The Portfolio Committee discussed in detail the Committee report on the Department of Arts and Culture budget, and adopted it with several amendments that had been proposed by Members. When the Chairperson asked if the Department was still planning to invite the Committee to their own strategic planning meeting, the Committee secretary said she had not received an invitation from the Department yet, but noted that the content advisor was opposed to accepting an invitation. When asked for an explanation, the content advisor said that it became problematic when an oversight entity attended strategic planning meetings of departments, because of the division of power. He proposed that the Committee should send recommendations to the Department only after reading through their strategic plan.
Issues raised by Members during discussion included the need to learn more about the key functions of the Mzansi Golden Centre, what the time frame was for the placement of teachers in schools, where control over the Public Library Service’s budget resided, and the challenge of providing funding to historically disadvantaged entities.
The Chairperson said that before 1994, there were entities that the government was not funding due to the apartheid government, and there were those that were funded. Therefore the cycle had continued, in the sense that the challenges did not allow them to restructure the system and also focus on historically disadvantaged entities as well. The reality was that there were provinces that were still receiving more money from the government than others. The Committee was not saying the Department should stop funding them, but that they should do more to improve poor provinces, because it was about transformation more than anything else. A Member added that larger entities always seemed to get more funding than the smaller ones, and that in itself could cause a major problem. The Department tended to look at the building and structure of an entity and forget about the impact that it might have on the community. This could be one of the reasons why funding on some entities was low.
A Member said the history of many people, especially black people -- including Coloureds and Indians – had been distorted due to the apartheid system and it had become difficult to trace one’s roots. This had become a serious issue, and he hoped the Department was able to assist by investing in studies such as theology.
The minutes of the Portfolio Committee’s meetings of 24 June and July 1 were adopted.
The Chairperson started the meeting by thanking Members for their commitment to the Committee, as well as to the Department, and for being passionate about their work, especially during their first meetings. She hoped the Committee would continue to show the same passion during their future meetings. She asked the Members to look at the agenda and make recommendations or proposals on the items for discussion.
Mr J Mahlangu (ANC) said that he would propose the adoption of the agenda, but said he had received a letter of invitation from a museum, which he believed all the other Members had received as well. He was not sure how to handle such a request from a museum, and asked if the letter should form part of the agenda or not.
Mr T Makondo (ANC) said that the invitation should first have been directed to the Chairperson through the Committee secretary, and then the Committee secretary would have communicated it to the Committee.
Mr Ajabulile Mtiya, the Committee secretary, said invitations were sent through his office and he would then extend the invitation to the Committee. If they accepted the invitation, he would then advise those who had sent it. He would look into the matter of the museum invitation, as he had not yet seen it.
Mr Makondo seconded the proposal for the adoption of the agenda.
Adoption of Committee minutes: 24 June and 1 July
The Chairperson asked the Committee to look at the minutes of the 24 June 2014 meeting.
After correcting the spelling of Mr Makondo’s surname, Mr Mahlangu proposed the adoption of the minutes, seconded by Ms S Tsoleli (ANC).
The Chairperson asked the Committee to look at the minutes of the 1 July 2014. Mr Mahlangu asked that Members who had sent in apologies, as well as those that had been recorded as being late, should also be indicated to which political party they belonged, just as those who were present had been recorded on the minutes.
The Chairperson said that the Committee secretary would make those adjustments.
Mr Mahlangu proposed that the minutes should have more content in them. Each of the agendas should at least be explained, so that the person reading the minutes would have some kind of understanding of what the agenda entailed, rather than giving only key words. This would also be helpful to new Members, as it would help them to understand the activities that had been taking pace in the Committee, and also what they could expect. Any member from outside of the Committee would not find the minutes valuable at all, because they did not contain enough content.
Dr G Grootboom (DA) said that the second sentence on the second page of the document covered Mr Mahlangu’s question, as it outlined the specifications of the meetings. He explained further by giving examples from the document.
Mr Makondo said that he understood Dr Grootboom’s statement, but he also believed that a little content could be added to the minutes, as the Department would be keeping them as records. These records could be used to determine how the Department was positioned, and should at least contain three lines detailing the events of a presentation.
The Chairperson said she wanted to encourage Members to continue to add input, as the documents were a reflection of the Committee as a whole. There was no reason to change the minutes of their previous meetings, but she would ensure that the secretary made the proposed changes in their next draft minutes.
Dr Grootboom asked if there was a budget for the Committee’s activities and site visits, as there had not been a budget presentation.
The Chairperson said she would give the Committee secretary an opportunity to respond, adding that they were planning to have a strategic planning session where they would get a better understanding of what the Department’s roles are responsibilities were. This would enable them to include those activities into their strategic plan, as well as plan for their budget.
Mr Mahlangu asked the Chairperson what was meant by the term ‘entities’ in the minutes. Did this included the Department as well?
The Chairperson said that it did include the Department.
The Committee then proceeded on to the consideration and adoption of the Budget Vote Report. The Chairperson reminded the Committee that there was a lot of work to be done in a short space of time, and she wanted Members to have an input into the Report and make recommendations where they saw fit. The Committee’s management would present the report, and Members would have a chance to discuss it clause by clause, and ask questions.
Committee Report on Department of Arts and Culture Budget
The Mr Mtiya presented the Budget Vote Report (see document) page by page, and Members were allowed to asked questions after every section. The Committee’s secretary read sections one to three of the report, and the Chairperson asked if there were any questions, comments, corrections or concerns.
Dr G Grootboom referred to part three of the first section, and asked what the Mzansi Golden Economy (MGE) was, what its key functions were and what it involved.
Mr Makondo referred to the last sentence of part three, and asked about the time frame for the placement of teachers into schools. He asked when the Department would start with this programme.
Ms Tsoleli proposed a correction, and said that ‘transforming society and uniting the country’ should be changed to ‘social cohesion’.
Mr Mahlangu said that another word instead of ‘Findings’ should be used in part three, because the term did not make sense or correlate with the information under the heading. The word suggested that they were making recommendations, and that was not the case.
Mr Makondo echoed Mr Mahlangu’s views. The first point of part three did not relate to any finding, but rather explained why the Department had been created and its purpose.
Mr Mxolisi Dlamuka, Committee content advisor, assured Members they would get a copy of the strategic plan. The Department had already started with the placement of teachers into schools, as he had already presented on the topic before. He also asked the Committee if the word ‘observations’ would be more suitable, in place of ‘findings,’ and said all the recommendations from the Committee would be included.
The Committee secretary continued with the presentation. Once the presentation of section 4.2 (page 3) had been completed, the Chairperson allowed the Committee to ask questions.
Dr Grootboom referred to the fourth paragraph, and said the word ‘prevailing’ should be changed to ‘current’.
Mr Mahlangu said that the words “social cohesion” and “nation building” should not be used interchangeably. The Department used the words “nation building,” but the report referred to “social cohesion.”
Mr M Rabotapi (DA) said he was confused about the last sentence of part 4.2, where it spoke about reductions that had been mainly effective in spending on the Mzansi Golden Economy strategies. He asked if the reductions had affected the spending, or if the spending had caused the reductions.
The Chairperson stressed the issue of sentence structure and said once the report became public, they would not be able to answer the public with questions. Therefore, the Committee should take note of the way the document was written. She also responded to Mr M Rabotapi’s question and said the reductions had caused effective spending on the MGE strategies. The Committee secretary continued with section 4 of the presentation.
Mr J Mahlangu asked about Figure 3 that was mentioned in Programme 3, and to which amount it referred.
Mr Dlamuka said that it was a error -- it was supposed to be Figure 1 -- and gave an assurance that the mistake would be corrected.
Mr Mahlangu requested the figures on table 2 and 3 of pages 6 and 7 to be changed to make them easier to read and understand. Some of the figures were shown in millions, while others were in trillions, and changes would make them easy to distinguish.
Mr Makondo asked the Chairperson if it was possible to get the views of the Committee on whether they supported the introduction of changing ‘thousand’ to ‘million,’ to make the figures easy to read.
The Committee agreed. The Chairperson also said the last sentence of Programme 1 should be correctly structured and summarised, because it did not make sense to her at that moment.
Ms A Matshobeni (EFF) said that she had a concern with Programme 4’s Table 3 of the budget, and asked about the Public Library Services’ budget control. She knew that budgets were allocated to Library Services, but what happened when there were budget allocations that were not spent on the purpose they were meant for?
Dr Grootboom said since the budget allocations were determined by the national government, how did the libraries access this money from the national government?
The Chairperson said only the Department was capable of answering his question, but stressed that it was one of the issues that the Committee had to know about.
Ms Tsoleli asked if the Committee researchers could look into the matter so that the Committee could have some knowledge before they engaged with the Department.
Mr Makondo commented that under the new constitution, many of the municipal functions -- such as libraries -- had now become part of the provincial functions. The national government should work together with the provinces to allocate funds to the libraries through the municipalities.
Mr Mahlangu said suggested that the Committee should adopt the first part of the report that had been presented, and that the final draft should be sent to the Committee once it had been written.
The Chairperson said section five of the report could be viewed as the findings from all the provinces. The Committee’s researcher, Ms Fiona Clayton, took over as the presenter of the report.
Dr Grootboom said that not being able to provide funding to historically disadvantaged entities should not be the only challenge facing the Department, but rather not being able to provide funding to any of the entities they supported. If there were entities that were not perceived as being historically disadvantaged and they did not receive funding, then those entities should also be included as challenges. He also asked about the accuracy of the amount of bursaries that had been awarded by the Department, because he did not believe it to be a true reflection of what was happening.
Mr Mahlangu said he agrees with Dr Grootboom’s comments, but also said that instead of using bullet form to list the ‘matters of concern,’ they should use numbers and have corresponding recommendations to the matters. He further asked if the ‘non compliance’ of 5.1 and 5.2 on page eight had the same meaning. He stressed upon the importance of structuring sentences well, and they should make sense. Lastly, he thought that many of the ‘matters of concern’ should be included under ‘recommendations,’ and pointed out that the ‘challenges’ should be accompanied by recommendations.
The Chairperson also noted that the Department should not merely strive to spend 100% of its budget -- it should always spend 100% of its budget.
Mr Makondo asked if the correction of the R70 million, mentioned under ‘matters of concern,’ had actually been corrected, or if the Committee researcher had noted the correction.
Mr Dlamuka said there were some issues where he would need the help of the Committee. Issue 5.1 and 5.2 did not mean the same thing, and 5.1 meant that the Chairperson of Council did not sign off on the entities on the basis that the entity was not approved by the Council. The second issue meant that the entity had been approved by the Council, but it had not been signed off by the Chairperson. Therefore, 5.1 and 5.2 had different meanings. He asked the Committee if the funding of historically disadvantaged entities as a challenge should be removed, or only changed.
The Chairperson said that before 1994, there were entities that the government was not funding due to the apartheid government, and there were those that were funded. Therefore the cycle had continued, in the sense that the challenges did not allow them to restructure the system and also focus on historically disadvantaged entities as well. The reality was that there were provinces that were still receiving more money from the government than others. The Committee was not saying the Department should stop funding them, but that they should do more to improve poor provinces, because it was about transformation more than anything else.
Mr Makondo suggested that the Committee use the word ‘distribute,’ rather than ‘spent,’ so that it did not come across as it did.
Mr Mahlangu added that larger entities always seemed to get more funding than the smaller ones and that itself could cause a big problem. The Department tended to look at the building and structure of an entity and forgot about the impact that it might have on the community. This could be one of the reasons why funding on some entities was low.
The Chairperson thanked Members for their input and said she thought the Committee had captured some of their concerns. She asked if there was anything they would like to add.
Mr Mahlangu responded by saying the history of many people, especially black people -- including Coloureds and Indians – had been distorted due to the apartheid system and it had become difficult to trace one’s roots. This had become a serious issue, and he hoped the Department was able to assist by investing in studies such as theology.
The Chairperson said the Department should encourage the public to do things themselves, such as looking into their family history, to know about their heritage.
She reminded the Committee that she had been tasked with the responsibility of writing to the Minister to follow up on the mistakes that had been identified and should have been corrected, and that when she received a response from the Minister, she would communicate this with the Committee.
The content advisor presented the response letter to the Committee. The letter had stated that the Department was in no position to respond on the matter that had been asked, because the Minister was out of the country with the President. The letter also said that it would deal with the matter once the Minister had returned. The Department also asked the Committee to be patient with them, and said they planned to reply by no later than 15 July 2014.
The Chairperson asked the Committee if they accepted the response by the Minister.
Mr Mahlangu said that he accepted the response and hoped the Minister will respond by 15 July. The Members agreed.
The Chairperson said it was important that they hold the Department accountable, and that when there were mistakes, they should correct them. She also said that she would like the Committee to take a look at the report again and make sure that there were no corrections that had been left out.
Mr Makondo said they were a very committed and loyal team and he believed they had addressed all the issues that had been raised.
Ms Tsoleli asked when they should expect the final written report.
The Chairperson said she firstly wanted the report to be adopted before she could continue to answer any questions.
Mr Mahlangu said he proposed the adoption of the report, with the corrections, and was supported by the Members.
The Chairperson asked if the Department was still planning to invite the Committee to their own strategic planning meeting.
The Committee secretary said that she had not received any invitation from the Department yet, but noted that their content advisor was opposed to accepting an invitation.
The Chairperson asked the content advisor to explain to the Committee why he was advising against accepting an invitation.
The content advisor said that it became problematic when an oversight entity attended strategic planning meetings of departments, because of the division of power. He proposed that the Committee should send recommendations to the Department only after reading through their strategic plan.
The Chairperson gave the Committee an opportunity to raise concerns or ask questions.
Mr Rabotapi asked about the cultural centres that had recently stopped operating, and how they were evaluated with regard to their cultural education facilities.
Mr Makondo said that the centres were funded and maintained by the provinces. The provinces assisted them with research pertaining to cultural matters.
The Chairperson then thanked the Members of the Committee. They had started working well together and it was not about them as individuals, but rather about the communities they served. She also thanked the Committee’s management team for being committed and taking their work seriously.
The meeting was adjourned.
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