On Tuesday, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee On Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities hosted a joint meeting of the Committees on Social Development, Health and Police, among others, to discuss Government’s interventions to tackle the scourge of Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF). This meeting turned out to be nothing more than a sham and seemingly a tick box exercise for some of the Departments involved in addressing this serious issue within our society.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) is disappointed and angered at the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities as they were wholly unprepared for the meeting and did not supply members of other committees with the correct documentation in order for everyone to be well equipped with the relevant information needed to address the many issues relating to GBV. Furthermore, we were left disappointed by the absence of the Department of Social Development (DSD), including the Minister herself, Lindiwe Zulu, who did not even bother to attend the meeting. DSD is a critical implementing agent of Government’s GBV policies, and their absence is a smack in the face of women and children across the country.
The shenanigans of the relevant Departments today resulted in the joint meeting being postponed for the second time and is indicative of National Government’s lack of urgency and preparedness to ensure the safety of our women and children. This is, unfortunately, a recurring practice by the Departments involved who continuously come to Parliament unprepared or with incorrect information which makes oversight incredibly difficult and frustrating.
As such, the DA will write to Deputy President David Mabuza, in his capacity as Leader of Government Business, to request he reprimand Minister Zulu and Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
Several other Departments responsible for implementing changes to help keep our women and children safe were also not present at the joint meeting. This resulted in several Portfolio Committees being unable to receive any information on the budget allocations, timeframes and progress that has been made in the fight against GBV. The fruitless and wasteful expenditure incurred on this failure of a meeting could have been spent in a place that mattered – be it a safe house or Thuthuzela Center.
The DA therefore calls on Minister Nkoana-Mashabane as well as Minister Lindiwe Zulu to immediately get their houses in order. It is clear by the many no-shows that the officials working in their departments need to start taking their jobs seriously. It is an indictment that countless women and children continue to suffer while Government officials ignore the severity of the GBV crisis, by being absent to critical meetings at Parliament.
There is no doubt of the reality of the crisis we face. Women and children are being raped and murdered on a daily basis. The complacency displayed by Minister Mashabane and Minister Zulu and their departments is indicative of a complete disregard for the pain, grief and violence faced by South African women. The next meeting will hopefully proceed next Tuesday on 26 November 2019.
The DA would like to remind Ministers of all relevant departments that we will not shy away in exposing their lack of apathy if they choose to continue ignoring the cries of the women of our country.