The Department of Arts and Culture (the Department) and Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture attended the meeting, to present the Annual Report 2010/11, but were requested not to give the presentation, since Members had studied the Annual Report in some depth themselves already, but to move straight to questions. The questions addressed each of the programmes in turn. Members asked the Department to direct its answers specifically to the 2010/11 Annual Report and not to make projections as to what would apply in the following year. However, on several occasions the Department cited problems with the previous management and Minister as the reason for not meeting targets, or failing to put procedures in place, and said that these problems would not recur in the following years.
Particularly in respect of Programme 1, the Members were concerned with the lack of monitoring and evaluation on the Department’s entities. They were also concerned with the high level of variances, when the Department had not reached its targets, and noted that the reasons for the failure to meet those targets should have been explained in respect of each instance. Another point of contention throughout was the constant reference to lack of skills, the failure to have the performance agreements signed, the lack of skills development programmes, and the lack of capacity that was raised as an excuse. Members pointed out that this was supposed to be the year of job creation, and asked what had been done to create jobs, upskill staff and fill the vacancies. They noted that only 4.9% of the 27% vacancy rate was funded. They also asked about the awarding of contracts in the past, and the apparent inconsistencies in funding of entities, as Members wanted to see that the funding procedure would be fair and balanced. Other questions related to what was being done to effect geographical name changes, and the process, but the Chairperson did not believe that the answer was complete, saying that the Department appeared to be failing in the area of social cohesion. She also commented that the Department had an urban bias and wanted it to shift its focus to the rural sector. Members asked what control measures were instituted for entities who received funding, and pointed to numerous instances in which there were delays in producing reports or poor implementation on programmes. They asked the reasons for prolonging the launch of initiatives, including the moratorium on the book projects, the change of focus, the reasons for prolonging the creation of the consultative business plan, whether the Cultural Conference planned for November 2011 was to go ahead, and called for a report on cultural development and international cooperation. Members also questioned whether international cooperation agreements were helping
Department of Arts and Culture Annual Report 2010/11
The Chairperson noted that all the Members had read the Annual Report 2010/11 of the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC or the Department). For this reason, she asked that the Department should not make any presentation on the Report, but that Members should engage with it directly on questions, so that the Department had adequate time to answer all questions. In order to have some structure, she requested that questions be asked on each of the programmes in turn.
The Chairperson asked for questions on Programme 1.
Dr A Lotriet (DA) stated that on page 25 of the Annual Report it was stated that the performance reviews, performance agreements and assessment targets were not met. She wanted an explanation why the targets that were set were not achieved.
Ms P Duncan (DA) noted that on page 23 of the Annual Report, the Department had claimed that there were delays in completing quarterly reports for the third and fourth quarter. She asked for the reasons for the delay in producing these reports.
Ms L Moss (ANC) wanted to know whether the skills training programmes were targeted to a specific group of people. She enquired also about the total budget allocated for the skills training programme.
Mr P Ntshiqela (COPE) wanted clarity on the use of the phrase “political leadership” in the Annual Report.
Ms M Morutoa (ANC) wanted to know what steps the Department had taken to curb the awarding of unfair and uncompetitive contracts. She also wanted to know why a proper funding method was not developed by the Department.
The Chairperson stated that the President of South Africa had repeatedly called for departments to promote job creation, but noted that the Department of Arts and Culture had failed in accomplishing this goal. The Chairperson wanted an explanation on the reasons for the variances between targets and achievements.
Ms Veliswa Baduza, Chief Operating Officer, Department of Arts and Culture, responded that 95% of the performance agreements were submitted. However, some were not signed due to the fact that in the past, the Department lacked leadership at senior management levels, and there were other structural problems within the organogram. She then stated that many of the problems apparent from the 2010/2011 Annual Report, regarding the performance agreements, had been rectified and in the next financial year the Department would not experience similar problems.
Ms Baduza commented, in relation to skills development and job creation, that the Department had developed a learnership programme but, owing to budgetary constraints, the Department was forced to scale back its employee development and training programmes. She added that at the end of the year the Department had approximately R75 000 left in the employee benefits programme. She emphasised that the low amount left over was evidence of financial constraints experienced by the Department.
Mr Mike Rennie, Acting Chief Financial Officer, Department of Arts and Culture, added that with effect from the next financial year the DAC would be implementing an internship programme. He stated that the workplace skills plan focused on key development area for each employee, to enable each person to perform duties to his or her full potential, and also to grow within the organisation.
Mr Rennie stated that the Government legislation required departments to set aside 1% of the budget for employee compensation. The DAC had exceeded that amount, and allocated 1.5% of its budget for employee compensation.
Ms Moss requested the Departmental officials to restrict their answers directly to the 2010/11 Annual Report, and to refrain from making predictions about what would happen in the next year.
The Chairperson reiterated Ms Moss’s point, and requested the Department to concentrate on answering questions about the 2010/11 Annual Report.
Ms Baduza stated that on 1 November 2010 a new Minister of Arts and Culture was appointed, and the new leadership had been effective in instating a corporate culture within the Department.
Mr Sakiwo Tyiso, Chief Director: Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation, Department of Arts and Culture, responded to the question from Ms Duncan by noting that the DAC had in fact submitted all quarterly reports. Once the quarterly reports were submitted the officials would thoroughly investigate the report to analyse the Department’s performance. He acknowledged, however, that the analysis on those reports had not always been submitted, but this problem would be rectified in the next year.
Mr Rennie responded that the contracts in the past three years had been awarded fairly. There had been no direct irregular expenditures related to the awarding of the contracts. He added that the agencies who were awarded the contracts had to submit reports on their performance and on the utilisation of funds. The entities had to explain any irregular expenditure that might be incurred.
Mr Rennie noted that there was no set allocation model for the funding contracts, which had resulted in some of the funding procedures being skewed. For this reason, the Department decided to introduce a funding model. The models were not yet complete, but would be completed in the new financial year.
The Chairperson stated that there were too many irregularities in the way funding was granted, and the Department needed to show the Committee that it was serious about making the funding procedure fair and balanced.
Mr Conrad Greve, Chief Director: Human Resources, Department of Arts and Culture, responded that in 2009 the budget was not designed properly, as there were no specific allocations to any specific programme. However, under the new management, a more disciplined approach to fund allocation was adopted from 2010 onwards.
Mr D Mavunda (ANC) wanted to know why the monitoring and evaluation of programmes was conducted, according to the Annual Report, in only three provinces.
Ms Duncan stressed that monitoring and evaluation (M&E) were very important to the proper functioning of the Department, and felt that it should be strengthened.
The Chairperson wanted to know whether the Department felt that it was doing all it could in monitoring its entities, noting that the Auditor-General (AG) had suggested that there were irregularities in the function of some of the entities.
Ms Duncan asked the Department to include the reasons for the variance when compiling the Annual Report.
Dr Lotriet agreed that the Annual Report should explain in detail the reasons for variances.
Ms Duncan also wanted an explanation on the DAC website, and asked when the Department hoped to have the website fully operational.
The Chairperson also wanted an explanation on the “dysfunctional nature” of the DAC website.
Mr Joseph Phaahla, Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, agreed with the Committee that the website was not designed properly and much more work needed to be put in to make the website functional and user friendly. However, budget and personnel constraints had prevented the Department from creating a fully functional website.
Mr Xaba added that the website was now working, and had been upgraded. He conceded that there might be times when it may not work fully, mainly because the designers were either updating the information or performing maintenance.
Dr Lotriet asked whether the budgetary constraints were limited to hiring new staff or whether there were constraints around capacity building as well.
Mr Ntshiqela wanted reasons why only 70% of the staff were given additional training. He also wanted to know why there were delays in approving the DAC’s skills plan.
Mr Ntshiqela said the Department had cited budgetary constraints as the reason for not reaching many of the targets, and he said that more details were needed about the nature of such constraints.
Ms Moss said that if the Department did not address the high vacancy rate, then it would not be able to reach its goals. She again expressed concerns that the high vacancy rate ran counter to the President’s plans for job creation.
Ms Duncan asked how many of the vacant positions were funded.
Ms Baduza stated that from late 2009 and early 2010, under the previous Minister, there were number of investigations initiated within the Department, and this had an adverse effect. Several senior management employees were suspended, which affected the morale of the Department. The suspensions then led to the termination of several high profile employees. For the larger part of 2010/11, the Department was working with a skeletal staff, and this was the main reason behind the lack of capacity. However, it was important to note that all those matters relating to previous management had been resolved, and the Department was now in a position to tackle the capacity vacuum. She added that the Department had requested the Portfolio Committee for an opportunity to present the current organogram and the progress made by the Department on filling the capacity gaps.
Mr Rennie answered Ms Duncan’s query by saying that only 4.9% of the vacancies were funded and the 27% vacancy rate stated in the Annual Report included that 4.9%.
Mr Mavunda wanted the Department to do more on the process of geographical name changes.
Mr Mbulelo Jokweni, Acting Deputy Director General, Department of Arts and Culture, responded that the Department had launched an information and education campaign with provinces to explain to people on the street the reasons for the geographical name changes. Moreover, the Department had held public hearings so that people could voice their concerns. However, he noted that several procedures had to be followed to finalise a name change, including passing through the Provincial geographical name change committee, before it could be considered at national level. Because name changes were transformative, there would always be conflicts between those who wanted change and those who resisted it. The Department was working towards minimising such conflicts.
The Chairperson did not believe these answers were acceptable, saying that the answer did not reflect what was happening on the ground. She added that the Department was failing in the area of social cohesion.
Mr Sibusiso Xaba, Director General, Department of Arts and Culture, stated that the Department had created a special unit at the end of 2010 to work specifically on social cohesion. It was that particular unit that had started the process of the dialogues and conversation in the provinces.
Mr Mavunda also wanted to know what the National Department doing to increase dialogue with its provincial counterparts, and why only three provinces had been contacted for discussion.
Ms Baduza responded that all provinces had been targeted but dialogues with only three had been conducted by the time the Annual Report was compiled.
The Chairperson also added that the DAC had an urban bias and wanted the DAC to shift its focus to the rural sector.
The Chairperson then requested the Committee Members to move on to ask questions about Programmes 2 and 3.
Dr Lotriet stated that she did not have many questions because her main concerns related to matters of capacity, which had been answered.
Mr Mavunda wanted to know what control measures were instituted for the entities receiving the funding, to ensure they would comply with the Department’s mandate. It appeared that the entities were operating autonomously without proper supervision by the Department, and this was a cause of concern.
The Chairperson stated that there were numerous instances in the Annual Report where it appeared that there were delays in producing reports, poor implementation on programmes and failure to address shortage of capacity. Programmes 2 and 3 were plagued with delays, which were not properly explained. She also wanted to know the reasons for prolonging the launch of initiatives.
Mr Xaba explained that the issues of prolonging processes and internal delays were caused under the previous management and Minister, and had been corrected since. It had been argued that the budget allocated to the FIFA World Cup 2010, which was not used, should be reprioritised and redistributed. The process of recovering the unused funds and then re-organising matters caused much of the delays. He assured the Committee this would not happen again, noting that the World Cup was a once-off.
Mr Jokweni addressed a question of variances asked earlier, and said that in relation to Programme 3 in particular, these could be misleading. He explained that even if a project was 99% complete, the Department still had to record a variance of 1%, because the project was not 100% complete. He believed that achieving 99% on a target could be commended. Mr Jokweni noted that, for instance, much of the translation project had been completed, but at the time when the Annual Report was compiled, the translation projects were still in the process of being completed.
Mr Xaba finally noted that there were many reasons for all the variances stated in the Annual Report. Many of the challenges giving rise to them had been addressed, and the DAC would produce an improved report in the next financial year.
The Chairperson asked for questions on the remaining Programmes.
Ms Moss wanted to know why there was a moratorium placed on some book projects, as stated on page 51 of the Annual Report. It was mentioned that there had been a change of focus and she wanted reasons for this.
Ms F Mushwana (ANC) also wanted reasons for the change in focus stated on page 51 of the Annual Report.
Ms Duncan wanted a report from the Department on matters of cultural development and international cooperation.
Mr Ntshiqela wanted to know whether the Cultural Conference that was planned for November 2011 was still being organised, and what progress the Department had made on it.
Mr Xaba noted that the Department had postponed this Conference, because
The Chairperson stated that the high number of moratoriums placed on programmes reflected the lack of capacity and resources in the DAC.
Mr Xaba stated that the only moratorium was in respect of the Culture programmes.
The Chairperson then wanted to know whether the international cooperation agreements were helping local South Africans and the South African economy.
Mr Jokweni stated that the ratification of intellectual property rights was important on an international level. The Department had to ensure that it was able to put policies into place that would protect the heritage artefacts and other cultural items from damage or theft. International co operation agreements were very important in this regard, because countries would work with each other in recovering stolen artefacts.
The Chairperson wanted it placed on record that she had not received the letters noting concerns, which were mentioned on page 63 of the Annual Report, but that these letters may have been sent to the previous Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee.
Ms Duncan wanted information on the National Museum Policy’s budget constraints. She expressed her concern that some of the museums were not declared institutions. She wanted to know whether budget constraints were the reasons behind the failure to declare the institutions. She pointed out that this failure was, however, preventing the museums from receiving adequate funding.
Ms Duncan reiterated her point that it was the responsibility of the DAC to protect South African Heritage. She then asked why there was money allocated in the budget to protect the monuments, if it was not being used.
Mr Jokweni stated that money had not been assigned to protect the monuments. It was the responsibility of the Minister to declare a monument and only then would it be given protection and funding.
Mr Jokweni further added that the museums had all been declared, but clarified that some of the monuments associated with the museum had not been declared. As a result the monuments were not receiving adequate funding and protection, when compared with the funding given to the museums themselves.
The Chairperson noted that even in Programme 6, capacity and budgetary constraints were once again a problem.
Ms Moss wanted to know the reasons for prolonging the creation of the consultative business plan.
Mr Xaba said that the Department had a strong partnership with the Ministers and Provincial governments to engage in a consultative process. However, it was more difficult to have a consultative process at local level. This was the main reasons for prolonging the implementation of the consultative process.
Ms Mushwana wanted to know whether the schools who were invited to a workshop in
Mr Jokweni responded that during the Archives Week schools that were disadvantaged and were located close to the Archives would generally be given a preference when invitations were sent out.
Ms Duncan suggested that the Department of Arts and Culture should be moved from the Social Sector Cluster to the Economic Sector Cluster, so that it could receive adequate funding. She believed that the DAC could potentially play an important role in adding to the South African Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and it needed the support of the Government to realise these goals.
The Chairperson noted that while many of the issues had been cleared, some were yet to be addressed. The Chairperson would look forward to meeting the Department again to resolve the final remaining questions. The Chairperson also requested the Minister’s assistance in resolving the Pan South African Language Board issues at the next meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
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