The Commission provided a full report on its activities for 2009/10 and its projected strategic plan for 2010/11. However, it feared that it would not be able to fulfill its statutory mandate due to constrained funding. It had requested R60 million but had received only R20 million for the current year. It was mandated to hold a national conference within the first year of each term and to fund community councils and monitor implementation of decisions taken at a Cabinet level involving its area of focus. All these seemed impossible to achieve with the little funding it had received. The CRL had made comparisons between itself and sister organisations which received more funding and concluded that it was being under-funded. The Commission had applied for additional funding to the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and awaited the outcome of that appeal. It had received an unqualified audit for 2008/09. However, it had not received an audit report yet for 2009/10 as SARS was owed outstanding monies by the Commission.
Members expressed concern about the negative nature of the relationship between the Commission and the Department that funded it. The relationship between the Commission and sister bodies in other departments was questioned. The status of the Commission’s audit reports was interrogated. The question of whether the Commission had structures in place to assist provinces with cultural and religious education was asked. The Commission was asked about the outcome of the case involving the ritual slaughter of a cow and traditional ceremony marital practice. The abrupt departure of the previous Chairperson of the Commission was discussed. Members requested more information in future to help them make decisions that would ultimately assist the Commission.
Commission for Promotion & Protection of Cultural Religious & Linguistic Communities (CRL) briefing
Mr Wesley Mabuza, Chairperson of the CRL, presented an overview that expressed concern about potential non-compliance with the CRL Act due to the constrained financial budget that had been given to this Chapter Nine institution. It was having engagements with the Minister to resolve the matter.
The Commission was mandated to hold a national conference addressing cultural and religious issues within the first year of each five-year parliamentary term. The CRL was mandated to fund community councils and monitor implementation of decisions taken at a cabinet level involving its area of focus which was to promote and protect the rights of cultural, religious and linguistic communities.
The Commission was tasked with investigating and resolving conflict within the ambit of its responsibilities. Its five programmes consisted of:
? Investigation and Conflict Resolution
? Research and Policy Development
? Public Education & Advocacy
? Community Engagement
? Administration & Management
Mr Mabuza provided a breakdown of the activities, targets, estimated budget, measurable objectives and performance indicators for each programme. For example, the CRL put aside R2.2 million for Public Education and Advocacy programs to assist the Commission in reaching its constituents and informing them. The CRL said that it was not satisfied with the funding it received. The funding was insufficient and did not cover all aspects of the programs the Commission sought to provide to the public.
The Commission gave a breakdown of its activities for 2009/10. For Investigation and Conflict Resolution, it counted among its successes the finalisation of 55 complaint cases, the completion of fact-finding missions to different parts of the Western Cape, mediation sessions such as that between UNISA examination dates and Jewish and Muslim religious observance days. For Public Education & Advocacy, some of the successful activities had been five dialogues with senior citizens in the Northern Cape, Free State, Mpumalanga, Western Cape and North West, distributing 5000 pamphlets to four different provinces and meetings in Gauteng to brainstorm the way forward for the Commission. In its many Research and Policy Development activities, it noted its report on public hearings on male initiation schools.
The Commission had received an unqualified audit report for the 2008/9 fiscal year and had formed a successful partnership with Rhodes Mandela Scholars at the University of Rhodes.
The Commission had requested an allocation of R60 million this year but it had received only R20.25 million in 2010. In 2010/11 it would be R21.4 million, R22.685 million in 2011/12 and R23.819 million in 2012/13.
The CRL had made comparisons between itself and sister organisations which received more funding and concluded that it was being under-funded. It had applied to the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs for additional funding and awaited the outcome of that appeal.
The Chairperson commented that the presentation made by the Commission displayed a disturbing picture of bad relations with government departments such as the Treasury and Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
Ms D Nhlengetwa (ANC) sought clarity on the pending cases relating to cultural and religious issues highlighted in the presentation. She asked the Commission whether it had received a qualified or unqualified audit report and whether the Commission’s budget covered all aspects of the work done by the Commission. Mr A Williams (ANC) also asked if the Commission had received audit reports yet.
Ms Julia Mabale, Deputy Chairperson of the CRL, said that the Commission received reports from ordinary citizens on infringements made against the beliefs or practices of one group of people by another. It then dealt with those complaints after carrying out a fact-finding mission. She said that the Commission was yet to receive an audit report for 2009/10 due to irregularities involving outstanding money payable to the South Africa Revenue Service (SARS) by the Commission. She said that the Commission was inadequately funded and the budget it received was predominantly used to pay the existing staff at the Commission.
Ms M Wenger (DA) asked about the status of the payments owed to SARS and what the outcome of this issue was.
Mr Cornelius Smuts, Acting CEO of the CRL, said that the Commission owed some outstanding money to SARS from the previous administration that had been in charge. He said that the matter was still ongoing and a resolution was being worked out between the Commission and SARS.
Mr W Doman (DA) asked if there was merit in holding several small conferences at a provincial level as opposed to one national conference. He asked if the Deputy Chairperson position in the Commission was permanent and whether the Commission worked in tandem with sister organisations in other departments to improve its work. He sought clarity on the expenditure on staff figures.
Mr Mabuza replied that there was undoubted merit in smaller conferences at a provincial level over one national conference where there was limited potential for views to be aired. He said that the Deputy Chairperson position was now permanent and that the Commission was working to improve relations with sister bodies and had taken part in an event co-sponsored by the Department of Arts and Culture and South African Local Government Association recently. He said that approximately 60% of the Commission’s budget went to paying staff in the Commission and left them depleted for funding projects.
Ms M Segale-Diswai (ANC) asked why there seemed to be a limited number of CRL structures at a provincial level and that it appeared to operate more at a national level.
Ms Mabale replied that this was so due to the inadequate funding. Provincial structures would require them to hire and pay staff at a provincial level which the Commission could not do until funding increased.
Ms F Boshigo (ANC) asked about the outcome of the case involving the African ritual cow slaughter and traditional marital practice.
Mr Mabuza said that the case was still ongoing and the decision was pending.
Ms I Ditshetelo (UCDP) asked where in the North West province the Commission operated, who appointed Commissioners and what the term of office was for a Commissioner.
Mr Mabuza said that the Commission operated in one area of the North West but the Commission headquarters were yet to be launched although the centre was operating. Commissioners were appointed by the Executive and they served a five-year term.
Mr J Matshoba (ANC) asked from where the people who attended the Commission’s workshops came. He asked about the previous chairperson of the Commission and what had happened to her.
Mr Mabuza said that the people who attended workshops were ordinary citizens who took an interest in what the CRL was discussing. He said the former Chairperson was paid six months’ salary and her contract was not renewed. This was after having gone to the CCMA as she had refused to leave voluntarily after allegations of impropriety were made against her.
Mr Williams thanked the Commission for its report and requested that in future it provide the Committee with more information to make better decisions.
Mr Matshoba echoed Mr William’s point and thanked the Commission.
The meeting was adjourned
- Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities Act
- Motivation to the National Ministry of Cooperative governance & Traditional Affairs for Additional Budgetary Support
- Commission for Promotion & Protection of Cultural Religious & Linguistic Communities budget presentation
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