19 November 2019 | Chairperson: Ms C Ndaba (ANC)
The joint meeting involving various concerned Portfolio and Select Committees from the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), met with the interim steering committee on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) to discuss the progress made with the development of a draft national strategic plan on GBVF, as well as the Emergency Response Action Plan (ERAP).
In attendance were the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities; the Portfolio Committees on Social Development; Health; Justice and Correctional Services; Basic Education; Higher Education Science and Technology; and Police; as well as the Select Committees on Health and Social Services, Security and Justice; and the Multi-Party Women’s Forum.
During the presentation, Members expressed their frustration at the fact that the documents which were being presented were not in correspondence with the documents which had been sent to them. They also voiced their concern about the lack of representation by the lead departments responsible for implementing the national strategic plan and the ERAP at the meeting.
After a debate as to whether the meeting should be allowed to continue, the Chairperson decided to postpone it until a later date.
Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, thanked the Chairperson for organising the meeting in order to hear from the Interim Steering Committee (ISC) on updates surround the implementation plan concerning Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF), as well as the emergency response plan.
The ISC was a committee recommended in the declaration of the GBVF Summit, which had been signed by President. They were an independent body appointed to implement the resolutions that came from the Presidential summit. It reported to the President on a weekly basis in order to address the GBVF crisis. The Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPD), which was located in the Office of the President, together with the Department of Monitoring and Evaluation, (DPME), were members of the Steering Committee and would play distinct roles in ensuring that the ISC delivered on the emergency plan and the finalisation of the national strategic plan (NSP). The ISC consisted of government departments and civil society organisations.
Strategic partnership to end GBVF in SA
Ms Shoki Tshabalala, Acting Director General (DG): DWYPD, said the focus of the presentation was on the ISC itself. It would provide an update on the NSP process and an update on the Emergency Response Action Plan (ERAP) regarding GBVF in SA.
The mandate for the ISC was informed by Article 3 of the GBV summit, where the declaration was signed by the President. Article 3 states that an Interim Steering Committee must be established immediately, with resources allocated in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) , with the aim of establishing a permanent, national, multi-sectoral co-coordinating body, and implement actions listed in this declaration, as agreed on by the ISC.
Key functions of the ISC include establishing this permanent structure, aligned with principles agreed to at the summit, doing oversight and strengthening accountability, monitoring the implementation of the ERAP, and addressing all the political issues which may arise. The structure of the ISC was multi-sectoral. It was co-convened by the Presidency and civil society networks, with representation from all nine provinces.
In terms of the Constitution, the ISC would not consist of more than 30 persons and would be composed of the Departments of Social Development; Justice and Constitutional Development; Women in the Presidency, Women, Youth and Disabled Persons; Planning; Basic Education; Health, Stats SA; the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the National Treasury.
Members of the various Committees, as well as the Chairperson, noticed that their documents did not correspond with the ones being presented by the Acting DG. The Chairperson sought clarity in this regard.
The Acting DG apologised, and said that the documents had since been updated to include more information. She asked the Committees to follow what was reflected on the board, and not what was in front of them.
The Chairperson said that Members of the Committees need printed documents which were the same as the ones being presented, because this was made clear in the letter that was sent to the ISC. Furthermore, in this letter, it was requested that the lead Departments also be present at the meeting.
Mr S Swart (ACDP) agreed with the Chairperson, but added that since oversight was what was being exercised, the Acting DG should not read the documents verbatim, as this would take away from the time needed for the Committee Members to engage with the documents and ask the Department questions. He requested that the presentation be summarized, going forward.
Mr L Mphithi (DA) said that he was very concerned about the documents not corresponding with one another, because Committee Members had done their preparation prior to the meeting, and if they continued to engage with an updated document which had not been sent to them, this preparation would have been in vain. He did not feel that the presentation should continue, because gender-based violence and femicide was a national crisis, and it should be dealt with, with the seriousness and respect which it deserved.
The Chairperson requested that the updated document be printed, and in the meantime, allowed the Acting DG to continue with her presentation, requesting that she summarise the important aspects of the document going forward.
The Acting DG continued with the first presentation and summarised the remaining slides.
Emergency Response Plan
Before the Department could proceed with the Emergency Response Plan (ERAP) presentation, confusion arose amongst Members over which version of the document was going to be presented, as again there was no correspondence between the document which had been sent to the Committees and the document which was to be presented by the Department.
Mr A Shaik Emam (NFP) expressed his disappointment in the Department for not being prepared, and said it was unacceptable that most of the meeting was being used to sort out documents, as opposed to engaging with them.
Ms W Newhoudt-Druchen (ANC) said that she was also disappointed in the Department for not being properly prepared. She had been really looking forward to this meeting, because people wanted to know what was happening with this massive issue and this fight for women. She had noticed that the documents did not correspond with each other, so lots of information would be lost going forward Parliament had expressed the desire to go paperless, so it would be unnecessary to print out the relevant documents. She suggested that if the Chairperson decided to break for five minutes so that the Department could get their documents in order, they should rather email them to all of the Members as opposed to printing them, and that the Members should access these documents on their devices.
Ms N Sharif (DA) said that this meeting had been postponed once before, and that the longer the meeting was delayed, the longer it would take for implementation to happen. In light of this, she proposed that the Chairperson allow for a short break in the meeting in order for the Department to sort themselves out in terms of providing the Committee members with the correct, completed documents.
Ms T Joemat-Petterssen (ANC), Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police, said that the frustration was understood, and that those Members who came from other Portfolios were also frustrated because they had deadlines to meet, and these deadlines had been shifted before. She therefore also suggested that the meeting proceed, because if the meeting was to be postponed again, it would be difficult for all of the Committees to be present.
The Chairperson listened to all of the concerns raised by the Committee members, and decided to postpone the meeting so that the Department could come back and be properly prepared.
The meeting was adjourned.