Arts and Culture Strategic Plan Workshop: Day One
Arts and Culture
14 March 2010
Chairperson: Rev T Farisani (ANC)
The Committee held its workshop from 15 to 16 March, which was facilitated by the Applied Fiscal Research Centre. The first day began with consideration of the Committee’s mandate to ensure that one of the building blocks of a truly democratic society was maintained and enhanced: that of exercising constructive oversight and ensuring improved services with a renewed focus on development and co-operative governance.
Professor Kwesi Prah, Director, Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society. gave a lecture on the importance of language as the basis of culture. The work of the Centre, established in 1997, was centred on harmonising the spelling of African languages, so that those languages that were structurally similar to one another could be written with the same rules of spelling. Differences between African languages had often been exaggerated to the detriment of the common understanding of African peoples. There were no sharply defined borders with language, for language changed gently as one moved across
Human beings lived in the culture that they created, and their culture was every thing that they did and created to make their lives easier. The United Nations emphasised that cultures must co-exist in peace and in full equality, not rhetorical equality, but equality in fact, and have the ability to maintain their space. Different religions must have equal status. Culture embraced languages, art, music, customs, religion, and everything that humankind had created. Much of it was intangible. It was important also to conserve artefacts, such as historically valuable buildings. Culture also gave us a sense of belonging and a collective memory. In many parts of
The National Heritage Council feared that it would not be able to build sufficient capacity to match the growth of the
The Auditor-General of
Contrary to expectations, the Department of Arts and Culture did not attend the first day of the workshop. The Committee sought an explanation.
Introductiona and welcome
The Chairperson welcomed Members. It was his philosophy to look first for the silver lining rather than the dark clouds as a strategy for achieving a successful outcome.
Mr Donald Maphiri, Senior Specialist: Public Finance, Applied Fiscal Research Centre (AFReC), the workshop's facilitator, outlined the day's programme.
Mandate of the Committee
With regard to the mandate of the Committee, in the view of the Parliamentary Support Project (PSP), Parliament required 'an activist parliamentary committee system which allows unprecedented room for public participation is one of the hallmarks of
Of relevance was a remark Ms B Hogan (ANC), then Chairperson of the Finance Committee, reported in the PSP, no. 8, 2000: 'there is a need for Parliament to access people who have something different to say.' There was little doubt that, unlike plenary sessions, committees, by means of public hearings, were placed in the best position to hear the opinion of the public, either by means of oral submissions or by means of written submissions.
The portfolio committee was mandated to ensure that one of the building blocks of a truly democratic society was maintained and enhanced: that of exercising constructive oversight and ensuring improved services and a renewed focus on development and co-operative governance.
Various instruments, in South Africa's Fourth Parliament, and before, were available to assist committees in a renewed focus on good governance: the State of the Nation Address (SONA); the annual budget speech; an evaluation of the annual reports of the Department and entities reporting to it; the strategic plan of the Department; and the audit opinions of the Auditor-General on the Department and entities reporting to it.
(Mandate of the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture. 2009)
Lecture on importance of language as the basis of culture
Professor Kwesi Prah, Director, Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society (CASAS) said that the work of the Centre, established in 1997, was centred on harmonising the spelling of African languages, so that those languages that were structurally similar to one another could be written with the same rules of spelling. Differences between African languages had often been exaggerated, notably by missionaries, to the detriment of the common understanding of African peoples. In many cases the differences between so-called different languages were no more than the differences between the Cockney and Tyneside accents of English. There were no sharply defined borders with language, for language changed gently as one moved across
Culture was too often understood as some old songs or dances. Other animals did not create culture. Human beings lived in the culture that they created, and their culture was every thing that they did and created to make their lives easier. Everything was part of culture. Therefore there were some aspects of human culture that were generalised, but other aspects of culture were peculiar to the people of a particular area. The United Nations emphasised that cultures must co-exist in peace and in full equality, not rhetorical equality, but equality in fact, and have the ability to maintain their space. Different religions must have equal status. There had been a recent example of mass butchery in Nigeria in a short space of time on account of religious differences, which followed the fault lines of religion, and had been exacerbated by a lack of tolerance.
Culture embraced languages, art, music, customs, religion, and everything that humankind had created. Much of it was intangible. It was important also to conserve artefacts, such as historically valuable buildings, as did the Dutch in the
If we wanted to preserve our languages, it was essential to write our languages. Professor Kwesi Prah had never come across a people who had developed on the basis of another culture’s language. It was because South East Asians, such as the Vietnamese had developed on the basis of using their own languages, that they were so successful. Professor Kwesi Prah gave also the example of the Malays and the Indonesians.
A Member asked about the term ‘Bantu’.
Professor Prah replied that it was strictly speaking a linguistic term, but had been misused by the apartheid regime as an ethnic description.
Professor Prah said that it was a myth that African peoples used so many languages that therefore in order to communicate they must use English, French, German or Portuguese. Africans were the most multilingual people in the world amongst themselves. Many African languages were variants in dialect of other languages. Missionaries, however, had tended to try to identify new languages, whereas in fact such languages were often similar and could be spelt with the same rules of spelling. A false impression was given of a multiplicity of languages. It was a myth that Africa was a
Professor Prah was impressed with the fact that the people of
The Chairperson said that the key strategic objective of the Department of Arts and Culture of the Portfolio Committee was to promote nation-building and social cohesion, but the depth and height of that vision needed to be informed by the input that Professor Prah had made. It really empowered the Committee to understand the seriousness of the issues with which we were dealing in this country. Many wars and ethnic conflicts had been fired by ignorance of the equality of cultures and languages.
The Pan African Parliament had isolated five languages to be used in that institution. In
Professor A Lotriet (DA) asked about languages for tertiary instruction.
Professor Prah did not want to discourage the use of English, but not at the expense of providing the opportunity to study in one’s mother tongue, even at tertiary level.
Professor Prah noted the example of Sir Winston Churchill and General Charles de Gaulle, who always addressed each other in English and French respectively. It was necessary to turn
Professor Prah had just completed a book on multilingualism: an African advantage.
National Heritage Council: sustaining and investing in heritage
Advocate Sonwabile Mancotywa, National Heritage Council, explained the composition and structural arrangements of the National Heritage Council (NHC). NHC was a public entity under the Department of Arts and Culture and had a fully functional Council appointed as an oversight body. The NHC's second Council's term of office had begun on 01 April 2007 and would end on 31 March 2010. A new and third Council was expected to take office on 01 April 2010. The Minister appointed not more than six members of Council through a process of public nominations. The MECs for arts and culture in all nine provinces nominated a member each for the Minister to appoint to the Council. The Chairperson of the Council was appointed by the Minister, while the Vice-Chairperson was elected by Council Members from amongst their own and thereafter appointed by the Minister. The Council was empowered to create committees to assist it in the performance of its own powers and duties.
The Secretariat had established the following committees to assist it in the carrying out of some of its functions: heritage, international relations, human resources and remuneration, and audit.
The Secretariat's key strategic objectives were to ensure corporate governance and compliance with legislative and regulatory imperatives, and supporting the business of the Council by general support to the Council in terms of logistics for meetings holistically, the effectiveness of Council, its committees and referral systems.
The NHC derived its mandate from the NHC Act (Act No. 11 of 1999) particularly Section 10, which gave the NHC powers to advise the Minister on heritage policies; co-ordinate heritage management in South Africa; protect, preserve and promote heritage for present and future generations; research on intangible heritage with reference to indigenous knowledge systems; grant findings for heritage projects and ensure resource mobilisation; lobby funding for the sector; develop and promote heritage awareness and education; develop and co-ordinate and transform the entire heritage sector; and investigate ways and means to repatriate heritage resources.
The NHC's strategic priorities according to the Strategic Plan for the 2010-2013 Medium Term Economic Framework (MTEF) included strengthening policy development and advice; increasing resource mobilisation and funding for the sector; positioning the heritage sector as a significant contributor to socio-economic development; enhancing the role of heritage in nation building; enhancing the co-ordination of heritage management; facilitating, monitoring and co-ordinating the transformation of the heritage sector; enhancing institutional capacity, financial and corporate governance compliance; enhancing research and innovation; promoting public awareness, education and advocacy; developing and enhancing strategic partnerships with stakeholders; and maintaining a strong corporate image and identity.
NHC was structured institutionally under the groupings of core business, support services, and organisational matters. Core business comprised heritage programmes, liberation heritage, funding and resources, and marketing and communications.
Heritage programmes informed by strategic priorities were as follows: Heritage conservation and development; Access to heritage institutions and the introduction of the heritage levy; Policy framework on repatriation of heritage resources; and the Policy framework on professional standards and ethics. These programmes were responding to the policy advice strategic priority. Ubuntu Imbizo and awards held annually; South African Traditional Music Achievement Awards (SATMA); and the Unsung Heroes and Heroines (aligned to the National Liberation Heritage Project) were programmes responding to Heritage Promotion and Sustenance.
The following programmes responded to positioning the sector as a significant contributor to economic development and thus promoting investing in heritage: Young indigenous artists’ training; the
The National Liberation Heritage Route had incurred the following challenges: the project was so big that it was beyond NHC's capacity and required the fostering of key partnerships and collaborations; substantial funding was required; there was need for national consensus on the project; there was a need for inclusiveness of all stakeholders to whom it related; a synergy of approach between provinces and national Government was required; it was essential to agree on the definition of liberation struggle; the need remained for a national steering committee once accepted by the Government; and there was the possible effect of the repatriation of heritage resources’s policy on the Project.
The Third Cultural Laws Amendments Bill 2009 potentially threatened to dilute NHC's mandate. Implementation of the NHC's 2010-2013 strategy would be difficult if the Bill were passed. The NHC's observations on the Bill had not been captured in a redrafting of the Bill. NHC complained of 'the arrogance of some officials', and felt that the Bill in its current form would cripple some important programmes. The Heritage Act would have to be amended.
There were other challenges: a budget cut of about R5 million by the Department in terms of annual allocations for the NHC for 2010-2011 would negatively affect NHC's capability to implement its approved strategy.
Public expectations, appreciation, and perhaps confidence in heritage as well as the NHC, would place pressure, in the form of high expectations, on the NHC's organisational resources.
NHC feared that it would not be able to build sufficient capacity to match the growth of the
NHC had made submissions in writing to the Minister during 2009 on these challenges, and sought support at the departmental workshop on the Bill held on 12 March 2010.
Advocate Mancotywa said that there was a danger, if you could not preserve historic sites of important people, that you would fail totally to preserve the historic sites of the unsung heroes and heroines. There was a danger of commercialising
Advocate Mancotywa said that he sat on the board of the National Lottery. Only too often heritage buildings were demolished in
Mr H Maluleka (ANC) said that the Committee should meet again with Advocate Sonwabile Mancotywa.
Advocate Mancotywa appreciated Mr Maluleka's view, and said that NHC would submit its own proposals on the Bill, which had always come back in its unaltered form. NHC had raised its issues again with the current Minister of Arts and Culture. The Minister had, however, asked that the Bill be subject to further consultations.
Mr Maluleka asked about Dube House.
Advocate Mancotywa replied that the National Heritage Council did not have sufficient funds to take proper care of such sites. Our heritage was vanishing and leadership was required at a political level.
The Chairperson commended the presentation and said that there was 'an unfolding relationship'. He asked how the NHC addressed issues of health, education, crime, corruption, and creating decent jobs.
Advocate Mancotywa replied that NHC’s programmes had been mainstreamed according to the priorities of Government. Its programmes had an impact on
The Chairperson said that in many areas the presentation had been very good, and no wrong impressions should be created. He was pleased with the interaction.
Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) Presentation: Annual reports of the Department and Entities
Ms C Myburgh, Business Executive, AGSA, said that the Auditor-General of South Africa had a constitutional mandate as a Chapter 9 institution as the supreme audit institution (SAI) of South Africa to strengthen the country's democracy by enabling oversight, accountability and governance in the public sector through auditing, thereby building public confidence. The separation of powers was explained and illustrated, followed by a closer look at Parliament's oversight role. The budget cycle of preparation, legislation, implementation, and reporting and audit was explained, followed by the three phases of oversight (ex ante, in-year, and ex post), and the two dimensions of oversight (financial/fiduciary, and non-financial/results). An example of non-financial/results in the ex post oversight phase was the scrutiny of actual achievements, of what tax payers' money had bought, if the Government had achieved what it had promised, and if money had been used effectively and efficiently.
The contents of the Departmental annual report were outlined: introduction by executives; performance information; report by the audit committee; report by the Auditor-General; human resource management; and resolutions of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (National Assembly).
Performance information was important. It was to be consistent with approved strategic objectives. Its format should provide objectives, output, measurable targets, and, of especial importance, actual performance results, and reasons for variance. The overriding objective was service delivery.
Information on the report of the audit committee was to include the members, the number of meetings, the effectiveness of internal control, and the quality of quarterly reports.
A recent example of the report of the audit committee of the State Theatre of South Africa was given. This had indicated that the system of internal control was ineffective; matters previously reported had not been addressed; the qualification on income had been addressed on a sustainable basis; the qualification on assets remained to be addressed and must be so by 31 March 2010; and findings on performance information had been attended to.
The format of the report of the Auditor-General was outlined. This comprised the financial statements - audit opinion on financial statements, emphasis of matter, non-compliance, control deficiencies, and governance requirements; other reporting responsibilities - non-compliance, relevance, and reliability; and investigations. The five categories of audit opinion were described: unqualified with no other matters (clean); unqualified with other matters; qualified; adverse; and disclaimer.
Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) audit outcomes 2008-2009 for the Department of Arts and Culture and the entities that reported to it were summarised.
Drivers of audit outcomes, the fundamental elements of internal control, were outlined. These were leadership, financial management, and governance.
Human resource management was considered under the headings of compensation in relation to the total budget, vacancies, employment changes and why staff left the entity or department, sick leave, labour relations, skills development, and performance rewards.
Mr Maluleka suggested that the Committee receive quarterly reports from the Department.
Ms C Myburgh agreed.
The Chairperson asked the Office of the Auditor-General how it would prioritise.
Ms C Myburgh said that the AGSA would recommend a triage approach. The most serious matters would be interrogated first.
The Chairperson asked what the Office of the Auditor-General would want done better from the perspective of a portfolio committee.
Ms C Myburgh replied that the AGSA would value more regular interaction.
Overview of the day's proceedings
Mr Donald Maphiri, Senior Specialist: Public Finance, Applied Fiscal Research Centre (AFReC), the workshop's facilitator, summarised the day's proceedings.
The tendency of departments to report selectively in their annual reports was noted; it was also noted that it was not the role of the Auditor-General to report on the relevance of departmental objectives. It was noted with especial concern that those who held senior management positions in an acting capacity were effectively disempowered from taking action. It was noted that the Standing Committee on Public Accounts' observations must be reflected in the departmental annual report. It was especially noted that the committee researcher must study these issues, follow them up, and advise the Committee.
The meeting was adjourned.
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