In the absence of the Minister and Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, who, to the disappointment of the Committee, were absent in order to attend a Cabinet meeting, the Department of Arts and Culture briefed the Committee on the Department's strategic objectives for the medium term 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2012. This was essentially a more detailed exposition of the Department’s 12 June 2009 presentation to the Committee.
In its strategic plan, the Department saw choirs as potential agents of social cohesion and nation-building in
The Department would implement programmes aimed at emancipating marginalised women, children, and those living with disabilities through exhibitions of works of artists of a similar background. The Department had completed its organisational development exercise in which, the issue of women had been elevated to a chief directorate to deal with empowerment and equity at a strategic, policy and legislative level. The National Language Service sought to enhance the linguistic diversity of the country by establishing translation, editing and language units in government departments, but was faced with challenges of capacity and resources.
At a special meeting of the Forum of South African Directors-General held on 11 August 2009 National Treasury had frankly admitted that Departments would have to review the bids they had submitted and revise them; the chances of the Department’s receiving anything extra in the present financial year was remote. Only education had any possibility of receiving any extra funds.
Three provinces, the
The purpose of Programme 4 was to improve economic and other developmental opportunities in South African culture through beneficial partnerships to ensure sustainability of the sector. A majority of people said that arts and culture was not sustainable. A recent United Nations survey had revealed that sub-Saharan African contributed only 0.02% to creative industries worldwide. Of this 0.02%, 0.01% might be contributed by
Developing a Southern African Development Community voice in arts and culture would promote the region’s relations with UNESCO. Research in the region needed to be promoted. Southern African scholars failed to write sufficiently about their own arts and culture.
The Department warned of a trend for international institutions to offer to digitise collections for
The Department was engaged in the MTEF in the building of community (public) libraries. It was absolutely critical to invest in the brains of future South Africans, otherwise one would become a nation unable to think creatively and be challenged by the ugliness of poverty; it was vital to invest in education, otherwise
Beginning with the next cycle of Auditor-General’s reports, performance evaluations would be prioritised, and the Department would gear itself to greater accuracy in performance management.
On 29-30 October 2009 the Department would host a national conference in
The Committee responded that it had postponed two meetings at the Department’s request and would not entertain further postponements; the meeting had to proceed without the political leadership, since all parliamentary committees had to finalise their five-year monitoring and oversight strategic plans. The Department and Committee staffs were instructed to arrange mutually convenient meetings to expedite the Committee’s business and avoid cancellations. Preferably both Minister and Deputy Minister should attend meetings such as this one. It commended the Department for its input, but it was necessary to quantify delivery.
The Committee noted that outreach to poor areas was vital. To justify arts and culture, one needed to demonstrative its contribution to society. A map of the national distribution of libraries was requested. It was arguable that arts and culture helped the healing process of traumatised psyches and societies. Cultural villages had high educational value not only for children but also for adults. On the manifesto issues, all were reminded that the word ‘job’ was meaningless to the chronically unemployed. Members asked especially about the Department’s vacancy rate and progress in filling posts.
Information was requested on arts and culture legislation. Any transforming department that failed to introduce necessary legislation would automatically fail itself. There were legislative lacunae to be filled by amendments or new legislation.
Opening and welcome
The Chairperson conveyed the apologies of the Minister and the Deputy Minister who were both required to attend a meeting of the Cabinet. However, it was to be regretted that neither could be spared to present the views of the political leadership of the Department to the meeting. Members sought political accountability as well as administrative accountability. He did not excuse the political leadership’s absence but said that he had been informed only that morning that all Deputy Ministers must attend the Cabinet meeting.
He welcomed Mr T Wakashe, Director-General, and colleagues from the Department of Arts and Culture. Addressing Mr Wakashe, he said that the Committee had postponed two meetings at the Department’s request and would not entertain further postponements, for to do so would be a recipe for failure; he did not want to resort to ‘interdicts and summons’ in order to bring the Department to the Committee. Notwithstanding the absence of the political leadership, The Committee’s meeting had to proceed, because all committees had to finalise their five-year monitoring and oversight strategic plan.
He called upon Mr Wakashe and the Committee Secretary to work hard as a team to resolve the administrative challenges of finding mutually convenient dates. It was not for politicians to resolve those challenges. He believed that both Mr Wakashe and the Secretary had the capacity, the necessary qualifications and experience to resolve those technical administrative matters ‘for us to be able to do our job’. He assured them of Members’ support. ‘Next time we arrange a meeting, let the political leadership be here, at least one of them, preferably both of them'.
Welcoming Members, he noted that this was the Committee’s second meeting in the Fourth Parliament, and its purpose was to hear a detailed presentation on the Department's strategic objectives. Members were reminded that in their first meeting on 12 June 2009, the Department pointed out that because of time constraints they had not completed their work on their strategic objectives and that they would as soon as possible return to deliver that presentation. Therefore Members would expect not only the plan but also ‘some flesh on the bone’.
Welcoming guests, he hastened to say that it would be beneficial for Members and delegates to introduce themselves again, since this was only the second meeting. ‘It is important that we know one another.’ The Chairperson said that he had been ‘fully recycled’, having served as previously as a Member of Parliament, and thereafter as a member and thence speaker of the provincial legislature of
Department of Arts and Culture presentation
Mr Themba Wakashe said that he would focus on strategic issues, beginning with Programme 2: Arts and Culture in Society and the content of the Department’s work. He would not address the Department’s vision and mission, since he had dealt with those on 12 June 2009. However, he did recapitulate on the Department’s aims, most importantly to ensure social cohesion and nation-building, and asked for Members’ views as to whether what the Department was putting on the table was actually helping
On 29-30 October 2009 there would be a national conference in
The Department would welcome an opportunity to present to the Committee specifically on its achievements in promoting social cohesion and its approach to the conference.
The Programme sought to develop arts and culture in
For the medium term strategic framework the Department was going to concentrate firstly on conducting a survey and developing a national strategy on choirs. The Department was doing this because it believed that there was not one community in the country that did not have a choir. The Department sought to use the choirs as agents of social cohesion. He envisaged that the choirs could serve as agents of social cohesion and nation-building in
Secondly the Department was going to concentrate on the community arts centres. Although the Department was piloting 15 such centres, the Department sought to extend the community arts centres nationally. The arts centres had been a serious challenge to the Department, since it had tabled a framework that the Department would build the infrastructure while the provincial departments would maintain that infrastructure, and local government would ensure programming within the arts centres.
It was regrettable that the Department had provided the infrastructure but the others involved did not follow up. Since the community arts centres were not fully programmed, they were underused, and in some cases were vandalised. Together with the provinces, the Department was now working on a plan whereby it accepted that local government did not have enough funds. The Department would take over the programming. This would ensure after school activities and other programmes.
The Department would focus on training for arts and culture managers for community arts centres. Most of the people involved in the arts were artists not managers; moreover, there was hardly any arts administration and management education in the country. This issue was critical. Equally it was important not only in the performing arts sector but also in the museums sector, to recruit managerial staff of sufficient calibre. This was the case with
The Department would implement programmes aimed at emancipating marginalised women, children, and those living with disabilities through exhibitions of works of artists of a similar background.
The Department had completed its organisational development exercise. Since the Department’s separation from Science and Technology it had not conducted such an exercise. In the organisation development that the Department had completed, the issue of women had been elevated to a chief directorate to deal with empowerment and equity. It was not sufficient to leave the issue at the level of a problem, but it was necessary to raise the issue to a strategic, policy and legislative level.
Programme 3: the National Language Services sought to enhance the linguistic diversity of the country by establishing translation, editing and language units in government departments. One of the challenges was to overcome challenges of capacity and resources. At a special meeting of the Forum of South African Directors-General held on 11 August 2009 the Treasury had frankly admitted that Departments would have to review the bids that they had submitted and revise them; the chances of the Department’s receiving anything extra in the present financial year were remote. Only education had any possibility of receiving any extra funds.
Three provinces, the
The issue of trade marks and intellectual policy emanated from this kind of work and was of interest. There was a view that a number of students did not want to study African languages because of a perception that a degree in African languages had little economic value. So one of the challenges in the medium term strategic framework was to examine how one can add value to the study of African languages in order to infuse economic value into such degrees.
The purpose of Programme 4: Cultural Development, International Co-operation and Investing in Culture was to improve economic and other developmental opportunities in South African culture through beneficial partnerships to ensure sustainability of the sector. A majority of people said that arts and culture was not sustainable. Mr Wakashe recalled that somebody close to him had asked him why he had wanted to study theatre and not theology on the basis that a theology degree guaranteed an audience (a congregation), a stage (a pulpit), and an income, whereas actors lacked all three. Many years later, Mr Wakashe and his erstwhile advisor became reconciled. Mr Wakashe raised this matter since so many people held the view that the arts and culture sector lacked commercial value. On the other hand, American television programmes showcased American culture and constituted an immense source of export earnings for the
Cultural agreements benefited
Programme 5: Heritage Promotion for Socio-Economic Development viewed heritage as critical to issues of national identity and patriotism. One of the most vexing questions that South Africans faced was whether they had the capacity to use their heritage to build social cohesion and national identity. There was not enough sharing of heritages. This was important so that every South African could stand up and say that he or she was a protector of the national heritage. Otherwise differences would become further entrenched. One must not neglect the role of heritage in the development of development.
The Department had completed a skills audit in the heritage sector. There was a pattern of aging skills and non-replacement.
The Department was developing a strategy to digitise the heritage collections in its institutions to protect them from theft and to ensure the keeping of proper records. Secondly digitisation could enable the Department to reach a wide population. Unfortunately there were few teaching aids in arts and culture heritage. Mr Wakashe warned of a trend for international institutions to offer to digitise collections for
Lastly, Programme 6: National Archives, Records, Libraries and Heraldic Service sought to promote national symbols. The Department was engaged in the MTEF in the building of community (public) libraries. He referred to a speech by the Minister on 11 August 2009. It was absolutely critical to invest in the brains of future South Africans, otherwise we would become a nation unable to think creatively and be challenged by the ugliness of poverty; it was vital to invest in education, otherwise South African would always be faced with the challenge of eliminating poverty. The Department believed that investment in libraries will help us down the line.
Mr Wakashe reviewed resource requirements per key departmental objective 2008/09 – 2010/11 and gave figures as per the slide. Since the Department would have to revise its projections on the MTEF expenditure trends on the basis of the latest information received from the Treasury, he omitted the slides giving financial details. The world recession’s impact was negative for everyone. One could not allow for duplication or wastage. It was necessary to become smarter on the use of resources. Beginning with the next cycle of Auditor-General’s reports, performance evaluations would be prioritised, and the Department would gear itself to greater accuracy in performance management.
The Chairperson asked if the terms ‘head of department’ and ‘director-general’ were interchangeable. His usage indicated a preference for the former.
Mr Wakashe replied in the affirmative.
The Chairperson noted that Mr Wakashe’s usage of society and community was interchangeable
Mr Wakashe responded that the Department viewed communities as units of society. The Department emphasised arts and culture in community development.
Mr Maluleka asked about the relationship between the Department and the Department of Human Settlements.
Mr Wakashe responded that it was significant that Government had progressed from the concept of housing to the concept of human settlements. In its relations with Human Settlements, the Department had started from the premise that while building housing one was building communities. Previously housing had been provided but the element of communities had not been adequately addressed. This resulted in some housing developments becoming drug dens because human needs had not been catered for. Communities needed libraries and arts centres. That is quite important. When the mind was bored it looked to other activities to keep it busy.
Mr Maluleka said that this was important because it touched on the fight against crime. The important role of arts and culture was not sufficiently understood. He ventured to suggest that the South African Police Service (SAPS) would not need such a large budget if Arts and Culture could be given more resources to provide facilities that would divert vulnerable people from the road to crime.
Mr P Ntshiqela (COPE) said that he would have further questions to submit later in writing following a thorough perusal of the Medium Term Strategic Framework 1 April 2009 – 31 March 2012. He thought that the role of SADC, as alluded to by Mr Wakashe, was very important. Before he was elected to the National Assembly he had been active in civil society in which there had been sharing of information across the African continent. ‘The issue touched my heart’; he hoped that Members would take the matter further.
The Department responded that in March 2008 it had organised a regional conference from which only
Mr Ntshiqela asked about the
Mr G Lekgetho (ANC) appreciated the presentation. It was essential and a serious responsibility to promote arts and culture in the country. The Department’s organisational development must therefore function efficiently. He asked how many vacancies remained in the Department.
Mr Wakashe replied that the Department’s organisational development exercise gave the Department a clear picture of the Department’s needs in terms of capacity. Three months hence the Department would forward its findings to the Department of Public Service and Administration. Thereafter Members would see advertisements for positions vacant.
The Department responded in more detail on the vacancy rates. The Department had recently adopted a policy of advertising within six months of a post’s becoming vacant and filling such a post within 12 months. Responsible officials would have to report reasons for any delay. The Department’s human resources section would monitor the process closely. It was hard to retain staff because salaries elsewhere were often much higher. The provinces often hired archivists trained at by the Department. It was important for the Department to develop its staff retention policy. Counter offers were often only a temporary measure.
Mr Lekgetho said that on 11 August he had attended the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education in which he had learned that the Departments of Public Works and Transport trained many graduates. He asked how the Department was helping the community to invest in education through programmes like those offered by Public Works and Transport.
The Department responded that the Department had a bursary scheme with particular emphasis on education for scarce skills such as lexicography and translation.
Mr Lekgetho was impressed by the Department’s digitisation of heritage.
Mr Lekgetho asked when the Department would take over the programmes for the community arts centres so that they could function correctly.
Ms A Lotriet (DA), the DA spokesperson on Arts and Culture, asked about the extent to which the Department was involved in the running and staffing of the community arts centres.
Mr Wakashe gave details on activities for the art centres. Without efficient administration they would fail. An indication of progress was that one arts centre had sought the Department’s advice on devising a succession plan.
Ms Lotriet said that she shared the Department’s concern that students were not enrolling sufficiently to study for degrees in African languages. She said that
The Department responded that since students were reluctant to enrol for African language courses the Department’s bursaries were a critical intervention. The Department had an internship programme across the various functions of the Department. Those who had qualified in languages might be absorbed by Arts and Culture, but could move to other departments or even the private sector after completing their internships. The Department added that recently it had held a national language forum attended by all the provinces. Language units and interest in the African languages were discussed.
The Chairperson said that it was necessary to promote multilingualism not only in theory but in practice.
Mr Lekgetho thanked the Department for providing clarity. He asked a follow up question on whether the advertising six weeks hence would address the vacancy rate of 38%.
The Department responded that the advertisements that it would place six weeks hence would be for the next intake of interns. With reference also to Ms Lotriet’s question, the Department was planning to recruit more interns. It was hoped to place 100 interns in the Department. Further information could be provided.
Mr Lekgetho asked when the Department would begin to fill its vacancies.
The Department responded that this would have to be part of the human resources plan still to be completed through the Department of Public Service and Administration. The plan would probably have an effect on the eventual number of vacancies that would exist. At the present time the Department was advertising a few vacancies. ‘It is a very long and thorough process that we have to go through as a government department. We are beefing up the recruitment section.’
The Chairperson asked if the Department was in the process of completing its organograrm and consulting the Department of Public Service and Administration, after which it would go ahead and advertise for applicants to fill the vacancies currently estimated at 38%.
Mr Wakashe replied in the affirmative.
The Department added that there was a need to distinguish current and longer-term vacancies. It was a decision of the Cabinet that vacancies in all government departments must be filled within six months of their arising. Currently, the Department was filling some vacancies that already existed. Secondly, there were vacancies filling of which was contingent on filling the superordinate post, for example, where there were acting deputy directors-general, the subordinate vacancies could be filled only when permanent deputy directors-general were appointed.
Mr Wakashe commended the Chairperson's grasp of the situation. The Department was now completing the organisational development exercise. The political principals had made their input. It would take three months for Department of Public Service and Administration completes its review. The Department was advertising some posts immediately, but the volume would increase after the organisational development exercise. Thereafter the Department could table a report on how its was filling those posts.
The Chairperson said that it was of critical importance to establish criteria by which progress in social cohesion and nation building could be measured. If promises regarding redress for exploited artists, referred to in the 12 June 2009 meeting, could be fulfilled, the Department would become ‘the darlings of the Committee’. Many artists were exploited because they did not know how to protect themselves when asked to sign documents.
He reminded all present of the different musical genres, notably African classical music which was often overlooked: categorisation would assist the budgeting process. It was necessary to define roles and responsibilities, not least to avoid legal actions. He looked forward to hearing from the Department’s associated institutions. He was happy and excited about the Department’s recognition of the need to train arts administrators and managers. Regarding the emancipation of women, departments would be compared and rated in their delivery levels: language was not enough.
Success in the promotion of linguistic diversity in literature, in translation, and in specialised technologies was crucial to a peaceful nation. One could not allow the provinces to countenance unconstitutional language programmes.
The President had achieved recognition for listening to the views of minority groups: the Committee must not be blind to such issues, and the Chairperson called upon Members to keep him informed of such views that they learned about in their constituencies. It was critical to act on the issue of traditional leaders, a matter that the Minister had said would ‘be taken on board’. He considered circumcision to be a good custom.
The role of the media was very powerful and influential, even among those who did not understand the spoken language of the media. He advised Members to watch the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)’s programme
He commended the Department for its input, but said that it must quantify the delivery and time frames. Outreach to poor areas was vital. If one said that one needed to add economic value to arts and culture, one needed to establish what percentage arts and culture contributed to society. Arts and culture became a ‘hospital’ for people under stress and helped to heal wounds, and psychosomatic illnesses.
He asked to see the agreements with Scandinavian countries. The Committee was required not only to monitor the Department’s general work but also its interaction with other countries. There was a poverty of research on African issues, as had been repeated many times; also there was general neglect of African cultural issues. He appealed to Members to visit heritage sites and programmes. He called for a map of the distribution of libraries nationwide.
He emphasised the manifesto issues. The word ‘job’ was meaningless to the chronically unemployed. He was happy with emphasis on education and bursaries.
He called for more information on arts and culture legislation. Any transforming department that failed to introduce necessary legislation would automatically fail itself. The Department must introduce legislation for the sake of creating the demand. There were areas in which there was a need to amend and repeal. There were legislative gaps or lacunae that one needed to address.
He said that cultural villages, such as existed in
He asked Mr Wakashe to complete his response, and for ‘any burning questions’ to be asked and answered briefly.
Mr Wakashe responded that he had held meetings with the musicians’ legal representatives with the objective that the Legal Resource Centre could provide a service to them. He had sought assistance on the issue of electronic property, with particular concern for a prominent South African musician whose works and trademark were owned by another party and to her detriment.
Mr Wakashe reminded the Committee of the power of the media, especially television. He therefore appealed to the Committee to please take an especial interest in the appointment of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)’s board. Content was important, but the board had not reflected arts and culture. The Department would return to the Committee with a map of the location and distribution of libraries nationwide. The Department had 11 pieces of pending legislation, consolidated into one bill, the Cultural Laws Amendment Bill, but because of time constraints it had been postponed to the current term. The Bill was ready.
Mr Ntshiqela asked to whom Mr Wakashe had referred in his remarks on the
Mr Wakashe replied that he had referred to the Committee.
The Chairperson asked Mr Ntshiqela to advise him on the correct pronunciation of his name. He said that the Constitution allowed one to pronounce someone’s name even if one could not do so perfectly, provided that one did thereby change the name’s meaning offensively.
Mr Ntshiqela responded.
Mr Wakashe said that the Department would circulate documents concerning the October conference and distribute them to Members via the Chairperson’s office.
The Chairperson advised that Parliament currently had only limited resources for Members’ travel. He himself regrettably had failed, because of such limitations, to attend a MinMEC meeting at which he could have heard the views of all provinces.
The Chairperson asked Ms Lotriet for impromptu closing remarks.
Mrs Lotriet thanked the Chairperson for his insightful overview, the members of the Department for enlightening the Committee, and the Members for their valuable responses. She looked forward to a progress report in the Committee’s next meeting.
The Chairperson asked if there were any administrative announcements.
There were none.
The meeting was adjourned.
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