Commission on Gender Equality: hearing

Committee: Review of State Institutions Supporting Constitutional Democracy

Date of Meeting: 02 Mar 2007

Summary

No summary available for this committee meeting.


Minutes

AD HOC COMMITTEE ON THE REVIEW OF THE CHAPTER NINE AND ASSOCIATED INSTITUTIONS

AD HOC COMMITTEE ON THE REVIEW OF STATE INSTITUTIONS SUPPORTING CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY
2 March 2007
COMMISSION ON GENDER EQUALITY: HEARING


Chairperson
: Prof A K Asmal (ANC)

Documents Handed Out:
Commission on Gender Equality Response to the Ad Hoc Committee Review of Chapter 9 and Associated Institutions

SUMMARY
The Committee posed a number of questions to the Commission on Gender Equality, based on the submissions made in response to Committee questions. The Chairperson expressed concern that the submissions lacked substance, and particularly made no reference to the 2000 equality legislation. Further concern was expressed over the seemingly limited interactions with other institutions. The committee was also concerned that although CGE had raised a number of problems it was experiencing, it did not appear to have fully utilised all its options, such as the sections of the enabling legislation that gave it the right to approach Parliament or the President to iron out any problems. CGE seemed not to fully comprehend its mandate because it had not performed some of their functions that were clearly outlined, such as instituting litigation on behalf of the public, and seemed to be content with acting as amicus curiae.

Other questions related to the functioning of the CGE, the terms and conditions on which the Commissioners acted, low staff morale, whether there was proper financial management, the need to go on overseas conference, the effectiveness and efficiency since it was trying to act without a full complement of Commissioners, the adequacy of the research undertaken, the figures in the financial statements for research and the mandate and role in legal proceedings. Further questions addressed the value for money received from staff, access to documents, whether any further powers were needed by way of other legislation, the work done with NGOs, and the relationship with the House of Traditional Leaders. The overlapping functions of the Office on the Status of Women were outlined..An explanation was given of the complaints process and monitoring, and the concept of “advancing the rights of women” was discussed. CGE’s view that there needed to be a separate Portfolio Committee for Chapter 9 institutions was debated. The declaration of interests and employment contracts were questioned and the functioning of the equality courts was discussed. Members expressed concern that the increased allocations would be lost in administrative issues. 

MINUTES
Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) : Submission
Ms Joyce Piliso Seroke, Commissioner, CGE tabled a submission in which the CGE sought to respond to specific questions asked by the Committee about the role and functioning of the CGE. These questions had ranged from the vision and mission through to the financial functioning. Although a 32 page document had been submitted, the Chairperson was of the opinion that the submission was too general and noted that the Committee would also be looking to the Annual Report and other relevant documents.

Discussion
The Chairperson asked why some essential matters relating to the CGE seemed not to have been referred to. For instance it referred briefly to the 1996 legislation but there was no reference to the 2000 equality legislation nor to the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination (PEPUDA) projects in their report. The legislation conferred considerable power that included locus standi to bring an action before the equality courts and to seek review .

Ms Piliso-Seroke replied that the constitutional mandate was guided by the CGE Act 39 of 1996. This provided their principle guidelines and it spelt out their mandate, which was to promote,  respect, protect and develop gender equality. The Act also provided requirements as to how the mandate must be carried out, which included monitoring, evaluation and developing conduct .

The Chairperson asked why there was no reference to the Equality Act.

Ms Chana Majake CEO, CGE replied that CGE was mindful of the Act and was working on how to make people understand how the function of CGE was related to the Equality Act. She further said that when the Act was introduced much of the work was the monitoring of equality courts, checking if these were ready and well equipped.

The Chairperson remarked that when noting the mandate of the CGE, then the Equality Act was more significant than the 1996 legislation because it supplemented the 1996 Act and gave CGE the power to go to court. This had not been mentioned.

Ms Majake replied that the basic premise for such institutions as the CGE was the equality Clause 9 of the Constitution, since equality was central to the CGE. In the response  CGE focused on discrimination between men and women, perhaps not mentioning equality specifically. However CGE would of course see this legislation in the manner that the rest of the report had been answered.

The Chairperson asked who was going to the New York convention, and why they had to go to New York for something that was specific to South Africa.

Ms Piliso-Seroke replied that CGE had received an invitation from the United Nations. Some of the issues that were going to be dealt with included the girl child and the participation of men in gender issues. The CGE, as part of the gender machinery, felt that together with the other members, Office on the Status of Women (OSW) and the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) it was useful to have a special workshop that was going to outline and strengthen these bodies.

The Chairperson asked why the conference or workshop could not be held in KwaZulu – Natal or Kimberley.

Ms Piliso -Seroke replied that this was for the benefit of the other mechanisms because South Africa was regarded as an example of these mechanisms working in practice. Delegates would primarily be going there to show case studies, what was being done and how their work had been effected, and this could be seen as strengthening the CGE.

The Chairperson asked how the CGE was operating. The biggest problem was that there were meetings with a structure that did not really exist. He asked then asked how CGE was operating in practice, especially fulfilling the specific requirements of the Act.

Ms Piliso-Seroke replied that the Chairperson was correct that the terms of the previous commissioners had concluded last April. She continued that the process of appointing new commissioners, with the assistance of the National Assembly, was at an advanced stage. CGE had had nominations sent out to parliament by the Department of Justice and interviews were conducted. Since that process in parliament there was not a new crop of commissioners. Despite this, business has been going on as usual. The CGE Act, in section 4 (2), said that any vacancy in the Commission shall not affect the validity or the proceedings or decisions of the Commission. Guided by this work had continued, but additional work had been given to the CEO, Chairperson and the team of senior management.

The Chairperson remarked that vacancy did not mean the total absence of a Commission.

Ms Piliso-Seroke agreed that there were no Commissioners. CGE had written to the President and asked why they still had no Commissioners, noting that while they were waiting for the process to be finalised they would continue doing the work. This section of the Act was also supported by the PMFA.

Ms M Monana, Legal Officer, CGE stated that the President, in terms of section 5 of the CGE Act, had the prerogative, in consultation with the commissioners, to appoint the part time commissioners. One of the definitions in the PMFA Act defined executive authority, in relation to a constitutional institution consisting of a body of persons, as the Chairperson of the constitutional institutional, and the reference to a constitutional institution with the same office bearer meant the incumbent of the particular office. CGE understood the regulation to mean that the Chairperson on her own, as the office bearer, would be able to continue and exercise her discretion and decision-making as an office bearer.

The Chairperson remarked that lawyers were inclined to give their own meaning. He wondered how efficient a commission could be when effectively it was the Chairperson. Moreover, there was a public statement to the effect that there should have been an appointment in April last year. He asked if the Chairperson or the CEO had publicly announced that this situation was not right.

Ms Piliso-Seroke replied that CGE was aware of the fact that it was not efficient for any body to operate without the full body of commissioners. CGE had written to the Speaker, the President and to the Minister himself and had been referred to the Department of Justice but there had been no response.

The Chairperson remarked that he was not aware that they had made any public announcements to this effect and the Committee had to report back to the parliament that there was an absence of commissioners.

Ms C Johnson (ANC) referred CGE to page 3 of the submissions. She informed CGE that an article had been written that stated that the research the CGE conducted was never backed up by substantial evidence or clear-cut policies. The quality of the work was weak as it evidenced simplistic understanding of gender and there was a lack of depth. She asked if their research was adequate.

Ms Piliso-Seroke replied that CGE had come a long way from where they began with a staff of four people only to its present complement of 90. Moreover, after the report on how it should operate the CGE went though a restructuring process. Previously there was confusion because research was under policy and research, which meant that CGE was not able to do justice to research. Now there was a fully fledged research unit with an HOD and a legal officer in all the nine provinces

The Chairperson asked what the R2 million for research was spent on.

Ms Majake replied that CGE utilised research to get information on what was  happening in terms of gender. This was then used as a monitoring tool, helping CGE to deal with South Africans and understand where they were in terms of their rights and their understanding.

The Chairperson then asked what CGE meant by research as he thought that this was rather systematic enquiry.

Ms Majake replied that the kind of research CGE had carried out had not amounted to R2 million, unless this included personnel. She would have to check the books.

The Chairperson remarked that the report had referred to 17% research.

Ms Majake replied that the percentage was the breakdown of expenditure by department, not as one specific research project. The figure would also involve personnel and administrative costs.

Ms Johnson remarked that the Committee had received a submission from the gender equity unit of the University of the Western Cape, which suggested that the CGE had a vital role to play, but it only became involved in court proceedings as an amicus curiae. It was argued that the CGE should become more involved in litigation or even instigate litigation on behalf of others in the equality courts. She asked if CGE viewed its mandate and role in legal proceedings as a limited one.

Ms Piliso-Seroke replied that she did so.

Ms Monana added that in terms of Section 20 of PEPUDA CGE had the ability to act, and Section 25 allowed CGE to litigate on behalf of members of the public. This area was being looked into. There  had never been a stage when CGE actually litigated because most of the cases were either mediated or conciliated, and CGE was looking forward to training legal personnel in that respect.

Ms Majake added that the legal office was a new office of slightly over a year's work in the CGE and this was because of their budget constraints.

The Chairperson remarked that CGE could not hide behind this as it spent about 58% on personnel, and 55% on commissioners. His major question was whether CGE had value for money when they spent so much on personnel.

Ms Majake replied that the issue of commissioners and their salaries was one of the few matters that CGE did not decide internally. The salary and the numbers were informed by the Act, and regardless of the number CGE had to pay. This was one of the questions addressed during the restructuring, with consideration given as to what could be done to put resources to more use. One suggestions was to cut down on the number of commissioners.

The Chairperson commented that 12 were too many for the kind of work CGE was doing. He added that the most important power was the power to monitor compliance with international conventions. However there was no evidence that CGE had tried to intervene in parliament concerning compliance with international law.

Ms Majake replied that CGE had made a number of submissions on various conventions such as children, communal land rights, and domestic violence. The biggest frustration, despite the fact that CGE had this power, was that it had no access to documents and information and in some cases attended meetings where it was told that documents were still being embargoed.

The Chairperson commented that he was talking about compliance in South Africa. CGE had been in existence for more than 10 years. The conventions were available over the internet, and in books, but there was still no evidence of monitoring.

Ms Piliso-Seroke replied that there was need for legislation that would formally give CGE the power to monitor and even report to parliament so that it legitimately became part of the process and had easier access to the information. The general feeling seemed to be that monitoring compliance was not in the CGE's power. Information that came into the country through the foreign affairs department would then be forwarded. Nevertheless CGE was still working on the problem.

The Chairperson remarked that it was clear from section 11(1)(h) that CGE had this power to monitor and he had to conclude that it was not carrying out the statutory mandate

Ms Majake replied that CGE needed an enabling legislation so that the institutions would be able to interact with each other in the system.

The Chairperson remarked that the law should be consistent with the international conventions, and since the NGO’s had the same power he suggested that CGE work with them. He felt that CGE had so far not fulfilled its mandate. Section 11(1)(c) clearly outlined that CGE had the power to evaluate acts of parliament, family law or any other law that affected gender equality and make recommendations to parliament. With the exception of the Children’s Bill it did not seem CGE had evaluated any law, researched it, published it and shared it

Ms Piliso-Seroke replied that CGE had evaluated some acts of parliament; for example the Maintenance Act and had produced a report on it. It also had evaluated the Domestic Violence Act and the implementation of the Act and they had similarly produced reports and they had meaningful discussions with the House of Traditional Leaders on communal land rights and the traditional leader’s framework and had made suggestions

The Chairperson requested a copy of the suggestions and told CGE that this should have come out of the report  submitted.

Ms D Smuts (DA) began by remarking that she had an interest in the CGE because she was heavily involved with the equality of women and was part of the women’s coalition. She  recognized that the CGE was not always considered highly. She then asked if CGE was embedded in the vast machinery of the government as it seemed it was lax to confront the government if they backslid on gender issues.

Ms Piliso-Seroke replied that CGE was  not embedded but they had constraints because the roles of the OSW and CGE overlapped. Although CGE was supposed to be the major monitoring body for the public and private sector, it realised that other bodies had the machinery to monitor, and this caused confusion. CGE had tried to rectify this by handing over the function to facilitate gender in all departments to the OSW. This had focal points that saw that the departments were mainstreamed and when CGE detected a problem they would go to OSW. In most cases problems arose because the focal points had no resources.

Mr J Van Der Merwe (IFP) began by acknowledging that the statement he was about to make was not his opinion. He was asked to enquire if there was room for gender equality, and if this could not be embedded in the Human Rights Commission.

The Chairperson remarked that the question was a bit premature. He asked however if there was a need for other bodies if there was a strong Commission on Gender Equality. Having other bodies seemed to confuse people.

Ms Majake replied that this was an important question when it came to the three gender machineries, being CGE, OSW and the Joint Committee on gender equality. In addition the gender framework should not exclude the civil society. They had together tried to identify the areas that were crippling them and they agreed that there was need to reorganise the bodies. A review was currently under way.

The Chairperson commented that he hoped the review would be done by June. 

Adv C Burgess (ANC) asked whether CGE selected the cases it monitored as there were thousands of cases that were instigated.

Ms Majake replied that they indeed selected the cases they monitored.

Ms Moname added that CGE would get an indicator from one of the complainants, for example the trusts that were being set up, and would then check at whether women were being unwittingly divested of their rights, and would gather the information on the issue.

The Chairperson requested that the cases be submitted to the committee in writing.

Ms Johnson referred to page 5 and remarked that there seemed to be overlap between the CGE and the other bodies where gender equality was a vital issue. For instance there seemed to be little or no liaison between the CGE and the Public Service Commission (PSC).

Ms Majake admitted that there had not been  much collaboration with this body but CGE had used its findings to confront government departments, for instance, telling them what  the public service had said about your department. Currently CGE was dealing with the defense department, which was apparently not complying with the requirements of employing women and promoting women. Moreover, this body was not in their forum that included bodies like Human Rights Commission (HRC), Public Protector and the independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
 
The Chairperson added even after 10 years still the government did not take the issue of gender seriously and he asked if CGE would  work with the PSC  which produced a lot of gender statistics, particularly to find out if they had carried out research over the entire 26 departments, parastatal bodies and made assessments on gender mainstreaming.
 
Ms Majake replied that interaction with the public service commission was minimal because the gender issues they focused on were covered by the gender focal point.

The Chairperson asked what focal point was

Ms Majake replied that this was a post created in order to mainstream and sensitize the executive of gender. However, CGE was not happy with the levels the focal points were given. In most case they were so low that they could not even participate in decision making thereby making their impact minimal. Gender mainstreaming issues had been addressed through the OSW.

The Chairperson commented that the annual reports were getting slimmer.

Ms Majake replied this was so, because Parliament complained that the reports were too bulky and CGE discovered that most of their reports ended up in the recycling bin.

Ms Johnson asked if CGE was aware that its role might overlap with the Human Rights Commission (HRC) as this dealt with issues such as socio-economic human rights.

Ms Majake replied that there were some areas where they had worked jointly in socio-economic rights, such as the poverty hearings, and once CGE had the information from the hearings it would focus on poverty with a bias towards women.

Ms M Matsomela (ANC) asked if there was no way that the CGE role could complement the Youth Commission. especially on educational programmes or  joint campaigns as the youth should be the target group to be sensitised to gender and equality. 

Ms Majake replied that anything about human rights would be complementary with CGE work and if they looked closely they would find a component that would complement.

Mr S Dithebe (ANC) asked what the gender commission was doing to advance the cause of women

Ms Smuts asked what their relationship was with institutions like the IEC and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).

Ms PilisoSeroke replied that the relationship with the IEC was centered on the elections. Whenever there were elections the CGE monitored the elections with a gender perspective. It would then report its findings to the IEC and was happy to say that the recommendations were acted upon and every election there were improvements on issues such as pregnant women not having to queue. CGE also monitored the manifesto of political parties, and for women it did a lot of voter education.

She added that interactions with ICASA centred on their adverts, especially if CGE received complaints that the advertisements were derogatory, in which case they would be removed. CGE had never had a personal involvement with ICASA.

The Chairperson asked if CGE could provide a list of the number of bodies they liaised with and the frequency they came into contact with other institutions.

Mr L Malane, Chief Operations Coordinator, CGE replied that there was frequency of collaboration and intervention in the provinces and CGE had made reports which they had sent to the Committee about the interventions and the involvement of stake holders and collaborative efforts.

Ms S Rajbally (MF) commented that it was very encouraging to know that CGE had offices in each of the nine provinces. She asked how well known CGE was in the provinces.

Ms Piliso-Seroke said that CGE did operate in all the nine provinces, the last offices being established in Gauteng and Mpumalanga in 2006. It believed it was well known in the provinces and the current offices established they were making inroads and outreach programmes.

Ms Rajbally asked whether the personnel of the different provinces came from the provinces themselves, and asked and how often did the nine offices come together to exchange views and problems.

Ms Piliso-Seroke replied that some of the staff came from the provinces themselves but when CGE advertised it did so nationally, and in the end picked the best person for the job irrespective of whether the person came from the province. CGE had team building exercises where the staff came together. Moreover, it had strategic planning in the year , when all the provinces came and identified the plan of action. It had also introduced video conferencing to keep in touch with the provinces that were far from the head office and also to reduce the cost of traveling.

The Chairperson remarked that in 2003 there seemed to be some lack of understanding between the Commissioners allocated to a certain province and the provincial office, and hence they could not focus on their primary function.

Ms Piliso-Seroke replied that there was an understanding that no Commissioner was going to represent a province because their function was holistic. However, there was a problem with the relocation when the Commissioners came from their respective provinces to the head office. As a result a decision was made that a Commissioner in, for example KwaZulu-Natal would be housed at the provincial house in KwaZulu Natal and would come to Johannesburg when CGE had plenary meetings and strategic planning. What CGE did not expect was the confusion between the provincial co-coordinators and the Commissioners. There appeared to be interference and the provincial coordinators felt that they should do their work in the way it was prescribed, so there had been confusion and tension.

Ms Johnson asked about the relationship with parliament. CGE had stated on page 12 that its  relationship with the Department of Justice had not been ideal, and had proposed a parliamentary committee be put in place. She asked how this would help.

The Chairperson asked for the cost of the provincial offices.

Mr G Kruger Chief Financial Officer, CGE, replied that the provinces cost about R1.5 million per office and the office had about six people.

The Chairperson asked how often CGE appeared before the Justice and Constitutional Committees of Parliament.

Ms Majake replied that they met once a year and considering the number of units that had to report to the committee they waited in line. In most cases the Committee Members would leave because of other commitments and although CGE had believed that they would be able to debate fully, by the time it was called there were few members left and proper attention was not given to the submissions. Moreover CGE had no assurance that the recommendations made were passed on to the relevant body. Hence their suggestion that there be a separate Standing Committee for Chapter 9 institutions.

Adv  Burgess remarked that Ms Piliso-Seroke had hit a sore point and that there was need for the Committee to give due weight to the CGE and make sure that their reports did not end up in the recycling bin.

Mr Dithebe noted that Section 16 of the Act governing CGE was specific about its privileges and ability to approach the President and Parliament in respect of its roles. He asked if CGE had done so in respect of the current problems they were faced.

Ms Majake replied that CGE was aware of the privilege and had tried to use it

The Chairperson amplified that CGE had a right to appear before Parliament and ask them to discuss a certain matter, and he asked if CGE had utilized this power.

Ms Majake replied that CGE had never specifically asked Parliament to discuss certain issues. It would normally approached the Speaker if there were any problems.

The Chairperson remarked that if CGE was unhappy it could inform Parliament of its  dissatisfaction with the development of a certain issue, and could publicly denounce it.  It was unfortunate that in the 10 years CGE had been in operation it had not utilised some of the facilities available.

Ms Johnson asked about the relationship with other Chapter 9 institutions, as they were supposed to keep liaising with each other.

Ms Piliso-Seroke replied that the relationship had still to develop to a point where it was satisfactory. Most of the times the forums were between the Chairpersons of the Chapter 9s and some issues they dealt with were administrative. They had drawn  a memorandum of understanding that was supposed to include the CEOs and the CFOs and they had sent a copy to the Speaker and Department of Justice. The relationship with the other Chapter 9 institutions was one of identifying the areas where they needed to work jointly and then drawing a memorandum of understanding

The Chairperson asked if they had a special relationship with the HRC as it seemed that if HRC  made a report on equality they would also report to the CGE.

Ms Majake replied that the relationship with the HRC was based on the fact that they shared some concerns, and made referrals to each other. They were working on having a better information system so that they would be aware of the issues the other was working on.  They also worked together on the Equality Review Board.

Mr Malane added that CGE and HRC would jointly run campaigns on Human Rights day, the Women’s Day and the sixteen days of activism and they even alternated the Chairperson on some of their campaigns.  

The Chairperson asked if there were any formal arrangements with the Commission as most of the  arrangements seemed informal.

Ms Majake replied that for now CGE did not have any formal arrangements other than the memorandums of understanding.

The Chairperson commented that if CGE should have joint work with other institutions in order to boost its power and presence.

Ms Majake replied that although there was not a formal relationship the kind of work they had done together was very useful. This included the issue of AIDS, where CGE concentrated on  the gender aspect. In addition they realised that there were some areas that need to be organised regionally and nationally.

The Chairperson commented that section 11(1) set out obligations. He wondered if CGE was  fulfilling the primary objective.

Ms Johnson asked if CGE could assure the Committee that everyone was now aware of their roles.

Ms Piliso-Seroke replied that the tension between the staff arose because Commissioners did not have terms of service. Although there were general guidelines for everyone else, these were silent on Commissioners and the Commissioners did not think that they were governed by the Act. In cases where there was a problem, CGE would refer the issue to the Speaker who would refer it to the Directorate. CGE was then informed that the matter was being looked into by the Treasury. While this was being done CGE took it upon itself to include a provision in the Act that would cover Commissioners and set out their accountability as well.

The Chairperson remarked that the Commission has been plagued by a string of problems since its inception. Some of the differences of opinion even went to the philosophical question of the  mandate of the CGE, and this even caused the Chairperson to resign in 1997.

Ms Piliso-Seroke replied that CGE had gone through a lot of evaluation and it had received  recommendations that were followed. CGE was told to restructure. In the past when there was  insufficient staff there were poor human resources problems.  was now looking forward to having a system that would guide the Commissioners. They now had a code of conduct and they would go through an induction process.

Ms Smuts asked whether the role was now clear, especially on whether CGE was doing developmental work or whether it was taking the feminist approach to further the advancement of women's rights.

Ms Majake replied that CGE had had philosophical problems as to how to interpret the CGE mandate. The feminist approach had been advocated and debates had been held on this issue. The answer lay in the CGE Act where the CGE's function was set out and this was used as a guideline.

Ms Matsimola asked whether the CEO or the Chairperson were required to disclose their financial interests

Ms Majake replied that this actually happened and CGE had a form that everyone was required to complete.

The Chairpersons asked where the forms were kept.

Ms Majake replied that these forms were facilitated by the human resources management and they were kept in the personal files, which were locked away.

The Chairperson asked if there were any outside interests that might include directorships or shareholdings as the CGE Commissioners entered into a lot of transactions. He wanted to know if CGE kept a register of disclosure of interests. .

Mr G Kruger replied that the form included information on the number of shares or directorship held in various organisations but he was not aware that CGE had to keep a separate register.

The Chairperson asked for a copy of the blank form. He asked about gifts.

Mr Kruger replied that there were limitations and any gift above R500 had to be declared.

Mr van der Merwe remarked that his major concern was the uncertainty on the conditions of employment and appointment of CEOs, Commissioners and others. He compared this to what happened in the business world, where employees signed a contract with specific provisions. It seemed there was uncertainty about the employment provisions. If so, then the issue should be addressed.

Ms Majake replied that all personnel signed an employment contract that articulated the terms of employment and the terms of office. CGE had not in the past done this with the Commissioners but was now engaging with the office of the Speaker and hoped to introduce a similar arrangement.

The Chairperson remarked that he was not aware that the office of the Speaker was involved in this. He was of the opinion that this was a matter for the National Treasury and he was inclined to agree with Mr van der Merwe that there was uncertainty. Moreover, he was shocked that CGE had been in existence for 10 years and their Act had still not been updated whilst that of the Public Protector had been amended about five times.

Ms Piliso-Seroke replied that CGE made submissions and recommendations on proposed changes every year.

The Chairperson remarked that this Committee would then ask  the Chairperson of the Justice Committee to speak to this issue. However, he asked why CGE did not write to the President or the Speaker and make their recommendations public.

Ms Majake replied that was the reason why CGE had requested that a standing committee be set up to deal with Chapter 9 institutions, because it had tried the various other channels.

The Chairperson commented that CGE should have written to the Minister if it was having problems and this was exactly what led him to believe that the problems were self-inflicted.

The Chairperson asked what mechanisms CGE had put in place to rectify the low levels of morale and high staff turnover.

Ms Majake replied that previously CGE had high staff turnover and had lost most of the staff to government departments and to other institutions. To some extent this was related to the salaries of the Commissions in comparison with other Departments.

The Chairperson remarked that maybe staff had left due to the low morale rather than the salaries.

Ms Majake replied that CGE had indeed received complaints on staff morale, and these seemed to be based on the fact that there was little upward mobility. CGE took the matter seriously and they based some of the restructuring on the complaints that caused low morale. It also came up with a proper management system that offered incentives.

The Chairperson remarked that this related to the current year.

Ms Majake replied that whilst the report did date back to last November the February team building exercise had indicated that although CGE might not have achieved everything it was at least moving in the right direction.

The Chairperson asked if the low morale was not also the result of other problems such as structure and bureaucratic problems.

Mr Malane said that the restructuring was effective and CGE was trying to foster a culture that would promote teamwork through quality management systems as well as  contribute to the management performance systems. CGE had looked at rewards for performers and the penalties for non-performers and any CGE member could be called upon to justify performance.

Ms Johnson remarked that the CGE had an important role to fill but if the public were of the opinion that it was irrelevant then something was seriously wrong and had to be corrected. She then asked how it was going to prove to the public that it was relevant.

Ms Majake replied that this was a serious perception problem. It was unfortunate that these views were taken to other forums without being forwarded to the CGE. Up to now no organ of civil society had come up and asked how CGE should deal with a particular problem . CGE continued to be open but if there was no one who would approach it this was going to be difficult.

The Chairperson remarked that it was the CGE who should foster relationships with the various organs under their mandate.

Ms Majake replied that the civil society organs did not approach CGE with their problems but from their side they had gender machinery that tried to foster relations with the civil society and linkages with other government departments as well.

Ms Piliso-Seroke added that the Committee should also appreciate the dilemma that every society had an opinion on how the CGE should be operating, but at the end of the day CGE was   directed by its mandate. There was a misunderstanding amongst males as to the functions of the CGE, and uncertainty whether society expected CGE to deal with women only, or to deal with gender issues.

The Chairperson agreed that there was always the politics of gender, and where there was a disputed area CGE should have debates and come up with an answer.

The Chairperson remarked that in 2003/ 04 financial year CGE had referred to 2137 cases, which they systematically broke down. Similar information was not in the 2005/06 reports. Since CGE dealt with thousands of cases he would like to know, between 2002 and 2005, how many were successfully concluded and if there had ever been an evaluation of the success.

Ms Monana replied that from the complaints received CGE would compile statistics. Although it had not really determined the success rate it was putting in place a structure that would measure the success rate. It had also put in place statistics on the website but empirical studies were not included.

The Chairperson then asked if CGE had the actual number.

Ms Monana replied that the exact numerical data was not available.

The Chairperson asked what was the procedure if someone had a complaint.

Ms Monana replied that CGE had to first check if the issue fell into its jurisdiction. If not, then it would be sent to the relevant forum.
 
The Chairperson then asked whether CGE would follow up on all the issues they referred elsewhere.

Ms Monana replied that it did follow the outcome reports of the matter.

The Chairperson asked what would happen if the matter was within the CGE's jurisdiction.

Ms Monana replied that in this event CGE took the complaint, drew up a summary of the issue, and forwarded it to the respondent, who would then respond to the summary. There would then be an assessment of the situation to decide whether CGE should conciliate or mediate the matter.

The Chairperson asked if CGE had concluded all the cases.

Ms Monana replied that CGE had successfully concluded all matters, including the referrals.

The Chairperson asked about the number of complaints had received since 2004, how many were received in the first two years and how many were carried over.

Ms Monana replied that this was an omission and CGE was going to make the report available as soon as possible.

Ms M Matsomela asked whether CGE had actually contacted other forums such as the House of Traditional Leaders and if so, had there been any problems emanating from this.

Ms Piliso-Seroke replied that CGE had contacted the House of Traditional Leaders (HTL) in the past and were their partners when they dealt with the communal land rights (CLR) issues. CGE also monitored their framework and here had suggested that there be at least at 3% women's participation. However, the House informed CGE that non compliance was due to the fact that the women did not want to get involved. The relationship with the HTL was not  ideal as CGE was constantly told that some matters should be left alone as they were culture-related and the women were so steeped in culture that it was difficult to monitor. CGE had continued to teach and welcomed the introduction of the land rights. There was some joint working despite the fact they might clash over their protection of culture and the CGE' s insistence on eradication of culture that might hamper equality. The relationship was constructive.

The Chairperson asked how many requests CGE had lodged under section 25 to the Equality Courts.

Ms Majake replied that CGE had not sent any case to the Equality Court. Many of the Courts had not even been set up, and people found it far too inconvenient to try to take matters to the courts.

The Chairperson asked what CGE had done about the matter. 

Ms Majake replied that CGE had monitored the establishment of courts and how they should operate. This was a system that was evolving. There were no cases reported that CGE could allude to.
 
Ms Monana added that in the last part of CGE's submission there were tables of complaints that were submitted and monitored in the equality courts, but the major issue was that in some of the towns the courts had not been established.

The Chairperson remarked that CGE had three grounds on which the Court could be approached. He felt that CGE should have a higher degree of professionalism.

The Chairperson remarked that in the last five years the budget had gone up by R26 million. He  asked what deliverables CGE was working on.

Ms Majake replied that the CGE started its work in 1997 with a R1 million budget, which was not bench marked, and for a very long time CGE dealt with a small budget that was not conducive to its broad mandate. A mechanism was then put in place to address this and hence the budget had shifted from R14 million to R26 million.

The Chairperson asked again what variables CGE intended to address with the substantial increase

Ms Majake replied that there were some areas that were not properly capacitated, such as research and the legal office, but now the increase in budget had allowed CGE to have a legal officer researcher, which would improve the work of the CGE. In addition the higher budgets would allow for raising of the programmes. There could be visible interaction of the CGE with the South African population, and its impact would increase.

The Chairperson was worried that the increase was going to be spent on administrative issues rather than real projects, and CGE should be aware that South Africa was a poor country spending enormous amounts of money on these bodies. He was concerned that there was repetition in the provincial offices and enquired if there was value for money or if CGE should have field officers instead. He remarked that they all had to come to some ethical understanding.

The Chairperson remarked that the Committee was committed to guardians of the people. Although there were still a number of other questions, time was at a premium.

The meeting was adjourned.



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