Department of Arts and Culture 2011 programme with Minister in attendance

Arts and Culture

07 February 2011
Chairperson: Sunduza, Ms T (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Arts and Culture briefed the Committee on its programme for 2011 focusing on its campaigns, objectives, key priorities and outcomes especially in the areas of nation building, social cohesion and skill development. The Department also explained its priorities to build social capital, secure access to information and to celebrate the diversity of South Africa. There was also a segment of the presentation devoted to the economic aspects of culture and arts and the role it could play in providing jobs and becoming a vital part of the economy. The Department ended by highlighting its achievements in the previous year as well as the challenges it faced in the upcoming year.

At the start of the discussion, Minister Paul Mashatile joined the meeting to answer questions the Committee might have. The Committee asked questions about cultural works such as days of commemoration, the situation of South African artists, dissemination of the department programme in the rural provinces, the situation concerning changing of geographical names, the status of the eleven official languages and the economic situation of the department. The Department clarified the status of these issues. Geographical name changes came up repeatedly to which the Department clarified that it was a complex and sensitive issue that needed to be dealt with but with due care to social cohesion. The Department also stated it was working with National Treasury to address its budgetary concerns and irregularities. Finally the Minister suggested the Department could return to the Committee when they had more concrete plans on some of the issues raised.

Meeting report

Department of Arts & Culture (DAC) Programme Presentation
Ms Veliswa Baduza, Acting Deputy Director General: Human Resources Management and Governance, DAC, introduced her team and conveyed the Minister’s regret that he had been held up but would join them later. In presenting the Department of Arts and Culture’s 2011 Programme, she outlined its objectives, outputs and outcomes for the upcoming year. Its focus was on five points: Social Cohesion and Nation Building; Skills Development; Economic Development; Development, Preservation and Promotion of Arts, Culture and Heritage and finally the Preservation of Access to Information. Key campaigns of the Department were mentioned, such as the building of the Matola Raid monument in Mozambique, the 35th Anniversary of the Soweto Uprising, a Cultural Diplomacy conference, the Annual African Women’s Writers Symposium, National Book Week, National Summit on Social Cohesion and finally Magnificent Fridays. Ms Baduza also spoke of upcoming legislative developments. The key campaigns of the previous year were highlighted. She then mentioned the challenges that faced the Department, especially in the financial section and staff vacancies due to suspension and dismissal (see document).

Discussion opened up with the arrival of Minister Paul Mashatile who joined the representatives of the Department of Arts and Culture.

Dr Lotriet (DA) asked about Outcome 12 and where it would fit with regards to social capital. She asked what was being done to introduce arts and culture at lower school levels as compared to the end product artists. Finally she expressed concern about the ambitiousness of the Department’s plan compared to its budget.

The ADG replied that there was a special section of the Department that deals with the promotion of arts and culture at a basic educational level. As for the budget, the ADG replied that it could be stretched; however they need to seek assistance and creative thinking from institutions like the Lottery. They could find ways and means to find more funds. At this point the ADG referred to her Deputy to expand on the issue of basic education.

Dr Mbulelo Jokweni, Acting Deputy Director General: Arts, Culture, Promotional Development as well as Cultural Development and International Relations, DAC, confirmed that training of basic education students had already made strides referring to specific programmes and training.

Mr Ntapane (UDM) wondered at what time limits had been set for the objectives and went on to ask what was being done to raise awareness of these programmes in rural areas.

Dr Jokweni replied that the Department worked with the provinces to raise awareness of their programmes as detailed in the presentation. The provinces themselves had requested the presence of the Department of Arts and Culture.

Ms Baduza further elaborated that programmes on Social Cohesion had already been presented to some provinces. As for time perspective, National Treasury, during audits, had pointed out that their objectives need to be realistic and time bound so they had tried to improve and be smart with their time limits.

Ms Lishivha (ANC) asked what was being done for the promotion of the 11 official languages, especially the indigenous languages. Secondly, she wondered if it was possible to promote and extend the display of the South African flag.

Dr Jokweni acknowledged that language skills such as interpretation was a rare skill; however he referred to the bursary scheme that had been going on for some time which set a criterion for universities to provide at least some of these rare scarce skills. This would provide qualified interpreters for the public and private sector.

Mr Vusithemba Ndima, Acting Deputy-Director General: Cultural Heritage and Preservation, DAC, replied on the matter of the flag, saying that a project was currently being rolled out to put a flag in every school as well as public building, but also education should go hand in hand with it to teach people to attach meaning to the national symbols such as the flag and coat of arms.

The Chairperson asked if it was not now time to have the Constitution written in all languages. She asked if the Department was monitoring the grants that were given to the provinces. She expressed concern that commemorative days were not being attended by all segments of society but only by some groups. She asked what was being done to keep skills and talent in South Africa and what assistance was being given to that end. Further what could the Department do for penniless artists? She asked if something could be done to make sure that the correct national anthem was played at official venues.

The Chairperson asked what plans the Department of Arts and Culture had for being recognised for its contribution to the GDP. Finally she asked about the proposed legislation review, why had the processing of last year’s proposed legislation ended?

Mr Ntapane strongly objected to the misuse of the national anthem by artists, and hoped this could be addressed through education.

Mr Ndima answered that they were aware of the problem of the national anthem being sung incorrectly and that strides were being made to correct this. There should also be rehearsed choirs at such events, and the Department, in cooperation with others had made sure that the correct national anthems were played at state visits to avoid embarrassment. Further the national anthem was also being translated into different languages to convey its meaning from beginning to end. With regards to commemorative days, different approaches had been tried to ensure attendance by different sections of the population, such as appealing to cultural diversity. There was a proposed strategy that national days not only be event driven but also content driven: so people can understand the historic significance of these events in the nation’s history and culture. Research should be done by asking communities what they would like to see done on these commemorative days.

Dr Jokweni noted that official documents such as the Constitution had already been translated into the eleven official indigenous languages. What they could do was to check the versions already made and see if it was possible to do a reprint of those.

An official from the Department noted that in terms of monitoring and evaluation there had been made big strides in working together with the provinces and the Treasury to work out indicators and databases for the measurable objectives so that together with the Treasury they could monitor the provinces and aligns them with the Department’s strategy.

Mr Ndima said that the Community Library Services grant to develop the infrastructure and stock of books in local libraries was part of a comprehensive process that was well done and which met often to check on the implementation of the grant. As for last year’s proposed legislation, it had been held back last year because of issues stakeholders felt had not been addressed.

Dr Jokweni added that the language bills from last year had been de-prioritized simply due to legislative tabling processes. Both bills from last year now had new target dates.

Minister Paul Mashatile apologized for his late arrival. He agreed with Members that all public buildings should have flags and that ordinary homes should be encouraged to have them as well but ultimately that was voluntary. Institutions should be more mandatory in this respect. He would also like to see the promotion of arts and culture in school curricula. As for social security for artists, the minister said that there was a team looking at that, hoping to come up with a package to cater for that sector. However due to the nature of artist’s as ‘part time workers’ it was problematic to get them to contribute regularly to such a scheme. However he suggested that there could be some kind of benefit concert annually to contribute to the scheme. This scheme could cover medical aid, pension and funeral costs. He hoped to brief the Committee on this later this year once they had finalised the details.

As for the contribution of arts and culture to the economy, the Minister said that it had been agreed that the cultural sector should be among the top six job contributors, and they had been asked to come up with a plan for employment creation. A team had been appointed to look at the different jobs they could create within the film and music industries as well as the heritage sector given proper state support, as agreed by the Cabinet. They believed that a significant number of jobs could come from this. The Minister hoped to have a draft for this by March. They would also need to have the industry on board and would attempt to engage all stakeholders. In order to supply the skills for this growth, national skills development academies for the arts would be set up which would work with institutions, provinces and universities to become a centre of excellence where training, particularly for young people, could be done. The Minister clarified that this was one of this year’s initiatives.

Mr Ntshiqela (COPE) questioned how South Africa as a developing country was received abroad, and if the Department had plans to put up community libraries in rural areas. He asked how much the Matola Raid Monument in Mozambique would cost and how it would benefit South Africans and finally how could supporters of political parties be encouraged to participate in the celebration and commemoration of national days.

Ms Baduza replied that as a developing country they were very well received when they took their best artists abroad. The artists were of the finest international calibre, and there was also an international element of cooperation and exchange when it came to budding artists.

Mr Ndima explained that libraries and library infrastructure were well established in rural areas. On the 16 February they would present a comprehensive presentation to the Select Committee on Education and Recreation which would indicate where the different libraries would be established and upgraded. This they would gladly share with the Committee. The Mozambique monument and the adjacent Interpretive Centre would constitute R40 million. As for its benefits for South Africa, there were already many researchers and architects from both countries involved in the project, and eventually construction would be contracted out. But, beyond the monetary gain there was the consolidation of the partnership between the two countries, and a reminder of the part the Mozambique people played in the history of South Africa.

An ANC member said that he would like to see a programme as mentioned by Mr Ndima were people were consulted on their thoughts about commemorative days; he thought it proper and would support such an initiative. Secondly he would like to know if the Department had decided to come out with a programme that dealt with geographical name changes and addressed past name changes.

Ms Lishivha reiterated the need to deal with offensive geographical names of the past.

The Chairperson also commented that offensive names from past history needed to be addressed by the Department.

Mr Ndima responded that with regard to geographical name changes, the Department must play more of a facilitating and regulating role, it must make information available for all stakeholders who seek to change geographical names. The Department would seek to share its objectives with regards to geographical names throughout the provinces, but at the same time they must be cognisant that as the heritage landscape was changed, note must be taken that there was not an increase in tension, jeopardizing the Department’s goal of social cohesion.

Ms Lishivha asked about the reason for suddenly recognizing the graves of heroines from the struggle, was it due to their earlier having been sidelined. Further she would like to know what had happened about oral history conferences and if there was any possibility for the Department to work on the revival of oral history.

Mr Ndima responded that the oral history conferences were run so that participants, especially young people, could tap into the knowledge that existed in their community; it became a knowledge preservation exercise as well as knowledge production. This would also address, minimize and hopefully even eradicate distortion of oral history. As for the heroines, it was thought that since the focus had been previously mostly on men, they should now recognise all the contributors to the liberation and celebrate them accordingly.

The Chairperson asked what the Department did for moral regeneration. She continued that she would like to see in the next presentation, the composition of the Department’s human resources, especially with regards to women, race and people with disabilities. She would also like to see mention of the claims of ‘lack of upward mobility’ within the Department as well as recent suspensions and allegations of corruption. She asked what relationship the Department had with traditional leaders, particularly those in the provincial houses. She requested that correct parliamentary process be followed when the Department sought to table new bills. The Chair went on to comment that the monitoring of grants given out by the Department should be rigorously monitored. She would also like to raise the issue of Robben Island and its previous flawed administration, and expressed concern as the UN wished to add it as a world heritage site. Finally, she asked about the Department’s economics and the underspending on several of its programmes, as well as the spending irregularities and the targets that had not been met.

Mr Ndima referred to the Department’s mandate from the Constitution and said that there was no encouragement of those cultural practices that were not in line with the Bill of Rights. These were the only cultural practices that would be promoted. All stakeholders where brought together when discussing these topics as they acknowledged that it closely affected traditional cultures and leaders.

With regards to Robben Island, Mr Ndima said it must be seen as moving away from the ‘danger zone’, there was now a council in place and an incoming CEO that would address the problems and deal with operations. As Robben Island was listed as an environmental and historical heritage site, there had been some environmental problems that had been dealt with such as the reduction of invasive flora and fauna. Mr Ndima claimed there was progress with Robben Island.

Ms Baduza assured the Chair that there would be no legislative surprises and that the tabling of the new bills was scheduled from April to December. She denied that there was little upward mobility in the Department, all positions were advertised, however there were very little inside applications to the positions. Anyone within the Department had the right to apply to the positions advertised. The monitoring of DAC’s associated institutions needed to be monitored rigorously. The institutions had welcomed this, as they claimed that they had been working in the dark. The Department would now seek to further align itself with the institutions receiving grants from DAC about their plans. She acknowledged that in the past there was more competition with the institutions rather than monitoring. A team inside the Department was now set up to ensure this. She also acknowledged that the Department’s goals could tend to become unrealistic.

Mr Michael Rennie, Acting Chief Financial Officer, DAC, said that the Department underspent R12 million in the previous year; however rollovers for that were permitted. Capital works and capital assets were the biggest reasons for the underspending. The Department would be trying to circumvent this problem this year having been given special dispensation by Treasury to give money directly to institutions. The problem of underspending should be less in 2011 but not gone. The Treasury would also offer assistance in the management of the projects in order to streamline their running. The underspending would come down. Treasury had expressed some concern to the Department about the spending irregularities in some provinces on the library projects and it might ask the Department to hold back some funds. On the issue of irregularities, there was R54 million that was mostly from the end functions of the World Cup. This was being investigated by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU). There was also R6 million in 2008/09 which was spent in municipal services with a pending letter to the Treasury waiting for its approval.

Ms Baduza explained that funds could not be haphazardly shifted and transferred as it would bring the Department into trouble.

Minister Mashatile added that in the case of geographical names the Department of Arts and Culture sought to work closely with the provinces in order to foster change. However it should be an act of coming together, and it must be a closely consultative process that became a ‘bottom up’ rather than ‘top down’ movement. It must be a process of nation building and social cohesion; it should unite communities rather than divide. On the issue of moral regeneration, the Department worked closely with the Deputy President, not only funding these movements but creating capacity and bringing in more stakeholder communities. The Minister suggested that they come back to the Committee when they had more concrete plans on how to deal with these issues in the future.

The Chairperson moved to adopt the minutes of the previous two meetings. They were adopted.

The meeting was concluded.



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