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The Portfolio Committee on Women in the Presidency expressed its disappointment following a briefing from Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) when the committee was informed that for the 2017/18 financial year, concerns still exist with regard to the financial health at the Department of Women in the Presidency.

The department had high levels of accruals at the end of the reporting cycle and the unauthorised expenditure incurred in the previous financial years continued to have a direct impact on the department’s cash balance, causing the department to remain in an overdraft position of approximately R32 million.

The committee was briefed by the Auditor-General on the audit outcomes of the Department of Women in the Presidency and the Commission for Gender Equality for the 2017/18 financial year. The Internal and Risk Audit Committee briefed the committee on the reflections of the annual report of the department for 2017/18.

During its deliberations, the committee said something drastic needs to be done about the department. A committee member, Ms Grace Tseke, suggested that in order to be taken seriously and turn things around, maybe Parliament needs to withhold the department’s budget.

The committee said it is worried because each year the department does not change and there are no improvements, instead the department is getting worse on how it conducts itself.

Ms Terri Stander, a committee member, reiterated and said this is one of the departments that do not want to listen or take advice for remedial actions. “The department has blatantly ignored and contravened any attempt to be assisted. To compound the problem within the department, is the fact that the department will state that they are doing something but there is no evidence provided to the committee of what they are doing, even though the committee will ask for information,” said Ms Stander.

The committee said since its inception, the department has had no impact on women on the ground. “The department has no legacy to leave behind since its inception,” said Ms Tseke.

The Chairperson of the committee, Ms Thandi Memela, said: “Next week the committee will meet with the department and all the issues and questions from the AGSA report will be responded and addressed when members engage with the Department of Women in the Presidency.”

Yoliswa Landu

12 October 2018