The Joint meeting focused on two presentations from two Schedule one institutions of the Constitution established to advance democracy in South Africa. These were the Pan South African Language Board and the Commission for the Promotion & Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious & Linguistic Communities.
The Committees firstly considered the presentation for Pan South African Language Board. Members were told that the purpose of the presentation was to give an overview of the Pan South African Language Board’s mandate and its current activities and programs. It was argued that there was confusion about the status of the institution under the Public Finance Management Act and the amendment of the Pan South African Language Board Act in 1999. The institution was in the process of reorganizing its strategy, to provide language products and services that lead to equitable use of all South African languages including Khoinum & San Languages as well as South African sign language. After the dissolution of the board of directors in June 2012, the institution was put under the management of a caretaker Chief Executive Officer to help advance a turnaround strategy to enable the institution effectively discharge its mandate. The adopted turnaround strategy was a very costly exercise and was not funded by government despite the promises of funding. The institution had to find means of funding the exercise leading to the over expenditures reflected in its financial statements. Further, during the period of the turnaround strategy, the institution did not generate revenue in its normal course of business. This also contributed to its lack of funds to help facilitate its projects. However, revenue generation mechanisms have been set-up to mitigate the funding problem. As part of its achievements, the institution had developed a language policy, established a revenue generation unit, and issued a scholarship which was going to pay tuition for learners engaging in linguistic studies among others. Its key challenge was failure to fully deliver on its constitutional mandate a problem which resulted from lack of adequate funds. A new board of directors had been appointed and taken over office at the Pan South African Language Board. The board had acknowledged that the institution had many problems which required immediate address.
The members of the Committee noted that language was very important because it was attributed to human identification and questioned why the institution was requesting for inauguration as a constitutional entity. The institution had received a disclaimer from the Auditor General because it was overspending and hiding documents for audit purposes.
The Committee then considered the presentation by the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious & Linguistic Communities. Members were told that the Commission had a new governing body which had taken over office in April 2014. Its object was to promote the respect for and further the protection of the rights of cultural, religious and linguistic communities. The rights sought to be protected by the commission were at the core of identification of human beings and rebuilding the nation to promote democracy in South Africa. The Commission had released a report on initiation schools which kick started a debate on the matter in the country. Further, the commission was engaging in research to define and educate the masses about cultural practices like Ukuthwala. The Commission had also engaged with the case in the Western Cape High Court where a man was accused of performing another act other than Ukuthwala on a 14 year old girl. Members were told that the commission was engaging in research on complaints raised on the marginalization of some languages like Nguthu. Further, the Commission was engaging with Traditional healers to find a solution to the problems associated with witch doctors especially in the rural areas. There was also a problem of recycling and demolition of graves; and a group of people had been refused access to graves in order to visit their ancestors. To find a solution to this problem, the commission was in talks to partner with the human rights commission to find a solution to these problems. The commission needed more funding to establish provincial offices in order to offer their services to people in the rural areas.
The Members of the Committee told the commission that the issue of disappearing languages was an inevitable aspect which was happening all over the world because of the changing trends. However, it should draw lessons from multilingual international communities to find out how they have preserved their languages. The commission was advised not to attach financial solutions to non-financial problems in a bid to bridge the gap of inadequate funding.
Briefing by Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB)
Ms Karabo Mbele, Acting Chief Executive Officer, PanSALB, tabled the presentation. She said the purpose of the presentation was to give an overview of the organisation’s mandate, its roles in the legislation, its current activities and programs. The board of PanSALB was created by the constitution of the Republic of South Africa to promote and ensure the use and respect of all languages in South Africa. Other legislation which regulates and governs the activities of PanSALB was highlighted in the course of the presentation. PanSALB was a Schedule 1 institution which meant it is one of the institutions that supported democracy. The amendment of the PanSALB Act 1995 serves as a guideline to PanSALB operations and governance. This amendment states that PanSALB is a schedule 3A public entity and gives the Minister the authority to appoint and disband the PanSALB board. This creates a contradiction with PFMA which regards PanSALB as an institution supporting democracy. PanSALB isin the process of reorganizing its strategy, and currently has three programs; program one on administration, program two on business development and program three on public engagements. The executive body of PanSALB consists of the PanSALB board, the risk and audit committee, the remuneration and human rights committee, language technical committee, the Chief Executive Officer, the Chairperson’s forum, thirteen National language bodies and nine provincial language committees, all of which are structures of the board. PanSALB is located in Pretoria and has nine provincial offices.
Situation at PanSALB before 15 June 2012
The PanSALB strategy prior to 15 June 2012 was not tabled before Parliament and thus not implementable. The growth in expenditure became evident but the budget was not increased; programs were not aligned to the mandate of the institution and were under funded; it lacked continuity and alignment between the 2010, 2011 and 2012; there was lack of performance measures and lack of monitoring of the organizational performance. A resolve group was given a mandate to look and conduct a due diligence into PanSALB and produced a report leading to the appointment of a caretaker Chief Executive Officer. The report showed that there was lack of executive management expertise, little or no accountability of staff; no performance management system, lack of consultation with PanSALB stakeholders, no national meetings and little communication with provincial managers. Further, there were high litigation costs due to cases brought against PanSALB by staff members, extremely high travel costs, a board appointment oversight where only six members instead of thirteen were appointed to the board of directors where some of the appointed board members had very low morale to execute their mandate leading to failure for the board to translate its mandate into a set of clear and cogent programs of action for the institution; and there was no audit and risk committee. PanSALB was under funded to meet its Constitutional mandate yet there were high increase operational costs resulting to the directing away of resources from operations. There was no proper supply chain and management processes as well as acquisition processes.
Situation at PanSALB after 15 June 2012
After 15 June 2012, the Board of Directors at PanSALB was dissolved and a caretaker was appointed. The main objective of the appointment of the care taker was to turn around PanSALB to effectively discharge its mandate with a developed and rolled out turn-around strategy for implementation. This was based on consultations with internal structures like the NOB’s, PLU’s, the editors in chief, senior and provincial managers. There were provincial visits of the structures, provincial staff and external key stakeholders. There were provincial “indaba’s”, establishment of stakeholder forums and sub committees and development of language programs. These consultations were used to gather the turn-around strategy to ensure that PanSALB does execute its mandate. This exercise was very costly for PanSALB however the turn-around strategy was adopted. Further, during the implementation of the turn-around strategy at PanSALB, no revenue was generated by the institution which is expected to generate revenue during its normal course of business hence the lotteries project to try and generate revenue.
The institution over spending is due to inadequate budget allocation that does not cater for its constitutional mandate. This problem results from the contradiction between the Constitution and the PFMA where the latter considers the institution as a schedule 3 organisation while the former considers it as a schedule 1 institution. However, revenue generation mechanisms have been set-up to mitigate the underfunding problem.
As part of its achievements, PanSALB has developed the language policy; established a revenue generation unit which has currently raised R20 million besides the grant and almost one million rand from services provided to the Gauteng sports, arts and culture; appointed internal auditors; held colloquiums and academic debates in the various institutions of higher learning; verified and authenticated various language products; established a Dr Neville Alexander Language Scholarship; monitoring and evaluation unit have been established; developed an ICT strategy, an ICT compliance and governance framework; held provincial language “indaba’s”, established a language chairperson’s forum, established stakeholder engagements; established linguistic human rights units; established a linguistic library at the head office and the provinces for example in Limpopo and Free state; established language stakeholder forums most notably in the North West.
The failures it has encountered were due to the lack of revision of the PanSALB budget by treasury. As part of the non-achievements, there was no development of PanSALB language products and services, however national units creating dictionaries had been structured; the institution has a 29% vacancy rate in terms of its staffing contrary to the mandated five per cent, however this will be mitigated under the structure created by PanSALB once it is revived and will reduce the vacancy rate. Further, in some provinces reading clubs are not established, implementation of stakeholder forums has not been completed; establishment of libraries in some provinces is not complete
The institution intends to create an effective service delivery infrastructure which should help the NLU’s in their dictionary development; construction of PanSALB services in some of the provinces for example in Limpopo, Eastern Cape and Kwa Zulu Natal; establish technical resources for support structures.
The key challenges of PanSALB are, failure to deliver on a constitutional mandate, programs are underfunded, a shortfall of R38 million for the 2013/2014 financial year. The lack of funding has resulted in the non-achievement of core services, non-implementation of key projects and non-compliance. The board is unable to carry out its mandate with regards to holding six annual meetings per annum as required by the PanSALB Act due to lack of funds. Currently, the board does not have a budget. Audit and Risk committees are unable to hold their four meetings as stipulated in the Audit and Risk Committee Charter, Tribunal for Language Complaints is unable to hold its four meetings in order to handle language complaints due to underfunding, sub-committees of the PLC’s, NLU’s & NLB’s are unable to hold their four meetings in order to be able to advise the board about language matters in the country, established bodies under PanSALB are underfunded, due to unclear reporting lines the organisation’s strategy document 2013/2014 was not tabled in parliament, lack of capability caused the organization not to achieve its mandate.
The special language project culminated after the lottery granted PanSALB R20 million and consists of three projects- judiciary translations and editor services, Dr Neville Alexander Language Scholarship and the Language publishing house. There is a semi-moratorium on this and have committed themselves to students in the various universities to pay for their tuition fees.
As part of the recommendations, PanSALB requests for additional funding to cover the short fall in order to fulfill its mandate-the PanSALB budget needs to be increased in order to cover the core services, technical resources for support structures must be funded, PanSALB should be transformed into a constitutional entity, the Language infrastructure must be fully implemented and the institution must fully implement the governing body.
The Chairperson of the Committee said the invitation of PanSALB to the Portfolio Committees was to address areas which needed urgent intervention and the presentation addressed this very well. She requested the board members to make additions to the presentation before questions could be raised.
Mr Mbulungoni Madiba, Chairperson, Board of Directors, PanSALB said the Minister appointed a new board which was inaugurated on the 17 July 2014 and has started performing. As an overview, he said they were many questions which could come from the presentation. However the new appointed board has noted some of the concerns like the vacancy in the executive leadership which needs to be appointed immediately for example the Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Financial Officer. The institution was seriously financially compromised; and despite the two year turn-around period, the staff morale was still low. The institution was involved in several unresolved litigation issues. Thus, the board was not focusing on its primary mandate but on its co-mandate and with the available structures the board will be able to turn the institution around. The board had appointed a task team led by the Department of Arts and Culture to look into the key issues affecting the institution.
Mr B Bhanga (DA) requested an explanation on the request of making PanSALB a constitutional entity. What was meant by the board lacking funding to the extent of not holding requisite meeting, yet it was presumed that people get salaries every month. This implies that the institution does not necessarily function. This was not justifiable because the institution had operational costs and saying that the board had no funding meant that parliament had never approved any budget relating to the institution. Thus from the presentation, there was something illegal happening relating to the operation of the institution. How did the institution get its money? There was urgent need for a meeting with the Minister to give an account on the problematic areas of the institution as the officials and board might not be able to respond to these problems. Apparently the institution that was supposed to assist South Africa in terms of languages was not functioning and it had never functioned.
Mr J Mahlangu (ANC) said that the presentation would have been better understood if the Committee had a prior engagement with PanSALB; issues raised could not be adequately addressed due to time constraints. Another meeting with PanSALB to perfectly address all the issues that needed to be addressed was necessary. From the presentation, conclusions could be drawn that there was no organization. However, this was one of the unique organizations established by the Constitution in South Africa. The presentation had a lot of errors; this raises many questions as to whether the institution was taking its work and Parliament serious. Appearance at the highest accounting body in the land with a presentation containing errors was a problem. The organization had failed to carry out its mandate and this problem needed immediate address from the Portfolio Committee. The entity was wasting a lot of money on litigation issues with its own staff who were taking the organisation to court often. This showed that the organization was not following the recommendations of the court, hence failing the country despite having won a few cases and it had not collected monies resulting from the wins. This indicates that the organization is at war with itself; and the matter should not be entertained by the Portfolio Committee. How many staff members did the institution have if at some stage it was in litigation with about 23 of its staff members? The PFMA does not allow any government organization to over spend or under spend by more than 2%; thus the institution’s expenditures indicated that it was breaking the law. However during the intervention, the administration of the institution was better off but operations have regressed, indicating that the intervention did not assist the institution going forward. How did the organization intend to raise funds to pay for the staff vacancies? The Auditor General (AG) could not make an opinion on the organization due to a lack of records. The AG noted that because the institution was over spending, it was hiding documents. In turn it could not raise issues of underfunding because the same could not be established due to lack of a report from the Auditor General. This situation put the organization in a limbo and the Portfolio Committee could not intervene in such a situation. The institution needed to clean itself and organize itself so it could account to the AG in order to solve the problems of funding. Thus the Portfolio Committee needed sufficient time with the institution and the board of directors to pave a way forward. Allegations that a board that been appointed in July 2014 and given a budget in the same month yet had no money was confusing; what happened to the money that had been allocated to the board in July 2014.
Ms V Mogotsi (ANC) said that if there was no transparency in terms of the AG report it raised concerns on where the management was taking the organization especially on finances. She requested clarity on the contradictions created by the Constitution and the PFMA Act on the status of the organization. The presented report seemed like the 2012 PanSALB report because it has a similar status quo- was the status quo still the same? Why can’t the board execute its own mandate although it was appointed two months ago? The Audit and Risk Committee were very important structures for any board to create checks on the issues of finances and if the board cancels it because they have inadequate funds it creates problems. The presentation was highly flawed. Had the team from PanSALB prepared for the presentation to the joint committees? What was the way forward for the institution because it had no transparency and did it have the capacity to serve the communities and people of South Africa? Both committees would have to reconsider the matter going forward because the institution was not meeting its mandate.
Mr T Makondo (ANC) said the Committee needed to have a meeting with PanSALB to address all its issues because if not attended to the institution will continue to fail the country. The presentation was very conservative in relation to the activities of PanSALB. It was very good at pointing out the weaknesses but lacked a clear strategy on how it is responding to the challenges. There was a need for clarity on the issue of the supposed lack of funding viz a viz the amounts spent on litigation whose expenditure reports were not part of the presentation. Details on the amount spent on litigation were necessary so that an evaluation can be made on whether there is no money or the money is all spent. Why was the turn-around strategy silent on addressing the issues of supply-chain management? There were certain areas that PanSALB should have addressed whether there was money or not like the reading clubs not established in provinces. This can be dealt with under the organizations operational costs because establishment of reading clubs is not a project. The presentation failed to give a clear indication of the provinces where the PanSALB structures had not been established.
Mr G Grootboom (DA) requested for clarification on the under spent expenditure of PanSALB. This was because the presentation provided two amounts.
Mr M Mapulane (ANC) requested a breakdown of the expenditure on the money allocated to PanSALB. Without the breakdown of the expenditure, the Committee could not establish where the institution was under funded.
The Chairperson noted that the issues which had been raised were very useful for PanSALB and should be regarded as food for thought. PanSALB’s failure to execute its mandate impedes on the performance of other institutions and this was a worrying factor.
Ms Karabo apologized for the errors in the presentation document. PanSALB should be a constitutional entity. The PanSALB Act amended in 1999 provides that PanSALB is a schedule 3A public entity. It gives the Minister the authority to appoint and dissolve the PanSALB board. This creates a contradiction with the PFMA on whether PanSALB is a schedule 1 or schedule 3A institution. In 1999 after the amendment of the PanSALB Act, Dr Neville Alexander resigned citing concerns of underfunding since institutions like the NLU’s had been brought under the mandate of PanSALB that equally lacked resources to cater for its previous activities. PanSALB has 108 staff members. The 23 staff members that took PanSALB to court alleged that the Minister had no authority to appoint the caretaker CEO and were still waiting on a date from the court to adjudicate on the matter. In 2012 when the Minister appointed the caretaker CEO, PanSALB was put under administration however it was not given a budget to facilitate its turn-around strategy and basically had to work with the available resources.
Ms Karabo agreed with Mr Mahlangu on grounds that PanSALB had over stepped its boundaries in terms of the over expenditure especially during the turn-around and attending to the recommendations of the resolve group. Further, in attending to the resolve group report, PanSALB expected that the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) would assist them with the funding. In 2013, the caretaker CEO in meeting with the Minister of Arts and Culture (at the time) and the Director-General was promised financial assistance to facilitate the turn-around strategy and the finances were never given. On another occasion with the Portfolio Committee, a delegation from PanSALB was promised R20 million. Based on this, the organization continued with the turn-around process. Unfortunately the necessary documentation was not signed and this money was never given to PanSALB, thus it’s over expenditures and lack of adequate funding.
Ms Karabo disagreed with Mr Mahlangu’s assertion that PanSALB was hiding documents from the AG. She said the AG had addressed the board on this matter and one example on why the AG was unable to make a determination of the organization was instances where members of the organisation attended AGMs and a request for original tax clearance was made and they were unable to produce it because it was originally emailed or faxed to them; the AG could not work with such information, hence a failure for determination.
Mr Mahlangu strongly emphasised that he was making an assumption by his earlier remarks. This was because procedurally, when an organization gets a disclaimer from the AG; it means that the AG is not in a position to make an opinion because he has to make an opinion based on documentation.
In response, Ms Karabo said that in terms of the disclaimer, the institution has NLU’s. These are given about R16 million a year and need to be audited. These have their own auditors who are not auditors with PanSALB. The work that had been audited by the NLU’s needed to be reconciled with PanSALB information. However PanSALB failed to get some information from the NLU’s hence the disclaimer.
Ms Karabo said PanSALB had not had a board for the past two years and unfortunately when the budget was prepared, the board was not provided for as well as the Chief Operating Officer position. The intervention had been taken over by the board of directors with the request of DAC to establish a task team to look into the governance; finances of PanSALB and give a determination of the current position and how the current situation can be changed. PanSALB had looked into the supply chain processes; the main problem in this area was the training of staff members who had not been trained for the past three to four years due to lack of funds.
PanSALB is funded by a monthly allocation from DAC. The R38 million will come after the turnaround process when the structure is aligned to its mandate and the mandate is elaborated; for example the structure has a new monitoring and evaluation unit and a linguistic unit. However most of the money goes to staff remuneration. This expenditure was heightened by the response to the Resolve Report which stated that PanSALB did not have staff.
The Chairperson said that it was clear that there were serious problems within PanSALB. The institution has been categorized as a priority for the Portfolio Committee and a day has been allocated to visit PanSALB and meet all officials of the organization. The Committee intends to address all the issues that had been raised and plans to also meet with the current board. It was not correct for PanSALB to say that they had been promised financing by the Portfolio Committee and this assertion was viewed in the strongest terms. Parliament Committees do not disburse funds to entities which reported to them based on the doctrine of separation of powers– this was the preserve of the responsible department. Further, in governance, it was improper for PanSALB to say that they had been promised financing and then do nothing about it- promise is not a strategy of governance. There are processes that have to be followed in order to get the requisite funding and PanSALB needed to take cognizance of these processes.
Briefing by the Commission for the Promotion & Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission)
Ms Thoko Mkhawanazi-Xaluva, Chairperson, CRL Rights Commission, tabled the presentation for the CRL Rights Commission before the Committee. The CRL Rights Commission is the third Commission appointed in March 2014 and inaugurated in April 2014; it has twelve commissioners consisting of ten part time commissioners and two full time commissioners that is; the Chairperson and the Deputy Chairperson. The CRL Rights Commission draws its mandate from the Constitution and the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of cultural, religious and linguistic communities Act No. 19, 2002 which establishes the commission. Its mandate is to promote and protect the rights of cultural, religious and linguistic communities in support of constitutional democracy. The CRL Rights Commission was at the core of identification of persons in South Africa and the organization is at the core of rebuilding the nation. Since the commission had just been appointed, it had a mandate of five year. It was going to address some of the unfinished duties from previous commissions as well as introducing and implementing new possibilities. South Africa is twenty years into Democracy. The role of the CRL Rights Commission was to establish mechanisms on how to foster social cohesion and nation building.
The nation had been in the media in recent times with regards to initiation schools, ukuthwala, Ukuhlolwa and ukungenwa- the commission intends to define these practices. The previous commission released a report on the initiation schools two months ago. The report kick started a huge debate in the country in terms of the acts that were happening in the initiation schools like the hospitalization in the initiation schools. For the first time, the nation was forced to focus on the issue and make recommendations on how to make the system to work better for the young population. Critical research was being conducted to define the issue of ukuthwala and it will be brought before the Portfolio Committee and hopefully aunch the program during the sixteen days of activism of no violence against women and children between November and December 2014. This is the duty of the commission and will ensure that the cultural practices are respected. The CRL Rights commission needed to lead in defining these issues in order to establish what is and what is not Ukuthwala; what is and what is not acceptable under Ukuthwala. To further address the issue, the Commission is a friend of court in the on-going appeal case in the Western Cape High Court of a young man who decided to Ukuthwala a fourteen year old. Its position to the court is that the practice in the case was not Ukuthwala and justice needed to be served. Further, the commission supported Ukuhlolwa as a cultural practice that needs to be protected and promoted. There is however a need to define what it is without any ambiguity so that as a nation, people understand what this means. The Commission is considering the issue of Ukungenwa to establish what it meant and the concerns around the cultural practice. If the named cultural practices are defined; it would enable protecting and promoting culture, religion and language. This process starts with educating the nation on why the cultural practices are valued. This will encourage the respect of cultural communities on practices carried out by other cultural communities other than their own practices and help differentiate abuse from the actual cultural practice.
The Commission had done its research on the language marginalization of the Nguthu language in Kwa Zulu-Natal (KZN). The BaSotho’s who were living in areas predominately inhabited by the Zulu logded a complaint with the commission stating that their language was being eroded by isiZulu. Although they lived there, they found themselves in a foreign speaking environment. The research showed that this situation was factual and recommendations were made and forwarded to the Kwa Zulu Natal provincial government which the commission will be following on. The Nguthu experience is not unique- most border towns or groups of who people find themselves settling into the wrong province which does not accommodate their mother tongue struggle to use their mother tongue. The commission decided to use the Nguthu experience to establish how the given problem has affected other communities nationally.
The Commission had the mandate to restore indigenous knowledge and reclaim indigenous oral histories. For instance, on indigenous games and storytelling which were unique to Africans, there is a need to establish mechanisms to encourage and engage young people with them. Further, they need to be preserved so persons from other culture can appreciate and experience them. Communities needed to tell stories the old fashioned way and story telling skills sold and passed on to the rest of the world. The CRL Rights Commission will foster this by setting up story telling sessions because they are a part of t local languages.
The Commission intends to consider issues of religious freedom. It is important people in South Africa are free to believe in whatever they want to believe; and their religion respected at work, in the communities and nationally. Certain practices are not recognized in some communities; if you live in the suburbs and want to slaughter a cow, this usually becomes an issue. The commission intends to advocate for national legislation on the matter. The Commission will engage in talks with the relevant bodies to request for legislation on this issue to avoid the multiplicity of each municipality developing their own legislation on this matter. However, there are limitations to the enjoyment of the rights on religious freedom. The commission intends to consider the rampant establishment of churches to determine how they impact the lives of the poor in the vulnerable communities in which they are set-up. This was because people in vulnerable communities tend to be very gullible, desperate and can easily be deceived and exploited by the churches. This monitoring will not curtail on their rights to religion but rather will investigate whether the proper structures have been set-up in the particular communities to regulate the churches as well as protect and promote people who believe in the given religions. The commission will let the nation debate on the issue to help pave a way forward.
The issue of graves was a very significant issue which needed to be addressed by the commission with regard to the practices of recycling, demolishing graves and the absence of burial sites. The Commission had received information of municipalities recycling graves. Recycling tampered with the belief of people who believed in their ancestors on grounds that if a grave once contained the remains of one relative and is replaced with the remains of another; he or she would lose connection and grave contact with his or her ancestor. The person has nowhere to go to talk to the deceased ancestor thus recycling of graves distorts African cultures and beliefs and the commission was going to be very firm on this matter. There was also need for national legislation on the issue. This is because the Commission was not going to chase after individual municipalities to ensure that they observe the given rights.There were serious cases where graves have been demolished due to development. This happened in Lephalale where Eskom demolished graves to establish a power plant. Communities have complained to the commission about the removal of their ancestors. The Commission was going to engage with Eskom to determine how to address the problem in that society. Farm workers had complained that farm owners were denying them access to burial sites where their parents had been buried because they were no longer working for their farms. The commission was working on a partnership with the Human Rights Commission to deal with the issues.
The Commission intends to hold dialogues with traditional leaders and traditional healers in order to deal with the problem of people accused of witchcraft and ritual killings in a bid to protect culture and African religion. People referred to as witches practicing witchcraft were being moved from their homes to Baloyi village. The commission needed to address and attach meaning to this practice and talk to traditional healers who identify with the witches. Further, the commission was engaging with the traditional healers on the issue of ritual killings. The commission needed to establish a public awareness campaign especially for the rural areas to educate people on traditional healers other than letting them believe in the negative stories often told about traditional healers.
Sacred sites have become tourist attractions and people can no longer go there to meditate and call on their ancestors because of tourists taking photographs non-stop, including photographs of locals calling on their ancestors. The issue of tourism on the one hand, has to be balanced with the issue of culture and religious rights. This limited the enjoyment of these rights for people because these sites cannot be accessed without interruption from tourists.
Complaints had been received that some indigenous languages were not being promoted and allowed in some institutions of learning. The Commission intends to look into this issue and ensure that the younger generations continue to speak their mother tongue through programs like story telling.
The Commission was engaging and educating especially young people about their CRL rights. For cultures to survive, young people need to be educated about these issues and look at these matters and value them. In this regard, the Sowetan newspaper had published an article to educate the public about these rights. This practice followed the commission’s strategy of using the media to provide information about the CRL rights. Further, the Commission was in talks with the SABC to find a way of partnering with it in order to establish a forum of educating people about these rights.
The Commission intends to educate people on some of the cultural traditions like Ukuhlolwa in a bid to promote inter cultural respect and project South African cultural practices in a positive light. The media has reported some of the practices as acts of rape and abduction of young girls; this type of information diminishes these cultures which were highly protected by the ancestors.
The Commission faced several challenges. It was less funded compared to other chapter nine institutions established by the Constitution. This means that the Commission can not do critical work with this type of funding. The commission needed more funding to establish provincial offices.
The Commission recommended increased involvement of the various Portfolio Committees in assisting it to ensure that the various departments implement its recommendations. Where the departments do not engage, the Commission will inform the portfolio committees to help hold the government departments accountable for not engaging with the CRL Rights Commission. The Commission requested for an increase in the budget allocation by R30 million. The Commission was going to ensure that different cultures are respected and equal citizenship is granted thus reversing the apartheid legacy of devaluing and erasing the heritage of black South Africans; by creating a society with a shared South African identity, without detracting from our diverse multiple identities.
Prof Luka D Mosoma, Deputy Chairperson, CRL Rights Commission, added that one of the critical considerations was to understand the overarching role of the commission. This is because the commission deals with the totality of the human experience; if these rights are not catered for, the definition of what it means to be human is erased. The task of the CRL commission is to protect and promote; its role is to identify that which is good for promotion and thus do not protect and promote everything that is there. Thus, the commission’s task is not to fail the country in matters regarding culture, religion and language. For the commission to promote and protect languages, they must turn into languages of commerce. This is because the only way to bring languages into the mainstream is when they are used for business making purposes. The commission was also going to ensure that young people became cautious of the place of culture, religion and language. It was going to visit all the universities and establish the CRL chapters where students can participate and debate issues according to culture, religion and language.
Mr N Masondo (ANC) said that the debate on this matter was unending, thus the Committee should not become a debating society when addressing these issues. There was need to acknowledge that modernity and culture sit side by side and the South African society has been impacted in a particular way and was unlikely to remain the same forever. Thus the issue of languages disappearing was happening throughout the world. For example; the Phiri from Malawi migrated to South Africa and have absorbed into South African society, thus changed and are different from the Phiri’s in Malawi today. The Banda’s were being taught the Zulu language at UNISA and were national news broadcasters. These kinds of changes must be accepted in society and acknowledged as a reality that can not be fought. On African classical literature, there were many books written in Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho but the books were not available. There was need to publish a standard book on African literature in the many languages of South Africa and also establish a language bookshop in Cape Town. This was because one of the ways of ensuring people retained interest in the language was through classical literature. The Commission should not demand to have their books read if they have not yet published them. Which areas of the commission’s work could yield results without the direct use of the allocated budget? Every presentation spoke of lack of funding and capacity among others; could more work be done under the allocated budgets despite the requests for an increase in budget allocation? It was worrisome for all the work of the commission to depend on the budget. Did the commission have a plan on how it was going to execute its mandate out lining the problem, saying what the responses ought to be and provide the actions that have been undertaken to ensure that what needs to be done happens?
Mr M Hlengwa (IFP) asked for the strategy of the commission on the contentious issue of provincial boundaries. Why was there commercialization of cultural practices and in some circumstances they have actually become a business; for instance these days, people were making outrageous demands for lobola. People have started disassociating with the traditional practice and communities need to be educated on what the practice is and how it should be implemented. Further this practice related to family building and he said that family building should not be commercialized by the use of such practices. The commission should not profer financial solutions to non-financial problems; traditional institutions which could be used to foster the mandate of the commission had long been introduced. The services of the commission should not be limited to universities but other tertiary institutions as well which were often forgotten because of the belief that they do not have capacities. However, the programs of the commission are practical and should be advanced to all persons.
Mr Mahlangu commended the commission for the presentation and added that in comparison to the first commission, the entity showed that it was growing and more focused to execute its mandate. How did the Nquthu people find themselves in Kwa Zulu Natal? The main issue of focus for the commission was the protection and restoration of the indigenous languages; there were several other ethnic groups which have similar experiences like the people of Nquthu; for example in Mpumalanga, there is the Mapulaneng community with a beautiful language. It was worrisome that in time the beautiful language would be eroded. What was the entity doing to preserve other small society languages? The commission should consider the use of ICT to further its mandate and help preserve the content of some of the languages. Did witchcraft exist? What was the relationship of the commission with the “SPCA” regarding the issue of slaughtering animals in urban areas?
The Chairperson highlighted that there were other areas of commercialization of cultural practices other than Lobola. For example the commercialization of Ukwaluka needed to be addressed. She requested the commission to work in an integrated fashion to limit its dependence on government funding. Thus before the strategic planning session, the entities need to identify areas where they need to work together in order to smoothen their operations. For example, the Department of Arts and Culture has a library which the commission could use. There was need for all entities to work together to utilize the minimal resources available and achieve greater impact.
Mr Bhanga commended the commission’s report on initiation schools which he referred to as very informative. What was done with the cadre’s man recommendations; which was a unit created to make a report on the mandate of the organizations established to promote democracy? It would be disappointing if the new governing body of the commission did not deal with the issues relating to the organizations intended to foster democracy in South Africa; the institutions had not been established by mistake but were the fore fathers of the notion of Democracy in South Africa which needed to be upheld. Some of the problems of South Africa even in the main house of Parliament related to the understanding of the concept of democracy. Thus people needed to be educated about this concept and the institutions set-up to facilitate democracy. The failure to address this issue has been raised and complained about by the Public Protector, the Human Rights Commission, among other entities. These institutions provide for the true meaning of what makes one a South African. These institutions were created to address the injustice which had been created by apartheid but they had not executed their mandate. What were the challenges of management of the commission and how was the institution being run as these issues had not been addressed by the presentation. There was a problem with institutions like the commission assuming their mandate was to only deal with the rural communities; the people who were uninformed about ukuthwala practices are in urban communities. What programs had been set-up to facilitate the understanding of these traditional practices? It was very important for people to know their origins and it was more likely that people in the urban areas did not know about their origins. More information on the people writing about the African classical history was requested.
Mr Grootboom asked about the powers of enforcement held by the Commission to enforce or coerce provincial departments to ensure that minority linguistic societies do not vanish. There was need for the Commission to work with PanSALB in order to achieve its mandate. Did the Commission have the powers to instruct the provincial departments to protect minority linguistic communities like the Nquthu and the Khoesan?
Ms A Matshobeni (EFF) said that there was a need to debate on these issues. Africans as a people tend to forget where they come from and who they are and we neglect our customs. The Minister of Arts and Culture had started works on this program and the Department should join to ensure that this program achieves it mandate.
CRL Rights Commission’s response
Ms Thoko said that it was within its mandate was to promote and protect the language of the Nquthu. Other government organizations were in charge of the demarcations and were responsible for establishing how this society ended up in Kwa Zulu Natal. All the traditional practices had been commercialized not only Labola; Ukuthwala had become what it was currently because of the financial aspects of it. Thus the cultures had been violated to an extent that the practices have been highly commercialized. The commission had a plan of execution of its mandate contained in its strategic plan. The Commission welcomed the idea of sharing resources and was also going to engage in fundraising to obtain capital to finance its projects. The commission encouraged and participated in team work; for example on the issue of witchcraft, it was engaging with the traditional healers to find a solution for this problem and using its funding to do the work. The existence of witchcraft was based on a belief system and people needed to be educated about witchcraft and their assumptions that they were being bewitched. The Commission needed to identify the persons identifying witches and stop the practice of identification because it caused stigmatisation in the society. Engagement with traditional leadership facilities was at the core of the functions of the commission because it is traditional facilities that will back up the commission in terms of defining the required practices. The Commission was studying the history of the mandated practices to establish the reasons for their existence. For example, the Commission was on a fact finding mission on the initial reasons for labola other than charging exorbitant sums to young men because they can afford to pay. The commission agreed with the Chairperson on the use of ICT to further its programs. The Commission was working with the SPCA on the issue of slaughtering in the rural areas and had previously produced a report on the matter. There was a need to further educate the nation and SPCA on the issue of slaughtering. This is because slaughtering signified honor to the ancestors and people did not want to abuse honor to the ancestors by founded slaughtering. The commission has all powers of enforcement in terms of forcing departments, organs of state and other institutions to do what needs to be done in the enforcement of the rights of culture, religion and language. The commission was waiting for the intervention of Parliament with the non-complying departments before it dealt with them directly.
Prof Mosoma added that the commission did not want to overburden the committee on management issues and hence it had not been addressed in the presentation. The performance management system, the performance monitoring system and use of the audit committee were all employed to establish the efficacy of the Commission’s strategic plan.
The Chairperson commended the Commission for its presentation and advised it to adopt a deliberate strategy to deal with its problems. Further, she encouraged all the entities to perform their duties to the best of their abilities rather than performing with mediocrity for the benefit of the people they were serving as the society was banking on them.
Mr M Mdakane (ANC) commended the entities for the work they were doing and apologized for arriving late. He encouraged the entities to interact with the committees on a regular basis. He requested the entities to engage with international experiences to broaden their knowledge on the work that they are doing. This would also help give an understanding of the experience of multi-lingua societies in developed countries. He hoped that Parliament would finalize the issue of the cadre’s man report in the near future. This will provide some answers on some of the issues that were raised.
The meeting adjourned.
Mahlangu, Mr JL
Mdakane, Mr MR
Bhanga, Mr BM
Bilankulu, Ms NK
Godi, Mr NT
Grootboom, Mr GA
Hlengwa, Mr M
Makondo, Mr T
Mapulane, Mr MP
Masondo, Mr NA
Matlhoko, Mr AM
Matsepe, Mr CD
Matshobeni, Ms A
Mogotsi, Ms VP
Mthembu, Ms N
Mthethwa, Mr EM
Rabotapi, Mr MW
Tom, Ms XS
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.