Moral Regeneration Movement: briefing

Arts and Culture

18 May 2010
Chairperson: Mr T Farisani (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Moral Regeneration Movement (MRM) briefed the Committee on its history, and noted that it had managed, in the years since its inception in 2003, to set up structures in all nine provinces. The MRM emphasised the importance of teamwork between the relevant stakeholders, who were pivotal to the success of its programmes. Up to 2005, MRM had focused on marketing and awareness strategies that put it at the centre of the coordination of moral regeneration activities in South Africa, but once it had created sufficient awareness, it then began to promote positive values and keep audits of moral regeneration programmes. In 2008 the main focus had been the adoption of the Charter of Positive Values, together with creation of more local structures, more community dialogue and endorsement of work by organisations, and marketing using newsletters, brochures, banners, radio and television. Some of the programmes were highlighted. Although the MRM had achieved unqualified audits, it had only received R22 million since inception, and staff salaries accounted for a substantial portion of the allocations, leaving too little for running programmes.

Members were generally appreciative of the work done by the MRM, and encouraged it to be more visible and to stress its achievements when sourcing funding. They enquired whether it focused only on educational seminars, as they believed that community buy-in and involvement was vital. They were concerned that the Department of Arts and Culture was the sole source of funding. A Member from Gauteng questioned the apparent lack of focus in this area, and suggested that MRM partner with Members of Parliament in some projects. Members asked about the methods of marketing, whether diverse languages were used for publicity, noted that all sectors of society had a morality crisis, enquired as to the demographics of the management team and asked if private sector partnerships had been explored, as well as calling for support from celebrity artists. Members were also interested to know how South Africa compared to other international countries. They asked if MRM played any part in the Life Orientation subjects at school level.

The Department of Arts and Culture, when asked to comment on the budget, confirmed that it too felt the allocation to these programmes had been low, because they had not formerly been treated as a priority, but undertook to try to increase it and to offer active assistance in marketing.

Meeting report

Moral Regeneration Movement: Progress briefing
Father Simangaliso Mkhatshwa, Chairperson, Moral Regeneration Movement, gave a brief historical account, with clear timelines, of how the Moral Regeneration Movement (MRM) came into existence (see attached presentation for details). He used the opportunity to appeal for team work between the relevant stakeholders in making the project of moral regeneration in South Africa a success. Father Mkhatshwa said that the MRM prided itself on being able to account for every single cent of the R22 million allocated to it to date. He noted that MRM had set-up structures in Limpopo, KwaZulu Natal, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, Western Cape, North West and Free State.

Ms Zandile Mdhadhla , Chief Executive Officer, Moral Regeneration Movement, mentioned the fact that the Moral Regeneration Movement culminated from an arduous but necessary consultation process with civil society and other key stakeholders, who were pivotal to the success of its programmes. She said the definitive years of the MRM up to 2005 were focused on marketing and awareness strategies that put it at the centre of the coordination of moral regeneration activities in South Africa. Ms Mdhadhla was of the opinion that MRM’s most important work in these years was to increase the number of organisations that did its work and related programmes. Later on, once MRM had created enough awareness about its reason for existence, it had focused more attention on promoting positive values and keeping an audit of moral regeneration programmes.

Ms Mdhadhla said that in 2008 the MRM had focused on the adoption of the Charter of Positive Values, endorsement of work done by organisations, establishment of more districts and local MRM structures, development of Ubuntu ambassadors for school children, and MRM Community Dialogues. Included in these priority areas were marketing activities that centred on the use of newsletters, brochures, banners, radio and television. She explained that in the North West Province alone there were six flagship programmes of moral regeneration, such as promotion of good values in school, ethical leadership seminars, programmes dealing with parenthood, safety on roads, corporate responsibility and a programme to combat racism and xenophobia.

Insofar as the finances were concerned she expressed dissatisfaction with the R22 million that had been allocated to the Moral Regeneration Movement since its inception in 2003 to date. She tabled the income statement for the financial year 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006, showing that of the R2.4 million donated to the MRM, R976 472 went to employment costs, leaving only R1 million to cater for all programmes in that financial year.

Mr P Ntshiqela (COPE) welcomed the report by the Moral Regeneration Movement, saying the report was clear and concise. However, he enquired why MRM had only focused on educational seminars, instead of tangible projects that targeted the heart of community activities. He also wanted to know the reason why the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) appeared to be the only source of funding.

Ms M Morutoa (ANC) was greatly concerned about the fact that Gauteng province did not seem to be a focus area, pointing out that she was from Gauteng. She emphasised the importance of the role and the work of the Moral Regeneration Movement. She said the kind of projects that the MRM was doing were in line with what Members of Parliament (MPs) looked for when doing constituency work. She asked if the MRM had considered the possibility of partnering with MPs in some of its projects.

Ms S Mshwele (IFP) wanted to find out the percentage of districts that had MRM structures, and what the MRM planned to do to increase them. She also asked how MRM sourced the financial resources to fund its programmes.

Father Mkhatshwa explained that one of the challenges facing MRM was that society in general took any teachings about ethical leadership and morality as being synonymous with churches or church going. Consequently, many people who could play an important part in the MRM's projects showed reluctance to partake in them. He believed, however, that MRM's uniqueness stemmed from its adoption of the all embracing positive or shared values.

Ms Mdhadhla confirmed that the MRM had several projects, not only in the form of educational awareness. She highlighted how critical its use of networking had been to its ability deliver, by making use of stakeholder and partner platforms. She confirmed that the Department of Arts and Culture was the major source of funding. Other funders only came on board just for specific projects. She went on to say that the Gauteng province had not been neglected. If there was no active participation of the premier, MRM struggled to succeed, but there were municipalities in Gauteng, as well as other national departments, that worked closely with MRM in its projects. MRM had meetings with departments such as Agriculture to improve social dialogue on the issue of accommodating vulnerable groups.

Mr Ntshiqela wanted to find out to what degree communities had bought into the MRM concept, as he believed that community ownership of the MRM programmes would be critical for their success.

Ms Mdhadhla said MRM continued to engage communities about its programmes, and during its annual conferences.

The Chairperson asked that the Committee be provided with all copies of the documents that were presented in the meeting. He asked if MRM made use of both the SABC and community radio stations when marketing its programmes. He also asked if the choice of the marketing mediums was sensitive to the diversity of languages, to ensure broader reach and appeal. He also wanted to find out if peak and off-peak hours were considered in time slots.

The Chairperson was unhappy about the portrayal of black people as the only people who were facing a morality crisis, as this problem cut across racial lines.

The Chairperson was particularly concerned about the composition of the MRM management team, which he believed did not reflect the demographics of South Africa.

The Chairperson enquired if partnerships with the private sector had been explored, citing private sector campaigns against crime as an example. He asked if MRM had explored the possibility of calling for support from celebrity artists, such Rebecca Malope, as ambassadors of its programmes.

The Chairperson also asked how South Africa compared with its counterparts in the world on issues of morality. He asked what influential role the MRM had played in the subject of Life Orientation at school, and the use of HIV/AIDS testing to promote its message.

Father Mkhatshwa said that MRM had been in discussion with the Department of Education about influencing the subject content of Life Orientation at school, which was still work in progress. He said that in relation to other countries, although South Africa had much literature available, no formal study had been done, making it difficult for the MRM to know where South Africa stood. He confirmed that MRM was still in dialogue with some celebrity artists who could partner with it on some of its programmes. He emphasised the need for MRM to come up with thought provoking and hard hitting programmes like YIZO-YIZO, that got the nation thinking and initiated a public debate about issues of morality.

Father Mkhatshwa said that the private sector already had the project Business Against Crime.

Father Mkhatshwa noted that there had been a wider demographic representation initially on the MRM Board, but some members had lost interest when they realised they would not be remunerated or reimbursed for their involvement in board's activities.

Father Mkhatshwa said copies of all the documents would be made available to the Committee immediately.

Ms Mdhadhla welcomed all the suggestions from the Chairperson, promising to look into them. She added that the Charter of Positive Values had also been printed for the blind.

The Chairperson encouraged the MRM to keep the Committee informed about its work, as he pointed out that Parliament would now be able to amend budget allocations for various departments and government functions, improving the Committee's influence.

The Chairperson asked for comment on the budget from the Department Of Arts and Culture, citing his disappointment with the meagre R 22 million allocation between 2003 and 2010.

Mr Temba Wakashe, Director General, Department of Arts and Culture, also said that he was unhappy with the “paltry sum” of money allocated to such an important project. He noted that this was perhaps a direct result of previous national priorities such as reconciliation, that diverted attention from issues of national identity and social cohesion. He promised to partner more strongly with MRM. He promised to find a professional fundraiser for MRM, at the Department of Arts and Culture's cost.

The Chairperson encouraged MRM, when fundraising, to highlight its achievements such as unqualified audits. He also encouraged MRM to keep up the good work, and to ensure that it spent its allocations fully, as that was one of the factors the Committee took into account when deciding on future allocations.

The meeting was adjourned.



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