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PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON ARTS, CULTURE, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
19 October 2001
CULTURAL LAWS AMENDMENT BILL: DELIBERATIONS
Chairperson: Dr MW Serote
Documents handed out:
PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON ARTS, CULTURE, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
The Committee deliberated over the proposed amendments to the Bill. This meeting focused on the amendments proposed for the National Film and Video Production Act of 1997 and the South African Geographical Names Council Act of 1998.
Despite a number of questions and queries the Committee agreed to accept the amendments discussed at the meeting (Clauses 26-36).
Amendment of section 17 of Act 56 of 1997
The proposal was that an additional subsection be added to Clause 26. The amendment to the National Arts Council Act, 1997, read as follows -
"Within five months after the report has been tabled, a delegation consisting of the
chairperson of the council and at least tow other council members must brief the Portfolio Committee of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology on the annual report."
Mr Cassim (IFP) said that the most important thing to ensure was that principles of permanent scrutiny were evident. He proposed that reports should be given on a more ad hoc basis.
Mr Dithebe (ANC) responded that it also was important that various timeframes were kept. He felt that the stipulated time of five months to report back was totally adequate.
Ms Van Wyk (NNP) commented that the legislation was both clumsy and voluminous. What was needed was a proper plan of action. It was more important that proper planning was done rather than insisting on adherence to rigid timeframes.
Dr Serote said that there were many points within the Plan of Action that the Portfolio Committee had been unable to adhere to. For example, when last did the Committee interact with museums or the heritage sector? Perhaps the time had come for Committee meetings to occur at night to ensure that important external people could attend. The onus was on the Committee to ensure that important role players were given the chance to attend relevant meetings. The various Arts and Science councils felt that they had been "let off the hook" if they did not have to report back to the Portfolio Committee.
Mr Dithebe agreed with the chairperson, saying that it was the responsibility of the Committee to ensure that it communicates with all the entities that it presides over.
Dr Serote said that the Committee was not exercising enough oversight. There was a need for more than just detailed planning - the Committee also needed to put the onus on the organisations to ensure they knew what was going on.
Ms van Wyk said that the problem revolved around the lack of capacity to enforce legislation. Practically, there needed to be stronger enforcement measures to ensure that relevant bodies attended meetings. It was recommended that a structured timetable be drawn up for the estimated 35 councils that had to report back to the Committee. The councils should be arranged around the Committee's timetable and not vice versa.
Mr Cassim commented that it was the Committee's responsibility to ensure that it was functioning properly. He reiterated his earlier call for a permanent system of scrutiny.
Dr Serote said that there was clearly a need for instruments to ensure that this scrutiny was practiced. It was more than simply effective administration that was needed.
Ms Van Wyk responded that it was within the Chairperson's authority to outline a timetable that the councils were then obliged to follow. She said that parliamentary oversight would be aided if the Committee regularly visited councils to ensure that they got involved. The problem with the proposed legislation was that it did not ensure that oversight was exercised.
The amendment was finally agreed too. Dr Serote concluded that it was the Committee's responsibility to ensure that parliamentary oversight was exercised.
Amendment of section 4 of Act 73 of 1997
This piece of legislation referred to the National Film and Video Foundation Act of 1997. The proposed amendment obligated the National Film and Video Foundation to submit a business plan not later than one month before the commencement of each financial year. Further, this business plan should contain such information as may be prescribed to the Minister for his or her approval. Another amendment in the same section stated that -
"the council may, subject to the approval of the Minister and Minister of Trade and
Industry, establish a separate legal entity for the purposes of investing in film and video
projects in accordance with the objects of this Act.
Ms van Wyk asked what the reasoning was behind this legislation?
Mr Cassim responded that this was an important piece of legislation in that it ensured there was no clash of interests in film production.
Ms Van Wyk pointed out the original object of the National Film and Video Production Act was to ensure that upcoming filmmakers got access to finance.
Dr Serote mentioned a few of the problems with the film industry in South Africa. The biggest problem was the lack of scriptwriters. This amendment would allow the Film and Video Production Act to make interventions that would ensure scriptwriters could progress.
Mr Dithebe agreed with Dr Serote that the amendment would especially allow for the promotion of the development of black scriptwriters in particular. This promotion would be so much better if it was done within the law.
Ms van Wyk said that despite the lack of scriptwriters, she was still unsure as to how the amendment would assist scriptwriters and filmmakers. She commented that documentary films were already a great success in the country. She could not see any reason why the amendment should be included.
Dr Serote said that the amendment was very important in that it would assist in redressing the past. It was a unique amendment that was needed because of the unique situation many black scriptwriters found themselves in.
It was finally agreed that the amendment should remain as is.
Amendment of section 6 of Act 73 of 1997
In reference to the National Film and Video Production Act, the proposed amendment included the addition of the following subsection:
"The Minister may dissolve the Council on any reasonable grounds."
Ms Van Wyk said that clearly this amendment put too much power into the hands of the Minister. This amendment was a blatant centralisation of power.
Dr Serote responded that despite the centralisation of power this amendment would ensure that the Minister was not a puppet.
The amendment was agreed to.
The rest of the amendments proposed (clauses 29-36) that referred to the National Film and Video Foundation Act of 1997 and also the South African Geographical Names Council Act of 1998 were all agreed to without deliberations.
The meeting was adjourned.
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