youth as well as aspiring entrepreneurs should be expanded. The uptake by government of the national youth service was poor during the Sixth Parliament, and needed improvement. Assessing the implementation of the youth policy and the integrated youth development strategy was an ongoing area for oversight.

The key challenges for the Committee included the late submission of documentation by entities reporting to the Committee, which impacted the quality of engagement and deliberations that it was able to have. Another challenge relating to the Department was the fact that the DWYPD tabled a revised APP for every financial year a month short of the end of the financial year, which had direct implications for the oversight by the Committee over the Department, as targets were discarded, changed and merged.

Regarding the NYDA, some key challenges included concerns raised by whistle-blowers and the subsequent investigations against the CGE's chief executive officer, and the quality of mentoring provided to young entrepreneurs. Some key challenges concerning the CGE included the repeat findings by the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA). The CGE’s audit and risk committee and internal audit remained a key concern for the Committee throughout the Sixth Parliament, coupled with the lack of consequence management. Another concern was that the CGE's standing with the Legal Practice Council was not resolved, and this had inhibited the CGE from performing certain legal functions which directly impacted its ability to give effect to the mandate.

Among the recommendations made was that there be more integration between committees and the creation of more opportunities for conferral and joint deliberations. The Committee also recommended stricter enforcement of its requirements. Concerning the Department, it recommended that they monitor and evaluate the implementation of the National Council on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (NCGBVF), the NYDA Amendment Bill, and adherence to international treaties and obligations -- including concluding observations arising from country reports. Concerning the NYDA , the Committee recommended that follow-ups be made on the outcomes of the investigations against the CEO. The NYDA should also extend its grants programme to reach more youth, particularly in rural areas.

The Committee also made a number of recommendations for the CGE, including the presentation of the Commissioners Handbook, and that follow ups be made on the outstanding papers that had been referred to the Committee for consideration or report.

Farewell messages

Ms Sharif thanked the secretariat for the hard work that went into preparing the report. Going through the report brought to attention the hard work that the Committee had done over the last five years. The Committee had remained consistent in their drive for the equality of women, and had brought GBVF to the top of the priority list of government. What had made the Committee so special was that when they stepped into meetings, they had left their political fights at the door and worked together. She thanked all the representatives of the different political parties that had supported her. She appreciated that the other Members always made her feel like part of the team. She appreciated the guidance the other seasoned MPs shared, as this was her first time as an MP. She appreciated the Chairperson, and expressed her pride in the work they had done, which was evident in the report. She also thanked the support staff for their assistance. She remarked that the Legacy Report was great -- "and 93 pages was no joke!"

The Chairperson said that she was grateful to have Members of the opposition who, at the end of the day, ended up like a family despite the fact that they came from different backgrounds and different political parties. As the Portfolio Committee, they always supported each other, even outside their official duties.

Ms Masiko said she shared Ms Sharif's sentiments, and that the Committee had done a lot in the best interests of the most vulnerable. The support the Committee received from the researchers, content advisors, and secretariat made it one of the most functional committees in the Sixth Administration, in her opinion. The Chairperson had led the Committee quite ably and through her leadership the Members understood the responsibility they had to serve the women, youth and persons with disabilities. She thanked the Members from the other political parties on behalf of the ANC, because they worked well and had been able to achieve a lot. Having gone through the report, she was convinced that they had been able to execute what had been entrusted to the Committee as Members. She said that being a first time Member of Parliament, the other Members had welcomed her. She moved the adoption of the report, and confirmed that it was a true reflection of the work that they had undertaken and delivered on.

The Chairperson thanked Ms Masiko for her hard work, which she said had made the Committee one of the best committees in Parliament. She wished her well in her future endeavours.

Ms Khawula spoke in the vernacular (1:23:54 audio).

The Chairperson thanked Ms Khawula for her remarks, and replied that it had been interesting to work with her. She said that Ms Khawula’s contributions had made a meaningful impact, and encouraged her to continue with the good work she was doing.

Ms N Sonti (EFF) said she agreed with the report fully, and thanked the Chairperson for her leadership in the last five years. She wished all the Members good luck in their future endeavours.

The Chairperson thanked Ms Sonti for always being present during the Committee's meetings, despite being an alternate member. She said that she always raised issues that affected the communities she served passionately. She continued speaking in the vernacular.

Ms M Hlengwa (IFP) spoke in the vernacular (1:40:43 audio).

The Chairperson thanked her, stating that she had been a mother to the other Committee Members, and wished her well in her endeavours. She thanked all the Members for all their remarks.

Ms Khawula interjected in the vernacular (1:45:13 audio).

The Chairperson thanked all the researchers, the Committee secretariat and content advisors for their hard work, and hoped they would serve the next committee with dignity and excellence. She wished all the Members good luck, and hoped they would come back to Parliament in the next term.

Ms Sharif seconded the adoption of the legacy report.

Adoption of minutes

The Chairperson took the Committee through the minutes of 5 March, and invited the Members to make comments and corrections. There were no comments or corrections, and Ms T Mavimbela (ANC) moved the adoption of the minutes. Ms Sonti seconded their adoption of the minutes.

The Chairperson took the Committee through the minutes of 12 March. There were no comments or corrections. Ms Mavimbela moved their adoption, and Ms Masiko seconded.

The Chairperson took the Committee through the minutes of 14 March. Members did not make any comments or corrections. Ms Sharif moved for their adoption, and Ms Hlengwa seconded.

The Chairperson took the Committee through the minutes of 15 March. There were no comments or corrections. Ms Sharif moved for their adoption, and Ms Hlengwa seconded.

Closing Remarks

The Chairperson reminded the Members to carry all their equipment for the gadgets because the current month was the end of the 2023/24 financial year, so if one did not buy anything, then one was going to forfeit that money. She had a list of the things that could be bought with the money, and advised the Members to use it efficiently.

Ms Sharif asked that the list be shared on the group chat, to enable the rest of the Committee just to check.

The Chairperson replied that she would do so.

The meeting was adjourned.

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