The Department of Arts and Culture outlined its strategic and performance plans and budget for 2012/13. The Department’s aims over the next five years included ensuring 150 000 jobs in the sector, making a significant contribution to the country’s gross domestic product and increasing investments in arts and culture from international, business and other partners. Its successes would depend largely on its effectiveness at ensuring good governance, the development of human capital, sustaining an effective infrastructure, and promoting partnerships and funding. Its total budget allocation for 2012/13 was R2.686 billion, an increase of 8.8% from the previous financial year, rising to R2.9 billion in 2013 and R3.13 billion in 2014. The specific additions, as well as cuts in the Community Library Services Grant, were detailed. It was noted that 78% of budget was transferred to other entities, and the most significant spending in the Department itself was taken up by goods and services, at 68%. There were no increases for personnel but the Department had applied to National Treasury for a shift in the allocations. The Department aimed to maintain its unqualified audit status, achieve at least 98% spending, keep the vacancy rate below 10% and achieve gender representivity at senior management levels, as well as achieve increased media awareness.
The Department outlined the objectives of each of its programmes. It was noted, in particular, that the Performing Arts Programme, in collaboration with the Department of Basic Education, would be placing 700 arts practitioners or facilitators in schools, and hoped to have 500 000 people access arts, culture and heritage facilities. It would run 42 programmes targeting vulnerable groups such as women, children, youth and persons with disabilities. The National Language Service Programme aimed to provide 420 bursaries to graduate and undergraduate students. Cultural industries’ sector policy briefs would be developed by the Cultural Development Programme. A national database would be drawn under the Heritage Promotion Programme, and certain sites were to be prioritised, whilst work would continue on others. The National Archives and Library Services Programme hoped to identify and data-code a number of archival records and increase the understanding and use of archival and library services, offer outreach programmes and promote oral history conferences.
Members asked what percentage of the Department’s budget was spent on consultants, and asked why so many consultants were still employed. They asked about the progress in the filling of vacancies. Several raised questions about PanSALB, asking why a budget of R56.1 million was given for PanSALB, particularly in view of its difficulties in the past, the fact that one of its sub-programmes had no staff, and the fact that it had failed to report to Parliament for two years, and there were no reports on progress after the increase of the PanSALB budget. The Chairperson commented that the Committee was of the view that PanSALB should only be given the bare minimum to cover employee costs and legal costs, until it could satisfy the Committee that its affairs were in order and it was running properly. Members asked about the current status of the Sarah Baartman Centre of Remembrance, noting that an official had previously provided the Committee with misleading information around the centre’s state of completion. They also asked whether the Department believed it had spent its budget well and had received good value for money. They commented that the libraries programme needed more attention, and more support should be given to the libraries for the blind, questioned what was being done to promote youth and people with disabilities, and asked if the Department of Public Works was capable of managing the process of constructing and improving libraries. They were also interested in a report on how many students were awarded language bursaries, how many dropped out of their studies, and what happened to the bursary funds. They sought clarity on the Shareholder Compact with the public entities, the spending on office accommodation. The Chairperson asked for comment on an allegation that a Chief Director had been appointed without the position being advertised, but it was explained that this was an internal transfer.
Representatives from some of the entities were given the opportunity to comment briefly on the budget of the Department and their own aims. The South African Heritage Resources Agency commented that it faced numerous challenges due to a long period without a council being in place, but had managed to improve, although it cautioned that the limitation on its budget posed the risk that it might not fully meet its mandate as a regulatory body. The National Heritage Council representative commented that its budgetary allocation was not sufficient to meet the funding needs of heritage projects, although it would spend as best it could. The National Film and Video Fund said that it had to redress the imbalances of the past within the film industry, and would therefore be focusing on funding projects by first-time filmmakers. The establishment of ‘film cities’ would also go a long way towards job-creation in this sector. PanSALB said that it was now holding regular Board meetings, had approved its Strategic Plan and had appointed Boards of Directors for all of its National Language Units. It also had a visible presence throughout the country. It pleaded that the Committee should reconsider its decision to limit its funding, and asked that it be allowed to run without interference.
Department of Arts and Culture 2012/13 strategic and performance plan: briefing
Mr Sibusiso Xaba, Director-General, Department of Arts and Culture, said that over the next five years the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC or the Department) hoped to create 150 000 jobs, contribute significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), achieve noteworthy investments in arts and culture from international, business and other partners, as well as increase levels of national pride.
He noted that increased effectiveness in ensuring good governance, the development of human capital, effective infrastructure and developing partnerships and funding would, in turn, ensure success in development, preservation and promotion of arts and culture, promotion and preservation of heritage, access to information and promotion of linguistic diversity.
Mr Xaba summarised that the total budget allocation for 2012/13 was R2.686 billion (an increase of 8.8% on the budget of R2.537 billion in the previous financial year). Additions to the 2012/13 budget were made up of R3.67 million for the improvement in the Department’s conditions of service, R12.8 million for the improvements in the conditions of its public entities’ conditions of service, R50 million for the Mzansi Gold Economy programme, and R10 million for the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB). The biggest cut in its budget was in relation to the Community Library Services Grant, which was due to this programme not being fully spent prior to 2011. He then outlined that the budget would rise to R2.912 billion for 2013/14 and R3.131 for 2014/15.
He noted that 78% of the DAC budget was actually spent outside of the Department, with capital works, public entities and community libraries receiving the largest proportion of funds. In the 2012/13 financial year, the most significant proportion of funds would be spent on agencies and accounts (35%), conditional grants (21%), capital works projects (18%) and goods and services (15%).
The amounts to be spent within the DAC itself were taken up mostly in goods and services (68%) and compensation of employees (31%), with 1% allocated for capital assets. Expenditure outside the Department was accounted for by splits between agencies and accounts (45%) and conditional grants (27%), while 23% was to be allocated to capital works. Households and Non-Profit Organisations made up 4% and 1% respectively.
Mr Xaba then outlined the objectives and outputs of the DAC. Programme 1: Administration aimed to ensure public accountability and high standards of corporate governance, and to maintain unqualified audit reports, and spending of at least 98% of its allocated budget. It also sought to become a high-performing organisation as well as a safe and conducive work environment. It hoped to keep the vacancy rate below 10% and have 50% female employment at senior management service (SMS) level. Increased media awareness would be promoted through media briefings and interviews. It had, to this end, arranged for an Izimbizo to take place. To support the objective of meaningful engagement with the South African public on issues relating to social cohesion, it would be hosting a National Social Cohesion Summit, as well as continuing to measure levels of national pride.
Programme 2: Performing Arts, would implement nine programmes over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) to meet its Arts, Culture, Heritage Education and Audience Development programme objectives. In collaboration with the Department of Basic Education, it would also be placing 700 arts practitioners/ facilitators in schools. The objective of providing opportunities to access arts, culture and heritage programmes would be achieved by ensuring that 500 000 people accessed arts, culture and heritage facilities, whilst 635 people and organisations would receive equitable shares of financial assistance. There would also be 42 programmes to target vulnerable groups such as women, children, youth and persons with disabilities.
Programme 3: National Language Service aimed to provide a translation and editing service to Government departments, with functional translation and editing in line with clients’ requests. In order to develop, promote and protect all official languages through policy formulation and implementation, it would be providing bursaries to 420 graduate and undergraduate students over the MTEF period.
Programme 4: Cultural Development aimed to develop, approve and implement cultural industries sector policy briefs (for craft, music, events, design, film, visual arts and the cultural observatory), in order to reach its objective of conducting research and innovation to inform policies and strategies for a sustainable enabling environment, and to improve the regulatory framework.
Programme 5: Heritage Promotion aimed to preserve, protect and promote
Programme 6: National Archives and Library Services, aimed to administer legislation and collect, manage and make archival and library information accessible. The DAC had identified, inventoried and data-coded archival records. In order to ensure increased understanding, use and appreciation of archival and library services, it would implement outreach programmes as well as organise Oral History conferences.
Ms J Tshabalala (ANC) said that, in future, specific details around the amount of jobs created through the different projects should be provided. She commented that there needed to be greater decisiveness around the issue of name-changes, particularly in relation to Tshwane/Pretoria.
She also asked if there were adequate plans to boost expenditure, and what plans were in place to deal with areas where funding had been cut, particularly given the poor spending noted by National Treasury on the Community Library Services Grant.
Ms Moss asked what progress was being made in relation to the filling of vacancies.
Mr Virgil Kruger, Head of Human Resources, Department of Arts and Culture, noted that currently the percentage of women employed at senior management level stood at 40%, while the number of employees with disabilities stood at 1.6%. These figures were largely as a result of the reduced number of vacancies filled.
Ms Veliswa Baduza, Chief Operating Officer: Department of Art and Culture, added that the Department would be making a presentation to the Committee around its revised structure.
Ms Moss responded that, as this was a very important issue, this presentation had to be made to the Committee before 3 May 2012.
A Department representative added that much was being done to improve governance issues as well as the management of performance information within the Department. Forums and structures had been created which would assist in ensuring better performance, both in the DAC itself, and within its entities. Reports from its entities were to be interrogated by the Department, which would in turn, provide feedback to the entities around areas of concern. A process to centralise governance within the Department had also been undertaken, to allow for more effective controls, which would help to avoid the Committee being provided with misleading or untrue information.
Ms Moss wanted a report on the current status of the Sarah Baartman Centre of Remembrance, as it appeared an official had previously provided the Committee with misleading information around the Centre’s state of completion.
Mr Irwin Langeveld, Acting Deputy Director-General: Cultural Heritage, Department of Arts and Culture, added that this Centre was being rolled out in a number of stages. Construction here was to commence in September 2012 and would take 29 months to complete.
Mr N Van de Berg (DA) asked whether the Department was wholly satisfied that it had spent its budget well and had received good value for money from the expenditure, particularly in relation to its libraries programme. He also asked if the Department of Public Works was capable of managing the process of constructing and improving libraries.
Mr Xaba answered that, although there was always room for improvement, the Department was generally satisfied that it had spent money well. It was also constantly looking at ways to improve its systems. It was important to note here that the Department provided funds to the different provinces to spend on the Community Libraries Grant, though the Department did monitor the way these funds were spent. There were instances where funds were withheld, owing to poor spending or performance. The proposed jobs were to be created through the implementation of infrastructure projects as well as through the funding of the sector, through, for example, films, festivals etc. Problems with the Department of Public Works were not unique to this Department. DAC was therefore exploring the option of providing infrastructure funds directly to the different entities and was also looking at finding other implementing agencies.
Mr van den Berg asked where the cultural practitioners would be found to fill the proposed 150 000 jobs in the arts and culture sector.
Ms H van Schalkwyk (DA) asked whether the current situation of local municipalities being responsible for the running and maintenance of museums would change in the future.
Mr Xaba answered that the Department provided funding for national museums while other museums were funded by other spheres of government.
Ms van Schalkwyk asked how many students were awarded language bursaries, how many dropped out of their studies, and what happened to monies lost as a result of such drop-outs.
Mr Mbulelo Jokweni, Acting Deputy Director-General, Department of Arts and Culture, noted that control systems were in place for these bursaries. Memorandums of Agreement were signed with universities, which obliged them to submit audited financial reports. To date, no anomalies had been reported on the use of this money.
Mr D Mavunda (ANC) asked for clarity around the Department’s Shareholder Compact with its public entities, such as PanSALB. He noted that funds used by PanSALB for litigation were not earmarked for this purpose and had led to poor performance by this entity.
Ms Tshabalala asked why a budget of R56.1 million for PanSALB was allocated, given that one sub-programme had no staff complement.
Ms Moss asked why the Committee had not been given a report on the progress made within PanSALB after the increase of its budget
Mr Xaba answered that, as the Accounting Officer, he was responsible for reporting on expenditure for the entire vote. PanSALB representatives would be called upon to report to the Committee although their funding was made via the budget vote of the DAC.
The Chairperson said that the Committee was of the view that, in light of PanSALB’s poor performance in the past, its undermining of the Committee and lack of a good strategic plan, PanSALB should be awarded only sufficient funds to cover staffing, general overheads and legal costs.
Mr Xaba answered that the Department had done a governance review of PanSALB and this report could be made available to the Committee once the Minister had reviewed it. The Committee should take cognisance of the fact that PanSALB used its budget to fund other entities, and withholding of funding from PanSALB would have a knock-on effect on funding of those entities.
The Chairperson asked whether the Department could not transfer such funds to these entities directly.
Mr Xaba answered that this option could be investigated.
The Chairperson asked if there was any truth in the allegation that a Chief Director had been appointed without the position being advertised.
Mr Kruger added that a Chief Director: Programme of Action and Minister’s Delivery Agreement had been appointed by the Minister. However, this was a lateral transfer of the employee, so it was not a new appointment.
The Chairperson said that the cut in the community libraries budget was unacceptable, as there was a pronounced lack of community libraries. Libraries for the blind should be allocated more funds as they were performing a vital function, and doing so well. She commented that more had to be done, in the Performing Arts Programme, into promotion of youth development and people living with disabilities.
Mr Xaba noted that the National Treasury had looked at the trends for community libraries were for the previous financial year. The Department was currently improving its expenditure rate on libraries.
The Chairperson asked how exactly the Department was monitoring monies that may be lost as a result of bursary holders failing to complete their studies. In general, she wanted to know how the DAC was monitoring the spending of the budget, particularly in view of the numerous instances of poor and/or fruitless and wasteful expenditure. She suggested that it might be possible also to transfer funds that were originally allocated for the National Arts Council. This Council had not yet reported to the Committee, so it was unclear how the Council was performing.
The Chairperson asked about the recruitment processes, noting that virtually every programme of the DAC was employing consultants.
Ms Tshabalala commented that the use of consultants seemed excessive and was therefore unsustainable, and she asked for a breakdown of the percentage of budget spent on consultants.
Ms L Moss (ANC) also asked why there was a need for consultants, especially now that the Department had been restructured.
Mr Xaba reiterated that most of the Department’s budget growth was in the area of goods and services, whilst there was nothing allocated for growth in personnel. This put the Department in the difficult position of having to provide an increased amount of services, without having an increased number of staff, and it was for this reason that it was necessary to appoint consultants. The restructuring of the Department would see its structure reduce in size, as a means of addressing this challenge. The R46 million spent on consultants made up a small percentage of the Department’s total budget. Consultants were utilised only in cases where it was not necessary to have their skills for long-term projects, and when it was not practicable or affordable for the Department to make appointments full-time, or if it was impossible to find those skills in candidates for appointment. In order to address this issue, a request had been submitted to National Treasury to have some funds redirected from DAC’s goods and services budget. Currently, the Department had a structure that could not be funded, and this was the reason why the budget had to be restructured. Only once the Department was provided with an increased budget could it do away with the consultants.
Mr Van de Berg asked why such a significant amount was spent on office accommodation, and called for a detailed report on this expenditure.
Mr Xaba answered that this money was for the Department’s lease payments on the building it occupied, as well as for municipal services to that building. There was a need to find alternative premises because of the need to renovate one of the buildings. All these monies were paid to the Department of Public Works.
Ms Moss asked whether there were any measures in place to ensure that infrastructure funds would be well-spent by its entities.
Mr Xaba answered that such mechanisms were in place, and added that the funding was ring-fenced for the execution of infrastructure projects only.
National Arts Council report
A National Arts Council representative said that the Council had recently appointed a new Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer. The Council was transforming, as a result of hard work and its commitment to running a top-class organisation. A strong focus was being placed on governance and a Shareholder’s Compact had been signed with the Minister, which has been translated into a Service Level Agreement signed by each Board member. The Council’s budget allocation was a welcome increase, after previous budget reductions. However, it was not sufficient to meet the needs of the arts community, who consistently complained to the Council about this point. The dialogue with the arts community would continue until the funding model had been reviewed. The criteria for the provision of funding were also being reviewed to ensure that grants provided were in line with the Council’s strategic objectives, the needs of the arts community and the objectives of government.
South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) comment
A SAHRA representative said that, as SAHRA had not had a Council for some time, the present incumbents had to deal with numerous challenges. The organisation was now much improved, and had numerous successes. As a regulatory body, it was obliged to fulfil certain duties. The limited budget therefore placed the organisation at risk of not meeting its mandate. The audit committee had assisted in alleviating some of the challenges it faced.
National Heritage Council comment
A representative of the National Heritage Council said that although the Council acknowledged the Department’s budget and was appreciative of its allocation, the allocation it received was not sufficient to fund community heritage projects. Nonetheless, the Council would try to ensure that the funds it had been allocated were spent to the best of its abilities.
National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) comment
A NFVF representative said that the biggest challenge that the Foundation faced was redressing the imbalances of the past within the film industry. Most funding would therefore be focussed on projects by first-time filmmakers. However, the entire life cycle of the film-making process would need to be funded, particularly as many first-time filmmakers did not have access to adequate equipment. The establishment of ‘film cities’ would go a long way towards job-creation in this sector.
A PanSALB representative claimed that PanSALB was now holding regular Board meetings, had approved a Strategic Plan and had appointed Boards of Directors for all of its National Language Units. It also had a visible presence throughout the country. Although it welcomed the budget of the DAC, it noted that its own allocation was still not sufficient. It was regrettable that the Committee was considering withdrawing funds from the organisation. The organisation should be allowed to run without interference.
The Chairperson responded that there were many challenges in relation to the running of PanSALB, particularly given that some of its staff members had approached the Committee with grievances about the organisation. In addition, PanSALB had, for the second year running, failed to provide the Committee with any reports. The Committee would be holding to its decision around funding for PanSALB until PanSALB could prove to the Committee that its affairs were running smoothly.
The meeting was adjourned.
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