Department of Arts, Culture,Science & Technology: briefing

Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


12 March, 2002

Documents handed out:
Summary of the 2002 budgetary provision

Chairperson: Acting Chair: Ms F Mazibuko (ANC)

The Department briefed the Committee on Biotechnology which was the driving force in development and in particular where it interfaces with the pharmaceutical industries.

Addressing the Committee on budgetary estimates Dr Adam noted that without this enabling science no meaningful sustainable development could be achieved. He drew members' attention to the low salary bill and the decrease of administrative costs which he attributed to sound management practice that the Department had implemented.

Dr R Adam - briefing
Dr Adam said that the importance of Arts and culture was underpinned by the fact that in any multilateral agreement South Africa undertakes Arts and culture is a core part of it.

The opening up of South African borders had far reaching implications on the budgetary provisions the most notable of them all being the recent rapid fall of the Rand. The immediate effect was a substantial increase in budgetary allocation and hence the Department of Arts and Culture was no exception in this respect.

Dr Adam noted that there had been some significant increase in the budgetary allocation for the National Arts Council while the Performing Arts had suffered a decrease in its allocation. The reason for the latter's decrease in budgetary allocation was due mainly to the fact that much of the money was spent on bureaucracies that were hardly value adding.

He said that the NFVF had earned a substantial increase of up to 40% in budgetary allocation this year. The reason for this dramatic increment was to facilitate script writing, which would boast the film industry.

Dr.Adam noted that the other body that earned a budgetary increment was the National Language Service. This increase was in readiness for the African Language Plan that was before the Cabinet whose mandate was to develop proper terminology for the indigenous languages

Dr Adam noted further that the Geographical names were considered to be deserving a budgetary increment and that the key issue here was to create a regulatory council through the enactment of an Act of parliament. This area had a relatively small budget.

Dr Adam informed the Committee that Heritage and Archives was a key area of interfacing the economy with tourism. He said that the critical question was how to engage with the National Museums and that one should ask what happened when donor funding dried up.

He said that the question of good governance systems was being addressed with regard to the National Archives.

Dr Adam pointed out that the Department was looking at the issue of not just creating new science but rather how to transfer the accumulated knowledge for practical application by the end user.

The Department had started a project in conjunction with the EU to transfer cutting edge knowledge from where it is invented at research institutions to the end user.

Dr Adam informed the Committee that overall administrative costs had drastically decreased despite the fact that travelling costs had been included.

National Museums had received a budgetary increment although the current policy was that museums should be less dependent on State grants. The main reason for the huge increase in this sector was the completion of the up-coming Freedom Park that was being put up near Pretoria.

He explained that this would be a multifaceted National Monument that would tell the story of the History of the sub-content through the ages to modern times. He clarified, however, that this would not be a Museum in the classical sense but that it would be more of a place to reflect where South Africans are coming from as a people and where they are going.

Dr Adam informed the Committee that the Department was keen on developing Biotechnology which was one of the driving forces in development and in particular where it interfaced with the pharmaceutical industries. He said that without this enabling science no meaningful sustainable development could be achieved.

Dr Adam underscored the fact that the Salary Bill - an increasing expense - had been kept pretty much in check. He added that this item had in fact dropped slightly which in itself was a significant development.

Dr Adam concluded his brief presentation by underlining the fact that the Department was up-to-date and well balanced on the issue of transformation.

The acting Chair acknowledged that budgetary allocations for the Department had increased significantly. This was encouraging as the Department had been a recipient of scant resources in the past.

Ms Vilakazi expressed her concern that PENSAB was not moving fast enough to ensure that former multi-racial schools allowed students to take tuition in their mother tongue.

Dr Adam replied that issue of language in schools fell under the jurisdiction of Provincial Governments who legislated the relevant policy around the question of language in schools. Proper monitoring was lacking to ensure that such policy was implemented to the letter.

The Provincial Government was entitled under the law to take up the matter with the courts where it was found that schools were not fulfilling their Constitutional mandate.

Dr Adam, however, explained that there was another problem of profiling in school, which he said sometimes, goes hand in hand with the location of the schools. The attitude of parents does matter to a great extent noting that some parents insisted on their children being instructed in a language that would prepare them for certain subjects that are packaged in a particular language such as science.

Ms Vilakazi urged that monitoring be intensified to allow students to take tuition in the language of their choice. She added that the Committee was not against other mediums of instruction in schools but that it would be important if mother tongue were taken as a second language.

Dr Adam suggested that the Committee invite the Council to address it on the issue in greater detail.

The Chair welcomed the suggestion. She said that the Committee had interacted with PENSAB on the issue before but that it would not shy away from inviting them over again.

A member asked where or whom she could approach for funding to support the on going project in the Eastern Cape. A monument was being put up to preserve the Xhosa Heritage.

Dr Adam replied that his Department was prepared to consider any applications for funding within its limited budgetary allocations. He advised that the National Lottery,might be interested in funding such a worthwhile project.

Mr Tlhagale (UCDP) asked what constituted an indigenous language and where it could be found. How could the South African culture could be promoted internationally?

He cited an embarrassing incident in the UK where South African performers were accused of making too much noise.

Mr Adam noted that there was a very huge demand for the South African culture in the international market. He however cautioned that there should be proper marketing. The South African ambassador to the UK had adequately explained the reason for the performer's debacle in the UK. The area they were performing at was restricted in terms of noise.

Dr Adam called for proper intelligence gathering by High Commissioners abroad so that South Africans could properly identify where such markets exist.

Ms Mazibuko (ANC) complained that to-date when a member wishes to address the National Assembly in mother tongue he/she must inform the chief whip in advance to enable him avail an interpreter. She said that this arrangement does not apply to English and the Afrikaans languages that have full time interpreters.

Dr Adam replied that this issue is for the National Assembly budget noting that there are plenty of interpreters to higher if need be but that the issue rests with the National Assembly budget. He advised that PENSAB could be approached in this regard.

Mr Tlhagale (UCDP) asked whether the budgetary allocations were the only source of income for the Department.

Dr Adam replied in the negative. He said that the Department partners with many non-governmental stakeholders in a variety of projects, which are funded by donors other than the government. Most of the Department's institutions like the National Museum was heavily subsidised by non-governmental donors.

The meeting was adjourned.


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