Department of Arts and Culture on its 2nd Quarter performance

Arts and Culture

13 November 2012
Chairperson: Ms T Sunduza (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Director General of Arts and Culture reported 53% of targets had been achieved after the first six months of 2012/13. In the past partially achieved targets had been included but not any more. A summary of the expenditure per programme was given. Total budget expended was 46% which was just below the target of 50%. A management decision had been taken to reduce the spending on overtime and an additional amount of R2.9 million had been allocated in the Adjusted Estimate of national Expenditure for higher personnel remuneration increases this year.

The presentation looked at goods and services, conditional grants to provinces (actual spending by provinces averaged 41%), departmental agencies transfers, non profit institutions, household and capital assets. The ICT budget had been centralized and there would be an increment in the purchasing of ICT equipment. The focus had been to meet 80% of targets by the end of the 2nd Quarter but this had not been possible as there had been drawn out consultations, amongst other reasons. The Director General looked at the targets for each of the six programmes and commented on any variance. The Department had identified prioritised vacancies but there had been delays in the consultation with the Department of Public Service and Administration(DPSA) and managers within units. DAC provided a risk management report as well.

Members asked questions about overtime, why the Department had asked for R2.9 million extra for salaries, the rolling out of flags to schools, the Nation Building and Social Cohesion Summit, interactions with the Department of Public Works, the Department’s asset register, stolen artefacts, the list of terminologies that had been improved, oral history projects, records management, the number of female staff, the Samora Machel commemoration, bursaries, strategic risk management, art councils, libraries, the communication rapid response unit, future plans past the financial year and the use of consultants. They also showed concern over the under spending within some programmes.

Meeting report

Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) on its 2nd Quarter performance
Mr Sibusiso Xaba, DAC Director General, reported that by 30 September, 53% of its targets had been achieved. In the past partially achieved targets had been counted but this had stopped. If one set the target and it had not been achieved, then it had not been achieved. It had been distorting information. It did make it look as if the Department was not doing work, but a great deal of work was in progress in the ‘Not Achieved’ section. He covered a comparative analysis of the 1st and 2nd quarter performances for 2012/13. Last year there had been more targets but this had been reduced as the more targets there were, the more difficult these were to monitor.

A summary of the expenditure per programme was given for the first six months. The total budget spent was 46% which was just below the 50% target. Heritage promotion had seen only 30% of the budget spent. Expenditure on Capital Works was at 23% - expenditure will improve tremendously in the 3rd Quarter. Compensation of employees stood at 49% (R88 million) at the end of September 2012. A management decision had been taken to reduce the spending on overtime and an additional amount of R2.9 million had been allocated in the Adjusted Estimate of National Expenditure for higher personnel remuneration increases.

The presentation covered spending on goods and services and conditional grants to provinces (actual spending by provinces was 41%), departmental agencies transfers, departmental agencies transfers (capital works), non profit institutions, households (this item relates to all the financial assistance projects that DAC funds) and capital assets (relating to the purchasing of machinery and equipment). The ICT budget had been centralised and there would be an increment in the purchasing of ICT equipment.

Mr Xaba examined the key indicators and commented on any variance for each of the six programmes: Performing Arts, National Language Services, Cultural Development, Administration, Heritage Promotion, Archives and Library Services (see document). He said the focus had been to meet 80% of targets but this had not been possible as there had been drawn out consultations and procurement delays, amongst other reasons. Prioritised vacancies had been identified but delays in the consultation with the Department of Public Service and Administration(DPSA) and managers within units on the microstructure had meant this target was not achieved. Mr Xaba provided a risk management report as well.

Vacancies, Overtime and Budget
Mr N van den Berg (DA) said there had been a great deal of talk in the past about irregular and fruitless expenditure. If all the vacancies had been filled then what would that Adjusted Estimate of National Expenditure figure have looked like? Why was this amount of R2.9 million being asked was for?

Mr Xaba replied if overtime was not paid, than the Department would overspend on the personnel budget. This was because there was not enough in the budget to fill vacancies. Before the structure had been re-done the Department could only find about 65% of the structure. When it had re-done it there had been a cut down of positions. If there were not all these vacancies then there would be over spending, however the positions would be eventually filled as the resources came in to do so. The R2.9 million was for improved remuneration. In July the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA)had met with unions. When the Department budgeted they projected their costs in terms of inflation. The R2.9 million was to cover the gap between inflation and the bargaining agreement between the Department and unions.

Mr van den Berg asked from where the money for overtime came.

Mr Xaba replied it came from the ‘savings made on vacancies’ due to the fact not all vacancies had been filled. What had been done to fill the vacancies was to cut down on overtime. There would be instances where over time would always be paid but this was being better managed. Before the structure was implemented, it needed to be approved and the process was currently going on. The Deputy Director General (DDG) vacancies had still not been filled despite the fact interviews had been conducted. This was because the vetting process had taken a long time. The vetting process had been done by State Security and the Department had submitted the proposals to DPSA. Issues with the Labour Department, in terms of the structure, had been resolved. There were two other DDG positions the Department had sought to fill and interviews were soon to be conducted.

Mr S Ntapane (UDM) asked why targets were set when there was no means to achieve them. Did this not set the Department up for failure?

Mr Xaba replied that before a policy was submitted to Cabinet it needed to be ‘costed’. The problem was that when costing had begun, due to the specialized nature of policies on underwater cultural heritage and digitisation, service providers had been appointed but more research was needed as there were not any  national examples of this kind of work. There had been some problems with this and this had been due to MTE funds which was money that was given to the industry to help support work within the entity. This had been classified under Goods And Services by Treasury but should have been under household. For the last few months there had been debates with Treasury in terms of trying to re-classify this. A submission to Treasury would be done on 14 November 2012 and the matter was soon to be resolved. As soon as the money was re-classified there were projects ‘ready to roll’ once the money came in.

Mr Ntapane said that the rolling out of the SA flags in schools had been a problem for quite some time and was becoming a cause for concern. One needed to speed up this process. It was time it became a priority.

Ms L Moss (ANC) said that the Committee needed to know about the roll out of the flags so that they could conduct oversight.

Mr Xaba replied that this was an unfortunate situation as the tender for the flags in schools went out quite early in the year. There had been some delays with the units involved with this. When a tender was given the pricing for the tender was valid for three months. If this lapsed, one had to return to bidders and see if this was still the same price. The Department had said instead why not use different service providers for the various projects and provinces in order to speed up the programme?

Nation building and social cohesion summit
Ms Moss asked about the conclusions at the nation building and social cohesion summit. There was a still a long way to go with this as people still felt racism. What was the plan?

Mr Xaba replied that the Department was submitting the conclusion reached at the summit to Cabinet. There were going to be provincial and local summits on social cohesion. There had been interactions with the provinces to ensure this happened. In some provinces work had begun. In Limpopo, KwaZulu Natal and a few other provinces there was a plan. The various other provinces had plans in the pipeline. Work was being done with provinces to implement these resolutions. The Department was also waiting for a date with the Presidency so that civil society could submit outcomes of the summit. The civil society organisations who had participated wanted to submit their own report to the Presidency.

Department of Public Works
Ms Moss asked about the reimbursement to the Department of Public Works for monies paid on the Department’s behalf. This had made the Department look bad. She said that in terms of Robben Island, a plan had been made, but what about the rest of the sites?

Mr Xaba replied that the Department was getting some of their entities to do their own maintenance. The Department had asked Treasury for money to do this but this was not possible in the area of leases and services. The Department of Public Works (DPW) was the Department’s ‘landlord’. The bills that the Department had paid were invoiced to DPW who only gave them a bill once a quarter, which meant that payment by the Department was always a quarter late.

Assets register
Ms Moss asked if the Department had an assets register so the Committee could see what the Department had.

Mr Xaba said that there was an asset register but it excluded fixed property owned by the Department of Public Works. Public Works was trying very hard to improve its services.

Ms Veliswa Baduza, DAC Chief Executive Officer, replied there was a full ownership register and there were about 131 buildings that were leased and owned by the Department. There was a full register of what was owned and what was being paid for.

Mr Mandla Langa, DAC
Director: Financial Management, replied that the lack of contract management had led to a number of misstatements in the financial statements and in terms of that the risk management committee had decided to have a register in place. There had also been a problem of ensuring that the acquired assets of the state were safeguarded and thus there had been some thefts and losses. There was a move to make sure that this was stopped.

Stolen artefacts
Mr van den Berg said it was a tragedy that paintings had been stolen as these were valuable assets. He said security needed to be tightened up. There had been instances of theft from museums.

Mr Xaba replied that the art being stolen was a problem and the security system had been upgraded in some museums. Intel had said there was a syndicate that was targeting South African art as it had gained prominence. There was a need to work together with South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) and other entities to protect these art pieces. He believed that in the future the Department would work with SAHRA to see that these art pieces were adequately secure. He had no doubt that there were people who worked in those institutions (such as Iziko which had also been robbed) that were involved.

Diversity in appointments
Mr van den Berg said when deciding between two people to do a job, the best person needed to be appointed. He understood there were issues of diversity when appointing but there was a hard decision to be made.

Mr Xaba replied that balancing diversity with capability was something the Department could not compromise on. What the Department did was try and look for the best candidate. There was however policy within the country that said the work force needed to be reflective of the demographics. What the Department did was try and reach out to as many people as they could who made up the demographics. This helped people be aware and interested in applying for the jobs. Once people had applied, the interview processes attempted to get the best people for the job. The important thing was to get the best people to do the job and try and draw in candidates who were representative. It was always a balancing act.

Improvement on terminology improvements
Mr van den berg asked for examples of the improvements being made in terms of terminology development.

Dr Mbulelo Jokweni,
Chief Director: National Language Service, replied that the list of developed terminologies would be given to the Committee. There was a document with all the developed terminologies even those developed in previous years.

Government gazette publications
Mr van den Berg asked for a document outlining the government gazette publications on standardized geographical names.

Mr Xaba replied that the list of names could be sent to the Committee.

Oral History Projects
Mr van den Berg asked if the Department recorded these oral history projects and were they then archived. These stories needed to be archived.

Dr Vusithemba Ndima, Acting Deputy Director General: Heritage, replied that there had been a focus on each province over the last few years for oral history project. Training and capacity building in the technique of oral history research happened at a local level. This culminated in an oral history conference which included organic intellectuals and oral historians. The idea was to record these histories for prosperity. It was not ‘an exercise with no bearing’ as stories had been archived and these were material that could be used for publications. The significance for the public outreach programmes for archives was so the public could understand these services used for archives.

Record Management
Mr van den Berg asked for more information on records management.

Females within the Department
Ms T Nwamitwa-Shilubana (ANC) asked why the target for 45% females  employed within the Department not being met (40%).

Ms Nwamitwa-Shilubana asked where the Imbizos had been held. Would the remaining four be held and what were the implications of their being late?

Mr Xaba replied the social cohesion summit took place in Johannesburg and National Book Week was in Eastern Cape. There was an initiative in the Department to increase the number of imbizos and they were trying to look at the different sub sectors and have imbizos that spoke to them. The imbizos were informed by the Ministry. When there was an imbizo in which the Minister or Deputy Minister was not there, then it could not be counted as an imbizo.

Samora Machel Commemoration
Ms Nwamitwa-Shilubana asked when would the Samora Machel Commemoration take place. Would the Committee be invited to this event?

Dr Ndima replied that the complexity of the situation emanated from the fact that DAC asked themselves how frequently they participated in these commemorations. Normally DAC was involved in commemorations about every five years due to financial constraints. It happened annually from a provincial point of view and DAC assisted when they could. This year the Samora Machel Commemoration had happened but with little input from DAC.

Ms Nwamitwa-Shilubana asked for an explanation of the reported 349 students who had been awarded bursaries (as opposed to the target of 20).

Dr Mbulelo Jokweni, Acting Deputy Director General, replied that five universities had been awarded bursaries and this surprise escalation of numbers had come from UNISA. The amount that had been given to the five universities had been the same, the average presented by the other universities had been around 30 or 40 and UNISA had been significantly higher. This had been due to lower fees at UNISA as it was a part time, distance learning university. The tuition given was not the same as for full time students at the other universities.

Ms Nwamitwa-Shilubana asked if there could be a quarterly report on the number of students entering universities, especially the University of South Africa.

Strategic Risk Management
Mr van den Berg asked if, when DAC looked at its strategic risk management, it was satisfied with the expenditure and that everything was under control?

Mr Xaba stated that he felt DAC was improving and there were instruments to measure that. There were various persons within DAC, such as legal and financial persons, who helped the entities resolve their problems.

Mr van den Berg asked for more clarity on capacity risk outlined on page 40 and the information on page 41.

Programme four
Ms Nwamitwa-Shilubana said it was worrying that Programme Four (Cultural Development) had only spent 30% of its funds, could this be explained as it seemed there would be under expenditure.

Art councils
Ms Nwamitwa-Shilubana asked if there were going to be art councils by the end of 2012/13?

Dr Sakiwo Tyiso, Chief Director: Coordination of Monitoring and Evaluation and Governance, replied that the performing arts would be fully functional by the end of this year. The analysis that had been done on institutions had been an eye opener and had allowed for an identification of problem areas within the institutions. The Department had now gone back to the institutions and looked at turnaround strategies in light of these problems.

Ms Nwamitwa-Shilubana asked about the progress of libraries in provinces.

Dr Ndima replied that the provinces had not had targets for the second quarter, what had been stated was despite that, the North West had completed two new libraries. The issue of libraries was “going somewhat well” and communities that had not had libraries, were now getting them.

Ms Moss said that people were crying in the country because their kids could not read and write and libraries played a role in this. There was a need for DAC to take active steps with the Department of Basic Education to remedy this. The community libraries especially played an important role. She had seen libraries being used as an ‘after care centre’ and this was not their main function.

Dr Ndima said that when one looked at the library problem, it was the procurement process thus the strategic interventions were in this particular area.

Communications Report Unit
Ms Nwamitwa-Shilubana asked if the Communications Rapid Response Unit was new?

Ms Lisa Combrinck, DAC Chief Director of Communications, replied that the Communications Rapid Response Unit was not new but what was sought was the formalization of the rapid response team. It was also to get better coordination between communications coming from the Ministry and to make responses more efficient especially in terms of the media.

End of the financial year
Ms Moss said that although parliamentary recess was coming DAC needed to continue the work. She thus asked what was the plan for the last few months as the financial year drew to a close. Was there a programme or plan in place to ensure that the money was being used to make progress?

Mr Xaba answered that underperformance was addressed through contingency plans that were being developed which ensured all of the targets were reached by year end. The Department was avoiding under expenditure and would meet as many targets as possible. They would ensure meeting as many targets as they could.

Risk management
Ms Nwamithwa referred to risk management where risks had been identified and control measures put in place. Despite this, it seemed that risks in some programmes were high, were these measures working? And if not, could stronger measures be put in place?

Dr Ndima replied that there were quarterly meetings with the provinces which allowed for progress to be reported and problems identified.

Mr Xaba added that the measures were working and obviously there was a need to implement all of the measures – but not all could be implemented. This was both a staff and monetary capacity issue. The measures were implemented as much as they could be.

The use of consultants
Ms Nwamithwa asked about the use of consultants and its effect on the budget.

Mr Mandla Langa, DAC
Director: Financial Management, replied that the use of consultants had affected goods and services expenditure. There had been a move to reduce this and use the money to create employment.

The meeting was adjourned.


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