The Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, and the Select Committee on Health and Social Services informed the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities that it needs to focus on its mandate of monitoring and evaluation.
The department briefed the committees on its annual performance and budget plans for the 2020/21 financial year, and its response to Covid-19.
The sentiment expressed by the committees was that the documents submitted by the department do not clearly articulate the monitoring and evaluation that is so desperately required. The Chairperson for the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Ms Nonhlanhla Ncube-Ndaba, said: “The department cannot be doing oversight on other departments, as that is the work of Parliament.”
That view was supported by all the members. Also, the committees were of the view that the department needs to ensure monitoring and evaluation is implemented as the outcomes of which can be strategically utilised in the advocacy work for women, youth and persons with disabilities.
On the matter pertaining to Covid-19, the committees welcomed the initiatives that the department has done in ensuring that vulnerable communities are being taken care of, but the committees were of the view that more could be done.
The committees questioned the department on the role it plays in the National Command Centre (NCC) in ensuring that women, youth and persons with disabilities are not left behind in interventions that the government has put in place since the outbreak of the pandemic.
The committees were of the view that since the department participates in the NCC, it needs to influence issues pertaining to its mandate and mission, and those need to be clearly evident in the various government departments’ initiatives.
The committees welcomed the initiative of ensuring that young girls will be able to access sanitary pads during the lockdown, working with the Department of Social Development, but had many concerns about whether the initial allocations by the National Treasury for the current financial year were being optimally utilised, and whether the intended beneficiaries actually did receive the sanitary products.
The committees said young people are mostly affected by unemployment and that it was imperative for the department to assess whether they have been able to benefit from the social relief package that was announced by the government. Similarly, the economic stimulus package should be monitored and evaluated to determine the extent to which women, youth and persons with disabilities are benefiting.
The committees applauded the gender analysis that was developed, which is a tracking system during Covid-19, and the committees indicated that this should not only focus on women, but the same should apply to youth and persons with disabilities.
The committees raised concerns about the increase in the prevalence of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) during the lockdown, and they said the need for supporting data is required in this regard.
Moreover, the committees vehemently stated that, whilst they acknowledge the development of the National Strategic Plan on Gender Based Violence and Femicide, the Emergency Response Plan and the National Council on Gender Based Violence and Femicide, the reporting to Parliament in this regard has been poor, hindering oversight. The committees reiterated the role of Parliament in holding the government to account, not only in terms of programme implementation and service delivery, but on how public funds are being spent – this includes the council.
The committees agreed that a follow-up meeting will be scheduled to discuss the matters further.