Thank you very much, hon Minister. The problem is underperformance and it is not acceptable, because it is the people with disabilities who suffer the consequences, and to blame it on the shortage of human resources is not an adequate excuse, because another programme that has fewer people actually performed better!
The main problem is that we haven't got enough passion for and commitment to the plight of people with disabilities. I say this because here in my hand I have a letter that was written to your office in May 2012 bemoaning the plight of the community and I have never got a response from you, hon Minister.
The reality is that while this department diligently attends African Union and UN conferences, which you have highlighted, and which is evident in the increase in your department's travel expenditure which has tripled from R3,3 million to R9,9 million, the ratification of the conventions has yet to translate into meaningful change in the lives of ordinary people with disabilities. Just this morning we heard that only 0,4% of people with disabilities are employed in government! This is totally unacceptable.
Considering the absence of legislation which has been in the pipeline for years, what will this underperforming programme do differently in future to ensure that South Africans with disabilities are able to access their fundamental social and economic rights? Thank you.
The MINISTER OF WOMEN, CHILDREN AND PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: Speaker, first of all I have already stated that the department is working on the National Disability Rights Policy, which will ensure that accessibility is made universal and that the rights of persons with disabilities are respected.
I have also referred to the universal access design framework, which will ensure that we work with various departments to ensure that when they design buildings, including schools, they take into consideration the issue of access for persons with disabilities. We are also working very closely with the Department of Public Service and Administration.
We are looking at the performance assessments or contracts of heads of departments. In November 2012 Cabinet took the decision that part of the key performance areas for heads of departments and accounting officers had to be ensuring that they worked on the 50% target for women in the senior management service and on the 2% target for persons with disabilities in the workforce. We believe that in the coming year we will be working with the Department of Public Service and Administration to ensure that these policies and programmes are implemented. Thank you.
Thank you, Speaker. Hon Minister, I just want to know how this policy will affect the lives of the people with disabilities. I am referring to the National Disability Rights Policy, and also the universal access design framework. Thank you.
The MINISTER OF WOMEN, CHILDREN AND PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: Speaker, I thank the hon member. The National Disability Rights Policy will assist us in ensuring that people with disabilities have access to education and justice. It will also ensure that we look at possible legislation. As I have said, we are still consulting, particularly the disability sector, to hear from them - the abused - as to whether we can develop this policy into legislation that will assist us to domesticate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The universal access design framework will prescribe universal access to transport, buildings, information such as ICT, and other programmes that we think will help us ensure that people with disabilities, including children in schools, have more access in our country. Thank you.
Speaker and hon Minister, given the department's poor performance of achieving less than 40% of its objectives, with a staff complement exceeding its budget, is it not time that this department was incorporated into and mainstreamed with the Department of Social Development? Is there any compelling reason why this should not happen? Thank you.
The MINISTER OF WOMEN, CHILDREN AND PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: Somlomo, ndicinga ukuba umama ulahlekile, umama uthetha ngonyaka wama-2012. [Speaker, I think the old lady is confused; she is talking about 2012.]
Indeed, in 2012 this is where the department was. In regard to the Auditor- General, we were all in the red. However, the hon members can see, the blue lines are indicating that we are going down in every sector in the department. Yes, we achieved 40% of our targets. In June last year we adopted a turnaround strategy that has ensured that we move away from the red - we are in the amber and are now moving into the green - and I want to assure the hon member that by the end of this financial year we will have more wins. This year we have reached over 70% in achieving our targets. In regard to children, we are at 100%, and on women we are over 80% of achieving our targets. Yes, we still have a lot of work to do in the disability sector, but overall we have improved, mama. Let us speak the truth. [Applause.]
Speaker and hon Minister, it is rather sad that four years down the line we still have to do a lot to improve this albatross! These people are the most vulnerable, and through you we are not seeing to their needs.
My question is also on the National Disability Rights Policy, which I feel is a much-needed tool to strengthen and really help the disabled. After four years of this department's existence, South Africa still does not have a published National Disability Rights Policy. That is what I am looking for: a published National Disability Rights Policy.
Why am I looking for it? Because it was one of the many targets that were not achieved by your department in the 2012-13 financial year. There is nothing wrong with forming partnerships with the United Nations and other donors, as that may help. But why can't this department take responsibility for finishing this policy? This is a much-needed policy of its own and it was planned and budgeted for in the annual performance plan of the department. Thank you.