Briefing by South African Heritage Resource Agency on the National Heritage Resources Act

Arts and Culture

16 August 2002
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Meeting report

16 August 2002


Ms Njobe (ANC)

Documents handed out:

The Establishment of Provincial Heritage Resources Authorities
South African Heritage Resource Agency Act 25, 1999

The South African Heritage Resources Agency was established as the national co-ordinating structure for all heritage structures. But the Agency faces difficulties in closing the gap that exists between itself and the provincial heritage structures. The difficulty experienced by SAHRA in managing the provincial structures is largely due to the autonomy which those structures enjoy and the Act is silent on this fact. SAHRA feels disempowered by the Act and requested the Committee to address this issue. SAHRA proposed that Section 8(5) should be amended in order to empower it to fill the gaps in the provinces and also Section 58 (10) in order to capacitate the Agency in terms of resources. The Agency believes that this would ensure that culture and heritage are upheld.

The SAHRA Chief Executive Officer, Ms P Madiba, briefed the Committee on the problems faced by her agency in implementing the provisions of the enabling Act. Her presentation focused on the management aspect of the Agency and also touched on the importance of establishing the Provincial Heritage Resources Authorities. The CEO was accompanied by Mr D Ngomane, SAHRA Legal Advisor and Ms Joan Marx. (please refer to the attached documents for the full presentation)

Ms N Tsheole (ANC) acknowledged the discrepancies in the Act and also applauded SAHRA for raising its problems with the Committee. She suggested that this is the only way the Committee would become aware of the problems existing in implementing the legislation. She suggested that the Committee should further discuss this problems raised by SAHRA and, where necessary, also seek legal advice. She asked what communications strategies SAHRA had developed in making the public aware of the existence of heritage structures, especially in rural areas.

Ms Madiba explained that in terms of the Constitution both the National and Provincial Governments have concurrent jurisdiction on issues of heritage. But, due to the gap which exist between itself and the provincial structures there has not been much communication in this regard. They have met with MINMEC on various occasions to address these problems but all their meetings were fruitless, except in KwaZulu Natal where the government showed a willingness to cooperate.

Ms S Motubatse (ANC) noted that in many areas the old structures, which were supposed to be protected in terms of the Act, were being demolished. She asked what SAHRA is doing to ensure that these structures are preserved and whether they raised this issue in their meetings with MINMEC. Since next month is a heritage month, what was SAHRA planning to do to celebrate Heritage Day?

Ms Madiba responded that in the past all their gatherings had been turned into rallies but they intend to use this forthcoming one for communication gathering. In order to ensure that this becomes a success they would approach media structures, such as radio and television stations. However, to ensure the success of the communication on the significance of heritage structures would require much resources.

Ms T Tshivhase noted that many heritage buildings were demolished during the apartheid era, especially during removal. She asked what mechanism are in place to ensure that the existing buildings are preserved and who is responsible for ensuring that they are not turned into businesses.

Mr Ngomane replied that in terms of Section 34 all these buildings are supposed to be protected. However, to require SAHRA to investigate whether this is really the case would be too cumbersome for the Agency. The protection of the heritage sites fall squarely within the authority of the PHRA.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee should also address the problems raised by SAHRA while deliberating on the Act.

Ms A Van Wyk (NNP) acknowledged that the enactment of the Act was based on idealistic views. As the Agency progresses the problems which were not appreciated before become much clear. Since the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology is going to be divided into two, she proposed that the new Director-General, who is going to be appointed for Arts and Culture, should be encouraged to support SAHRA, especially in terms of resources. Awareness programmes on the importance of preserving heritage structure should be conducted and SAHRA should appoint a representative in every province. SAHRA representatives in the provinces should work directly with PHRA, especially on issues of concurrent jurisdiction. She asked what SAHRA is doing to ensure that heritage sites on the grassroot level are also preserved.

Ms Madiba responded that SAHRA acknowledge the importance of education and that history and education always go together. It is therefore important that the Department of Education together with the Department of Art and Culture initiates educational programmes on the school level.

Mr S Dithebe (ANC) noted that even though the Act is a good one on paper, the inconsistencies and the gaps it created could not go unchallenged.

Ms Madiba also noted that this is the reason why SAHRA is proposing amendments to the Act. She noted that the Agency is in the process of finalising its proposed amendments and as soon it is finished it would seek the advice of the Committee before presenting to the Minister.

Ms Tsheole said that it seems as if, in the past, SAHRA had played a minimal role when it comes to heritage celebrating. She held SAHRA should be on the driving seat together with the Department on the Heritage Day celebrations. The gap created between SAHRA and the provincial structures should be addressed, especially where there is concurrent jurisdiction, taking into account that SAHRA is a legislative body created by an Act of Parliament.

Ms Motubatse held that the Committee, together with SAHRA, should ensure that heritage structures are protected and also managed in the national interest.

The meeting was adjourned.



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