The Committee went through some housekeeping issues and discussed the long time it took the Committee to adopt outstanding minutes and reports. The Committee felt undermined by Department Officials because they had sent junior staff to briefings. Communication lines between the Minister and the Committee were not working satisfactorily to the detriment of the Committee. Members were annoyed with the continued use of expensive consultants to do departmental work. In addition, Members noted that certain heroes of other liberation movements and organisations, such as Black Sash, had contributed significantly toward the attainment of freedom for South Africa, but that they were not widely celebrated. The Chief Whip of the Majority Party was present throughout the meeting and addressed all the concerns of the Committee, though issues were mostly procedural.
The Chairperson introduced Dr Mathole Motshekga, Chief Whip of the National Assembly, who was there to observe. She also mentioned that the National Heritage Council was supposed to brief the Committee. The programme was adopted at a previous meeting, but would be adjusted to accommodate new changes.
Ms T Nwamitwa-Shilubana (ANC) asked the reasons that the Committee took too long to adopt minutes. She asked if it was because the Committee Secretary had too much work.
The Chairperson explained that the Committee Section of Parliament took too long.
Ms M Morutoa (ANC) raised a concern regarding the Committee’s haphazard manner of dealing with issues.
Ms L Moss (ANC) said that she was glad that the outstanding minutes would be addressed urgently. She emphasised that the importance of appointing a new Pan South African Languages Board (PanSALB) because the issue had been outstanding for more than three months.
The Chairperson alerted the Committee Secretary to note the Committee’s issues. Certain entities, such as Robben Island, were also in need of a new Board. The Committee had not worked through International Treaties to determine whether they would be beneficial to the country or not. The Chairperson noted outstanding issues, surrounding the following items: the non-existent Community Centres in rural areas, the Moral Regeneration Institute, national geographical name changes, and the continued use of consultants by the Department. The Committee needed to address these issues soon. The issue of setting up a national film school would be another priority because the private institutions were a bit expensive for poor people.
Mr S Ntapane (UDM) confirmed that the issues that had been raised by the Chairperson were Committee recommendations.
Mr L Khoarai (ANC) said that the Minister and the Deputy Minister should assist the Committee try to sort out the issues that had been raised by the Chairperson.
Ms H Van Schalkwyk (DA) said that she would like the Minister and the Director-General to brief the Committee regarding the fact that the Committee was being sidelined on many issues.
Ms Nwamitwa-Shilubana suggested that the issues raised by the Chairperson that were related should be clustered or grouped together.
Ms Morutoa said that if minutes had been adopted in a timely manner, then some issues could have been addressed a long time ago.
Ms Moss suggested that the Committee and the Department (including the Minister) have a full day session to work out all outstanding issues.
Ms F Mushwana (ANC) reminded Members that the statue of the former President Nelson Mandela at the gates of Parliament should be addressed.
The Chairperson raised the fact that heroes from other liberation movements and organisations, such as Black Sash, were not celebrated. She said that traditional healers were unable to access certain sacred heritage sites because the sites were privately owned.
Mr P Ntshiqela (ANC) said that the Committee agreed the previous week to hold meetings even on Wednesday so that all Members could attend.
The Chairperson mentioned that minutes were not adopted because the Committee could not constitute a quorum.
Mr Ntapane said that the only issue he noticed was that some PanSALB officials had been fired.
Ms Morutoa suggested that the Committee revive the management committee to be able to fast-track outstanding issues. Since Department Officials know that some Members would not be returning and that there would be a new Chairperson, so it is dangerous for the Committee to leave issues unresolved.
Mr D Mavunda (ANC) said that all the entities that were funded by the Department should be answerable to the Committee. The Committee should invite the Minister and the Deputy Minister to raise some issues.
The Chairperson explained that the Minister would not be able to meet the Committee on a weekly basis. The Department Officials would send junior officials that were unable to answer most questions. Quarterly reports had been mostly cut and paste jobs. The Committee was undermined and taken for granted by Department Officials who thought Members were an uneducated bunch.
She said PanSALB had been wasting millions of rand through court cases because they fired some employees who took them to court. R4 million had been wasted within two months by hiring consultants. The Committee needed to speed up the Khoi-San dictionary.
Dr Motshekga said that his office would compile a report on the work of the Committee. He had observed a poor working relationship between the Committee and the Department of Arts and Culture. The Committee Whip should raise Committee concerns to his office and the Office of the Speaker to ensure that channels of communication remained open. He said that Members indicated on the attendance register the time of arrival and departure in all Committee meetings. PanSALB should play its role in ensuring that marginalised languages such as Pondo Venda and Khoi get enough status.
Dr Motshekga mentioned that the Committee’s concerns regarding the unavailability of Ministers and entities were noted and emphasised that they were answerable to Parliament. It was important that the Committee play its oversight role across all entities belonging to the Department. He mentioned that July marked the commemoration of Moral Regeneration Month, an initiative of the Moral Regeneration Movement (MRM). The only achievement of the Moral Regeneration Movement was publishing a Charter in 2002. Its Board was composed of mostly of religious people, rather than of business people, because 80% of the South African population is religious. He said that Committee recommendations regarding the work of the entities should be forwarded to his office and to the Office of the Speaker. It was impossible for the entities to act on recommendations when the Committee took more than three months to adopt minutes and reports. Dr Motshekga said that he was open to phone calls from the Chairperson and the Committee Whip any time of the day or night. The Chairperson as a leader should always be able to absorb criticism.
Mr Ntapane said that Members should familiarise themselves with the PanSALB Act.
The Committee heard a briefing on the procedure for the appointment of PanSALB Board Members. Members comments included whether the Minister would consult with the Committee when appointing the Board. Members wanted to know whether the PanSALB Board would be held accountable to the Committee or to the Minister. The PanSALB Act was not clear on whether Board Members should serve two five-year terms consecutively or could have a break between the two five-year terms. Members wanted to know whether the people that were nominated for the Board had been vetted.
Mr Mxolisi Dlamuka, Content Advisor for the Committee, explained that the Act was promulgated right after the Constitution of South Africa came into effect and was mandated by Section 6 of the Constitution. The Act limited the role of the Committee in appointing the PanSALB Board. The Committee could only recommend a short-list of candidates after conducting interviews. The Minister would then make a decision on who would sit on the Board. The Minister dissolved the previous Board and adverts about the openings were published in newspapers in May 2012.
He went on to speak briefly about the legislative mandate of the Board. Then he mentioned the Governance and functions of the PanSALB Board and described the composition of the Board as comprising not fewer than eleven, but not more than fifteen people who, when viewed collectively, are as representative as possible of the official languages as well as language skills, including but not limited to: interpreting; translation; terminology and lexicography; language and literary; and language planning. He then spoke briefly about the procedure to be followed when appointing the Board.
Mr Ntapane wanted to know what the PanSALB Board is accountable to. He asked whether or not a person could be appointed more than one time to the Board.
Mr Dlamuka explained that a Board Member was eligible to serve only two five-year terms. The Board was accountable to the Committee.
Ms Van Wyk requested a hard copy of the presentation.
Ms Mushwana asked whether the Minister should discuss the recommended candidates with the Committee before appointing Board Members. She then asked whether or not the 23% of candidates that must be experts on governance included people from marginalized language groups, such as Khoi.
Mr Dlamuka explained that the PanSALB Act stipulated that a maximum of two terms, the first being a five-year term and the second being a two-year term. The Act was silent on clarifying whether or not a person could serve two terms to then serve another two terms after an absence of ten years from the Board. The 23% of candidates that were required to have expertise on governance was meant to be a tool that would guide the Committee during the short-listing process. The Act did not mention any percentages at all, but the short-listed candidates should reflect the gender balance and be inclusive of the marginalised languages.
Mr Ntapane said that the Act was very clear that candidates that had only served one 5-year term were eligible to be nominated even after a break of five, ten, or even twenty years.
Ms Morutoa said that the Act did not clarify whether the two five-year terms should follow each other or whether a break between the two five-year terms was allowed.
Mr Mavunda wanted to know how many of the sixty-nine nominated candidates would be short-listed to serve on the PanSALB Board. He asked for clarity regarding the required experience and expertise of the candidates.
Mr Dlamuka suggested that the Committee solicit legal opinion on the matter.
Ms Morutoa asked why the Committee was expected to shortlist twenty candidates. She asked whether the nominees were vetted for eligibility.
Mr Dlamuka replied that nominees had not been vetted and explained that the Committee could shortlist less than the stipulated maximum of twenty candidates.
The Chairperson said that the Committee agreed to get legal opinion regarding the issue of two five-year terms.
Mr Mavunda said that the Act and the newspaper advert for the nominations of the Board were being used as guidelines for the Committee during their short-listing process.
The Chairperson suggested that the Committee report format should be changed to suit the needs of the Committee.
She urged Members to go through the curricula vitae (CVs) of all the nominees.
The meeting was adjourned.
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