The Department of Arts and Culture briefed the Committee on its legislative programme for 2010. The programme comprised four bills: the Cultural Laws Third Amendment Bill, the Community Libraries Bill, the South African Language Practitioners Council Bill, and the South African Languages Bill. The Cultural Laws Third Amendment Bill and the Community Libraries Bill were the main priorities for 2010.
The Cultural Laws Third Amendment Bill was to amend the Culture Promotion Act 1983, the Cultural Institutions Act 1998, the National Heritage Council Act 1999, the National Heritage Resources Agency Act 1999, the South African Geographical Names Council Act 1998, the National Library of South Africa Act 1998, the South Africa Library for the Blind of South Africa Act 1998, the Legal Deposit Act 1997, the National Council for Library and Information Services 2001, the National Arts Council Act 1997, and the National Film and Video Foundation Act 1997. The Bill’s aim was to align existing legislation with the Constitution and the Public Finance Management Act 1999 thereby to improve the efficiency of the cultural institutions to which more than 70% of the Department’s budget was directed. It was an alternative to amending each act individually. This was especially important since most of the Department’s legislation predated the Public Finance Management Act.
The Community Libraries Bill was to promote equal access to community (public) libraries and information services, provide national policy, principles, guidelines and minimum norms and standards, and to promote co-operative governance and co-ordination of responsibilities and mandates for the provision of library and information services. The Bill defined the responsibilities of the Minister of Arts and Culture, the Members of Executive Councils, and the municipalities in formulating policies, minimum norms and standards, developing principles and criteria for allocation of public funds, and monitoring, evaluation and co-ordination of strategic planning and budgeting for libraries. It was the responsibility of Members of Executive Councils and municipalities to establish and maintain library services at the provincial and municipal levels respectively (Clauses 8, 9, and 10).
The South African Language Practitioners Councils Bill was to establish a practitioners’ council as a professional regulatory body to regulate the training, accreditation and registration of language practitioners.
The South African Languages Bill was to regulate and monitor the use of official languages to ensure compliance with Section 6(2) and 6(3) of the Constitution, and to advance the constitutional imperative of multilingualism. It had been drafted in 2004 but the Cabinet had returned the Bill to the Department with the request to ‘advance multilingualism though non-legislative means’. However the court ruling in the case of Lourens v the President of the Republic of South Africa and Others of 16 March 2010 had obligated the Minister of Arts and Culture to comply with the judgement within two years.
Members were gratified that the Department’s presentation represented partial delivery on pending legislation, noted that the South African Language Practitioners' Council Bill and the South African Languages Bill had been pending for 10 years, asked if there had been sufficient consultation, and were concerned with the need for continuity in the membership of councils of cultural institutions. Why not different terms for different members? Members urged attention to the needs of rural areas and equal access to libraries: no part of
The Chairperson advised Members that the scheduled briefing on the Department of Arts and Culture’s (DACs) activities for the 2010 FIFA World Cup was postponed, since the Minister of Arts and Culture had wished to be present but had been required to attend a meeting of the Cabinet.
Department of Arts and Culture presentation
Mr Anil Singh, Director, Legal Services, DAC, said that the Department’s legislative and policy reviews had involved a large group of stakeholders and constituted a milestone in the Department’s history. On account of the 2010 FIFA World Cup the Government had limited all departments’ legislative programmes to that which was very necessary. The Cultural Laws Third Amendment Bill and the Community Libraries Bill were the main priorities for 2010. Both had been presented to the Technical Committee and were to be presented to the next Ministers and Members of Executive Council (MINMEC) gathering.
The Cultural Laws Third Amendment Bill
The Cultural Laws Third Amendment Bill proposed to amend sections of the following acts: the Culture Promotion Act 1983 (Act No. 35 of 1983), the Cultural Institutions Act 1998 (Act No. 119 of 1998), the National Heritage Council Act 1999 (Act No. 11 of 1999), the National Heritage Resources Agency Act 1999 (Act No. 25 of 1999), the South African Geographical Names Council Act 1998, the National Library of South Africa Act 1998, the South Africa Library for the Blind of South Africa Act 1998, the Legal Deposit Act 1997, the National Council for Library and Information Services 2001, the National Arts Council Act 1997, and the National Film and Video Foundation Act 1997. The Bill was published by the Department for public comment in the Government Gazette, no. 31082 – notice 652, on 26 May 2008. The closing date was originally 30 May 2008 but was extended to 13 June 2008.
The Bill’s aim was to provide appropriate legislation for and streamline the efficiency of the cultural institutions, to which more than 70% of the Department’s budget was directed. The Bill was an alternative to amending each act individually. It sought to align existing legislation with the Constitution and the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) 1999 (Act No. 1 of 1999). This was especially important since most of the Department’s legislation predated the PFMA. The Bill had been presented to Cabinet in May 2008. The Bill was certified by the State Law Advisors in August 2008. However, the new Minister of Arts and Culture had requested wider consultation. Consultation was conducted with all relevant stakeholders in 2009 and 2010 and completed in March 2010. Most of the existing acts had empowered cultural institutions to formulate their own policy. The Department now proposed to take policy formulation powers away from these institutions. Policy would henceforth rest with the Department. There were two schools of thought on the question of whether it was necessary to have provincial representatives on the councils of cultural institutions.
The Bill would be introduced as a Section 75 Bill to amend those acts which did not affect the provinces, and a Section 76 Bill to amend those acts which did.
Both would introduce the following general amendments to existing legislation regarding councils of cultural institutions: to conform with the PFMA, the council would be the accounting authority; the term of office of the council would be extended from three to four years; the size of the council would be rationalised to not more than 15 members; the chairperson of the council would sign an agreement with the Minister aligned to the strategic objectives of the council; there would be a code of conduct for council members; there would be a performance agreement and code of conduct for the chief executive officer to be signed within three months of taking office; the term of office of the chief executive officer would be regulated to five years; the chief executive officer would be appointed in consultation with the Minister but would be employed by the institution itself; and there would be provision for remuneration and reimbursement for reasonable expenses of council members. The Department noted that it was trying to standardise remuneration. Members of councils served for the public good and the Department could not pay them what they might be paid if they were serving on company boards.
The Section 75 Bill would amend the following legislation (specific amendments noted in each case):
•The National Council for Library and Information Services Act 2001 (Act No. 6 of 2001) to remove references to obsolete institutions and outdated legislation.
The Department noted that the National Council on Library Services was an advisory body to the Minister, and so needed appropriate support.
•The National Film and Video Foundation Act 1997 (Act No. 73 of 1997)
•The National Library of South Africa Act 1998 (Act No. 92 of 1998)
•The South Africa Library for the Blind of South Africa Act 1998 (Act No. 91 of 1998)
The Section 76 Bill would amend the following legislation (specific amendments noted in each case):
•The Cultural Institutions Act 1998 (No. 119 of 1998) to remove references to outdated institutions, obsolete legislation, to standardize terms of councils and boards of declared cultural institutions, to identify these institutions as listed Schedule 3A national public entities; and to establish a national museums division as a national heritage substructure consisting of the directors-general and chief executive officers of declared institutions, explicit inclusion of performing arts councils, explicit reference that policy formation be limited to institutional policies and subject to national policy.
Mr Singh noted that the national museums division would be a think tank of the museum sector. Currently there was no statutory body for museums. The Department had taken the opportunity to include the playhouses in the Bill as Schedule 3A public entities.
•The Culture Promotion Act 1983 (Act No. 35 of 1983) to delete the provisions for the establishment of regional councils for cultural affairs and to delete references for the provision of financing of cultural projects as they were in conflict with the PFMA and to provide that any projects for the promotion of culture approved by the Minister must comply with the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act.
•The Legal Deposit Act 1997 (Act No. 54 of 1997) to provide that the South African Library for the Blind should be declared a place of Legal Deposit for alternative format publications and to delete references to outdated institutions and for the inclusion of the Director of the Library for the Blind as a member of the Legal Deposit Committee. Amendments would take account of changes in place names in so far as they affected places of legal deposit.
•The National Arts Council Act 1997 (Act No. 56 of 1997)
•The National Heritage Council Act 1999 (Act No. 11 of 1999) to provide that in the event the provincial representatives were not nominated by the MECs within three months, the Minister would be entitled to appoint other members to the council, and to remove the function of repatriation and restitution: this would not be a national responsibility. The Council would advise the Minister on policies relevant to the Council as consistent with national priorities.
•The National Heritage Resources Agency Act 1999 (Act No. 25 of 1999) to extend the time period in the definition of archaeological from 60 years to 100 years.
•The South African Geographical Names Council Act 1998 (Act No. 118 of 1998) to provide for the establishment of a provincial geographical names council, to regulate the process of public consultation for the name change process and to prohibit offensive place names and to provide for matter connected therewith. The Minister would be entitled to appoint other members of council if MECs did not nominate provincial representatives within three months, and the secretariat would be capacitated.
The Community Libraries Bill
The Community Libraries Bill sought to avert the closures of public libraries. Such libraries were a provincial or local government competence, but Section 64 of the Constitution provided for national intervention in certain circumstances. The former Minister of Arts and Culture, Dr Pallo
The Bill’s purpose was to provide for the promotion and development of community libraries and the provision of library and information services; to promote co-operative governance and co-ordination of
responsibilities and mandates for the provision of library and information services; to provide measures aimed at correcting uneven and unequal provision of resources for library and information services; to provide for essential minimum uniform norms and standards required for the rendering of library and information services; to empower the Minister to make policy and regulations for community libraries and library and information services and to provide for connected matters.
The Bill provided for the responsibilities of the Minister of Arts and Culture, the Members of Executive Councils, and the municipalities in formulating policies and minimum norms and standards, developing principles and criteria for allocation of public funds, and monitoring, evaluation and co-ordination of strategic planning and budgeting for libraries. It was the responsibility of Members of Executive Councils and municipalities to establish and maintain library services at the provincial and municipal levels respectively (Clauses 8, 9 and 10).
The Bill laid down minimum uniform norms and standards for library infrastructure, provision of library services to the public, library technical services, library material and equipment, library information and communications technology (ICT), human resources and staffing requirements of libraries, and library monitoring and evaluation and performance management mechanisms.
Mr Singh emphasised as important aspects of the Bill the norms and standards and the development of principles for the allocation of public funds; also of importance were the responsibilities of the Members of Executive Councils (MECs) at the provincial level, and monitoring and evaluation. He emphasised that the Department was ‘going the co-operative governance route’. The Bill would first be presented to MINMEC. It would then be tabled to Cabinet.
The South African Language Practitioners Councils Bill
The South African Language Practitioners Councils Bill was to establish a practitioners’ council as a professional regulatory body. This council’s core functions would be to regulate the training of language practitioners, to provide for control over accreditation and registration of language practitioners, and to provide for incidental matters. The Department was completing the business case for the council in consultation with the National Treasury. It would be the responsibility of the Department to nominate a council.
The South African Languages Bill
The South African Languages Bill had been drafted in 2004 and submitted to Cabinet. The Cabinet had returned the Bill to the Department with the requests to ‘advance multi-lingualism though non-legislative means’. However the Lourens Judgement of 16 March 2010 had obligated the Minister of Arts and Culture in her capacity as responsible member of the Executive Authority to comply with the Judgement within two years or to ensure that it was complied with.
The Bill’s objects were to regulate and monitor the use of official languages to ensure compliance with Section 6(2) and 6(3) of the Constitution, and to advance the constitutional imperative of multilingualism.
It sought to provide for an enabling framework for promoting South Africa’s linguistic diversity and encouraging respect for language rights within the framework of building and consolidating a united, democratic South African nation, taking into account the broad acceptance of linguistic diversity, social justice, the principle of equal access to public services and programmes, respect for language rights, the establishment of language services at all levels of government, the powers and functions of such services, and matters connected therewith.
Mr Singh said that the Department was the champion of multilingualism and must use policy to promote it. Mr Lourens had argued that the policy was not strong enough. The Department had met with him, but he was not satisfied and went to court. The Court had decided that the Department must produce legislation within two years of the Court’s decision. The Minister had advised that the Department already had the legislation in draft form and that the Department should refer it to the Cabinet for a decision on how to deal with it. This was a very important and high priority matter. However, Bills had to be presented through the various processes.
The Chairperson noted that the Department’s presentation represented partial delivery on these issues. He called for structured engagement.
Prof A Lotriet (DA) said that the South African Language Practitioners' Council Bill and the South African Languages Bill had been pending for 10 years.
Mr Singh replied that because of the shortened parliamentary programme the Department wished to give priority to the Cultural Laws Third Amendment Bill and the Community Libraries Bill.
Ms D van der Walt (DA) appreciated that at least some of the pending legislation was likely to be tabled this year.
Ms J Tshivhase (ANC) asked Mr Singh if there had been sufficient consultation.
Mr Singh replied that there had been detailed consultations, and had a summary of them. The Department had called for public hearings to be structured.
Mr P Ntshiqela (COPE) did not understand the reasons for changing the term of office of the councils of cultural institutions from three years to four.
Mr Themba Wakashe, Director-General, DAC, replied that three years was too short a term of office for councils to fulfil their mandates. He added that it was a struggle to obtain their services. The recruitment pool was become smaller and shallower. The Department wanted to encourage the South African public to volunteer and support this sector. The Department paid no more than expenses for council members’ subsistence and travel.
Mr Singh concurred with Mr Wakashe that the extension from three to four years was for greater continuity of the council. However, the Department would not be averse to five years.
Mr Wakashe said that the Department faced a challenge in that, as Mr Singh has said earlier, 70% of the Department’s budget was transferred to the cultural institutions. It was not acceptable to remain in a situation where the Department just transferred such a large amount of money without any agreement as to outcomes. In order to ensure that arts were available to all, it was necessary for the Department to enforce accountability and performance. The Department did not want to interfere with the artistic product itself, but it had a duty to ensure the best use of public funds. Mr Wakashe specifically mentioned the Pan South African Languages Board (PanSALB) where his role had been only to sign off funds but he had not known what the Chief Executive Officer of PanSALB was doing.
Mr Singh spoke of the code of conduct. The Department had proposed a master agreement or shareholder compact. The board of a cultural institution was to be responsible for the performance of the chief executive officer. Periodic assessment was a tool which was a good judge of whether the core mandate was being fulfilled. There were two issues regarding councils of cultural institutions – delivery and governance. The Department had engaged with the National Treasury on remuneration, and had received National Treasury’s assent for about R700 as a fee for a chairperson to attend a council meeting and R600 for an ordinary member to attend a council meeting. It was not a kind of unofficial exercise. Whilst the Department had these concepts, it was important to do justice to them. The Department did not always receive sufficient nominations for the councils. ‘The devil is in the detail’.
The Chairperson noted that issues raised so far appeared to have been addressed.
Mr H Maluleka (ANC) said that maybe fixed term of office for a council was a problem since a whole group of new people upset the continuity. Why not different terms for different members? He himself had sat on a board whose members had varying terms of office.
Ms Van der Walt concurred, but said that this could be discussed when the Committee had studied the documents and came to address the details of the proposed amendments.
Mr Singh replied that the legislation did provide for a renewable term. He acknowledged that replacing people without providing for an institutional memory resulted in problems. The new legislation acknowledged this.
The Chairperson said that the Committee was concerned with the element of continuity that needed to be provided through whatever mechanism, although he suggested that there should be a limit of two terms.
Ms Tshivhase said that while deliberating on the Community Libraries Bill she was concerned for the rural areas. She noted that the community art centres were neglected. Most of the libraries were in the cities.
The Chairperson understood Ms Tshivhase’s question to relate to the need for equal access: no part of
Mr Wakashe replied that one should draw comfort from the manifesto of the ruling party. Each department was considering access in rural areas. When the President signed performance agreements with the ministers rural development was a key factor. Mr Wakashe said that his own performance agreement would have to reflect rural development. He acknowledged that there might need to be a need for tightening of the language of the Bill when discussions reached the detail. The fact that one had been pulling in different directions had affected delivery on the ground but the Department was ready to address delivery.
The Chairperson said that the budget must address the challenges, and the policy must be translated into the budget.
Ms Tshivhase said that Mr Vusi Ndima, Chief Director: Heritage, Cultural Heritage and Preservation Branch, DAC, would agree with her when she stated that there were problems with funding when it came to the language councils. She did not know which practitioners were referred to.
Dr Mbulelo Jokweni, Acting Deputy Director General, Cultural Relations and International Development Branch, DAC, replied that he knew that Ms Tshivhase was very familiar with issues on languages. Her question was very relevant to the South African Language Practitioners Bill. Everyone who practiced a language as human language practitioner or teacher or literary person was such a practitioner: the list was endless. This had been dealt with precisely for the same reason that Ms Tshivhase was asking this question. All these people were doing different jobs. The concept of language practitioners cut across the broad spectrum, and was not confined to translators. Dr Jokweni said that sign language impacted considerably. People in the media mixed language and it impacted on the language capacity formation of the younger generation especially in regard to African languages. He noted the colonisation of our languages in one form or another although the Department would discuss it in its 2010 0 programmes. One had to listen to the commentators and the language of the sports codes. These were challenges that the Department would like to see it addressed in legal parameters.
Dr Joyce Sukumane, Director: Language Planning, Arts, Cultural, Promotional Development, DAC, added that the language practitioner profession was not regulated. She gave the example of court interpreters, and lexicographers. Most discussion was on what work the Government was doing to ensure that it delivered on language units and it was in these that language practitioners would sit to ensure that governmental information was available to members of the public. The sector existed but there were no standards and it was not professionalised. It was at the core of communication with the people and it was about time that it was addressed and standards compiled and complied with. Hansard must be property translated and its quality assured. So therefore the Department sought regulation to avoid negative feedback.
Dr Jokweni spoke about sign language. The current body was non-statutory. There was no limit to the work of language practitioners. The definition was to be broadened. ‘The list is endless.’
The Chairperson observed that the concept of language practitioners might not exclude Members of Parliament and members of a department such as that of Arts and Culture, if they were language practitioners.
Ms Tshivhase said that the Khoisan people were complaining about the neglect of their language by the Department. Did it not fall under the South African Language Practitioners Bill?
The Chairperson asked that this question be debated under the South African Languages Bill.
Ms Tshivhase believed that the Khoisan language was left behind. The Khoisan had complained, and Members had complained. They were entitled to have their language recognised.
The Chairperson said that Ms Tshivhase was asking about the status of languages that were not of the 11 official languages, and asked how the South African Languages Bill addressed this lacuna.
The Chairperson said that we undermined the Constitution by neglecting languages either by not using them, promoting them, or acknowledging them. A gentleman’s agreement with regard to signposts might not be enough. It was necessary to give clear guidelines in legislation. It was insulting to have signposts almost entirely in English in areas where hardly anyone spoke English. He noted the prevalence of signposts welcoming foreign teams and supporters. These were in English. Professor Prah had lectured at the Committee’s recent workshop and had indicated that we must respect our own languages.
The Chairperson noted that in Parliament interpreters and translators were available to an extent that varied according to language. Thus Parliament had a facilitating mechanism that suggested that languages were not equal. With some ‘inferior’ languages it was necessary to request an interpreter days in advance. He did not blame the Department but said that we might not move very far until there were penalties prescribed by legislation.
The Chairperson commended Dr Jokweni and Ms Tshivhase for their insights on languages. People seemed to think that when you talked about African languages you referred only to the 11 official languages. He wanted to read a paragraph about South African languages as all the indigenous languages generally used in
The Chairperson said that the discussion had helped the Committee considerably. He appreciated that the Department would, under the new legislation and the legislative amendments, have more power to enforce compliance, since he did not want the Department to fall behind other departments on delivery. He acknowledged that the need for consultation and the Committee would consult as required by the legislative processes, but the Committee would still have to take a decision after consultation.
The Chairperson ruled that apologies for absence must be submitted in writing, except in case of emergencies.
The Chairperson ruled that documents must arrive well in advance in order to give Members fair opportunity to study them and prepare their questions intelligently. At the same time, he was reluctant to censure the Department: ‘You are co-workers and we are building this country together’.
The Committee discussed its procedure for correcting, amending and adopting minutes. The Chairperson asked the Committee Secretary to ensure that minutes were sufficiently detailed.
The Chairperson thanked Members and the Department. He also acknowledged the role of the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG).
The meeting was adjourned.
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