ATC131009: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Children and People with Disabilities on the oversight visit to the offices of the Commission on Gender Equality from 30-31 July 2013, dated 18 September 2013
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Children and People with
Disabilities on the oversight visit to the offices of the Commission on Gender
Equality from 30-31 July 2013, dated 18 September 2013
The Portfolio Committee on Women, Children and People
with Disabilities, having undertaken an oversight visit to the offices and
attended a workshop with the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE), reports as
Portfolio Committee on Women, Children and People with Disabilities undertook
an oversight visit to the Commission on Gender Equality from the 30th 31st
The Committee resolved in its meeting held on 5 June 2013 to hold a
workshop with the Commission on Gender Equality on litigation cases and the
cost incurred in dealing with these cases. In addition, the workshop to be
hosted by the Commission on Gender Equality would coincide with the Committees
intention to conduct oversight and visit the offices of the Commission.
Moreover, the Committee planned to also visit one of the Commissions Legal
Clinics and provincial offices dealing with complaints.
objectives of the workshop were as follows:
To assess the CGEs infrastructure at their
offices and practical implementation of the turn-around strategy.
Visit the CGE provincial offices to assess how
matters related to complaints from civil society are dealt with.
Visit Legal Clinics to assess services delivered
to the public in this regard.
delegation was comprised of the following Members and officials:
of the delegation), Ms P Petersen-
Ms E More (DA), Ms CB
(COPE) and Ms S
(ID). The delegation was accompanied by the
following Parliamentary staff: Ms N Nobatana (Committee Secretary), Ms K
Abrahams (Content Adviser), Ms C
Researcher), Mr L Wakefield (Committee Researcher) and Ms C Sheldon (Committee
Comments by Chairperson of the Commission
The Chairperson of the
Commission made introductory comments and welcomed the Committee to the
offices. To this end, the Chairperson of the Commission provided an overview of
the mandate and vision of the Commission. The Commissions work can be grouped
into seven categories i.e. monitoring and evaluation, investigations, education
and information, research, lobbying and advisory services, liaison and serving
on statutory forums. The Chairperson also mentioned the role between the
Commission and the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities.
In addition, the critical
issues affecting the Commission were noted as follows:
Commission has a broad mandate but inadequate funding to deal with gender
low baseline from which the Commissions budget has been established is
the source of all its financial problems i.e. Human resources issues,
programmes and support services;
attitudes towards gender equality;
would appear that it is a strategic risk to underfund gender equality i.e.
as such the Commission cannot deal adequately with patriarchy,
gender-based violence and other sustentative gender equality issues;
terms of Commissioners will be coming to an end on 30 May 2014 and one
Commissioner who had resigned; and
report that is still pending and
that National Treasury is thus reluctant to assist with additional funding
until the outcome of this report is concluded.
The Chairperson of the
Commission also acknowledged the role played by the Portfolio Committee on
Women, Children and People with Disabilities in holding the Commission to
account and requested the Committee to assist to ensure that it receives
the introductory comments, the Committee proceeded with a tour of the
Commissions offices and engagement with the staff.
through the offices of the Commission on Gender Equality
The Committee visited the offices of the Commission
i.e. Office of chairperson of the CGE, office of the Chief Executive Officer,
Public and Education Information Department (PEI), Research Department, Finance
Department, Human Resource Department, Internal Audit and Legal Department.
The Committee was informed
that there were 10 Legal Officers employed nationally and the Commission
employed the Head of Legal Department who will commence in October 2013.
Furthermore, the Committee was informed that the Commission was unable to
retain support staff due to competing salaries for work opportunities afforded
to staff and staff that had resigned indicated that the expected workload was
not comparable to the salary provided. The staff compliment within the
department was 11 (10 officers and 1 support staff) and the requisite was 15.
The Legal support staff
indicated that the new target to handle cases was 45 cases per quarter and also
the support staff deals with 5 or more cases per day. The Committee was
provided with an overview of how the support staff manages cases until its finalised.
The turn-around time to handle cases was 30 days. In instances, when cases are
not within the mandate of the CGE, those cases are referred to other
institutions such as other Chapter 9 institutions.
The Committee was informed
that the Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding with bodies within the
religious sector such as the
KwaZulu-Natal. This MOU is focused on the rights of children and holds that
both the Commission and
Church would hold
public awareness activities to educate the Community on the rights of children.
The key challenges faced by the Commission when dealing with sexual offences
and domestic violence cases was that statements were not taken properly by
police officials and therefore perpetrators were not arrested.
Human Resources Department
The Committee was informed
that there were 4 support staff namely; the Head of Department, Deputy
Director, Senior Labour relations Officer and Human Relations Administrative
Officer. Furthermore, the Committee was also informed that the Commission was
busy with job evaluations to the grading of staff taking into account the
workload of each support staff in dealing with retention strategy. It was
indicated that the positions of 5 Provincial Coordinators were filled and that
the others would be filled in due course. The Commission was in the process of
reviewing its policies and processes and is prioritising issues in dealing with
staff complaints and had interacted with staff representative on such issues.
The Commission also indicated that 5 Researcher posts have been advertised but
8 more Researchers are still required. There were no persons with disabilities
employed within the Commissions administrative component but human resource
indicated that the CGE has one Commissioner with a disability.
Education and Information Department
The Committee was informed
that the Department was responsible for awareness raising and promotion and the
education programme. This entailed educating the community by conducting
workshops on issues pertaining to gender mainstreaming, undertaking road-shows
in provinces and through radio interviews. The Commission indicated that rural
areas are reached through the use of media such community radio stations, the
South African Broadcasting Agency (SABC) and private radio stations. The
Commission has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with other relevant
Chapter 9 institutions, the SABC and will sign MOUs with community radio
the relationship. The
Commission also received free services from the Government Communication
Information Services (GCIS) and conducts interviews which are translated in
various languages. Furthermore, the Commission has engaged with National
Community Radio (NCR) in the first quarter of 2013 and would continue with the
programme in quarter 2, 3 and 4 in financial year 2013/14 as per the Annual
Performance Plan (APP). It was indicated that Provincial offices had signed
their own MOUs with traditional leaders and religious leaders at a provincial
level. The Commission indicated that the challenges faced by this Department
relates to the reliance on the management of SABC/TV to cover the Commissions
programme due to budgetary constraints and the printing of documents which is
very expensive especially for rural areas.
The PEI Department intended to explore other means of advertising such
as social networks which are more cost effective. In addition, the Committee
was informed that the department started printing in Braille to cater for blind
persons and also printed a document which explains the mandate of CGE in 5
languages and will print other languages in financial year 2013/14.
Internal Audit Department
The Committee was informed
that the Internal Audit Department was comprised of 2 support staff dealing
with internal audit of the CGE and that given the limited capacity staff were
only able to undertake audits for high risk areas. The Department audited 12
projects for 2012/13. Quarterly reports were submitted to the office of the
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the Internal Audit Committee. In turn, the
Chairperson of the Committee reports to the plenary on a quarterly basis.
The Committee was informed
that there was 2 support staff dealing with Information Technology (IT) of the
national office of the Commission and all 9 Provincial Offices. Furthermore, it
was indicated that the office equipment being used was more than 5 years old
and very slow and needed to be updated. The information on the server is secure
and enables the 9 provincial offices and the head office to communicate
accordingly. In addition, the system currently used was not coping with the
demand of users.
The Research Department was
established in 2005 with a Head of Department and 9 Researchers. The Committee
was informed that the Commission was in the process of consolidating the
Research Unit to a National Research Office in order to coordinate work better.
The Committee was also informed that the Commission is conducting a project to
look at Gender Focal Points within certain Government Departments. Furthermore,
the Commission also monitors through its Research Department the programmes of
the National Council Against Gender-Based Violence, reviews the 365 days
National Plan of Action against Gender-Based Violence and the Gender Barometer.
Moreover, the Commission indicated R2.5 million would need to be sourced to
undertake the Africa-Gender Development Index with partners.
In addition, the Research
Department also assists Commissioners with research work but this type of
support is limited due to capacity constraints. In terms of completed projects,
the CGE worked with the Criminal Justice Cluster to evaluate the Victims
Charter and this project was completed after six years due to limited human
resource capacity. Another challenged noted related to the policy dialogue
project whereby Government Departments are invited to participate in policy
dialogues, however junior support
to attend these meetings.
It was also indicated that
the Commission has a working relationship with the Department of Women, Children
and People with Disabilities with regards to information sharing and also on
projects such as One women, one sector, as well as how to expedite the Women
Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill. The Commission has acknowledged that
there is overlap between the Commission and Department insofar as gender
mainstreaming and its monitoring is concerned. A key
issue in this regard would
be the objectivity of the CGE in monitoring the DWCPD, as part of their
constitutional and legislative mandate.
To this end, the Commission
agreed to hold a workshop to address this matter. The Commission, specifically
the Research Department has a very good working relationship with the
Department of Monitoring and Evaluation on specific projects.
The Finance Department has
a staff complement of 11 officials including the Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
There were 2 vacancies which occurred during the 1
quarter of 2013
which would be filled in August 2013. Interns have provided a positive
contribution to the Department. Furthermore, the Department has conducted a
skills audit and observed areas that require additional capacity. The vacant
post within Supply Chain Management was advertised and filled in June 2013. The
CFO indicated that there were challenges of team performance and other
weaknesses as identified by the Auditor-General of South Africas report (AGSA)
and which have not been fully dealt with. In turn, t
he Internal Audit
Department which was operated by two support staff
was in the process of dealing with those issues. It was also indicated that
there were repeat audit findings due to incompetence and capabilities within
the Department but there was improvement in order to meet all the objectives of
the turn-around strategy. The Finance Department had no staff with disabilities
within its employ.
of the Chairperson of the Commission and the Chief Executive Officer
The Committee visited the offices of the Chairperson and that of the
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) where the Chairperson explained the processes of
dealing with the work of the Commission. Each office has 2 support staff to
assist the Chairperson and the CEO to perform their duties. The CGE had 8
6 full time and 2 part-time)
and 1 Commissioner had
resigned in the beginning of 2013. There were 4 vacancies within the office of
the chairperson of the Commission and the CEO.
Commissioners have delegated
responsibilities in various operational committees of the CGE as an
institution. Two plenary sessions are held per year (one closed and one open
session) with all Commissioners as per the CGE Act. Furthermore, Commissioners
noted that they write their own reports and do not have support staff to assist
them in this regard. A Commissioners Handbook has also been developed that
outlines standard operating procedures. The Commissioners section 6 committees
will focus on the following areas:
Culture, religion and tradition;
Health and Education;
National Gender Machinery
In terms of the office of the CEO, the Internal
Audit reports directly to the CEO; management meetings are held fortnightly in
which administration and programme issues are discussed and Provincial
Coordinators have quarterly extended meetings with the head office.
After a tour to the Departments offices, the Committee attended a
workshop hosted by the Commission on litigation cases and costs incurred in
dealing with these cases and progress on the implementation of the turn-around
strategy was also discussed.
by Legal Officers on litigation cases
Acting Head of Legal Department, Advocate
presented the litigation cases that the
Commission has dealt with. These included but were not limited to cases of
women who were discriminated against on the basis of their marital status or
due to customary practices, maintenance, domestic violence and religious
marriages. The cost incurred for the aforementioned cases ranged from
R45 000 to R1 million depending on the nature of the case.
second presentation by Ms
focused on litigation
cases in the Equality Court in the KwaZulu-Natal Province. An example of a case
of unfair discriminatory was cited. It took place in
Township in KwaZulu Natal Province. The case cost a maximum fee of R20 000
for Junior Counsel to deal with the case. The breakdown costs were as follows:
Consultation at NGO rate was R600 per day,
Appearance at Equality Court was R4 500 per
Preparation for the case was R400 per day.
presenter provided an overview of statistics per province of cases dealt with
Northern Cape (January-June 2013) 12 cases as
follows: 4 cases in Family Court, 4 Maintenance Court, 3 Regional/Divorce cases
and 1 Equality Court.
Eastern Cape (AprilJuly 2013) 9 cases as
follows: 1 Family Court, 7 Maintenance Court, 1 Region/Divorce Court,
Mpumalanga Province (January-July 2013) had 45
cases as follows: 20 in Family Court, 15 Maintenance Court, 5 Regional/Divorce
Court and 5 in Equality Court and (25 Deceases Estate).
KwaZulu-Natal Province (JanuaryJuly 2013) 24
cases as follows: 19 in Family Court, 2 in Maintenance Court, 3 in
Regional/Divorce Court, 0 in Equality Court and 18 were classified as others.
presented the structure of the Legal Department,
service area and skills
functions of the Legal
Department, complaints handling process and also cited examples where
litigation was avoided after intervention by the Commission. The presenter
indicated that in such cases approximately R50 000 was saved depending if
cases were not opposed. In addition, the presenter also informed the Committee
that there is a free call hotline (0800 007 709) where complainants can
report gender related complaints 24 hours a day.
Clinic - Stanza
Committee attended the Legal Aid Clinic conducted by the Commission at the
Community Centre in
Pretoria. The community, residents of
addressed by Commissioner
and provided an
overview and the purpose of the Legal Clinic. The presenter indicated that the
Legal Clinic was to raise awareness about and
submit complaints on gender related matters, including gender based violence,
sexual harassment, domestic violence, gender discrimination, divorce, custody
& access, gender related labour issues, estate, unlawful eviction, claim
restitution, tradition & culture and other gender equality related issues.
indicated that the
purpose of the visit was to give members of the Committee an opportunity to
observe the processes that the Commission applies when assisting members of the
community with their complaints.
the Ward Coordinator addressed the audience and acknowledged the visit by the
Committee and indicated that there was a need for the Committee to interact
with the Community. Thereafter, members of the community were given the
opportunity to raise their issues with the Legal Officers of the CGE. Members
of the Committee also observed individual complaint sessions with legal offices
on a range of matters.
Committee proceeded to visit the Provincial Office of the CGE in Pretoria. The
Committee interacted with the support staff in the Education, Research,
Provincial Coordinator and Legal offices. All of the aforementioned office
staff raised similar concerns that were noted in the National Office.
Insufficient office space as such currently
the researcher works in the resource centre.
In terms of a lack of resources, it related
to the following:
Limited budget for events to present research
No resources available to purchase voice
recorders when conducting interviews;
No research assistance provided, which means
that the researchers workload is increased by for example time taken for transcribing
Difficulty in working on your own, as opposed
to in a team at provincial level
Currently the Communications Department
edits the work of the researcher, and this amounts to
various quandaries as the conceptualisation of research is quite different to
the conceptualisation around communication.
The current legal officer for the province is
also working as the head of complaints at the national office. This illustrates
the provincial human resource constraints and resources required to address the
It was indicated that the Equality Courts were
problematic in its implementation. To this end, the challenges raised were that
clerks were not trained on equality complaints and PEPUDA, which results in
many cases not being registered as equality complaints. This in turn results
into a lack of implementation of provisions of PEPUDA.
Noted 63 cases so far for the month
particular challenge raised by the Provincial office was the availability of
vehicles to commute within provinces to do out-reach activities. The pool of
vehicles is limited and staff resort to using personal vehicles where company
vehicles are not available.
The Committee having conducted oversight of the Commissions office
facilities and having had engaged with Commissions officials noted the
The Committee noted that there was a shortage of
human resource capacity in all departments of the Commission, both at
national and provincial offices. This in turn impacted on the Commissions
ability to fully implement their mandate.
The Commission cannot employ the necessary human
resource capacity in all Departments due to financial constraints.
The Commission does have interns within the
employ at present.
The Commissions high staff turn-over is
attributed to the volume of the workload amidst the limited capacity and
better salary offers which the Commission cannot match.
The Commission has a completed all job
descriptions and was in the process of reviewing certain positions e.g.
of legal officers.
The Committee noted that the Commission had
intervened in cases involving children in Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces
and commended the Commission on the interventions despite challenges
The Committee reiterated the importance of
tracking mechanisms to monitor progress of cases that have emerged in the
The Commission indicated that it would provide
the Committee with progress reports on all the cases discussed.
The Commission was concerned about the many
sexual assault and domestic violence cases that have been withdrawn by the
family but the NPA is still not following through and pursuing the matter.
The Committee observed that the Commission had
established the Internal Audit Committee and commended the Commission in the
establishment of the Committee. Notwithstanding this achievement, the
Committee was still concerned that issues identified by the AGSAs office
have not been fully dealt with.
The Internal Audit Department audited 12 projects
The Committee noted that there were 2 support
staff dealing with auditing of all 9 Provinces and was concerned.
The Commission noted that a greater staff compliment
within the Audit Department would greatly aid the work output.
The Committee observed that there were no people
with disabilities employed in the Commission. This was unacceptable as the
Commissioner with a disability was appointed on the basis of a parliamentary
process from which the President appointed.
The Commission acknowledged this short coming and
endeavoured to prioritise the attainment of the 2% target for the employment
of persons with disabilities.
The Committee observed that the office
environment was conducive for support staff to perform their duties but
acknowledged challenges raised by staff regarding volume of work with limited
capacity and ICT systems requiring upgrade.
The Commission indicated that the
was passionate and dedicated to fulfilling the
mandate of the CGE however, staff were affected by the high volume of work
and limited resources which impeded their ability to fully accomplish what
was set out in the Strategic and Annual Performance Plan.
The Committee noted that there was an overlap of
activities insofar as the Commissions Research Department and the Department
of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities Programme 2 is concerned.
Furthermore, the Committee observed that the Commission was unaware of the
policies which the Department produced to deal with gender mainstreaming,
monitoring and evaluation as well as advocacy.
The Commission acknowledged that it was unaware
of the Departments Overall
Mainstreaming Framework, the Advocacy
Strategy; the Institutional Support and Capacity Development Framework and
the Integrated Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy.
The Commission endeavored to improve its
collaboration with the Department particularly with the WEGE programme.
Large amount of work being done by legal
officers, researchers and educations within provinces.
The CGE acknowledged
under which provincial staff work.
Having met with the Commission, the Committee emphasised the importance
of the oversight visit and reiterated the importance of the interaction with
support staff of the Commission. The Chairperson also indicated that the
Committee noted that the Commission required additional funding to fully
implement their mandate and achieve the objectives as outlined in the Strategic
and Annual Performance Plan. The Committee also congratulated the Commission on
the conditions of the working environment for staff as this has an impact on
the work of the Commission. The Committee emphasised the need for awareness
campaigns in order to market the Commission.
The Portfolio Committee
recommended as follows:
The Commission should review
its approach for selecting cases for litigation given the exorbitant costs
incurred. Instead litigation interventions should be pursued more on a
strategic basis. Collaboration and partnerships with NGOs e.g. Lawyers for
Human Rights, Legal Resources Centre should be enhanced. Mechanisms for
expediting referrals to other Chapter 9 Institutions, Government
Department and agencies should be explored so as to minimise the response
time to clients; and
The Committee noted
that the Commission was concerned about the withdrawal of cases especially
in KwaZulu-Natal and requested the Commission to monitor such cases with
the National Prosecuting Authority.
On Submission of Reports:
The Commission should forward
the report on the role of traditional leaders on
The Committee also
noted that the Internal Audit Committee reports on a quarterly basis to
plenary of the Commission and encouraged the submission of monthly reports
to deal with any urgent issues; and
requested the Commission to report to the Committee on the progress
insofar as the implementation of the AGSAs findings and turn-around
strategy is concerned.
On Human Resources:
The Committee noted
that the Internal Audit Department is operated by two support staff and
urged the Commission to request assistance from the Auditor-General South
Africas (AGSA) office with interns to deal with the volume of work;
The Committee urged
the Commission to recruit people with disabilities rather than waiting for
applications. In addition, it was also suggested that the Commission
consults the Department of Public Service and Administration and ascertain
whether CGE will be allowed to head-hunt people with disabilities to reach
the 2% target of employment of people with disabilities; and
The human resource capacity
within provincial offices needs to be enhanced.
importance of what the Commission had accomplished in dealing with cases
cited during the presentations and those observed at the legal clinic, the
Committee is urged to re-examine its criteria for deciding what cases to
take up and to strengthen its mechanisms for collaboration with other
Chapter 9 institutions as well as Government Departments and agencies.
Report to be considered.
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