Department of Arts and Culture on its 2010/11 Annual Report

Arts and Culture

10 October 2011
Chairperson: Ms T Sunduza (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to interrogate the Department of Arts and Culture’s Annual Report and Financial Statements 2010/11. The Department's aim was to brief the Committee on the overall performance of Department during the 2010/11 financial year, to provide reasons for and explain some of the findings raised by the Auditor-General, and to solicit the Committee’s inputs on the Annual Report, including the strategic interventions to fulfil the constitutional and legislative mandate of the Department.

According to the Director-General, the Department performed reasonably well considering the challenges experienced in 2010/11. Moreover 92% of the budget was spent and an unqualified audit opinion was achieved.

Members raised concerns about the under expenditure and irregular expenditures in 2010. Members were also wary of the Department's attempt to promote indigenous languages and social cohesion. Members also wanted to know how the programmes, especially the ones related to the promotion of the National Anthem and flag distribution had progressed. Members expressed their dismay at incorrect performance of the Anthem at sporting events.

The Department wanted the Members to note that many of the irregularities in the finances occurred under the previous management. They noted that many of the issues had been resolved and would be visible in the next annual report. The Director-General also requested the Committee to be patient as the new Management was just a year old and was still in the process of correcting the irregularities.

Meeting report

Presentation by the Department of Arts and Culture
Mr Sibusiso Xaba, Director-General, Department of Arts and Culture, outlined that the purpose of the presentation was to provide the Portfolio Committee with an overview of the performance by the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) during the 2010/11 fiscal year. Mr Xaba explained that it was also important for the DAC to provide reasons for and explain some of the findings raised by the Auditor-General.

Mr Xaba then highlighted the vision of the DAC and its constitutional mandate [see attached document]

He added that, within the Outcome Agenda, the DAC was responsible for Outcome 12B. Within Outcome 12B the DAC had the responsibility for:

Output 5, which dealt with Nation Building and National Identity. Here the DAC launched Campaigns to inform and educate citizens about their rights and responsibilities to the South African Constitution.

Output 6, which addressed Citizen Participation wherein the DAC aimed to improve Access to Information and raise public awareness about participation for active public participation.

Finally Output 7, which dealt with building of social capital in society in order to invest in social capital.

Mr Xaba stated that the mission of DAC was to develop and promote arts and culture in South Africa and mainstream their role in social development, develop and promote the official languages of South Africa and enhance the linguistic diversity of the country.

Additionally the DAC aimed 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; develop and monitor the implementation of policy, legislation and strategic direction for the identification, conservation and promotion of cultural heritage; and guide, sustain and develop the archival, heraldic and information resources of the nation to empower citizens through full and open access to these resources.

The DAC had its budget divided into six programmes: Corporate services, Arts and Culture in society, National Language service, Cultural development and international relations, Heritage promotion and National Archives and Library services.

Mr Xaba then outlined some key highlights of the DAC programmes in 2010/2011. 

Starting with the legislative review, Mr Xaba explained that firstly the South African Languages Bill was being developed which would comply with the Constitution  and which required the national Government to regulate the use of official languages. Secondly the South Africa Language Practitioners Council Bill was in progress. This provided statutory regulations specifying the qualifying criteria for language professionals and practitioners. The Bill and the business case thereon was completed; however, motioning of the Bill was put on hold for the financial year 2010/11 and would be initialised in the 2011/12 financial year.

Thirdly, the South African Community Library and Information Services Bill which created norms and standards on libraries and promoted co-operative governance between the spheres of Government in respect of library and information services had been developed. Currently the Bill was being used as a basis during the consultations between the national, provincial and municipal spheres of Government on improving the library services across the country.

Fourthly the Cultural Laws Third Amendment Bill would enable the DAC and statutory institutions to better achieve their strategic objectives, specifically in relation to the performing arts centres.

He stated that during the 2010 Soccer World Cup the DAC had implemented several programmes to promote South African art and culture. 5 700 multilingual soccer terminology booklets were developed, printed and distributed at various entry points. This proved to be highly valuable as these booklets contained information about the language and culture of South Africa and basic soccer terminology.

Moreover, fan parks were supported by various performing artists, and exhibitions of visual arts and crafts were also displayed.

There was an aim to popularize national symbols such as the National Anthem and the National Flag. The “Fly the Flag Project” was implemented to create the hype around the World Cup. People were encouraged to display South African flags in their vehicles, businesses, stadiums, houses, etc. Municipalities also displayed flags of all participating countries in the streets of hosting cities.

In response to Nation Building and Social Cohesion the DAC was involved in the drive for geographical name changes. 18 geographical areas were approved for name changes. However the process of the name changes had raised controversy and there were several cases where the names of cities or municipalities were changed and this resulted in court cases being filed against the Government and the Department. 

Mr Xaba then emphasized the need for a national coherent strategy on geographical name changes to prevent court cases being filed against the Government and to raise awareness about the importance of name changes.

Organising festivals and conferences were also ways in which the DAC was promoting nation building. For example, the Annual National Oral History Conference was held in Mpumalanga. This conference aimed to promote story telling as part of keeping South African history alive.

With the guidance from the President the DAC engaged in interventions that promoted dialogue wherein social engagement and community mobilisation campaigns on issues of social cohesion and nation building would be conducted in the Eastern Cape, the Western Cape and Mpumalanga.

The DAC had also aimed to promote national symbols by initiating programmes such as the “Flags in Every School Project” that aimed to ensure that flags were erected in schools, and that the local communities felt that they were part of the nation. To date approximately 355 flags were erected in schools.

Community arts centres also served as a vehicle to social cohesion and nation building. At the same time they provided short-term jobs especially in the technical services, hospitality, security, etc.

Another priority of the DAC was to promote skills development. Under this programme, Mr Xaba stated that the DAC had created the National Creative Industries Skills Academy. The Academy was to become a “Centre of Excellence”, providing a platform for artists to perfect their skills.

Furthermore the Minister of Arts and Culture launched the New Plays Writing Programme that aimed to develop and promote special skills for writing and to create regular platforms for publishing.

These programmes were part of the DAC’s vision to promote job creation and to promote arts and culture as a viable career path for the country’s youth.

The DAC also implemented bursary programmes wherein 119 postgraduates were awarded bursaries to promote skills development in the language profession.

Mr Xaba stated that the DAC was looking into developing international partnerships to promote South African Culture in other countries. For example, the DAC was working closely with the French Government to create a cultural exchange programme that would allow both countries to promote their culture.

Economic development was another important priority for the DAC highlighted by Mr Xaba. An industry survey by the Publishers’ Association of South Africa revealed that the South African book sector had a net turnover of R5 billion in 2010. Moreover, the publishing industry employed approximately 3 000 people on a full time and freelance basis and more than 7 000 were employed in the printing industry.

The DAC was also looking to bolster the South African Film industry by investing a further R130 million  to make funds available to increase production of local films.

Mr Xaba highlighted some key achievements by notable South African artists on the international stage [see attached document].

The fourth priority of the DAC was aimed at Development, Preservation and Promotion of Arts, Culture and Heritage. The DAC had launched series of Legacy and Heritage projects that aimed at preserving and promoting South African heritage and languages [See attached documents].

Mr Xaba then presented the DAC’s financial statements.

The Chairperson interrupted and expressed the frustration of the Committee at the absence of the Minister and the Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture.

The Chairperson along with the Members of the Committee then requested the Chief Financial Officer of the DAC to present the financial statements instead of the Director General.

Mr Mike Rennie, Acting Chief Financial Officer, DAC, stated that the DAC was appropriated R2.4 billion and the Department had an under expenditure of R192 million. He noted that while the under expenditure amount may have seemed high, it was better that it had been in previous years.

He added that, according to the report from the Audit Committee, the Department had operated on the approved Strategic plan for 1 April 2010 to March 2011. The Audit Committee and Internal Audit Unit was in place and fully effective and four meetings were held in the period under review. The Audit Committee operated in accordance with approved and written terms of agreement. He stated that the Audit Committee was satisfied with the quality of the quarterly reports; however the Audit Committee noted issues raised by the Auditor-General (AG).

Mr Rennie stated that the DAC had received an unqualified audit report from the AG. The report drew attention to unauthorized expenditure, irregular expenditure, fruitless expenditure, unaudited supplementary schedules, and under-spending of the allocated budget [see attached documents].

Mr Conrad Greve, Chief Director: Human Resources Management, DAC, noted that, for the purpose of the presentation, only key areas received focus while rest of the details were in the annual report.

He stated that as of 31 March 2011 the Department had a 27.6% vacancy rate. This had already been addressed for the current fiscal year. He then stated that in the previous financial year 13 people were hired while 46 were either terminated or had resigned. The high termination rate was a result of employees’ contracts having reached maturation.

The Department had an overall gender distribution of 43% male and 57% female. However, within the senior management there were more men than women and Mr Greve noted that the Department was working on correcting the gender imbalance. The Department also aimed to increase the number of people with disability who were working for DAC from 1.5% to 2%.

In conclusion Mr Xaba noted that the DAC was faced with numerous challenges, including reporting on predetermined objectives, issues of concern raised by the AG, high vacancy rate and under-expenditure on some projects.

Mr S Ntapane (UDM) wanted the Department to elaborate on mobilisation campaigns on social cohesion and nation building in the Eastern Cape, the Western Cape and Mpumalanga. He also wanted to know whether the schools that had flags erected were given information about the procedures that needed to be followed before erecting the flag. He then wanted to know how the Department was addressing the urban biases.

Ms T Sunduza (ANC)  wanted the Director of Communications to answer how far she had reached when implementing Programme 5. She argued that many of the programmes, including the flag distribution had not reached the Northern Cape, especially in areas inhabited by the Khoi-San people. She also wanted to know how far DAC had gone to promote indigenous languages. She criticized the improper performance of the National Anthem  during sporting events and was insulted by this disrespect. She wanted the DAC to address the problems of the National Anthem not being sung properly.

Ms P Duncan (DA) wanted to know why the Language Council had not been implemented in the previous financial year and why the DAC was waiting until the next financial year to establish the board.

Mr P Ntshiqela (COPE) wanted to know how far the DAC had gone to encourage public participation in some of its programmes. He also wanted to know the status of the draft bills on languages mentioned in the presentation.

Ms L Moss (ANC) wanted updates on how far had the DAC reached on the social cohesion programmes. On the topic of Skills Development, Ms Moss wanted to know how the students were selected to receive the bursaries. She also raised concerns about the high number of contract workers and stated that the Department should be looking into creating more full time jobs instead.

Mr D Mavunda (ANC) wanted clarity on the success of the Flags for Schools programmes. He wanted to know how many more schools were expecting to have flags installed on their premises. He wanted the Department to explain how it was helping the small crafts persons in rural areas in accessing larger markets in order to sell their products.

Ms M Morutoa (ANC) wanted to know whether the high vacancy rates affected the service delivery.

The Acting Chairperson was concerned about the high vacancy rates especially in the senior management positions. She believed that the DAC should play more significant role in creating jobs. Finally she was concerned about the lack of support given to the protection of languages.

Mr Xaba said that the social dialogue was launched in 2010 in three provinces, but since then the programme had been launched in all provinces. The DAC worked with provincial governments and other elements of society. However, Mr Xaba said that all that they had done until now was not sufficient and the DAC was looking to expand its dialogue base to all sectors of society. The social dialogues were conducted in order to get a sense of how people felt about themselves as South Africans.

He then stated that when a school received a flag it got training on the procedures that needed to be followed when hoisting or lowering the flag. In addition to the flag the schools were also given booklets about respecting the National Symbols of South Africa.

He acknowledged that there was an urban bias in South Africa and the DAC’s main focus remained the urban sector. However he understood the need to expand to rural areas. Many of the community art centres were in rural areas.

The South African Language Practitioners Council Bill was complete and the draft submitted for review, however there were concerns raised by the National Treasury that needed to be addressed and the DAC was hoping to have the Bill tabled in 2011/12. Also the South African Languages bill had received priority because it outlined the responsibilities of the provinces over the promotion of language. Another reason that prevented the South African Language Practitioners Bill from being tabled was that the DAC was not able to submit the draft before the required deadlines.

Mr Xaba acknowledged that the DAC was aware of the problems faced during the singing of the National Anthem. The DAC was working closely with partner organisations to ensure that the National Anthem was sung correctly and that it was also respected. However, he stated that the Department and the Government as a whole were limited in ensuring the National Anthem was sung correctly. He added that it was the duty of South Africans to learn the correct words and give the Anthem the respect it deserved.

He further stated that the DAC had restructured the entire Department to address the high vacancy rates. Also the DAC worked to curtail redundancies in Human Resources by eliminating jobs that were not helping the Department fulfil its mandate. However the Department had filled many of the senior management positions in the current fiscal year that were essential for the functioning of the Department.

Dr Mbulelo Jokweni, Acting Deputy Director-General, DAC, and Chief Director: National Language Service, DAC, responded that with respect to languages the work of the Department was twofold; (1) to develop and (2) to promote.

He added that the DAC was working with several stakeholders to ensure that indigenous languages were being developed and promoted.

The DAC with support from the Pan South African Languages Board (PanSALB) was working with the provincial departments of Arts and Culture and provincial language committees. The DAC was able to establish a synergistic relationship with the various spheres of Government and civil society in developing and promoting indigenous languages.

There are also several campaigns that had been launched such as the language promotion campaign in Freedom Park in Pretoria. These campaigns had played a critical role in promoting indigenous languages.

The handbooks that were handed out during the 2010 World Cup were another successful way in which the DAC promoted the use of local languages.

He added that the bursaries were granted to the universities and then the universities would select the candidates. However, the Department ensured the bursaries were given to students studying the relative fields that were important to the DAC. For examples, students studying language history and lexicography would be given preference to receive the bursaries. Through the bursaries the Department could identify potential candidates to be hired by the DAC in the future as employees or interns.

He also acknowledged the need to develop a strong partnership with the private sector because the Department believed that the private sector could benefit from aiding in the promotion of languages. For example, banks and other institutions would be able to train translators who would aid in the growth of  business.

It was also claimed that the DAC was able to manoeuvre its structure in a way where the high vacancy rate would not have a negative impact on the service delivery.

The Acting Chairperson observed that meeting had gone over its time limit and requested that questions and answers be brief.

Ms Moss wanted to know how the provinces that did not have universities were receiving support for the skills development among the youth.

Ms Duncan wanted more explanation about the under expenditure. She also wanted to know why there were so many unauthorised expenditures.

Ms Sunduza stated that she was not happy with the expenditure reports, especially the under-spending and irregular expenditures. She wanted the Department to elaborate on how it was going to address the issues. She also wanted to know why there were not enough libraries in rural areas.

Mr Ntapane stated that, according to his calculations, there was more expenditure that was not accounted for. It was important to know why there were irregular expenditures.

Ms Sunduza wanted to know what was meant by developing a language.

Dr Jokweni stated that developing a language referred to the process of creating and formalising the languages by standardizing the words, phrases and definitions. Creation of dictionaries was an important part in the process of formalising the language.

Ms Veliswa Baduza, Chief Operating Officer, DAC, replied that before the names of any geographical areas were changed there were several public hearing and debates that took place. Once the name had been approved it was gazetted so that all people would be able to access it.

Also she stated that Department was working with the Khoi-San to ensure that their languages would become protected.

Mr Rennie stated that many of the irregular expenditures had taken place under the previous managements. The Department had put in place new measures that would ensure that such unnecessary or unauthorised expenditures would not occur again.

He acknowledged while the Auditor-General found irregularities in the financial statements, these occurred under previous management and would be corrected in the coming fiscal year.

He also acknowledged that under-expenditure was being dealt with and the Department was working on ensuring that such would not occur in the current fiscal year.

Mr Xaba stated that the Department in the past year had undergone extraordinary changes. There were numerous investigations that were being concluded. However, the management had changed dramatically and the most of the previous management had left the Department. As such he pleaded to the Committee that in the coming fiscal year many of the challenges would be addressed and the Committee would have fewer complaints in the future.

The Acting Chairperson acknowledged that the Department had an unqualified report which was a positive sign but it must ensure that all the concerns raised by the Auditor-General were addressed.

The Acting Chairperson adjourned the meeting.


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