The Committee met to discuss its draft Budget Review and Recommendation Report (the Report) in respect of the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) and its entities, and when through that Report page by page, highlighting issues that had caused concern to the Committee. A Member expressed surprise that the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) had not raised more points about financial management, as it appeared to the Committee that the Department had been lacking in several respects, including that it had transferred money to entities without checking on their performance, that there were problems around corporate governance issues, and their management of facilities, although it was conceded that the Department of Public Works had responsibilities in regard to some of the facilities.
Particular concerns raised included the fact that active steps must be taken to investigate the procurement issues, and this was specifically included in the recommendations. Another important issue was the unfair competition. In regard to the internal workings of the DAC, it was highlighted that the issue of vacancies needed to be addressed. Members agreed that it would be useful, in the future, for the DAC to appear before the Committee to answer each of the concerns. Members also expressed concern about the lack of targets, and the fact that there had not been dialogue with all provinces, supposedly because of resource constraints, and that the Department had not given a proper reason why it had dealt with only three of the nine provinces. Members also questioned the assertion that political interference had contributed to delays. They noted their concerns that although the Minister had asserted that youth development was something at the heart of the Department, there was nothing being done for the youth, and this may be the result of lack of focus. There were several administrative issues, which included ineffective use of resources and poor performance. Although there had been a promise that IT staff would be appointed, there was nothing mentioned in the Report, and it should be inserted. Other issues of concern were the spending shortly before year end, the lack of financial competence, management of expenditure, and supply chain management, admitted by the Director General to be of concern, and the Committee had found that few control measures were in place in regard to the public entities. Members were also concerned that although Legal Services had planned various programmes, these were later dropped, with no explanation. Members asked that the disciplinary matters must be highlighted, as there were matters ongoing. The questions asked around use of external consultants had not been happening. The communications strategy was also ineffectual, with no special efforts being made. Members also insisted that reports be given on the students awarded bursaries.
Chairperson’s Opening Remarks
The Chairperson encouraged Committee Members to attend workshop, pointing out that they were vital to hone Members’ ability to deal with matters that came before the Committee.
Committee’s draft Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report
The Chairperson then tabled the Committee’s draft Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR or the Report) in respect of the Department of Arts and Culture (the DAC or the Department) and its entities. In her view, the most important issues were those around unfair competition and the procurement procedures.
Dr A Lotriet (DA) agreed with the Chairperson. Dr Lotriet also urged Members to take active steps to ensure that further investigations were carried out in regard to the procurement issues raised. She said that this was an important matter, and should not be overlooked when Members dealt with the recommendations in the Report.
Ms L Moss (ANC) proposed that the salient issue of vacancies need to be considered as well by the Committee. The Report highlighted a number of challenges in this regard.
Dr Lotriet cautioned that Members should approach the Report consistently, and suggested that it would be better to deal with it point by point.
Mr D Mavunda (ANC) raised a concern with regard to page 3 of the Report. He asked how far the Department of Arts and Culture could be said to have met its targets and objectives.
The Chairperson suggested that this question be addressed later on, when the Committee looked at the recommendations.
Dr Lotriet thought that page 3 of the Report needed to be rewritten by the Committee. She also suggested that the section on a summary of the programmes should be moved further back, to page 2 of the report.
Other Members expressed their agreement.
Ms Moss suggested that, in future, the Department of Arts and Culture needed to physically appear before the Committee in order to respond to each of the concerns, noting that they were set out on each page of this Report.
Mr Mavunda commented that item 4 of the summary in the Report was vital. However he questioned if Members were happy that the summary was reliable, saying that some of the matters might not have come to the fore.
Dr Lotriet proposed, based on pages 23 to 37 of the Report, that the Committee should look at the patterns rather than focus on individual points.
The Chairperson expressed that the Reports showed signs of delays in procurements. She said that even though this was the case, the Department had not provided reasons for the delays. She questioned as to how the Department of Arts and Culture could function properly in light of these grave challenges. She also noted that no targets were set.
Dr Lotriet responded that one of the targets was to have a dialogue with each province, but shockingly, the Report indicated that there were resource constraints. As a result she questioned how this dialogue could be facilitated with the provinces, if there were no adequate resources. She pleaded with the Committee to consider including this in the recommendations.
Ms S Duncan (DA) questioned why the Department had only been dealing with three out of nine provinces. She said that the same question was put to the Department but no proper reasons were given.
Dr Lotriet reiterated the point that the reasons for the delays were not given. She added that the term used in the Report, of ‘dedicated resources’, was very vague. She expressed her suspicion as to whether there could be political influence in the organisational structures.
The Chairperson responded that politics had nothing to do with matters of administration and that the Department could not use excuses of political influence as a justification for its delays.
The Chairperson also noted that the Department had alluded to challenges as including the high vacancy rate, late allocation of budgets, no learnerships or internships – yet the Minister of Arts and Culture had said that youth development is something at the heart of the Department. The Chairperson asked why nothing was apparently being done for the youth in this case. She thought that the Department showed incompetence.
Ms Moss identified that challenges faced by the Department included human resources and administration, ineffective use of resources, a large pool of acting personnel in senior management positions, and poor performance. She added that she had a question mark over the issue of management of leave and overtime matters.
The Chairperson noted that Information Technology (IT) was vital, even at governmental level.
Ms Duncan said that the Department was faced with tremendous challenges concerning IT. She noted that the government had promised to employ qualified personnel in the IT sector, but nothing was mentioned in the Report about this.
Dr Lotriet contended that, owing to this IT challenge, government documents were unsafe.
Ms Moss challenged the fact that the Department had spent a huge amount of money exactly before the close of the budget.
Dr Lotriet identified financial compliance as a major challenge in the Department. She held that the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) must have misrepresented the position when the comment was made that financial management was generally in order. She thought that management of expenditures was an issue.
Ms Moss said that it was not the responsibility of the Department to deal with matters of upgrading government buildings, because this fell under the responsibility of the Department of Public Works (DPW).
Ms Duncan (DA) suggested that the needed to be a memorandum of understanding entered into between the two departments.
Dr Lotriet noted that the impression was created, by the Report, that there were no difficulties around issues of supply chain management, yet in the meeting on the previous day the Director General of the Department had noted that supply chain management was a major challenge.
Ms Duncan noted that the Department of Arts and Culture must be responsible for monies going out as transfers to its entities, yet the entities were incompetent.
The Chairperson argued that the Department was not monitoring the entities, nor was there compliance with corporate governance. Even when reports were tabled in the presence of the Department, the Department did not appear to be aware of the issues presented by entities.
Mr Mavunda asked ‘what control measures were in place to check whether public entities were in compliance with appropriate and relevant legislation. He noted that the Committee had found that there were hardly any.
The Chairperson noted that another point was that Legal Services had planned that various programmes run, but these were later dropped, and there was no explanation why this had happened.
Dr Lotriet noted that disciplinary matters were not mentioned in the Report, yet it was clear that there were disciplinary matters ongoing.
Ms Moss asked whether the Department was making use of external consultants in legal matters, and said that this question had not been responded to.
Dr Lotriet noted that there was an indication given that the Department was targeted one report with the media in each year. She thought that this was not adequate, and she recommended that this target should be changed.
The Chairperson said that as far as she was concerned, communication was in disarray. The only matters that seemed to be covered were women and heritage, and this was at the expense of other important matters. These also seemed to be covered simply because they were in any event part of the Department’s regular work, so they were not making any special effort even on this.
Ms L Moss (ANC) added that the Department only seemed to have prioritised sport.
Dr Lotriet said, in regard to the office and security services, that there were difficulties in measuring the performance of the utilities against performance agreements.
Ms F Mushwana (ANC) said that the Department should be giving feedback as to what happened to students who were awarded bursaries.
Dr Lotriet agreed, and other Members also agreed that there needed to be some vigilant monitoring on this issue.
The meeting was adjourned.
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