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JUSTICE AND CONSITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
7 November 2007
COMMISSION ON GENDER EQUALITYANNUAL REPORT 2006/07; SA JUDICIAL EDUCATION INSTITUTE BILL: ADOPTION
Chairperson: Mr Y Carrim (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Working draft of SA Judicial Education Institute Bill, dated 6 November
Proposed amendments to Judicial Education Institute Bill
Draft Committee Report on SA Judicial Education Institute Bill
South African Judicial Education Institute Bill [B 4-2007]
Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) Annual Report 2006/07 [available shortly at www.cge.org.za]
CGE Powerpoint presentation
CGE strategic plan
CGE budget [Part 1][Part 2]
CGE draft 5-year strategic plan /provincial plan of action (email email@example.com)
Audio recording of meeting
The Committee deliberated upon the final amendments to the South African Judicial Education Institute Bill. The Committee agreed to remove the references to judges in clause 12(4) but instead to note in the Report that the Committee believed it would be inappropriate for a serving or retired judge to be appointed as Director of the Institute. Clauses 12(3) and 11(1) were amended to refer to “administrative head” of the Institute. The wording of Clause 7(1)(c) was amended to “a judge, or any other person designated”. Clause 13(2)(b) was amended to clarify the meaning. Members went through the Bill, as now amended, and resolved to adopt it.
The Commission on Gender Equality briefed the Committee on its Annual Report, pointing out that this report covered a period before appointment of many of the current Commissioners. The Commission had undertaken a review of itself and institutional weaknesses had been identified and were being corrected. The vision had been amended to bring it closer in line with the Act. The Commission wished to have a complementary relationship with other institutions, yet be bold in implementing the mandate. Specific issues were explained by each of the commissioners. These included the work on poverty, alignment of internal corporate governance, joint efforts with other institutions, the research focus, the new litigation status, monitoring functions, engagement with communities and traditional leaders, and the status of the Commission, which was not treated on an equal footing with other Chapter 9 institutions. Increased capacity was needed for communication, HR and finance.
Members noted that the quality of the presentation was high, but that the written annual report had not addressed a number of issues. Comments were made that the Commission should be placing more emphasis on the boy child, that sharing of resources such as library facilities, should be investigated, and that the performance had not in the past justified increases in the budget. Members also asked about the input of the Commission into violence in other African countries, its international work, its ability to take on candidate attorneys, and the broadening of its vision. Matters that the Committee would take up on the Commission’s behalf, after receiving written submissions, would include a review of the Act, timeous and regular access to information, equality of status, its litigation status, and appointment of a Chairperson of the Commission.
South African Judicial Education Institute Bill
The Chairperson firstly tabled the draft Committee Report on the Bill, indicating that only the policy issue in Clause 12(4)(b) was still outstanding. The Committee had felt that it was inappropriate for a serving judicial officer to take on what was essentially an administration role, but as a compromise had suggested that perhaps a judge discharged from active service could be appointed. The ANC had discussed the matter the previous day, and felt that the Bill should be amended so that no reference was contained to judges in this clause. The draft report mentioned that the Committee felt that it would be inappropriate even for a “retired” judge to be appointed. The Director General of the Department of Justice had been trying to get the comment of the Chief Justice Thursday but had not managed to get a response on this issue. The view of the Deputy Minister was that there would not be an objection to a retired judge being appointed. He suggested that perhaps the clause should be left as it was, and negotiations and discussions around the issue could continue while the NCOP dealt with the matter, whereafter changes could be made if necessary.
The Chairperson noted that the Department had raised the point that judges did act as directors of institutes elsewhere, but the Committee had pointed out that judges were judges for life in South Africa.
The Chairperson noted that the Bill had been tagged yesterday.
The report had explained that this was the first of a “package” of Bills.
Mr Johan de Lange, Principal State Law Advisor, Department of Justice (DOJ) said that the White Paper would also inform this. The Deputy Minister had pointed out that this was not really a new version of the Bill.
The Chairperson indicated that the Committee was coming under some criticism when Bills were delayed. He wished to stress that in fact it was a new version of the Bill and differed quite substantially from what had been first tabled.
Mr J Jeffery (ANC) questioned the value of most of Point 1 in the report, believing that the reference to other legislation was not really relevant. He suggested that that point be dropped.
The Chairperson noted that Points 2, 3, and 4 were accepted. The Report noted that the amendments were not substantive, and had to do mostly with the designation and number of magistrates, and it was noted that Clause 11 was essentially a re-write of information moved from Clause 5. Clause 12 was amended to note that the Committee did not wish the Director of the Institute to be a serving judge or a judge discharged from active service.
Dr T Delport (DA) wondered how best to deal with the matter. If all “prohibitions” were removed from the Bill and nothing was said, then a retired or serving judge could be appointed. He wondered whether the Committee should specify in the report that although it had not included a prohibition it would not consider appointment of a judge to be correct.
Mr Hermann Smuts, Principal State Law Advisor, Office of Chief State Law Advisor, said that the Committee could perhaps include a paragraph in the Memorandum of Objects.
The Chairperson pointed out that this would have no legal meaning, and this would fall away once the Bill became an Act. He noted that there were still negotiations pending with the judiciary and that the NCOP would still have to deal with the matter. .
Dr T Delport (DA) wondered if this issue should simply be left to the Council, which, ultimately would have to see to it that the Institute was properly run. He was not sure whether the Committee must become involved.
The Chairperson noted that Dr Delport’s view had merit, and the ANC members had felt quite strongly on the issue. What was currently in the report did not really solve the problem. He thought that the Report should explain why amendments were made to clause 12, and the Report could say that it flowed from the view of the Committee with regard to the position of judges (which was all set out) that it was not appropriate for a serving or retired judge to be appointed to head the Institute.
Mr G Magwanishe (ANC) noted that the CEO was not the head of the Institute, but rather that the Council was, and he asked that this be changed.
Mr De Lange noted that Clause 12(3) referred to the CEO as “head and CEO of the institute "
Members were not sure that this was correct, and suggested that the words “administrative head” be used instead.
It was agreed to amend Clause 11(1) and 12(3) to refer to “the administrative head”.
The Chairperson reverted to the report and said that the question marks in relation to the function of the administrative head could be removed as the wording was agreed.
The Report noted that there was no cost analysis, and noted also that although the full cost was clearly not feasible, a broad estimate should at least be available.
The report, as amended, was approved by Members.
The Chairperson tabled and read the Motion of desirability, noting that in fact it was illogical that it should be adopted only at this stage, instead of before discussion of the Bill. The Motion was adopted.
The Chairperson then tabled the final version of the Bill, and proceeded to go through the Bill, clause by clause, indicating where the last changes had taken place, following on the suggestions made by Members at the previous, and this, meeting.
The preamble had been altered and the new preamble therefore replaced that in the original Bill
Clause 2: Definitions
There were no changes.
This clause remained as drafted.
The Objects of the Act remained the same.
The functions of the Institute were set out. Subclauses (a) to (e) remained the same and (f) was included.
The clause had not been amended
Dr Delport thought that the wording of 7(1)(c) could be improved. Members agreed it should read “a judge, or any other person designated…”
Mr Magwanishe asked if the references to the Chief Justice should not read “The Chief Justice, as the Chairperson and Head of the Institute”
The Chairperson felt this was rather unwieldy and pointed out that this clause dealt with the composition of the Council, so that the headship of the Institute was not relevant. The clause remained as drafted.
The clause remained as in the draft. .
The Chairperson pointed out that some changes had been made. Clause 9(3)(b) had been broken up. Clause 9(4) now made it clear that the Council could vary the decision of the Committee. The clause was approved.
This clause remained as it had been.
The Chairperson pointed out that there had just been a change made to 11(3) to clarify that the Director was the administrative head. The clause was approved.
The Chairperson pointed out that once again there was a change to the wording to clarify that the Director was the administrative head.
Clause12(4)(b) would be deleted, and the matter would be dealt with by way of comment in the Committee’s report.
Clause 13(2)(b) had been reformulated so that it was less clumsy.
Mr Smuts noted that the wording had been altered to “has been consulted and has approved such use". This was accepted.
Clauses 13(3) to (9) were also accepted.
The Chairperson noted that it had now been clarified that the Minister must consult with the Minister of Finance.
Clauses 15 to 17
These clauses remained the same
The Chairperson reminded Members that a query had been raised whether it was necessary to refer to the Heraldry Act. The State Law Advisors had clarified that this had not been done in similar legislation and was not necessary. The clause would remain as drafted. .
The Chairperson then proceeded to the formal adoption of the Bill, and Members accepted each clause in turn.
Clause 1 was accepted, subject to the amendment of the references.
Clause 2 was accepted, with a technical amendment.
Clauses 3 and 4, were accepted.
Clause 5 was accepted with amendments
Clause 6 was accepted.
Clause 7 was approved, with the amendments as discussed
Clauses 8, 9 and 10 were adopted with the amendments.
Clause 11 was adopted, as amended by the reference to administrative head agreed earlier. Clauses 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 were adopted, with amendments.
The preamble was completely replaced with the new preamble agreed upon at the last meeting.
The Long Title of the Bill was accepted.
Members therefore proposed, seconded and unanimously adopted the Bill
Members proposed, seconded, and accepted the Report, with the amendments.
Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) Annual Report briefing
The Chairperson pointed out that in the fourth quarter, portfolio committees would consider Annual Reports in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) required the reports to be considered. He did not think it was useful simply to listen. Although this Committee was responsible for holding the Commission to account for public funds, it would like also to hear how the Commission felt that the Committee could assist it.
Ms Nomboniso Gasa, Acting Chairperson, CGE, said that the Commission regarded the opportunity to brief the Committee as an enriching experience. She pointed out that this was the first year in office for many Commissioners, and this Annual Report therefore had preceded some terms of office. Over the last few months there had been an overlap with the former Chairperson of the CGE. The handover report had not yet been completed.
Since inception of their new terms of office, the Commissioners’ main focus had been to understand what had been said about the Commission, what was the public perception, and where this emanated from. An extensive review of the CGE was undertaken. Before the Annual Report, many of the institutional weaknesses had been identified. The new Commissioners were looking at structural legal development processes, try to take the CGE forward. This policy approach would assist in measuring what was being done.
The Constitution provided for establishment of a Commission and Section 185 set out terms of service, conditions and mandate of the Commission. The CGE Act of 1996 took the issue further and provided a clear legal tool to allow it to deliver on the mandate. The CGE was one of the Chapter 9 institutions, and part of the gender machinery, so it spread across a number of issues. One of the issues raised during the review into Chapter 9 institutions was the issue of the legal standing of the CGE. The report of the ad hoc Committee said that the CGE did not seem to understand its mandate. She did not agree with this statement. However, no section of the Constitution could be read independently of others and it was necessary to refer also to inter government relations. The Commissioners would like to see CGE’s relationship with others as complementary, rather than conflictual, and take a holistic approach.
The CGE would like to be bold in implementing the mandate. It was aware that its responsibility was that of oversight, but would like to have ideas of how to do this effectively. A hard-line approach on independence would not work. The mandate of building the nation was larger than parliament or the Executive. CGE must look to broader interpretations, different precedents and specific contexts. Independence was socially and historically constructed.
Ms Gasa noted that in the past, all Chapter 9 institutions had complained about the ability of parliament to facilitate delivery on the mandate. There must be a meaningful and deeper relationship. The dignity and integrity of the institutions were enshrined in the Constitution, but she noted that the ways in which CGE was handled was poor. It was scandalous that the review from the ad hoc committee was presented to the public before the Chapter 9 institutions were given the opportunity to comment upon it. She believed that there was a need for frank discussion on how to safeguard mandates and protect the integrity of the institutions. When the Report of the ad hoc Committee came to Parliament CGE would like to give its response.
CGE knew it had a great deal of work and had identified many issues in the annual report. It would like to ensure the strategic plan talked to the overall mandate and thematic areas. The new Commissioners, on coming into office, had managed to withdraw a conference on gender violence because this did not fall strictly within its mandate. They were putting in place strong governance processes and procedures and would like to have obstacles removed.
Dr Tebogo Maitse, Commissioner, noted that the CGE was working on issues of poverty, gender violence and good governance. The Annual Report revealed that there had been little synergy between departments. Now all elements were looking at the same themes. CGE was excited about its work and would later in the week be holding a mid-term review to feed into the final strategy plan. CGE would be sending through a copy of the strategic plan.
The Chairperson noted that one of the Committee researchers had drawn up a comment on the report, and this would be sent by the Committee to the CGE.
Ms Janine Hicks, Commissioner, said that one of the challenges had been that the internal corporate governance was not aligned. Problems with staff attrition impacted on the ability to retain staff, and career build them. There were terms of reference now for an organisational review, and a consultant would be going through issues and developing clear recommendations. There had been many contradictions in internal policies and procedures, and this was also under review. The CGE would draw on the Public Service Commission, and all staff would buy in. It was hoped that the combination of internal and external reviews would assist. The external mandate with regard to governance required the CGE to monitor the private and government sectors to see how they were promoting equality and the status of women. CGE would thus look to governance within the organisations. The Joint Monitoring Committee, the Office on the Status of Women (OSW) and CGE would be working together to try to strengthen the national gender machinery. This joint effort would focus on compliance with international frameworks, policy and programmes of departments, the judiciary, media, political parties and the private sector, and consider the extent to which they were promoting gender and transformation, through allocation of budget and women representation. This was part of the research and advocacy component of the CGE. CGE believed in partnerships with civil society on research.
Ms Gasa noted that there was a need for review of the CGE Act, and the need to find out how to force government departments to respond.
Adv Nomazotsho Memani-Balani, CGE Commissioner, noted that there was a department at CGE to deal with complaints and input. CGE believed that it now had litigation status, rather than simply intervening as amicus curiae in pending court matters. It had managed to establish the Jutastat library. The mandate called upon CGE to be the custodian and monitor for the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPEDA) and the equality legislation, but the budget had not previously allowed this to develop properly. Another challenge was monitoring of the equality courts. Many had been established, but there were problems, as the Department of Justice (DOJ) was not working with the CGE. Many cases that should be in the equality court were not getting there.
Mr Mfanozelwe Shozi, Commissioner, noted that CGE was working on thematic concepts. The patterns of domestic violence were changing. Violence had moved out of the homes to more generalised killing of groups - for instance lesbians. Although domestic violence was happening there were critical issues around enforcement. Men were still reacting by a backlash. Different forums of violence were happening in different provinces. Men were not coming forward when they themselves were being abused. Another critical issue was trafficking of women, and he wondered if sufficient mechanisms were in place pending the World Cup in 2010; there was a need to address the problem also with the Local Organising Committee of FIFA. Gender violence of the disabled and elderly was a further issue. The CGE needed to work in all provinces to have gender-based violence reported. It was working with traditional leaders to ensure that violence was contained. A system was being developed to correlate all complaints, with reports being send to the relevant committees (for instance, Health, in respect of a complaint of violence at a hospital).
Mr Bafana Khumalo, Commissioner, CGE, noted that those in rural areas were impacted upon and there was sometimes resistance to change from different perspectives. CGE thus sought to engage with traditional and spiritual leaders, to try to reach a common approach and to collaborate on advancing its values. A concept paper would be finalised next week that sought to define and frame how CGE would be approaching this work. The National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) would meet with the Commission shortly. There were initial discussions with other Chapter 9 institutions to harmonise approaches.
Ms Yvette Abrahams, CGE Commissioner, said that she chaired the poverty committee, and poverty was one of the most important themes. Poverty was also a gender issue as women were the poorest of the poor. CGE must find where the blockages were that prevented access to land, water, sanitation and cheap and safe public transport. There was a close link between asset and income poverty but there was no national definition of poverty. The CGE also had a research and education function, and would now be proactive in educating departments and other bodies where needed. Water, for instance, was a problem because the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry had a continual pattern of under spending. Different departments required different approaches. There was political will and commitment on the part of the Executive. However, the poverty of the CGE itself was a major issue. The Chairperson of the CGE was being paid less than the Chairpersons of other Chapter 9 institutions, and this seemed to be a poor reflection on commitment to the gender policy. The CGE had about 55% less budget than the Office of the Public Protector, yet was expected to perform to the same standard. Budgets had to be split up between one area and another. All of this impacted upon efficiency.
Ms Gaza stressed that the issue of parity was very important. It was not only the internal budget, but also the relationship with institutional structures in other countries. CGE often did not have observer status in other countries.
Ms Kenosi Meruti, CGE Commissioner, spoke of ICT, saying that internal communication had been a problem. A new committee of the CGE was now setting up an information management system that would ensure that all stakeholders received information. There was a need to build good relationships with the media. CGE was not known in marginalised and rural communities. A media and communications strategy was being developed and the website was under review. CGE hoped to improve media reporting, which was often patriarchal. Provincial officers had initiated relationships with the media.
Ms Chana Majake, CGE CEO, indicated that the strategic plan for 2007/08 was included in the batch of documents, but was to be regarded as a draft. She briefly tabled the mandate, and said the vision had been revised so that CGE was aiming for a society free from oppression, and for all forms of equality. The mission was to continuously engage with stakeholders and account to parliament. The strategic plan aimed to ensure a range of quality and accessible services, and to influence legislation and policies to be gender sensitive. This had been achieved. The work undertaken in the last year included public education and information, research, and legal services. It had also dealt with complaints, and litigation in an amicus curiae capacity. She noted that about 1 million people had been reached. 339 complaints were handled. Several submissions had been made to parliament. Advertising complaints were lodged, and CGE had been working with the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASASA), but was reviewing this relationship. It had monitored the equality courts across the provinces. It acted as amicus curiae in three Constitutional Court matters. Research was undertaken into areas including widowhood, capacity and implementation of the gender mainstreaming policy in the public sector, developing the gender barometer, education policies, women in local government and HIV / Aids' impact upon the elderly. Communications included media relations, public and stakeholder relations, and website development. The CGE required branding to build a public profile.
Ms Majake tabled the expenditure but was asked by he Chairperson not to deal with it at this stage.
Ms Majake said that more capacity was needed in communication, HR and finance. There were now offices throughout the provinces and there was a total staff complement of 102. There was under spending through non-appointment of Commissioners, which had affected the activities. Collaboration with other Chapter 9 institutions continued and CGE was looking at revising and strengthening its outreach strategy. It was trying to better align the themes within the strategic plan. HIV was to be included as a thematic area.
Mr G Magwanishe (ANC) was encouraged by the input, especially the emphasis on the strategy. He felt that there should be more emphasis on the boy child, who would need to be made more sensitive from an early age.
Ms Majake replied that the emphasis on the girl child previously had arisen because women had been discriminated against for so long. She agreed that it was important to deal with boy children too, and the CGE had done so. It was encouraging to note that men were becoming advocates for gender transformation.
Dr Maitse added that programmes needed to be developed specifically to look at boy children in a holistic fashion. There were also issues of tradition and religion; some boys did not want to go for initiation.
Ms Gasa agreed that perhaps the past focus on the girl child should be shifted.
Mr Magwanishe asked if there had been research that indicated the change of violence to groups rather than the home, and whether there had been a decline is issues of family based violence.
Mr Magwanishe noted that Constitutional Court and Human Rights Commission (HRC) both had excellent libraries. He asked if it was not possible for CGE to use the extranet to tap into these resources to cut costs.
Adv Memani-Balani noted that the Constitutional Court had offered to assist the CGE and it now had Jutastat.
Ms Majake noted that where it was possible to do so, there would be sharing of resources. The civil society programme funded by the EU was creating an information management system between the institutions. It was hoped that the information system would also take into consideration issues of this nature, so that the institutions could share resources.
Mr Magwanishe noted that violence against women was even worse in other parts of the African continent and wondered if CGE had any input elsewhere.
Ms Majake said CGE participated in development of treaties and conventions both in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and other regions of Africa. It had to monitor compliance with international and regional treaties. It had participated in developing SADC protocols, and the AU Protocol. It was participating in the reporting framework for heads of states. The one contentious issue was how to set up government processes so that CGE was able to access information and be advised timeously of developments.
The Chairperson noted that there was a great difference in what was said in this meeting, which was impressive, and the quality of the Annual Report, which was poor. It said nothing about the strategic plan in the year under review, the targets, and how it sought to achieve them. He noted that more money was being requested in that report. The view in parliament was that the CGE had not been performing and it had admitted to not being assertive enough in the past. He would only really be able tell the impact of today’s presentation one year from now. He suggested that a full 3 hour meeting should be arranged for the beginning of March, to discuss progress, and that this suggestion be put in the Committee’s report. He asked how specifically the Committee could assist the CGE. He noted that the Committee could ask the Executive to deal with the CGE Act, which clearly needed amendment. He asked how the Committee could assist with the country reports.
Mr Khumalo said that the CGE was often asked to be part of the country’s delegation, but would only see reports when first attending the meetings. It needed to be updated promptly and regularly.
The Chairperson asked the CGE to clarify this in writing. He noted that from next year specific Committee members would be allocated to work closely with the different institutions.
The Chairperson asked the CGE to explain what "equal status” was being asked for
Ms Maitse noted that the CGE had to report to the Human Rights Commission, in terms of the legislation, although it was supposed to be an independent Chapter 9 institution.
Ms Gasa added that the whole CGE Act did not link properly to the Constitution – for instance the name given in the Act and the Constitution differed. There was further a conflict between the Treasury Regulations and the policy regulations. When the CGE was talking of parity, it was not asking for the same budget, because it did not have the same capacity to spend. She suggested that CGE should correlate previous submissions, discuss this with the DOJ and send a written memorandum to the Committee.
Adv C Johnson (ANC) noted that the ad hoc Committee Members had been told that the Chapter 9 institutions were given the report of the Committee, on the day before it was released to members of the Committee.
The Chairperson felt that the question of staff losses needed to be discussed. He would like to hear more also about cooperation with other Chapter 9 institutions. He would like to have something in writing about the litigation status. In respect of the budget, he was not sure that this Committee could support an increased budget at this stage, pending a further review of performance. He asked why Ms Gasa was only acting as Chairperson.
Adv Memani-Balani noted that the President, in terms of the Act, would appoint a Chairperson, but had not done so. The Commission had evaluated itself and its responsibilities and had decided that an Acting Chairperson was needed.
The Chairperson said he would raise this with the Deputy Minister, and convey the Commission's request to finalise the matter.
Ms N Mahlawe (ANC) noted that the nomination to the CGE was on the Order Paper for this afternoon.
Adv Memani-Balani said that the nomination related to the vacant Commissioner’s post, as the Chairperson was appointed by the President, not nominated.
Ms Majake added that the grading of the Chapter 9 must also be addressed, as all Chapter 9 institutions should have the same grading, but that she would convey the comments in writing to the Committee.
The Chairperson noted that delivery and salaries were different from the budget. If there was delivery, then clearly a case could be made out for more money in the budget.
Ms Gasa clarified that the CGE had not come here to ask for additional budget, nor did it want to do so; it was merely a question of setting up an equal system.
Ms M Meruti (ANC) took over as the Chairperson from this point.
Adv Memani-Balani noted that the CGE now did have litigation status, except in a couple of provinces, and this was not an issue that the Committee needed to take up.
Mr J Sibanyone (ANC) asked whether this would not mean that a larger budget was required. If CGE had the status of a law clinic, it would be entitled to hire legally qualified persons, and to take in candidate attorneys.
Adv Memani-Balani clarified that all legal officers of CGE were admitted attorneys, but had been working previously as complaints officer. CGE was entitled to take in candidate attorneys, but could make a motivation later in terms of the budget.
Ms Gasa added that the CGE would take on some cases as strategic litigation. It was aware of the expenses of litigation, but would rather come back at a later stage if further funding was needed. It was also looking at partnerships to share the costs, and would like to move to collective class action litigation, which would set precedents for changing society.
Imam G Solomon (ANC) noted that the CGE was broadening its vision. He felt it should focus on its constitutional mandate, and feared that a broadening might encroach on other Chapter 9 institutions. Litigation was expensive, and there was a perception that there was already an overlap with the HRC.
Ms Gasa urged Members to read the whole CGE Act. The “new” vision captured better alignment to the Act rather than broadening. Overlap was not always negative, and she would like to find a way of developing synergy. She thought the litigation would complement the work.
The Acting Chairperson suggested that the ad hoc committee was dealing with this, and that there was no need for further discussion at this point.
Mr Sibanyone questioned why certain submissions had not been mentioned.
Ms Gasa clarified that these were made after the time covered by the Annual Report.
Imam Solomon asked about the relationship with NGOs and pointed out that many NGOs were attending workshops of the CGE.
Ms Hicks responded that previously the interaction with NGOs and civil society had been ad hoc and irregular. She believed there was room for better elevation of issues and a demand for accountability, that would in turn help strengthen the profile of matters. CGE would be moving to a far more deliberate engagement, that might also set up agreements with paralegal groups. CGE would deliver a better product when it did not do everything itself and could obtain better reach.
Ms Meruti asked about the reports on teaching of evolution and other subjects at schools.
Ms Gasa noted that the mandate of CGE was taken from he Constitution. This supported the right to religious beliefs, which may involve any form of beliefs about human creation. South Africa was a secular state, which meant that every form of religion and non-religion must be taught.
Ms Meruti said that she was raising this as questions would be asked in the provinces.
The meeting was adjourned.
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