Meeting SummaryThe Committee continued to make recommendations for the Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report. Members recommended the need for the Communications unit in the Department of Arts and Culture to be strengthened; the findings of the Auditor-General had to be sorted out, especially supply chain management and the accounting officer showing the requisite management; the need to interact with the Tourism Department; the training of both staff and board members in cultural issues; the need to stop the re-occurrence of the same problems raised in the annual Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report; the need to phrase certain recommendations in stronger language; giving the Minister and Department timeframes within which to eliminate specific problems; the weakness of the Heritage Unit was highlighted; communication to the public about the Mzansi Golden Economy; the Department’s use of consultants must end; the lack of progress in the Department since the previous year; critical vacancies must be filled and the need to communicate with the Committee about events and activities. These recommendations were added and the Committee reconvened in the afternoon to adopt the BRRR.
Observations of the Committee
The Chairperson suggested that all items found under Observations should be placed under Recommendations as these should all be acted upon. She wanted to add the comment that the communications unit within the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) was very weak. This needed to be highlighted. Communication only reached the elite especially in terms of programmes and events.
Mr D Mavunda (ANC) said he wondered what the Department was doing in reaction to the findings contained in the Auditor-General audit report. He felt the Committee needed to look at this audit report when they made recommendations to the Department. The leadership of the Department had been scrutinised as the report had said that the oversight had not always being exercised by the accounting officer. A recommendation needed to be made that spoke to these findings.
Mr P Ntshiqela (COPE) asked that the Committee give a time frame about the lack of oversight done by the accounting officer. Steps needed to be taken to resolve this. There was also a need to strengthen the communications strategy within the Department as well and not just for stakeholders.
Mr Ntshiqela (COPE) said it was not enough to inform the Committee on international agreements but it also had to have access to these documents. This point needed to be inserted.
Mr Ntshiqela said there was a need for DAC to interact with the Tourism Department, this point had been raised many times.
Mr Ntshiqela said that it was ‘very light’ to say that the Board members of entities needed to be educated on cultural issues. This recommendation needed to speak to staff members as well.
Mr N van den Berg (DA) said that the Committee had emphasised the fact that a year from now the same issues should not appear. He hoped that when DAC read the recommendations, it understood that the intention of the Committee was to make the DAC the best department in the country. He suggested the Committee tell the Department how to tackle issues in a ‘what, where and when’ manner and the Department then would report back. This was because the same issues kept coming up in every report, especially when the Committee was not strict with the DAC. There was a need for consequences to come with the recommendations. The big question was would the officials take these recommendations to heart?
Mr van den Berg said a large amount of time had been spent on PanSALB and the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) but he was not sure where the Committee was with these two entities. There was a need to give the Minister and the Department a timeframe to describe the problem and to say what was going to be done with them. The questions of ‘what, where, when, where.’ needed to be the corner stone of every recommendation.
Ms H Van Schalkwyk (DA) said that when the Department did something there was a need to communicate this to the Committee. This would allow for Members to answer questions on where issues were now.
Ms F Mushwana (ANC) said it made sense for the Committee to be informed about international agreements. As a Committee, they expected the Department to come to them with time frames when it came with various proposals.
Ms L Moss (ANC) said the DAC needed a proper procurement policy and supply chain management needed to be highlighted in its procurement policy.
Ms Moss said that the DAC needed to restructure when it came to issues of capacity. They needed to ‘go back to the drawing board’. She endorsed the Auditor-General’s observation that there was no staff capacity to fulfil the DAC’s mandate.
The Chairperson said that some of the issues raised by the Auditor-General were ones that the Committee had raised and some were points of law. The biggest problem was the Annual Report was not consistent with the Strategic Plan. Money owed by the DAC had not been settled within 30 days which was a matter governed by law. Contractual obligations had to be fulfilled.
Mr Mavunda said that it was important to look into what the accounting officer was doing. He suggested putting in the recommendation that laws had to be complied with by those meant to follow those laws.
Mr van den Berg said it was not a good audit as there were so many things needing to be corrected despite being an unqualified audit opinion. This fact needed to be stressed. There were a great number of matters that were wrong.
Ms Van Schalkwyk said that although the DAC had been congratulated on an unqualified report, the Report needed to state that the DAC had to strive for an unqualified clean audit.
The Chairperson said the nature of the wording needed to enforce compliance from the DAC.
The Chairperson said that the Heritage Unit was weak and could not monitor activities. A great amount of ‘nonsense’ was happening under their watch.
The Chairperson said the Mzansi Golden Economy Project was still unclear to people on the ground. There needed to be education on this even for Committee members as she was not sure what it was about.
The Chairperson said the DAC needed to stop using consultants in general as the money they used on them could be used to create jobs.
Ms Moss said she felt that department officials were taking the Committee for a ride. The document before the Committee looked like a copy of the 2011 BRRR. The recommendations were the same as those that had been made last year. No progress had been made in the DAC. If she had the right she would not agree to adopt the report as it was a slap in the face for the Committee to do so. She said that next year during the period in which the DAC devised its Strategic Plan, the Committee should be invited to that workshop so that the same issues were not repeated. If they were not invited then, the Committee should go anyway.
Mr van den Berg said there was the impression that the DAC was not taking the Committee seriously therefore the recommendations needed to be phrased in “very serious language”. The DAC needed to understand that the Committee was not their enemy but was there to make things better for the people of South Africa.
Mr Samuel Mahatlane, Parliamentary Liaison Officer in the Minister's office, suggested that in terms of the communication of the DAC, perhaps one recommendation could be that of capacity building within the structure. It would also be good to have the Committee say what the communications unit could do to raise the profile of the DAC. This spoke to the issue of staff complement.
Mr Mavunda said that the DAC need to somehow be forced to fill the critical vacancies even though the Minister and DAC would always give reasons as to why they were empty. If these critical vacancies were not filled, important things would not be done within the DAC. He suggested using the word ‘must’ and then do follow ups. Perhaps it would be best to do quarterly reports.
The Chairperson said she got the impression that people were qualified but there was no willingness. There was also the problem that some people had been there too long.
The Chairperson said that when there was non-compliance within supply chain management, there was corruption and this had been noted by the Auditor-General. The DAC also needed be wary of deviations as this too was corruption.
Ms van Schalkwyk said what was most important was the signing of performance agreements by senior management. They had to stick to them and comply with them and they must be held accountable. There was a need to set an example at the top because what happened there trickled down.
Mr Ntshiqela said many of the top positions were temporary. How were these people in temporary positions going to be held responsible? There needed to be a recommendation that made sure a structure was put in place that held these acting positions responsible when they were eventually made permanent. He recommended that the DAC be told they had to fill the positions before the end of March and see what their response was.
Mr van den Berg said that the DAC did not give information about the conferences that they hosted. One example was the national summit to conclude hearings on Changing Geographical Names. He had attended due to a friend, not the DAC, informing him. The Committee had been given short notice about other conferences. The Committee was an important role player and needed to be involved.
Mr van den Berg said that there needed to be emphasis on the role of Chief Financial Officer as this was an important role and there was an acting CFO at the moment. This role needed to be filled.
The Chairperson said the Report was supposed to be adopted today with the recommendations. She asked for suggestions about a possible delay until they were happy with the Report’s recommendations.
Mr van den Berg said that in all honesty the Committee members needed to see and approve the final version of the Report before they adopted it – thus it could not be adopted today.
Mr Ntshiqela said he was not sure of the urgency of this adoption. He felt the report could be adopted if there was an urgency to do so. If there was no urgency, then it could be put as the first item for the next meeting.
It was decided by the Committee that it would meet again in the afternoon to adopt the report once all the recommendations had been added.
The meeting was adjourned.
The report was adopted at a later meeting at 14:45 the same day.
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