Department of Arts and Culture briefing on its Annual Report 2009/10

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

09 November 2010
Chairperson: Ms M Makgate (ANC, North West)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Arts and Culture briefed Members on its Annual Report 2009/10 with the aim of providing an overview of performance. Members were given a comprehensive analysis of the Department’s six programmes - Administration, Arts and Culture in Society, National Language Services, Cultural Development and International Co-operation, Heritage Promotion, and National Archives, Records, Libraries and Heraldic Services. The Department reported under spending of just over R400 million. However, it was able to report an unqualified audit opinion from the Auditor General, with attention drawn to the following - preparation of the financial statements in accordance with modified cash basis of accounting determined by National Treasury; irregular expenditure of previous years; unaudited supplementary schedules; underspending of the allocated budget; and presentation of the reported performance information (predetermined objectives). The Department reported that its Human Resource Management Plan was 90% complete and its vacancy rate was 26.8%.

The Committee was disappointed that the Annual Report did not speak sufficiently to issues pertaining to the provinces specifically. Provinces were the area of relevance to the Committee. Much discussion ensued on a number of issues especially those raised by the Auditor General. Members asked how the Department intended to address irregular and wasteful expenditure, underspending, its high vacancy rate, its slow progress on name changes in South Africa, and the lack of development of South African languages. 

Meeting report

Department of Arts and Culture briefing on its Annual Report 2009/10
The Department of Arts and Culture briefed the Committee on it Annual Report 2009/10. The delegation included Ms Veliswa Baduza, Acting Director-General, Dr Mbulelo Jokweni, Acting Deputy Director-General: Arts, Culture, and Promotional Development,  Mr Mike Rennie, Acting Chief Financial Officer, and Mr Vusithemba Ndima, Acting Deputy-Director General: Cultural Heritage and Preservation. The Hon. Dr Joe Phaahla, Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture also attended. Ms Baduza conducted the briefing. The purpose of the briefing was to provide the committee with an overview of the performance of the Department during the financial period 2009/10. Members were given a breakdown of the various programmes of the Department.

Programme 1: Administration
Its objective was to provide overall management and centralised support services to departmental core programmes in order to create an enabling environment for the achievement of departmental objectives.
Service delivery achievements included receiving an unqualified Auditor General’s Report, an increase in women at senior management level by 2%, and developing and implementing most financial management policies.

Programme 2: Arts and Culture in Society
Its objective was to develop and promote arts and culture in South Africa and mainstream its role in social development. Some of the service delivery achievements were the approval of Draft National Policy Framework for Community Arts Centres, 30 art practitioners contracted and placed in eight schools in Mpumalanga, and an intergenerational Women’s Dialogue hosted in KwaZulu-Natal in partnership with the Durban Playhouse.

Programme 3: National Language Services
Its objective was to develop and promote the official languages of South Africa and enhance the linguistic diversity of the country. Some of its service delivery achievements included 102 bursaries awarded to students enrolling for language professions, the development of a web page to assist provinces in developing a provincial language policy and the setting up of a translation and editing section.

Programme 4: Cultural Development and International Co-operation
Its objective was to improve economic and other development opportunities for South African arts and culture, nationally and globally, through mutually beneficial partnerships thereby ensuring the sustainability of the sector. Service delivery achievements were the signing of cultural agreements with Jamaica, Qatar, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo. South Africa was chosen as a Country of Honour at a function held in France and South Africa successfully participated in the African Union’s second Pan African Cultural Festival.

Programme 5: Heritage Promotion
Its objective was to develop and monitor the implementation policy, legislation and strategic direction for identifying, conserving and promoting cultural heritage. Its service delivery achievements included the completion of the design of the Sarah Bartmann Centre of Remembrance, the Freedom Park Council’s inauguration by the Minister, and also the completion of the Draft National Digitisation Policy.

Programme 6: National Archives, Records, Libraries and a Heraldic Service
Its objective was to guide, sustain and develop the archival and information resources of South Africa to empower citizens through full and open access to these resources. Service delivery achievements included the building of seven new community libraries; the Department’s convening the sixth Annual Oral History Conference and a fly the flag campaign in which 21 050 flags were distributed.

The Department unfortunately had underspending totalling just over R400 million. It was a concern but the funds would rollover. The bulk of the underspending was attributed to the Capital Works Budget (R351.679 million), the rest was made up of Investing in Culture (R41.060 million); 2010 FIFA World Cup (R12.883 million) and lastly Machinery and Equipment (R1.535 million).   

The Department however managed to obtain an unqualified audit report from the Auditor General’s Office. Some of the highlighted issues were irregular expenditure of previous years, under spending of the allocated budget and unaudited supplementary schedules.

The Department’s Human Resource Management Plan was 90% complete. The vacancy rate sat at 26.8%. At senior management level there were more males than females but the Department generally had more females than males. Some of the reasons for the high vacancy rates were the expiration of contracts, resignations and dismissals. Members were given breakdowns by way of charts.

The Department had a total of 25 entities. Four received qualified audit reports, six were clean and 15 had emphasis of matter. Members were provided with a list of entities.

Ms Baduza concluded that the Department intended improving its services through, amongst others, the full implementation of the approved organisational structure, enhancing corporate governance between the Department, its entities and provinces and lastly developing and implementing monitoring and evaluation systems.

The Chairperson made the observation that the briefing did not speak much to issues pertaining to provinces; only a national perspective was given. The Committee was interested in provincial issues and, perhaps the next time the Department was called to brief the Committee, the provinces would also be asked to attend the briefing as well. Service delivery was the priority for the Committee and information was needed on what was happening in the provinces.

Mr W Faber (DA, Northern Cape) was concerned about what was happening with the San people of the Northern Cape. What were the Department’s efforts in promoting the arts and culture of the San people of the Northern Cape?

Mr Ndima responded that the Department had embarked on a number of projects regarding the San people. There was a Sarah Bartmann Centre being built in the Eastern Cape. Work was being done with the San and Khoi communities. Identification of heritage sites was being done. Beyond physical heritage, the Department had completed a policy on intangible knowledge which covered oral history, customs, and dance. There was also a project to identify living human treasures, namely, elderly persons immensely endowed with historical knowledge.

Ms Baduza commented that such individuals were referred to as organic academics.

Ms R Rasmeni (ANC, North West) asked what the Department was doing to nurture the talent of the youth. The process of geographical name changes was moving slowly. How could the Department assist provincial councils speed up the process? She asked what interventions had the Department put in place to deal with skills shortages. What was the relationship between the Department and the Department of Basic Education on the issue of libraries?

Ms Baduza stated that it had been hoped that Community Art Centres would have assisted provinces. Devolution of authority was, however, a problem. The Department did engage with provinces via Committees of Ministers and Members of the Executive Councils (MinMECs). Challenges of Community Art Centres had been identified and were being addressed. Community Art Centres should be able to deliver. There were local municipalities who were trying to get Community Art Centres active. The South African Local Government Association (SALGA) had been engaged to get local communities involved so that Community Art Centres did not become white elephants. National Treasury had been approached to provide conditional grants as was done with community libraries. 

Mr Ndima conceded that the name change process was slow but there were certain provinces like Limpopo that was doing well. However in certain provinces challenges did exist. It was not the role of the Department to start the process. The process should be community driven. The Department only checked on names submitted and either approved or rejected it. The Department however facilitated the process by informing communities on the policies or procedures that they needed to follow.

The Department had looked at the skills base for the sector. Problems and their solutions had been identified. Skills issues were being worked on. He said that there was a working relationship between the Department and the Department of Basic Education. Community libraries fell within the domain of the Department whereas school libraries were the responsibility of Basic Education.

Ms M Moshodi (ANC, Free State) asked what plans the Department had in place to address the concerns of the Auditor-General. What actions was the Department taking regarding misconduct and disciplinary hearings? She also asked what the reason for the delay in tabling the Annual Report was.

Mr Rennie responded that persons had been appointed to address the issues raised by the Auditor General. Reports were completed on a monthly basis. Most of the issues raised had been rectified.
Public entities were required to highlight issues. The Department assessed entities and the assessment became part of a quarterly report.

Ms Baduza apologised for the delay in the tabling of the Annual Report. The exiting Director-General had wished to sign off on the Report before his departure. On fraud and corruption, controls had been tightened. Many employees had been dismissed because of corruption, hence the high vacancy rate. A Risk Prevention Plan was in place.

Ms B Mncube (ANC, Gauteng) stated that the Annual Report had made mention of the entities that fell under the Department but no specifics and explanations were given. She was glad that the Department was prioritising digitising local content. The oral history of the elderly had to be captured whilst they were still living. The Department was hosting workshops in provinces. When was a workshop to be held in Gauteng? What plans were there to speed up the process? She also asked what was done regarding the development of South Africa’s official languages. How was the Department contributing towards the creation of decent work for youth and women? Reference was made to the 200 bursaries that the Department had awarded to tertiary education students in relation to the National Language Service. What conditions were attached to the bursaries in order for those students to give something back? Concern was raised about the high vacancy rate of the Department. It meant that certain programmes of the Department were not getting attention.

Dr Jokweni noted the concern that the Annual Report needed to be more provinces specific. The Report might give the impression that not much was happening in the provinces but it was not the case. It was more a case of the Annual Report under-reporting on what was happening in the provinces.

Dr Jokweni stated that there was a national language body for each official language. Each language was being taken care of. There were provincial managers who were responsible for languages in a particular province. There were also provincial language committees which looked at the development and promotion of languages in a particular province.  Until such time that the Department’s language units have been strengthened to cater for different languages, languages would not be on par as far as usage was concerned.

Dr Jokweni said that when bursaries were awarded there should be specialisations. Skills like translating and interpreting were key. The skills developed would be useful for use in all sectors both public and private. 
Having a pool of professionals was important.
It was encouraging that a Sunday newspaper had published an editorial in Zulu in KwaZulu-Natal. It was a pilot project.   

Policy was what determined the development of languages. The Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal were some of the provinces that had finalised their language policies.

Ms Baduza said that a workshop on oral history digitisation would be held in Gauteng some time in the future.

Mr Ndima stated that oral history projects were hosted annually. There was a draft policy on digitisation. South Africa preferred to do its own digitisation, even though many countries offered the service for a hefty fee.

Prince M Zulu (IFP, KwaZulu-Natal) was concerned about African languages and commented in his mother tongue, Zulu.

Mr Ndima tried to translate as best he could. South Africa had 16 years of democracy but the issue of languages was still not addressed. English was still commonly used as if South Africa was still a British Colony. In France, French was used. Why could South Africa not follow this example? Prince Zulu felt that not enough work was being done on heritage promotion, specifically heritage sites.

Mr Ndima conceded that cultural heritage sites were indeed a huge task. The Department needed to identify heritage sites. Coupled with the identification was the grading of the particular site - either grade1, 2 or 3. The process was slow but work with the Department of Tourism was taking place.

Mr T Mashamaite (ANC, Limpopo) asked that, if seven new libraries were being built, in which provinces and areas were they to be built in? The Auditor General had noted an irregular spending of R60 million in the year 2008/09. These funds were transferred to the Department for the year under review. What were they for and what progress was the Department making in cutting down irregular expenditures. He asked what actions had been taken against staff of the Department in case of non-adherence to legislation.  Under spending by departments was considered a crime in the eyes of the Committee. If underspending was taking place then it meant that certain services were not being provided to the public. It was a concern. Only three of the nine provinces had not under spent. What was the Department doing to assist the provinces that were under spending?

Mr Ndima replied that the new libraries had been built in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape. Other provinces would also be getting new libraries.
Mr Rennie replied that there were certain entities that had fruitless and wasteful expenditure. Explanations by them were required and it would be forwarded to National Treasury for approval or non approval as the case may be.

The irregular spending of R60 million comprised of R54 million which had been spent in 2006/07 in relation to 2006 World Cup expenditure. The problem was that a tender process had not been followed. A special investigation unit had investigated the matter. The balance of R6 million had been spent in 2008/09.
Officials not adhering to legislation had to undergo disciplinary hearings. Some individuals were fired.
The Department unfortunately did not assist the provinces in combating under spending.

Most of the Department’s under spending was for capital works. The funds had not been used to extend the national archives as it was insufficient. Public-private partnerships were now considered to fund the project.

Mr S Plaaitje (COPE, North West) noted that media reports had alluded to the fact that Robben Island had problems. There were even rumours that the Western Cape Provincial Government wished to take over Robben Island from the national Department. What was the actual state of affairs? The North West Province had received an unqualified audit report yet there were problems in the province regarding financial irregularities and misconduct by a Member of the Executive Council (MEC). What was the Department’s plan to deal with corruption?  

Ms Maduza stated that Robben Island was a national competency. The Western Cape Provincial Government could not simply take it over. The issue of Robben Island was being addressed at a higher level.

The Chairperson stated that what members experienced in the provinces was not what came out of the Annual Report before members. What was the R12 million that National Treasury was to give back to the Department? She asked what 2010 FIFA World Cup legacy projects the Department intended to have.
She felt that the Department was not doing enough to have a South African flag at every school. Referring to the issue of 30 arts practitioners in Mpumalanga, how could it be extended to other provinces? Did the Department have a development and staff retention strategy?

Ms Baduza said that there were arts centres and museums that were legacy projects of the 2010 World Cup. The Department was trying to follow the route of the conditional grant. Another legacy project was to have Winnie Mandela’s home declared a heritage site. The 30 arts practitioners came from KwaZulu-Natal and were from universities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). A challenge was monitoring the expenditure of funds.  

The Chairperson felt it best that the Department not respond to the school flag issue as the Committee was tired of excuses. She preferred that Deputy Minister Phaahla look into the matter.
San people in the Kalahari area in the Northern Cape.

Mr Ndima stated that he would raise the issue of the San in the Northern Cape with the relevant provincial department.

Ms Mncube observed that perhaps the Department did not have a staff recruitment and retention strategy. What seemed to be the problem with staff? She felt that the Department should provide greater guidance to provinces on the issue of name changes. She raised the issue about the R18m rolled over intended for investment in culture.

Ms Baduza stated that the Department might not have a staff recruitment and retention strategy but it did have a Human Resources Plan. Recruitment would henceforth take place. It was a priority issue.

Mr Jokweni, referring to the R18 million rolled over, stated that the moratorium on projects had been lifted. Rolling out of projects had started and disbursements were taking place. Verification of projects in the provinces was being done.

The Deputy Minister stated that the comments and concerns raised by members were heeded.
Issues like staff vacancies, arts and culture’s contribution to the economy, and greater co-ordination between the Department and the provinces were being addressed.

The meeting was adjourned.


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