Audit outcomes of Department of Arts and Culture and entities for 2013; SA Language Practitioners Bill [B14B-2013]: A-list approved; AU African Cultural Renaissance Charter: Department briefing

Arts and Culture

09 October 2013
Chairperson: Ms T Sunduza (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) briefed the Committee on the 2012/13 audit outcomes of the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) and its entities. Some entities had improved, including the South African Heritage Resources Agency, but others, including the William Humphreys Art Gallery, had regressed. The presentation briefly outlined the role of AGSA, and the progress that had been made by the DAC and entities in addressing the risks. The drivers of the audit outcomes were related to key controls. Financial performance and management of the DAC were seen as problematic, and the root causes that had to be addressed in order to improve included ensuring that the right people were in place, with the right skills and competencies, whilst consequences for poor performance had to follow – this had not been done in the past. Instability of leadership and vacancies in key posts were cited as problematic. Members were critical of the fact that the Minister, Deputy Minister and Director-General were not present and pointed out that this was one of the most important meetings of the year, when the Committee was told exactly what had been found in the Department and entities. They were particularly concerned about the ongoing and repetitive nature of the qualifications and problems, and wondered hw they could be addressed. They asked what kind f assistance was offered to struggling entities, examined some of the reasons behind the poor audit performance, and commented that they were dismayed to see that the Windybrow Theatre had attempted to change its targets, and ended up achieving only 8% of targets, questioning also what had happened to the money allocated. They noted that the DAC itself had several problems so it was not surprising that the entities did not perform better, and questioned when the vacancies would be filled.

The Committee then moved on to consider the A-List and the B-version of the South African Language Practitioners Bill, and confirmed, after being taken through the A-list and new wording by the State and Parliamentary Law Advisers, that the wording contained in the A-list was as agreed to or proposed by Members at previous meetings. The A-list was confirmed as correct, but the DA noted that it would still need to take the Bill back to its caucus before it was adopted.

The Department of Arts and Culture international section briefed the Committee on the African Union African Cultural Renaissance Charter. It was explained that the Charter had first been endorsed in December 2005 and was adopted by the 6th ordinary session of the African Union Assembly on 24 January 2006. It recognised the role of culture in political emancipation and in economic and social development. Six AU countries had ratified it so far, but anther 28 had signed, and the AU was pushing for ratification. The Charter wanted to promote culture, arts, cultural values, language, heritage and cultural and creative industries as central to sustainable development. Within South Africa, it was aligned to the Industrial Growth Plan, the National Development Plan, the White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage and the Mzansi Golden Economy Strategy, was not in conflict with the Constitution, and posed no problems in regard to domestic law. Campaigns and discussions on the Charter in South Africa had been ongoing since 2011, and a strategy had been drawn on alignment of policy within the DAC to the Charter. The four imperatives of the Charter were economic, social, political and cultural. There were some  challenges in the lack of synergy between policies and programmes at the DAC, but there were clear indicators of progress. Any gaps would be incorporated into the review of the White Paper on Arts and Culture. Implementation forums were to be set up at national, provincial and local government. Whilst there was largely alignment already, some areas still required to be strengthened, and these included supporting cultural development with fiscal incentives, channeling funding into a coherent system, advocating tax exemptions on cultural goods and services, dealing with copyright issues, and developing youth and educational arts programmes. It was recommended that Swahili be a fourth official language in the African Union. Forums to end pillage and illicit trade in African cultural property would have to be strengthened. Ratification of the Charter had no direct financial implications, but inter-departmental meetings would have to be held, to develop 5-year plans. Members asked about the progress of ratification by other countries, supported the inclusion of Swahili, asked who dealt with the cultural renaissance in the AU, and how the tax incentives and return of artefacts were to be implemented.

Meeting report

Department of Arts and Culture and entities: 2012/13 Audit Outcomes: Auditor-General South Africa briefing
Ms Connie Myburgh, Business Executive, Auditor-General South Africa, gave an outline of the audit findings of the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC or the Department) and entities for the 2012/13 financial year. In this year, 30% of entities had no qualifications and no adverse findings, 55% were unqualified with findings and 15% had an adverse qualification. In this year, the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) had managed to move out of the disclaimer, to a certificate with findings. There had also been entities that had managed to keep their “clean audit” status and other entities, such as the Artscape, had managed to move to an unqualified report with no findings. One entity, the William Humphrey Museum, had regressed to from an unqualified to a qualified report.

Mr Van den Berg (DA) asked if this was somewhere in writing.

Ms Myburgh replied that the information was in the briefing document.

Ms Myburgh spoke to the progress in addressing risk areas. This was addressed in terms of supply chain management, quality of performance reports, human resource management, quality of submitted financial statement, information of technology controls and financial health (see attached presentation for full reports).

Ms Myburgh then outlined the drivers of key controls. She stated that, overall, there had been no process in terms of leadership, there had been a regression in terms of financial and performance information, and management, and no progress in terms of governance. She spoke to the root causes saying they included key officials’ lack of competencies, lack of consequences imposed for poor performance, and transgressions and instability of vacancies in key positions.

Mr Van Den Berg asked if, from a financial point of view, the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) could see progression and forward movement for the DAC and the entities. He asked if there was now stability.

Ms Myburgh replied there seemed to be ‘stability in being stagnant’, in that there had been little forward-looking progress. She said it was necessary to look carefully at supply chain management. The staff were, technically, in place, but there were not the right skills.  There was a need to share knowledge. The Department had started a Chief Financial Officers’ forum and this was where knowledge on supply chain was to be shared. There was a need to share knowledge across the portfolio, and National Treasury could also assist in this matter. She said that it was not the lack of people, but the lack of understanding, that were at the heart of the problems.

Dr H Van Schalkwyk (DA) said that it was annoying that the root causes for the problems were all cited inadequate consequences, ineffective leadership or lack of skills. She asked why this was so, but conceded that this was really a question that the Director General would need to address.

The Chairperson said that these problems were being raised consistently. She said that one of the challenges was that people did not face consequences, and assessed that this was 30% of the root of the problem.

Mr Sakiwo Tyiso, Chief Director: Monitoring and Evaluation, DAC, pointed out that sometimes it was not just a lack of skills but also poor leadership that destabilised institutions. These were the sort of issues that one had to deal with in the entities. It was seen across many institutions that in-fighting would take a great deal of the institution’s attention and energy, and this was part of the context to be considered.

The Chairperson asked what assistance was given to the entities that kept having the same outcomes. She asked what monitoring tools were given. She asked if AGSA recommended punishable action.

Ms Myburgh replied that the AGSA could not make punitive recommendations. All it could do was make recommendations on the way forward.

Mr D Mavunda (ANC) asked what AGSA did after making these recommendations.

Ms Myburgh replied that it was up to the individual Department or entity to effect the changes. She clarified that the role of AGSA was limited to reporting on the problems and stating what changes needed to be made.

Ms L Moss (ANC) said that the Constitution was clear, and there was legislation put in place so people did not cross the line. In the time she had been in the Committee, some entities had improved and some had not. One continuing problem was that of leadership. The process to allocate the PanSALB Board had taken time, in recognition of the fact that leadership was important in turning things around. She also wondered how problems such as unauthorised expenditure kept being raised. There were rules and regulations to monitor this. She asked what recommendations had been made to some entities that kept doing the same thing and not adhering to legislation and regulations.

Mr Van den Berg said that he too was concerned about the lack of consequences and the fact that people seemed to continue to violate regulations. It seemed these problems would simply be carried on to the next Parliament, and he had the impression that he had been wasting the last four years, seeing a constant cycle of turn around strategies, unauthorised expenditure and other problems. He said it was a sad day for him to see this again.

Ms Myburgh replied there were mechanisms in place to monitor the entities and the Department. Sometimes, when some matters were resolved, others arose which made the entities get qualifications again.

Ms Monica Newton, Deputy Director General: Arts, Culture, Promotion and Development, DAC, replied that the audit environment was always changing and becoming more sophisticated. It was thus a moving target to maintain an unqualified audit. What was possibly lacking within the Department was the right way to deal with the problematic entities. She agreed, however, that committed leadership was needed.

The Chairperson said she agreed but reiterated that it seemed that the same problems arose again and again, and there were no consequences.

Mr Mavunda said that matters had been raised and recommendations made, but the people who had made the decisions that had led to the matters arising in the first place remained in place. He said maybe it would be best to sit with all the Chief Executive Officers of entities and Directors-General of departments, and go through what the problems were, but not confine the discussion only to the events, but also to the consequences, otherwise there was unlikely to be movement or progression. There was a need to have effective consequences. He agreed with the earlier remark that unless matters changed, there would be the same issues addressed in the next Parliament.

PanSALB Board
The Chairperson stated that the PanSALB Board matter had been tackled and names had been submitted. She wanted the Auditor-General to take note of this development.

Windybrow Theatre
Ms Moss asked why the entity had only achieved 8% of its targets. She also asked what had been done with the money, and regarded the situation as “a disgrace”. She asked specifically what had happened to 92% of the budget, and what was the spending in relation to the 8% achieved. Entities always said they did not have funding but constantly underspent.

Ms Myburgh replied that Windybrow Theatre showed a great deal of leadership instability, with the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer being suspended. Information had also been kept from the AGSA. This entity had also, during the year, changed targets from those as set out in the approved plan and the work done could obviously not be accepted as achieving targets. This had to be kept in mind.

Mr Tyiso added that there had been a great deal of leadership instability and there had been cases referred to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). The infighting within Council and Executive had drawn a great deal of focus within the institution and the Department had taken swift action. Drastic measures had been taken to make sure it was brought back to the correct situation.

The Chairperson followed up on the issue of deviation from targets, and said she equated most of these situations to corruption. She said when she worked in a Department, deviation had always revolved around events thought up 'overnight'. She wondered how this issue of deviation could be resolved.

The Chairperson said that the Department itself had many deficiencies, yet it was supposed to be showing leadership on the very same issues. If the Department itself was failing, it was difficult to expect the entities to do otherwise. She wondered how these issues kept arising, and questioned if people were not patriotic, as evidenced by what they were doing to their country. She was pleased when AGSA presented, as it gave the kind of truths the Committee did not hear from the Department when it presented. She was also happy that the Committee had been given a mandate to release to the media anything they encountered, and this would include the kinds of issues raised now

William Humphrey
Ms Moss said she was disappointed with the regression of the William Humphrey Museum as, during the time of the oversight visit, the institution had seemed in very good condition.

Mr Van Den Berg said that it was unthinkable that the political and administrative heads were not present when an important document showing the wrongs and rights of a Department was being discussed. This showed a lack of respect to the taxpayer, particularly since this kind of meeting took place only once per year. It should be non-negotiable that the Director General, Deputy Minister and Minister were present. He was not sure what their jobs entailed, but he felt that this was one of the most important meetings of the year.  

Lack of leadership
Dr Van Schalkwyk said if it was still the case that two of the four DDG posts were vacant, then it was small wonder that there was a lack of leadership.

Mr Tyiso replied that the Department had told the Committee that it was in the process of filling the vacancies. One DDG position had been filled by Ms Monica Newton, and other positions had also been filled. There were only two vacancies remaining at DDG level: of which one was the position of the Chief Financial Officer, which had been vacant for a long time, and the other was a vacancy arising from a resignation. At the time, people had been in position.

South African Language Practitioners' Bill: Adoption
The Chairperson noted that now that a quorum of Members were present, the Committee could tackle the Bill.

Mr Adam Small, State Law Adviser, Office of the Chief State Law Adviser, noted that, from a procedural point of view, the A-list had been proposed last week.

Ms Sue- Anne Isaacs, Parliamentary Legal Services, said she was speaking to the B Bill and the A list. The A list set out the proposed amendments by the Committee, and the B Bill was the amendments incorporated into the Bill. Everything Members had suggested be amended was incorporated into the B-Bill. In order to save time she would be going through the highlighted amendments, as opposed to every clause (see attached documents for full wording).

Clause 1
She said that the amendments before the Committee were the same as previously discussed.

New Clause 1
She said that a new clause had been added and was reflected in the B-Bill.

Clause 3 (Clause 2 of original Bill)
She said that the amendments before the Committee in terms of this clause had been effected through out the Bill also as consequential amendments.

Clauses 4 and 5
Ms Isaacs said that the amendments before the Committee were the same as previously discussed.

Clauses 6 to 10
Ms Isaacs pointed out that these all contained amendments as proposed by Members.

Clause 11
She said that these were technical amendments.

Clauses 12 - 14
Ms Isaacs pointed out that these amendments were those that had been previously agreed to in the earlier meeting.

Clause 16
Ms Isaacs reminded the Members that this was amended following the discussion concerning ethics and conduct in the previous discussion

Ms M Morutoa (ANC) said that it would be preferable if the amendments were highlighted as that would make them more readily understandable.

Mr Smalls replied the A-List was written as an instruction list for the printers. The B-Bill was a new version of the Bill and thus did not show the changes in highlights or bold print. He appreciated the difficulties that the Members faced, but noted that the B-Bill was what needed to be adopted in its final form.

Ms Morutoa said that it was still difficult to follow.

The Chairperson said that this was a problem, and it had previously been raised that if something was changed then it should be highlighted. She said that it was really quite difficult to follow what had been done.

Mr Van den Berg said that he had asked for the document early and had done preparation on it, to ensure that he was on track and on the right page.

Ms Isaacs said the A-List showed the changes proposed by the Committee, and this was being handled in the same way as in the previous meeting.

Mr Smalls said that this was Parliamentary procedure and it was not up to his office to change the way that matters were presented. He suggested that maybe the Committee Secretaries could photocopy in colour, for the sake of the members.

Ms Monica Newton said that another issue was the numbering of the clauses in the A and B-versions of the Bill did not correlate because of the insertion of a new clause, and suggested that perhaps the remainder of the presentation should be a little slower to allow Members to find the right clauses.

Continuation of briefing
Ms Isaacs continued to present the clauses.

Clause 16
Ms Isaacs outlined the amendments proposed by the members as well as the technical amendments.

Clauses 19, 20, 22, 23,24 ,25 and 26
Technical amendments had been effected to these clauses, and the changes were made to ensure there was consistency throughout the Bill.

In clause 26, for instance, consistencies had been addressed, so that the time periods were stated in the months format instead of days.

Clauses 30, 31, 32
She said these clauses contained technical amendments.

In clause 32, the term “relevant experience” broadened the number of people who were eligible, as it made it clear that no formal qualification was needed to register as a language practitioner.

Mr Van Den Berg asked if the term “relevant” could be explained, as many could interpret it in different ways.

Ms Isaacs said that “relevant experience” would be defined by the Council.

Clause 33
Ms Isaacs noted that a reference to the two national newspapers had been inserted.

Clause 34
Ms Isaacs noted that this clause contained an amendment proposed by the Committee as well as technical amendments.

Clauses 36, 37,39
These clauses contained technical amendments.

Clause 38
Ms Isaacs said that this amendment was a re-wording.

Clause 40
Ms Isaacs drew attention to the insertion of “any other relevant institution”. This was intended to make the Ministerial consultation a more participatory process.

Clause 41
Ms Isaacs pointed out that this clause contained technical amendments.

The Chairperson asked if members were happy and all that was left was to adopt the Bill.

Mr Van Den Berg said he wanted to state that he would still need to take the Bill to the party caucus.

The Chairperson said this document had already been circulated and the parties all knew about it, she asked that no problems were brought to delay the process. There was no controversy, just a clear Bill, and she asked that it be adopted.

Ms Moss said that when in the Committee, Members were not expected to take a political stance. Mr Van Den Berg had had enough time to consult with his party and the Committee had already come together to discuss what needed to be changed. There had been active steps taken to make sure that the process of amendments had been completed, so that the Bill could be adopted, and this process should not be delayed.

Mr Smalls just wanted to emphasise that it was the A-List and not the B-Bill that was being adopted.

Mr Van den Berg said he felt it was not fair for the Chairperson to “come down on me like a ton of bricks”, as his point was perfectly valid. His colleague and he agreed with the A-List amendments. He said that the B-Bill was different, and this needed to be taken to the parties.

Ms Van Schalkwyk said the reason that the DA had not taken the Bill to its party was that the ANC did not want people meeting here any more, and thus there had been no caucuses.

Ms Morutoa said she did not feel this was the space where parties should be discussing what had been taken to a caucus. She said that if there would be space to differ at the National Assembly.

Ms Morutoa supported the adoption of the A-list, and other Members confirmed this.

The Chairperson confirmed that the A-List had been adopted and thanked all who had participated.

AU Charter for African Cultural Renaissance: Department Arts and Culture briefing
Ms Louise Graham, Chief Director: International Relations, DAC,  briefed the Committee on the African Union Charter for African Cultural Renaissance (the Charter), which had been submitted to Parliament for consideration and approval for ratification in terms of the section 231(2) of the Constitution. The briefing also sought input from the Committee on the associated draft implementation strategy for the Charter in South Africa.

Ms Graham set out the background to the Charter. It had been endorsed by the first African Union Conference of Ministers of Culture held in Nairobi 10 -14 December 2005 and was adopted by the 6th ordinary session of the African Union Assembly in Khartoum, Sudan, on 24 January 2006. It recognised the role of culture in political emancipation and in economic and social development, because it was accepted that cultural exchanges and initiatives contributed to mutual enrichment, understanding between human beings, and to peace amongst states. 

Six of the African Union states had ratified the Charter so far (Mali, Senegal, Nigeria, Congo, Chad and Ethiopia) whilst another 28 had signed it. Like other international instruments, the Charter did not replace any national cultural policies but complemented and strengthened existing cultural policies and cultural engagements in the Continent.

The Charter embodied a number of outcomes, specifically the promotion of the unified combination of culture, arts, cultural values, language, heritage and cultural and creative industries as central to sustainable development. In practical terms, these outcomes had a potential to become strong contributors to the economy, social cohesion, technological progress and poverty alleviation. The Charter was aligned, within South Africa, to the Industrial Growth Plan, the National Development Plan, the White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage and the Mzansi Golden Economy Strategy.

The ratification of the Charter by the South African government was a response to the Declaration on Cultural Renaissance and Shared Values, taken at the 16th Ordinary Session of the AU Heads of State and Government in Equatorial Guinea in January 2011. The AU Campaign on the Charter had been launched late in 2011 in South Africa.  South Africa’s signing of the Charter was done during Africa Day celebrations in May 2012.

The consultations and workshops that had been held in 2011-2013 were wide-ranging, had raised awareness of the Charter and also identified the importance and significance of the Charter for South African arts and cultural life. Following this, a discussion document entitled ‘Policy alignment: the Charter for African Cultural Renaissance’ had been developed, which revealed the policy for strong alignment of the Charter, with substantial knowledge and awareness of the Charter within the Department, in other government Departments and amongst stakeholders in civil society.  A booklet on the Charter had also developed and translated into seTswana and isiZulu, as part of promotion and popularising the Charter. There remained challenges in the lack of synergy between policies and programmes, but there were clear indicators of progress. The draft implementation plan addressed those areas which still needed alignment.

Ms Graham said that the implementation strategy of the Charter had taken several aspects into consideration:

- The Charter was divided into four imperatives: Economic, Social, Political and Cultural.
- There had been a policy alignment of the Charter with existing policies, programmes and strategies.
- The Department had identified gaps and areas of improvement.
- There was a proposal to incorporate the identified gaps into the Review of the White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage.
- Long-term interventions were advocated to ensure that the needs of culture and creative industries were sufficiently accommodated in the National Development Plan and Industrial Policy Action Plan.
- the Department would ensure commitment to the implementation of the Charter through implementation forums at national and provincial government spheres.

Ms Graham again emphasised the alignment of the Charter with local imperatives, and said that although there were still challenges in the lack of synergy between policies and programmes, lack of appropriate funding and financing strategies and models, limited research institutions, skilled policy makers and centres of excellence, as well as the absence of relevant or updated national policies, there had been clear indicators of progress.

She described the areas of progress, noting the adoption of the four complementary strategies: the Mzansi Golden Economy Strategy, the Social Cohesion Strategy, the National Development Plan and the Industrial Growth Plan. The current White Paper for Arts and Culture was being reviewed, into a new Cultural Policy for the Department of Arts and Culture. South Africa had also made substantive progress in recognising the importance of indigenous languages in policy and legislation.

Most of the provisions encapsulated in the Charter had already been accommodated in existing policies, strategies and programmes in government, as outlined in the policy alignment document.  To be fully compliant with the provisions of the Charter, there were, however, certain elements of the economic, political, social and cultural imperatives of the Charter that would require, in South Africa, a concomitant  strengthening of existing efforts or new programmes. To address this, the DAC planned to:

-Support cultural development through fiscal incentives.
-Stimulate artistic creation through the articulation of funding into a coherent system.
-Advocate for tax exemption for cultural goods and services.
-Take a lead on enacting inter-African laws and regulations guaranteeing the protection of copyright.
-Implement the Social Cohesion Strategy championed by the Department of Arts and Culture.
-Support existing Pan African Platforms that promoted exchange and dialogue.
-Strengthen ties with the African diaspora.
-Support an education system that would emphasise universal principles of human rights. 
-Develop a national arts development programme for the youth, incorporating the resources of all cultural, education and development agencies.
-Support existing programmes and new programmes in education and training institutions that provided professional tuition in contemporary and indigenous art forms in all disciplines.
-Use all forms of media to promote the arts, disseminate information, educate consumer and create arts programming in support of this.
-Consider developing a language programme to accommodate the adoption of Swahili as a fourth official language in the African Union.
-Promote the general history of Africa to schools in multiple languages.
-Build the capacity of the cultural sector and stakeholders.
-Resource the forums set up to end the pillage and illicit traffic in African cultural property, such as the National Forum for the Law Enforcement of Heritage related matters.
-Develop mechanisms that would ensure that archives and other historical records were returned to South Africa.
-Establish inter-African cultural co-operation.
-Explore the feasibility of hosting ‘seasons’ with other African countries.

Ms Graham said that the four imperatives would allow synergy in the cross-cutting policy obligations of the Charter and ensure alignment in a broader sense of development in South Africa. Monitoring and Evaluation mechanisms involved the establishment of an inter-departmental Charter Committee in line with the imperatives, with the DAC overseeing progress and reporting. The Charter Committee would identify champions from all relevant departments against the implementation of the Charter.

The Provincial Workshops would establish provincial forums, consisting of a Charter Committee, with provincial government and local municipalities. Terms of reference to guide that Charter Committee would be developed. It was expected that the Charter Committee would deliver annual reports to the AU Conference of the Ministers of Culture every years, and a comprehensive report to Cabinet every four years.

The Planned launch – of symposium and provincial workshops - would further interrogate the issues outlined already, and set out the specifics.

Reference group members would include:
- Ms Monica Newton, former CEO of the National Arts Council (NAC), as its involvement was on institutional expertise and ensuring representation in the strategy. NAC was also planning to resuscitate the continental dialogue with other arts councils in the region and Continent, using the Charter as a guiding document.
- Prof Phindile Lukhele-Olorunju, Acting CEO of the Africa Institute of South Africa, who had good relations with the academic and research institutions in South Africa and rest f the Continent and diaspora. The Africa Institute was seen as appropriate to create a link between the Charter and research base work. Its expertise would be used to access the academic community in the implementation of the Charter.
- Mr Tshepo Mashiane, Secretary General of Economic, Social and Cultural Council – South African Chapter (ECOSOCC-SA Chapter). This was an institution established under Article 2 and 22 of the AU Constitutive Act. Its involvement would enhance the government engagement with the civil society and create dialogue and sustainable partnerships to enhance the implementation of the Charter.

She outlined the departments that were directly affected as Department of Trade and Industry, National Planning Commission, Department of Basic Education, Department of Higher Education and Training, Department of Labour, Department of Communications, Department of Tourism, Department of Science and Technology and Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

Ms Graham finally set out the implications of the Charter. There were no financial implications for ratifying the Charter. However, it was planned that interdepartmental meetings would be held with affected departments to develop 5-year plans, in line with the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) cycle, starting in 2014. The Charter obligations were consisted with the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. Vulnerable groups were beneficiaries of the implementation strategy of the Charter, especially youth, in relation to national arts development programmes, professional training, education and language promotion. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, and Department of International Relations and Cooperation had confirmed that the Charter did not contravene domestic laws and it was in line with international laws.

She finally summarised that there would be an official launch and symposium on the Charter, with provincial and institutional workshops for implementation. There would be  collaboration with the AU Committee for Social Affairs to campaign for ratification in other regions. A consolidated progress report would be given to the AU Conference of Ministers of Culture to be held in October 2014.

Members were asked to note the presentation, consider the draft  strategy for implementing the Charter and consider and approve the Charter for ratification.

Ms Van Schalkwyk asked why only 6 of the 34 members of the AU had ratified the Charter to date.

The Chairperson agreed that this was a concern.

Ms Graham replied that 28 countries had signed, but the ratification process was quite long. This was why the AU had begun a ratification drive.

Mr Van Den Berg asked what the other official languages of the African Union were.

The Chairperson said she supported the inclusion of Swahili in the official languages of the African Union, as there were no African languages at present.

Ms Graham agreed that it was imperative to have something other than former colonial languages as official languages.

Mr Van den Berg asked if within the African Union there was a department that dealt with the cultural renaissance.

Ms Graham replied that the mandate lay under the Cultural Desk and a Commissioner. 

The Chairperson asked about the tax exemption for cultural goods and services. She was sceptical on how it could be implemented, and noted that there were opportunities for abuse; for instance, some could say food was a cultural matter.

Ms Graham replied that part of this was at a practical level, giving platforms to artists, but others were aspirational. The World Trade Organisation was not keen on providing special rules for cultural goods and services, but the communities were pushing for this as culture brought people together in a number of ways. UNESCO was in constant engagement with the WTO on the issue of exemptions and taxes.

The Chairperson asked how archives and historical cultural goods would be returned, and what would happen if something was particularly valuable and the country holding that article was only prepared to provide a copy.

Ms Graham replied that UNESCO was in constant negotiation with countries on this point. There had been examples of successes when heritage was returned but there had also been some trouble in terms of restitution, with some countries refusing to give back artefacts. South Africa was pushing for the returning of cultural goods ,but then South Africa in turn would have to ensure that it was not holding cultural goods belonging to others.

Mr P Ntshiqela (COPE) asked where one could get access to the document that had been translated into other languages.

Ms Graham replied that she would make sure the Committee received copies.

Mr Van Den Berg asked about the role of the Committee in this process.

The Chairperson said that when a quorum was available, the Committee would decide to recommend ratification of the Charter to the full House.

The meeting was adjourned.

Share this page: