Department of Arts and Culture & Pan SALB on their 2013/2014 Annual Reports, in presence of Deputy Minister

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

15 October 2014
Chairperson: Ms L Zwane (Kwazulu-Natal, ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) presented the 2013/14 annual report. It was firstly noted that a new board had been appointed in June 2014 and this board was proceeding to identify the problems and irregularities incurred by the previous board and management. It would be necessary to have a turnaround strategy. There had been a period of two years during which a caretaker Chief Executive Officer was in place, but there had not been an internal audit unit effective during this time. The promotion of multilingualism was one matter identified by the new Board as crucial, and particularly protection of marginalised languages. There had been a new vision statement in 2012, and three programmes were developed, which were still being pursued, although the new Board was looking to identify any issues needing to be changed. Another area of concern was the top-heavy management structure, as well as whether the previous board had delivered properly on its mandate. There were problems with the previous strategic plans, which were not properly aligned, and did not comply with SMART reporting; for instance, some targets like developing a dictionary within one year were simply not achievable. Other targets were under-reported, or were incorrectly documented. Other challenges included mismatch of skills, under-utilisation of the human resources and the likelihood of over-expenditure of R5 million. A forensic investigation would be held to determine the purpose for which money had been used. The board would now have to consider also whether it was desirable to continue with certain projects. It was around R40 million in the red at the current time.

Members shared the concerns of the new Board about the report that identified several poor points, questioned what the evaluation process had been, and agreed that PanSALB needed assistance but at the same time now had to offer its fullest cooperation. This was a very important entity with a vital role, whose problems had to be resolved. Members cautioned that it would not do to "throw money" at the problem but a proper evaluation was needed and a strategy to resolve the issues had to be presented to the Committee. It was essential to ensure compliance on the question of language use. Members also stressed that the previous incumbents must be held accountable for their mismanagement.

The Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) then presented its 2013/14 Annual Report. It was under the guidance of an Acting Director General, who reported later, in response to questions, that the positions of Acting Chief Financial Officer and Deputy General: Corporate were in the process of being filled and the Department was attempting to bring down the vacancy rate. Although its rate of achievement had fallen, there was nonetheless some upward trend. Specific summaries were given of the work in nation-building, social cohesion, name changes, national symbols and the introduction of the national flag at schools. The DAC encouraged - although it could not always achieve - equitable participation and flagship events. It was noted that in some areas, upgrading and building of libraries was in process, but there was little activity in others. The importance of library services, translation into other languages, development of language and the school artists programme were summarised. In this year, for the first time in four years, the DAC had had a qualified audit report, largely through irregular expenditure, but the DAC was in discussions with the National Treasury to try to resolve issues. Around 94% of library budget was spent and the rest would roll over. As part of the corrective action on the qualified audit report, the DAC would be looking at supply chain management and the utilisation of staff.

Members asked the reasons for vacancies not being filled, expressed concern that this was linked to under-spending, and asked questions about the monitoring and evaluation. They questioned the exclusion of artists from some events, asked about the artists in schools programme, and were very critical of the Department's repeated target,without results,  to "plan a conference". Members questioned the responsibilities around and funding of libraries, and said more training was needed on the Heritage Act, suggested that flagship events should be taken to smaller areas, questioned the existence and display of statues glorifying the earlier eras, questioned slow progress in name changes in some provinces, and asked for more details on sick leave taken by one individual. They also asked how the DAC would be assisting PanSALB, and what the policy was in relation to smaller events. 

The Committee dealt with the adoption of meetings from 17 September and logistical arrangements for a conference. 

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed the Deputy Minister, and officials from the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC or the Department) and from the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB). She noted that some Members of the Committee were absent as they were attending other meetings. He noted that there was an Acting Director General of the Department of Arts and Culture.

Pan South African Language Board 2013/14 Annual Report briefing
Chairperson's introductory remarks

The Chairperson, prior to asking the officials to present the Annual Report, noted that the Committee would have to consider whether the objectives, as identified by PanSALB, had been met, and in particular whether PanSALB was achieving its goals towards nation building and economic empowerment. The report of the Auditor-General (AG) must also be taken into account. She commented that it was a matter of concern for the Committee that there was still an Acting Chief Financial Officer. The Committee had not had a very good impression from PanSALB.

The Chairperson thanked the Department and PanSALB for their attendance and punctuality. The purpose for the meeting was for the Department and PanSALB to deliver their annual reports. The Committee also wanted to assess whether anything towards nation building and economic empowerment was being achieved. It was worrying for the Committee that the CFO was still acting.  The Chairperson stated that the Committee had not had a very strong impression of PanSALB, although it was mindful that a new board was now in place. Particular concerns had been around funding, and inappropriate expenditure.

Professor Mbulungeni Madiba, Chairperson, PanSALB thanked the Chairperson for the opportunity to present. He set out the history of the board and reasons for its establishment. The mandate of PanSALB was based on the 1995 Act, and when measuring the achievements of PanSALB, this legislation must be considered, although the amended Act was clearer.

Professor Madiba stressed that the promotion of multilingualism remained important,especially the protection of the marginalised languages. From 2012 a new vision was adopted and the newly founded board was in the process of developing a modified vision. Three programmes were developed, and the business model as developed by the previous board was still operational. PanSALB had had a management structure which in total included 27 people in senior management over 107 members and this was very worrying for the board. It was important to note the level of the managers, as it was indicative of PanSALB being ‘top heavy’. The question was whether the board delivered on their mandate. However, the new board was  not part of the previous period, although the report was covering that period. Only a caretaker Chief Executive Officer (CEO) was appointed during the two year period, and this report related to the last year of that period.

The Chairperson asked whether the caretaker CEO, as the only board member, performed all tasks and if this executive carried all responsibilities.

Professor Madiba said that this period was a ‘turn around’ phase, and the current report related to that phase. The plan previously presented was not approved; it had been misaligned and it was not in line with the SMART principles. The objectives were not specific, nor achievable - and he cited one example, saying that it was not possible to develop a dictionary, as that plan had suggested, within the space of one year. Certain things documented in the report were not in line with what had been achieved in reality.

Professor Madiba tabled the slide presentation and mentioned the percentages of achievements. He noted that there was evidence of under-reporting, and said that poor consultation was probably one of the reasons.

He also noted that there had been many challenges, which included the mismatch of skills, under- utilisation of human resources and other factors. An internal audit and a ‘turn around’ strategy were planned as the current structure was unsustainable. The Minister of Arts and Culture had been consulted and, according to the report, an over expenditure of R5 million was noted. However, Professor Madiba said that even this amount was not a true reflection, as the previous board was even deeper indebted. A forensic investigation was planned to establish the purpose for which the money was utilised. He further noted that it was important to remain accountable for the little money which PanSALB may have, if it wanted to secure further funding.

The new board at PanSALB would have to consider whether to continue with the special projects. One of the projects to be taken forward could be the Neville Alexander Scholarship. Clearly the past period, as reported, was not a good year for PanSALB and the board would look at the structures and report towards the end of November, and thereafter implement the recommendations from December onwards.

The Chairperson thanked Professor Madiba for the presentation and for the further clarity provided. She noted that the Committee had undertaken to offer support to PanSALB. This entity was extremely important but was required to also fulfill its task.

She stated that it was not known how the Acting Director-General would deal with the challenges of the board. PanSALB was advised to consult with its task team, because the report was identified as "not good" and she urged that matters must be put to rights. She made the point that PanSALB, as a public entity, used taxpayers' money, and it was not good that such a report be received.

Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi, Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, questioned the evaluation process.

Professor Madiba mentioned that a tribunal was established to assist with the evaluation in the previous year, but the tribunal could not continue, due to shortage of funding.

The Chairperson called upon another visiting Chairperson for her comment.

That Member noted that she had attended the meeting only as an observer, and was not aware that she would be requested to provide input. However, she noted that PanSALB had been a continuing challenge for some time. The Department had previously met with the entire staff and had called for open and frank discussions to try to resolve the matters. She described PanSALB as akin to a person who was bleeding, and whose bleeding had to be stopped before calling the ambulance. In this case, it was the bloated structure stemming from so many senior management appointments that was a root cause of the problem, coupled with the numerous court cases in which PanSALB was involved. She said that this organisation was in need of support, but co-operation was also needed from PanSALB, as it was in serious trouble. This entity was extremely important and its problems had to be resolved.

Professor Wannie Carstens, Deputy Chairperson, PanSALB, stated that support was needed for the plans the new Board had made as the new board had thought that it was taking over a well-functioning board but found the situation to be different. Both funding and political support were needed, as the board was R40 million in the red. He assured the Committee that the Members of the current board were dedicated and would be trying to make a difference. Furthermore, he made the point that if PanSALB failed to achieve its mission, "then this country would be a monolingual English country…there was too much at stake”.

The Chairperson indicated that the aforementioned statement was quite true.

Another Member thanked the presenters for the honest report but stated that the report presented a very worrying picture. Merely "throwing money" at the problem would not resolve it. Instead, a turnaround strategy should be adopted and presented to the Committee, before requesting money. Until 2013, the board continued to receive qualified audits. For this reason, the vision of the new board, together with the measures to be taken to improve the current situation, had to be carefully questioned.

The Chairperson said that clearly there would have to be ongoing consultations and discussions between the Committee and PanSALB.

Mr M Khawula (IFP; Kwazulu-Natal) said that this was an important matter which should urgently be dealt with. He noted that the Committee had empathy for the board and the situation. He asked what was being done about the promotion of all languages and the issue of non-compliance with the languages legislation. He noted that the time-frame for ensuring compliance was long overdue . Finally, he asked what was to be done to hold to account those who had been responsible for the mismanagement of the previous PanSALB.

Ms L Mathys (EFF; Gauteng) stated that this report was disturbing and seemed to suggest a gross mismanagement of funds. Referring to the previous references to development of a dictionary, she enquired what would be a reasonable time-frame, and how  many dictionaries were in place in all the indigenous languages. She also questioned what measures had been put in place to hold those responsible for the mismanagement to account. She also mentioned that it was necessary to specify a time frame for the new PanSALB board to return with their new strategy.

Professor Madiba stated that an audit committee had been established but a CEO could not be appointed as money was needed. It was important to build stability in the organisation.  A task team was to be established, and a forensic audit had been requested. If the task team was delayed then the board may have to adopt an alternative plan.

Professor W Carstens, Deputy Chairperson, ,PanSALB, mentioned that compiling a dictionary was a challenging task, and dictionary compilation could take three to four years. The work remained so difficult and complex because the people employed to compile dictionaries were not properly trained, although there was now a process was in place to establish a Centre for Terminology Development at the University of Pretoria, to specially train people for dictionary compilation.

Professor Carstens referred to languages legislation and said that it was correct that in fact the law was not being fully complied with, because virtually every entity was opting to use English. There would be an evaluation done to establish whether all were adhering to the mandate. Too many of the PanSALB staff members were working in silos, as was illustrated in this report, and this was worrying.  The new board members promised to stabilise the board but requested trust and support from the committee.

The Chairperson stated that, in view of the shortage of time, it would be preferable to submit any further questions in writing. She noted that the PanSALB board was also engaging with the  universities and there were certain racial groups who were excluded from receiving tuition, on the basis of language, since certain universities continued to provide instruction in Afrikaans. The lack of access to tuition linked to economic empowerment.

The Chairperson further stated that the Committee would obviously not attempt to do the work for PanSALB but would be supporting and tracking the progress of the board.

Members of PanSALB left the meeting.

Department of Arts and Culture: 2013/14 Annual Report briefing
The Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture noted that the challenges facing the sector tended to "keep you on your toes".

She introduced the newly acting Director General of the Department of Arts and Culture, Mr Vuyo Jack.

Mr Vuyo Jack, Acting Director-General: Department of Arts and Culture, reminded Members that when speaking to Annual Reports and plans, it was important to bear in mind the State of the Nation address, and the vision of the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) and how it measured the outcomes.

He noted that the performance overview of the Department would show that it had achieved less than in the previous year. However, the trend showed upward mobility. There was “room for improvement”. Nation building and social cohesion should cut across all the programmes. He suggested that all provinces should have a social cohesion summit, as that was where the people were found and social cohesion advocates were appointed to engage with the people at grassroots level. The legacy projects were identified as being mostly in Gauteng. The geographical names approved were mostly in Kwazulu-Natal, while the Northern Cape and Limpopo had fewer name changes. A booklet had been designed, with national symbols, for learners to engage with these, and national flags were introduced at schools. A cash injection was needed to accelerate the ‘schools flag project’.

The Department was required to have flagship events in each province. Equitable participation was encouraged as Limpopo did not have the public art project, although Kwazulu-Natal had more of these projects. An emerging event during the Design Indaba was held earlier during the year in Cape Town, to introduce the youth to the creative industry. Those at grassroots level should be able to enter the market via these incubator programmes.

The budget allocated by the State was spent on upgrading and building of new libraries. Most of the libraries were concentrated in Gauteng, and the Free State Province had not yet had a new library built. National Archives week was very important as this was “a keeper of the nation's memory”. Promotion of linguistic diversity required that all official documents were translated into all official languages. Terminology, especially in relation to business jargon in the mother tongue, was also important and would be further developed. Artists were placed in schools and this project would be continued, which was currently mostly operational in the Western Cape.

Turning to the financial information, Mr Jack informed the Committee that in the 2013/14 financial year, the Auditor-General had given a qualified audit report, although prior to that there had been unqualified reports for a period of three years. The qualification arose as a result of irregular expenditure. Once irregular expenditure was established, this should be investigated and consequences should be in place. In the past there was no remedial process  in place. Supply chain management was identified as one of the root causes for the irregular expenditure and the commitment from the Department was also questioned relating to irregular expenditure. The irregular expenditure was noted as being approximately R171 million, as presently identified.  Fruitless and wasteful expenditure was cited as being about R5 million, and part of this related to the expenditure on court cases.

He noted that a new Chief Financial Officer, and Deputy Director General for Corporate Affairs were to be appointed before the end of the calendar year of 2014.

The money transferred to the provinces for libraries was again noted, and he pointed to the underspending in the Eastern Cape, owing to the delay in securing building contractors. Only about 94% of the budget had been spent, leaving the remaining funds to roll over to the new financial year.

The Chairperson requested that the report of the Auditor-General be summarised, owing to time constraints.

Mr Jack noted that the Department needed more human resources to implement policy. He suggested that the irregular expenditure should not be tolerated, and if this occurred, then remedial steps should be taken. The focus returned to the issue of supply chain management and a re-look of the operational structure was important, in order to optimally utilise existing members of staff.

Ms T Mampuru (ANC; Limpopo) questioned why the senior positions were not filled. She noted that a further concern was the underspending owing to the failure to fill these vacancies.

Ms Mampuru also wanted to ask questions about the monitoring and evaluation system on the national symbols.  She made the point that empowerment of emerging artists was noted as being in line with job creation, yet during these national or provincial events these artists were excluded, as other artists from outside the province or possibly the country were recruited for participation.

Mr M Khawula (IFP; Kwazulu-Natal) stated that the Department had been said to be "planning a conference" for far too long, and should be ashamed of itself on the lack of achievement. The provincialisation of libraries was noted as not being a function of local government. Local governments complained that they were spending money on a function that was not their responsibility. The pilot was started, and now municipalities were burdened with this library programme.

Mr Khawula wanted more information on the purpose of putting artists in schools and asked for how long they were placed in schools.

Mr Khawula commented that the Heritage Act was not implemented - even magistrates were not aware of it -  and money should be spent on the study of archeology.

Ms L Mathys (EFF; Gauteng) suggested that the flagship events should be smaller and brought closer to the people, who were generally excluded from these larger flagship events. She was concerned that apartheid symbols were still prevalent; for instance the statue outside Parliament displayed a white man riding on a horse, with only a small picture of former President Nelson Mandela being displayed, which she saw as an implicit reminder that South Africa was a conquered nation, well conquered in economical terms. She requested timelines and more specific dates for policy implementation. The reasons for the introduction of flags in schools was questioned, and she particularly referred to the fact that these were cited as being expensive, and she questioned also whether this money could not be better utilised. The issue surrounding utilisation of libraries by the communities was also mentioned, as the perception was that library use was dwindling.

Another Committee Member questioned the slow progress in name changes of geographical sites in the Northern Cape and Limpopo. Only three streets were re-named in the province from which the member hailed, and the question was what the challenges were regarding these name changes.

The Chairperson asked what the strategies of the Department would be, firstly in assisting PanSALB, and secondly to address the irregular expenditure in provinces. The supply chain issue was also questioned. The extending of disability leave for 259 days to a senior manager of the Department was also noted, and the status of this executive was questioned. The upgrading of libraries was questioned in provinces such as Kwazulu-Natal.

The Deputy Minister stated that the matter of the Department having acting appointments was being attended to.

The Deputy Minister pointed out that the national symbols did not only include the national flag but other resources too. The national flag was hoisted in the morning at schools and it was, perhaps, apposite to have a small competition hosted - she suggested that it would be good if the Chairperson could go back to the school that she attended during the hoisting of the flag.

The Deputy Minister explained that there was still a challenge in that many people did not appreciate the importance of qualifying as a librarian. Poorly trained professionals also impacted on the fact that the libraries were being under-utilised. She agreed also that community engagement was important and buy-in was needed from people at grassroots level in terms of optimal library utilisation.

Another official from the Department added that the flagship events were accompanied by minor events as a prelude, and cited the example of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival which hosted a free concert for the public, prior to the flagship event. The schools project, with its limited funding, was run throughout the country and the artist was paired with a teacher to assist in teaching art in the current curriculum. The DAC wanted to roll out this programme still further, and this was important when building a new audience for the creative world. The artists received a stipend and the programme was not costly.

Another official from the Department answered the questions on the name changes. In 2009, Limpopo and Mpumalanga performed well in terms of name changes, although it did now seem as if this impetus was dropping off. In Kwazulu-Natal the name changes were mostly correcting misspelt names, and this was true also of the Eastern Cape. Possibly Northern Cape could be identified as not having done enough in tconsequencese changes. Workshops may be needed to assist in training people on name changes to prevent legal action.

The official added that the library question was guided by the business plan concept and was dependent on provinces, who should indicate where they wanted to focus. He admitted that the lack of results in relation to building  of new museums and monuments was an embarrassment. The Department would ideally like to have qualified people to drive the whole programme. The Heritage Act was complex as it graded heritage sites into three categories, which includes national, provincial and local. It would be necessary to have some establishment of a local authority, and the DAC would be looking at that Act, as there were some court cases and legal issues flowing out of the uncertainty.

Another Departmental official spoke to the concerns about the existence of apartheid symbols. This was a national question and it was not possible for the operational divisions to deal with this; it was a question of policy that must be handled by the politicians. All of these symbols were part of the history of South Africa throughout the ages. The concept of nation building did not encourage the removal of symbols that, whilst not liked by one sector, remained of importance to other sectors of the nation.

Another Departmental manager addressed the question of sick-leave, stating that a senior manager had been on sick leave for 259 days during the period being reported upon. That same person had suffered a   stroke a few years earlier. The executive decided to return to work sooner than was originally planned or expected, and the DAC was addressing the matter.

In relation to the questions about the shortlisting and acting positions, this official reported that the DAC was already shortlisting for the positions of Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Director General.  A number of posts had been filled and other senior positions were to be filled. The intention was to lower the high number of vacant posts.

Another official from the Department cited that the conversations with the communities would be accelerated.

Mr Jack noted that the report from the Auditor-General would be reviewed and the DAC policy would be considered, in consultation with National Treasury, before reverting to the AG on how the Department would be assessed. He said that the DAC intended to strengthen its internal matters and would be submitting regular reports. He added that it was also important to sensitise all staff on the policies and conequences that would follow, should there not be compliance.

Mr Jack noted that the Department would be using fewer consultants than in the past. A closer look at the Department would , Acting Director-General stated that the Auditor General’s Report would be reviewed and the policy would be considered together  with the Treasury before informing the Auditor General on how the Department was to be assessed. The intention was to beef up internally and submit regular reports. Sensitisation was important within the Department regarding the policies and the consequences when not adhering to these should be made clear to all. Fewer consultants were to be used in future and a closer look at the Department's entities, and possible rationalisation through the use of the White Paper, was to follow.

Mr Jack noted that National Treasury had said that there would be no more money available. It was important to look at the purpose for PanSALB, and in relation to this body, it was necessary to find a new Chief Executive Officer, with the accounting management being left to the board. He cautioned the Committee that, rather than taking a reactive stance, it was more useful to try to identify and to understand the root of the problem. PanSALB should be effective. There should be monitoring on a monthly basis, with quarterly reports. PanSALB would be held accountable for its expenditure, as well as for its effectiveness in the promotion of multilingualism and protection of languages, which would also be monitored.

Another official responded to questions on provincialisation of libraries, saying that in fact there was reference to the provincialisation of archives. The national government was responsible for the national libraries. The provinces were given the task of managing the libraries, and this task was, in turn, assigned to the municipalities by the local governments. There was a conditional library grant in place to assist the provinces.

The Chairperson stated that team work was needed and the Committee and department faced a mammoth task.

The Deputy Minister promised to forward the requested heritage pack to the Committee at a later stage.

Adoption of Committee minutes
The Chairperson tabled the Minutes of  17 September 2014.

Ms Mampuru noted that her name was not mentioned amongst those attending. She recalled that she had been present, but had had to leave early and had submitted an apology for doing so.

The minutes were adopted, subject to correction of this error.

The Chairperson mentioned that a questionnaire was to be compiled for research purposes and stated that she had to leave for Johannesburg for an Indaba. When other Members indicated that they had been under the impression that all Members would attend, the Chairperson clarified that she was not aware of the necessity for this, and suggested that Members must establish from their parties whether they were expected to attend. She had no other engagements and had therefore decided to visit..

Members discussed logistics and one Member complained that she had not received correspondence from the Committee Secretary, and had no suitcase to allow her to leave for a trip.

The Committee Secretary said that correspondence was forwarded to all Members, but the person who had more information on the travel plans was no longer in the meeting. Furthermore, the research document was still incomplete as the information on the Department of Arts and Culture has not been included yet. The research questionnaire would be forwarded to Committee Members by the following week.

The meeting was adjourned.


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