First Quarter Performance: Further briefing by the Department of Arts and Culture

Arts and Culture

18 September 2012
Chairperson: Ms T Sunduza (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The presentation given by the Department mirrored the presentation given at the previous meeting. The Department reported that 47% of targets had been achieved, 32% partially achieved and 21% not achieved. Supporting information was given in the presentation documents.

Members asked questions about the relevance of the cultural partnership between Ireland and South Africa;  the criteria governing grants to provinces; the representation of women and people with disabilities in the ranks of the Department; the need to focus on providing libraries in rural and under-developed areas; the development of language terminologies; the tender allocation process for flag installation; funding for bursary programmes; the ‘French Season in South Africa’ project;  rock art; youth projects; oral history; the compensation of employees for overtime work and the use of consultants; and the monitoring of Department entities.  Concern was also expressed over the continued absence of the Head of Communications from meetings of the Committee

Meeting report

Mr Sibusiso Xaba, Director General of the Department of Arts and Culture, said that the Department had come with a revised presentation. Much of the presentation was the same, but the information had been supplemented with various documents that had been provided. Of the targets set, 47% had been achieved, 32% partially achieved and 21% not achieved.

With regard to employee compensation, he explained that events such as the Cape Town Jazz Festival, Freedom Day and Youth Day required, employees to work in the evenings. Senior managers did not claim overtime, which was restricted to levels 12 and lower.

A detailed summary was provided of the expenditure against budget per programme and per economic classification.   An explanation of expenditure was given, which outlined the compensation of employees, goods and services, details of goods and services budget, conditional grant to provinces, departmental agencies transfers, non-profit institutions, and households and capital assets (machinery and equipment). An explanation of programme performance against key indicators was also given.

The Chairperson said that this report was more substantial then the previous one.  The Department had presented what had been required.

Mr S Ntapane (UDM) asked, in respect of partnering, why Ireland had been chosen as a relevant partner?

Ms Lindi Ndebele-koka, Acting Chief Director of Cultural Development for the Department of Arts and Culture replied that Ireland, New Zealand and Australia were countries that were similar in offerings to South Africa in terms of location, facilities and other components. There were treaties with all these countries, as well as Canada. Sometimes treaties were signed because practitioners were already working among themselves.

Ms D Msweli (IFP) asked why some provinces were getting more than others in terms of the conditional grants? Had it been because of need, or size of population?

Mr Xaba said money for grants was given according to needs and the ability to spend. Most provinces relied on the Department of Public Works and other entities. Some provinces had transferred grants to municipalities and the Department had discouraged that in all the provinces except Western Cape and Gauteng, which had the capacity. There was a committee which included Department and provincial representatives, that monitored grants.

Ms T Nwamitwa-Shilubana (ANC) asked if the Department had encouraged provinces which could not draw up business plans themselves, to outsource them, as the community suffered when these plans were not drawn up.

Mr Xaba said that business plans for the grants were submitted by provinces and most of them came from the Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) of the provinces.  Communities said in their IDPs what they wanted, and municipalities submitted these to the provinces. This informed the business plan. The Department then submitted this to Treasury.

Ms L Moss (ANC) asked if the provinces had given information on how they had chosen programmes. Had there been interaction with people on the ground and were the people aware of the grant and what it was to be used for? There was a need for people to tell the government what they wanted, and the government needed to act accordingly.

Ms Msweli said that women were still under represented and the Department needed to still look into this.

Mr D Mavunda (ANC) asked if the Department would be able to reach their expenditure benchmark.

Ms H van Schalkwyk (DA) asked about the goods and services budgets with regard to community libraries and ‘top slicing’.  She asked how the project in this sense differed from the libraries linked to conditional grants.

Mr Xaba replied that Treasury allowed for a 7% top slicing of the library grant, which was used for assistance development to the National Library of South Africa. This was an amount of R3 million. There was also money used for the work that was being done by provinces at grassroots level.  

Ms Van Schalkwyk asked what was meant by a “new” library. Was it a new building or the first in a certain town? What was also meant by ‘upgraded’?

Ms Van Schalkwyk asked what was meant by library materials. Was it books or videos?

Mr Xaba replied that a new library was the construction of a new library and not necessarily the first one within an area. Upgrading was either the physical renovation of the building or upgrading of the systems that supported the library. Library materials were mainly books, but there were some instances when other material was purchased. Books were not audited by the Auditor General, and there was accountability for the material. The Department then gave site clearance.

The Chairperson said the issue of libraries was a serious one, and people were asking where the libraries were. The focus needed to be on the rural and under-developed areas. There were some areas that had nothing. The places that were being supported were the developed areas.  She was concerned about the issue of rural development.

Ms F Mushwana (ANC) confirmed that the issue of libraries was to be included in the plans of municipalities. She asked if the Department could ensure that nationally there was a balance, as municipalities were not all on the same level, but every place deserved a library.

Ms Van Schalkwyk said the language terminology developed by the language department was a good thing. How was this new terminology being communicated to schools?

Mr N van den Berg (DA) asked if the terminology was being developed in all African languages?

Dr Mbulelo Jokweni, Acting Deputy Director General/Chief Director of International Relations for the Department of International Relations, replied that the terminologies were being developed in the languages of previously disadvantaged communities, as well as official languages such Afrikaans. All official languages had terminology developed. No official languages had been left behind. The Department had made sure that a methodology was followed. The various terminologies could be downloaded from the website, and there were also hard copies.

Ms Nwamitwa-Shilubana asked if the terminology was properly applicable at school level?  She did not want to see it make learning harder.

Mr Van den Berg asked for more information about the bursaries in programme 3. Who decided the tender allocation process for flag installation and what universities were attended?

Dr Jokweni replied that there were certain criteria used in the selection of universities.  These included translation and editing skills, lexicography and terminology. Universities that did not offer certain skills did not get selected. Currently there were five universities linked to bursaries.

Mr Van den Berg asked about the cultural treaty with the French.  Was there a programme that tried to market South Africa to European countries or other African countries?

Mr Xaba said the French season would last two years and next year, the French season would be in France. The French artists that had come to South Africa were collaborating with local artists. This had been going on from May and would end in November.

Mr Van den Berg asked who the ‘clients’ were, who asked for translations in programme 3?

Dr Jokweni replied that the clients were government departments.  This service was not for commercial reasons, as it was for government.  All organs of state received the service for free.   If the entities had the capacity to translate material themselves, then they did so, but if not, the Department provided them with the service.

Ms Nwamitwa-Shilubana said she wished the Department of Public Works could transfer amounts that were needed to the Department on time.

She asked what had been the situation regarding flags as last year, during the Mandela Celebrations, many flags had been hoisted but the initiative had ended there. There was a need to find a service provider and hoist flags.

Mr Mavunda asked about the tender allocation process for flag installation. Once a service provider was appointed there was a need to inform schools how they could become a part of the project, and inform them what the process was.

Mr Ngcobo replied that it had been noted that there was a need to get a service provider and roll out the hoisting of national flags. The provinces guided the Department about what schools would take part in the implementation of the processes.

Ms Nwamitwa-Shilubana said she wanted to know about rock art in programme 4.

Ms Louise Graham, Chief Director: International Relations of the Department of Arts and Culture, said that the Rock Art project originated as bilateral project between Mexico and South Africa, but had developed into a multilateral project, adding Mozambique and Botswana. This was because Mexico and South Africa were countries that had been recognised as having rock art expertise. South Africa had strong interpretive skills and the University of Witwatersrand was an internationally-recognised institution in the field and one of the only institutions to offer a post-graduate degree in rock art.  Mexico was internationally recognised for its strength in preservation.  This was a project between academic institutions. Botswana and Mozambique had been brought on because they had rich rock art sites.  Aspects of collaboration looked at the training of rock art experts and institution building in Mozambique and Botswana, as well as awareness-raising campaigns about rock art as a form of original art. An exhibition was currently travelling throughout all four countries.  There had been a sharing of skills and experiences. The whole venture had been very successful and well received by the communities and institutions involved.

Ms Moss said that people of South Africa needed to know about the rock paintings within the country, in particular Clanwilliam, which drew in a great number of tourists.

Ms Graham replied that the issue of rock art probably deserved another discussion, as it operated on various levels. The term rock art covered all drawings that were found in practically all provinces in South Africa. Some were prehistoric and some dated back to the earliest inhabitants. It spoke to the preservation and interpretation of those sites. It also spoke to the interaction with local communities and what meaning these communities attached to these drawings. Rock art had been linked to The Cradle of Human Kind and the Blombos Caves, where some rock art had been found. The art here had been seen to have analytical thinking and design, and was not just associated with survival.  The art at the Blombos Caves showed that some of the first inhabitants could think in abstract. This was not only important for the academics, but local communities and for various groups involved.  There was also some rock art that was not known and this was partly to do with the fact that an audit had not been done of all the rock art. Due to South Africa’s position in the history of mankind there were a great number of international visitors and researchers.

Ms Nwamitwa-Shilubana asked about the new youth projects that had been put on by the Department.

Ms Mushwana asked about the youth activities in June.  She understood the National Youth Day had been a national event.  Had the National Imbizo and historical walk also been national?

Mr Moleleki Ledimo, Director: Arts Youth Development Department of Arts and Culture, said the historic tour was the first one of its kind. The Department had a Memorandum Of Understanding with the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA). One of the discussions focussed on the need to raise awareness among young people about the history and heritage of the country. This was why this project had been born. It had been inaugurated in Gauteng and had been a build-up to other programmes on Youth Day and during Youth Month held in Port Elizabeth.  The learners that had been selected were from six regions within Gauteng, and were in grades 11 and 12. The sites chosen had been ones of historical significance, particularly linked to the youth uprising of 1976.  The Youth Imbizo had been held Diepsloot due to an a partnership with the City of Johannesburg, as well as to strengthen the Minister’s Imbizo. The Mzansi Golden Economy had not been popularised among the youth. The Department had felt the need to use the partnership with the City of Johannesburg as a start. 

Ms Mushwana said she still felt that the youth of South Africa were disadvantaged according to the area they found themselves in. She wanted to know what would be done to ensure that projects and programmes given in some provinces would also be given in others and that there was equality amongst the provinces. Youth in different areas needed to be given the same opportunities. There was a need to empower children to know the history of the country.

Mr Ledimo replied that the Department was in a tight position. One of the realisations of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Youth Development had was that at national level the departments each needed to have a directorate or chief directorate of youth. When this was trickled down to the provinces, it was dependent on the Head of Department to further the youth programme, as there was no directorate or chief directorate at provincial level that dealt with youth affairs. The issue of youth was always linked together with women and people with disabilities.  What the youth programmes struggled with was the need for a dedicated official to deal with youth matters. However it was not all negative, as there was a new relationship forming with the National Youth Development Agency. A series of visioning sessions were planned in order to coordinate efforts. There was a plan to have the NYDA officials as part of the lobbying group to the provincial departments. The draft strategy of the Department stipulated that they wanted to develop youth where they were. An audit had stated that there were community art centres and these needed to be used. Some of the community art centres that were supposed to be used by the youth, were being used by other people. There had been an emphasis on promoting youth within the Mzansi Golden Economy. There had also been a meeting with the Social Development Department in order to look at social cohesion and the youth. There were thus various programmes to nationalise youth efforts.

Ms Nwamitwa-Shilubana asked how schools were selected for the ‘oral history’ programmes.

Mr Ngcobo replied that the Department was working with different stakeholders, organic intellectuals and academic institutions on the issue of oral history. It was not solely a Departmental venture. The Department worked with provinces on implementation and provided guidance in identifying the appropriate schools.

Ms Moss said that it had not been the first time that celebratory events had needed overtime to be worked. She asked what criteria had been used to plan these events in terms of staff? There were quite a few stake holders in these events. She asked if there would be overtime each time the event was planned.

Mr Conrad Greve, Chief Director: Human Resources Department of Arts and Culture, replied that there were strict provisions and rules regarding the overtime policy, one of which was that one could not claim overtime if a person had an additional work load, or there was too much work and too few staff. Overtime was purely for particular projects that needed to be completed. It applied only to staff from levels one to 12. Senior managers, even if they worked overtime, were not allowed to claim overtime. Most of the ‘overtime events’ or commemorative days fell on public holidays. What was mainly involved was events management in the form of monitoring, evaluation and oversight, as the Department employed service providers to assist with projects.  There was also a great deal of marketing that went into the projects, as well as security.

Ms Moss asked about the delay with the Saartjie Baartman project.

Mr Xaba replied that delay was due to the fact that the first part of site clearance was the approval of the plan. There was then an inspection done to validate site clearance. What was sometimes difficult was the transfer of property, as this was done on behalf of the Department of Public Works. One could not proceed on a site if it was not owned by the Department.

The Chairperson asked where the Head of Communication was? She had in previous meetings asked for her to attend.

Mr Xaba replied she had said yesterday that she would be attending.

The Chairperson said that most of the questions in quite a few meetings had been directed to her unit, but she had never attended meetings. Other people from other units had attended the meeting but she had not. There was a serious challenge with communication and the Committee now felt undermined. No communication was being done by the Department to the public and there was thus a need to engage with the Communications Department. The Committee had said it wanted a report on bursaries and she wanted this by Friday, 21 September.

Dr Jokweni said that the number of students registered, according to bursaries, had been provided. The Department did not have background information on them, but this could be obtained from the universities on request. In terms of awareness of these bursaries, the universities had an obligation according to a contract to market these programmes.

The Chairperson asked what ‘investing in culture’ was being replaced with, now that it had been removed. The Mzansi Golden Economy did not speak to people at grassroots level. The Mzansi Golden Economy was in English and quite a few people could not engage with this.

The Chairperson said she was not convinced of the need for consultants. She asked if there was another alternative, as these consultants took away ‘real employment’ opportunities.

Mr Xaba replied that consultants were used for three reasons. It was for skills that could not be afforded, skills that were not needed in the long term, and skills that had not been budgeted for. The personnel budget of the Department had not grown over the last five years. The Department had been expected to do more with a smaller budget. Treasury had not allowed the budget to grow. The Department had reduced the structure instead of growing it, and the lack of money was why there were so many vacancies. There was a need to find another way to fill vacancies.

Mr Sthenjwa Ngcobo, Deputy Director General of the Department of Arts and Culture, said that in respect of consultants, there was a need to look at the human resource development strategy. The first thing that had been done by the Department was to conduct an audit of skills through the formal institutions – the  national, provincial and even private institutions. The idea was to find out if there were the necessary skills to manage heritage issues in the country. There was a need for specialised skills to carry out the work efficiently. Once the audit had been done, a picture of the situation was painted and a strategy was created to close the skills gaps. The nature of the work done called for the Department to look beyond its own resources.

Mr Greve added that the Department insisted on a transfer of skills when the Department engaged consultants.

The Chairperson said that the Committee had requested information about all the treaties signed and what had been entailed. She had seen in the past that other countries benefited more from these treaties than South Africa.

Ms Lindi Ndebele-Koka, Acting Chief Director of Cultural Development for the Department of Arts and Culture, replied that eight treaties had been signed to date, with 74 official productions having taken place under the signed treaties. There was a total of R7.4 billion given to the working of these treaties that would be spent in South Africa. The purpose of signing treaties was to share and maximise on the similarities of both countries in terms of incentives, location, practitioners and facilities. There was also a sharing of budget.

The Chairperson asked about the targets for people with disabilities in the Department.

Mr Greve said that the target for people with disabilities was 2%, which was in line with the national target. The quarterly target was 1.5 % and the Department was at 1.6%. There was a need for two more people to be employed to reach 2%, but this was just a minimum.

The Chairperson said she was concerned about how entities were reporting to the Department. They seemed to operate without consulting the Department. The Department was not limited by legislation to monitor these institutions.

Dr Sakiwo Tyiso, Chief Director: Coordination Monitoring and Evaluation & Governance of the Department of Arts and Culture, replied that that the Department was not restricted by legislation in making sure that activities were monitored.  Recently there had been institutional visits done to get a sense of what the key challenges and issues were, as well as to outline what their responsibilities were and what was needed in terms of compliance and reporting to the Department.  The Department was also in the process of finalising the centralisation of the governance functions within the Department. The way that governance functioned within the Department was such that nine factions were responsible for monitoring the functioning of their respective institutions. One of the proposals was that this needed to be centralised so that there was a single point of contact. The Department was in the process of finalising this.  It had been outlined to the institutions that they needed to submit their reports, but government needed to act on the reports submitted.

The meeting was adjourned.

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