The Commission on the Protection of Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (the Commission) briefed the Committee on highlights of its work in 2011 and presented its Strategic Plan for 2012. The Commission had received an increased allocation, which would help boost its work, and the R11 million allocation would be used to increase its visibility in the provinces. The Commission was still awaiting the full Parliamentary report on the Chapter 9 institutions. Some of the matters raised by the Commission Chairperson included political cartoons of the President, which the Commission thought had been disrespectful, and the need to de-politicise the debate around languages.
The Commission’s Strategic Plan still needed some review and revision, as it had been compiled in November 2011, but the Commission noted that the plan basically covered the work of the next five years. The Commission intended, amongst others, to increase the pace of service delivery, to focus more on social cohesion and nation building, to establish effective and efficient Community Councils, to develop strategies on visibility and accessibility, and to align all programmes to Government priorities. The Commission wished to handle more cultural, religious and linguistic complaints. It would be proposing some amendments to the CRL Rights Commission Act. The Commission described its operational programmes, indicating the main areas of focus, and the staffing and budget. A summary of some of the work that the Commission had done was then provided. This included studies under the Ukuthwala project, the brewing of African beer, the Witchcraft Hunt Project, and work on preservation of indigenous knowledge systems. Youth programmes were run. The Commission had launched its Initiation Report, and a Report on Animal Slaughter, as well as work into burial rights. It had participated in the amendment of the Children’s Act.
Members felt that the presentation was far too similar to that made in the last year, commenting that many of the issues simply seemed to have been copied. They sought clarity on a number of the projects, and called for written reports on ukuthwala and initiation, asking for the Commission’s views on these issues. Members asked how the Strategic Plan was drawn, questioned the composition of the Commission and whether the Commissioners worked full-time, as well as its plans to fill vacancies. They asked about the road shows, how the provinces were selected, and in what languages pamphlets would be printed, as well as the method of distribution. They were concerned about comments about poor financial statements, and asked about the possible duplication of work.
Members were interested in hearing exactly how the Commission intended to maintain and promote African languages. They wanted a report-back on the Fochville issue, and enquired if the Commission had improved on progress since the last year. More details were needed on the Community Councils, the differences between Procurement Officer and Procurement Clerk, and details of recommendations. The unanswered questions were to be addressed in writing.
Commission on the Protection of Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (the Commission) 2012 Strategic Plan
Mr Wesley Mabuza, Chairperson, Commission on the Protection of Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities, said that this was the first time that the Commission could report to this Committee without voicing any complaints or problems. In the previous year, the Commission received an extra R3 million from the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) and this breathed new life into its work. He also thanked the previous Commissioners for the work they left behind.
The Commission received R11 million from National Treasury which would enhance the visibility in the different Provinces. More research needed to be conducted on languages. Mr Mabuza was pleased with the oversight by the Commissioners and the fact that the Chief Executive Officer and Commissioners were working well together. The Commission had been drafting a risk management and fraud prevention plan. The Commission was still waiting on the Parliamentary Report on the Chapter 9 institutions. The Commission wished to make recommendations to the Committee about the need to amend the CRL Rights Commission Act.
Mr Mabuza then touched on topics of public interest. He noted that the President was featured in some cartoons that were regarded as disrespectful, and he called for respect to be shown to different cultures. The cartoons came out long before the President was appointed, and were political in nature. The Afri-Forum incident had sparked some heated comments, and he noted that language and the debate around language should be de-politicised.
Mr Pheagane Moreroa, Chief Executive Officer, Commission presented the Commission’s Strategic Plan, which still needed to be reviewed as it had been drawn in November 2011. That was the reason why Members did not have all the documents before them. He tabled, but said he would not explain, the vision, mission and objectives of the Commission (see attached presentation).
The plan for the next five years involved increasing the pace of service delivery to the nation, focusing on social cohesion and nation building, and developing strategies for visibility and accessibility of the Commission to all people. The Commission intended to establish effective and efficient Community Councils. It wished to handle and address more cultural, religious and linguistic complaints. It would implement the National Consultative Conference. From an internal perspective, it would ensure alignment of the programmes with the twelve Government priorities. Finally, it wished to secure amendments, as noted by Mr Mabuza, to the CRL Rights Commission Act (the Act).
Mr Moreroa then went into the strategic objectives in more detail, and included an indication of the budget allocated for each of the programmes (see attached presentation for full details). He described Programme 1, which dealt with investigation and conflict resolution. This programme sought to resolve cases through investigation, subpoena, mediation, or litigation and formulate recommendations. It hoped to increase the number of cases it handled over the years. The Commission wished to use the Equality Courts to give the Commission a voice.
A second objective of the Operational Programme was to render internal services. He noted that it was staffed with one Senior Manager, a Manager, a Legal Officer, and an Administration Officer.
Programme 2: Research Services, concentrated on presented reports to the different government departments, so that that could be translated into policy, as well as to research, compile and collect information on CRL matters. In 2011, four reports were finalised and launched, relating to animal slaughter and language. This Programme was staffed with one Senior Manager, a Manager, and Administration Officer.
Programme 3 dealt with Public Education and Advocacy, and it aimed to raise awareness and increase the visibility of the Commission. The Commission would hold round table discussions and conferences, concerning CRL matters. He mentioned that the National Planning Commission (NPC) would also be involved.
The objective for the Community Engagement programme was to recognise the launching of District, Provincial and National Community Councils. He said that the focus would be on the District Municipalities, and each Province would be represented at the National Conferences. Mr Moreroa said that this programme would be staffed with one Senior Manager, a Manager and an Administration Officer.
The Commission’s Programme on Corporate Services aimed to fill 45% of all vacancies for 2012/13. The Commission had developed its own policies, fraud prevention plans, and code of conduct and the Commission had been working on a policy review. He also made reference to the IT systems, noting that websites have been set up, and were fully operational. Corporate Services would keep information and would also be outsourcing information that had been gathered. This programme would also provide for efficient maintenance of Commission facilities and equipment. Its budget was R7.1 million. It was staffed with a Senior Manager, Human Resources (HR) Manager, HR Administrator, Records Officer, IT Administrator, IT Assistant, Receptionist, Driver/General Assistant and two Housekeepers.
Mr Moreroa then described the Financial Administration programme, noting that the strategic objectives were to provide reliable, accurate and effective financial information. Policies would be drawn, and there would be monitoring of compliance, to ensure that all financial policies were relevant and complied with the applicable legislative framework. These policies needed to be regularly revised, developed, implemented and approved. There would be management over accounts payable to ensure that payments were done on time, and in accordance with legislation and policies. Controls would also prevent maladministration of funds and prevent fraud. The Commission would attend to weekly payments to prevent backlogs.
Mr Moreroa said that the Office of the Chairperson was required to convene and chair preliminary meetings. The Office of the CEO was tasked with developing and forming an effective administration and finance management sector, and must present compliance registers to the Audit Committee, as well as to ensure the sitting of the necessary committees. Internal Audit services would provide effective and efficient internal audit services and to check quarterly statements. Any communication, whether internal or external, must be done to ensure sustainable communication and marketing strategies that would enhance the profile of the Commission. Road shows would enhance the visibility of the Commission in the provinces. He noted that this staffing included the Chief Executive Officer and Personal Assistant, Internal Audit, a Communication and Marketing Officer, and the Secretariat Administrator
Mr Moreroa then summarised the work that the Commission had either done or participated in, over the last financial year. He named the Ukuthwala project, a project on brewing of African Beer, amendment of the Children’s Act, the Witchcraft hunt project, youth programmes. Reports were launched on Initiation, Animal Slaughter. There was research into burial rights, preservation of Indigenous Knowledge Systems, and research done on the Rastafarian religion. Language education was carried out in respect of Khilobedu, Nquthu, Phalaborwa, and Fochville. There had been work in the areas of recognition and registration of Community Councils, and international affairs.
Mr N Mandela (ANC) remarked that this presentation was very similar to the presentation given in the previous year, and it seemed to amount to a “cut and paste” exercise. He did not think that the report was particularly extensive. He was concerned that there was reference to poor financial statements.
Mr Mabuza conceded that the Commission was not always good on governance issues. However, he said that the Commission will monitor all money better in the future, as he believed strongly that money should be well spent and correctly spent. He added that the audit reports would reflect the process as time proceeded.
Mr Mandela asked for more clarity on the plans of the Commission. He enquired about the relationship between the Commission and the Traditional Councils, enquiring also if there was not danger of duplication.
Mr Mabuza could not respond comprehensively to the question concerning the possible duplication of work on Traditional Affairs.
Mr Mandela asked for a statement of the Commission’s position on Ukuthwala.
Mr G Boinamo (DA) wanted clarity on the issues about Ukuthwala, and initiation, and he asked how the Commission was going to intervene.
Ms I Ditshetelo (ANC) also asked for reports on Ukuthwala and asked what religious issues the Commission would undertake.
Mr Mabuza stressed that the Commission was not a religious organisation, but would protect any religion and culture.
The Chairperson asked for the results of the research on the beer brewing project.
Mr Mabuza responded to the question concerning Ukuthwala, by saying that there was a difference between promoting and protecting. He added that there was lack of knowledge about animal slaughter as a cultural issue, and the practising of animal slaughter within the municipalities. He also stated that there were many success stories that came out of the initiation schools.
Ms M Segale-Diswai (ANC) wanted clarity concerning the additional funds that the Commission had received.
Ms Segale-Diswai asked where the Commission would be opening offices, and why those provinces were selected.
Mr Boinamo asked how the Commission interacted with communities if there were no offices in the Provinces.
Mr Mabuza noted that some provinces, such as Limpopo and, to a degree, the Western Cape, were operating well, but North West and Northern Cape were not operating well.
Mr Boinamo pointed out that Mr Mabuza and Mr Moreroa did not “own” the presentation.
Ms Segale-Diswai also sought clarity on the issue of the youth losing their culture and the issue of English being used as a tool.
Mr Boinamo pointed out that culture must be protected and enquired how the Commission was going to maintain and promote African languages.
Mr Mabuza agreed that it was important to encourage families to retain culture, and there was also a need to educate the communities.
Ms Ditshetelo enquired about the Fochville issue, and wanted to know what changes have taken place.
The Chairperson wanted to know about interventions in Fochville and Ermelo.
Mr Mabuza replied that in Fochville, the children were allowed into the schools, but this was not because of the work the Commission had done, noting that this was the result of joint interventions with the Department of Basic Education.
Ms Ditshetelo asked how the pamphlets would be distributed, and asked whether this would be done at national or provincial level.
The Chairperson added that she would also like to know where the roadshows would be held, and in what languages the pamphlets would be printed. She also asked with whom the Commission would be working.
Ms Ditshetelo asked what problems the Commission was facing. She asked if they had made improved or worse progress
Mr J Matshoba (ANC) asked for the Commission’s definition of the word “Commission” and he also asked for further details about the community councils.
Mr Matshoba wanted to know the difference between the Procurement Officer and the Procurement Clerk.
Ms W Nelson (ANC), asked what steps or process was followed when drawing up the Strategic Plan.
Ms Nelson asked if the seventeen Commissioners were working full-time for the Commission. She enquired how the Commission intended to deal with the projected increase in number of cases, and how many policies have been approved. Ms Nelson also enquired about the HR post, asking if this post was new, or previously vacant.
Mr Mabuza said that fifteen of these Commissioners were working part time and only two were full time. He added that each of the Commissioners need to work with other commissioners,
Ms Nelson wanted more details on the recommendations that the Commission had made.
The Chairperson commented that the numbers of cases were not predictable and wondered how the numbers were reached.
Mr Mandela remarked, in closing, that the presenters should forward written answers to the Committee in respect of questions not addressed in the meeting. He also requested, and this was endorsed by the Chairperson, that reports on ukuthwala and initiation must be compiled.
The meeting was adjourned.
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