Social Cohesion activities & Moral Regeneration Movement on their activities and plans

Arts and Culture

24 March 2015
Chairperson: Ms X Tom (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Moral Regeneration Movement (MRM) briefed the Committee on the progress of each of its programmes. The Chief Operating Officer provided background information on the Movement and spoke about its goals and future plans for restructuring. He highlighted some of the most pressing social issues that South Africa faces as a country, and presented possible plans to address these. Amongst those plans include the establishment of MRM regional offices in the provinces to carry out local work, more involvement with youth in the communities, and the integration of morals into families and educational programmes. MRM is working to restructure the organisation to better achieve the goals as presented.

While the Committee was appreciative of the presentation, it was not satisfied with the work being done by MRM. Several members pointed out that intervention strategies were not clear and that no progress can be seen in any of the programmes, especially at local level. Members had various recommendations including working with other organisations and departments, and working more closely with community members at local level. MRM agreed to take the suggestions into account when restructuring.

The Department of Arts and Culture spoke about developments and future plans of its Social Cohesion Programme. The presentation outlined major accomplishments to date, and provided details about its goals and objectives for the future.

The Committee expressed disappointment at the lack of detail and requested more details. Additionally it was unclear how the Social Cohesion Programme would achieve its outlined goals and objectives. The Department agreed that some information appeared to be missing, and that a written report would be provided to the Committee. A Member commented that the Social Cohesion Programme should concentrate on what binds South Africa as a nation rather than focusing on what the divisions are.

Meeting report

The Chairperson reminded the Committee members that it is not only their role to act as oversight for the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC), but to comment on the projects and to assist wherever possible. The success of the Committee meant the success of the DAC, which in turn, meant the success of society and the country.

 Moral Regeneration Movement (MRM) presentation
Mr Seth Mazibuko, MMR COO, said the MRM in 2015 needs to make radical moves in the process of restructuring. Ethics and values are the core principles employed by MRM to induce nation building. In sum, morals are beliefs that people have about right and wrong, and the goals of MRM are to address corruption, fraud, rape, crime, extortion, family breakdown, overall disease in the social climate, amongst other social problems.

Mr Mazibuko referred Members to the pamphlet entitled The Charter of Positive Values, which has become the bible for MRM, and it was a document that was initiated by the Presidency. To date, MRM has recorded that only eight percent of South Africans know about the Charter, and subsequently, one of the main objectives of MRM is to reach eighty percent of South Africans. Additionally, the goals of MRM are not being reached, and overall restructuring is needed in the organisation. MRM is civil society driven, but government supported, and needs financial assistance from the government. 

As part of the restructuring, MRM developed a strategy to disseminate the positive values as indicated in the Charter, which involves erecting a MRM structure in each province in the country. MRM just finished setting up a local structure in Limpopo, where currently four districts are launching an MRM branch. Gauteng is next on the agenda. Before June this year, each province will have an MRM structure. In July, MRM will celebrate an opening month in the Western Cape. Even though there are challenges with opening an MRM branch in the Western Cape, there have been a few inroads and a meeting is scheduled for 5 April to plan MRM month.

Mr Mazibuko referenced key partner organisations, notably the Ministry of Police and SALGA. MRM has signed Memorandums of Understanding with the KZN police ministry with a focus on building moral regeneration. In regard to SALGA, ongoing negotiations are happening about the elections. In the past, MRM has worked with SALGA on national elections, and SALGA has recently invited MRM back to work with the local elections. This was pointed out as evidence that MRM is coming up with value-driven leadership to assist with the government and structures at the local level.

Another key part of the restructuring is the engagement with youth. MRM is designing youth chapters involving two areas of youth: youth on campus and youth in the community. MRM has established working relations with universities. MRM is taking a stand to work with universities to research and reach out to students. This relationship is already a reality in Gauteng.

Lastly, as part of the restructuring, MRM has implemented Project 20/20 - a project that asks youth, women, students, and other sectors of the community to write about what ethics, and values have not been upheld in the past 20 years. Respondents are then asked to suggest four programmes for MRM to implement. Project 20/20 has already been a success in the Eastern Cape with regard to women, children, and youth in universities, and the project is being expanded to Johannesburg.

Mr Mazibuko ended the presentation by asking the Committee for guidance, support and for promotion of the programme. MRM has received funding from the DAC and is now discussing the funding for the upcoming year.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Mazibuko, commenting that she always looks at the vision of organisations, and indicated that the vision of MRM is the star of the program as the vision is clear and links to MRM’s future plans. However, the objectives must be clear, and point out how the specific objective will be achieved in order for the Committee to best measure the progress of the programme. Since the Committee is responsible for oversight, the objectives have to be specific, measureable, and achievable. Since the Committee is paid to measure MRM, it needs to have a full picture of what is it that MRM wants to achieve by a specified time. MRM indicates that it is going to combat crime and corruption, but has not mentioned how this will be done. While there are some specific plans (how to achieve religious tolerance and how to support the youth), other matters do not have full plans (how to ensure that there are positive images in the media and how to encourage gender transformation). The Committee is still waiting to receive the MRM budget.

Mr G Grootboom (DA) thanked Mr Mazibuko for the presentation. The report is quite informative and an impressive piece of work. But the actual progress of MRM needs to be seriously questioned. He mentioned that he was part of the founding committee in 1996/97, and he cannot identify any progress that has been made. The Movement has done nothing to restore a sense of value in South African society. He mentioned that MRM was shouting in silence about crime, corruption, and ethics. The following questions were raised: What has MRM accomplished so far? What is MRM's stance on service delivery? Why is the Western Cape challenging?

Ms V Mogotsi (ANC) started her comments by mentioning that she is from Soweto. There are several issues that need to be addressed in Soweto and Gauteng. There have been uprisings and recent violence, especially around foreign nationals. The following questions were raised: Where was MRM? Could MRM not see this coming? How has MRM assisted in education? If MRM is working with education, and if students know about values and ethics, why is youth violence still happening? What is happening?

Ms Mogotsi continued to address the youth by citing that Gauteng has the highest rate of youth conflict, and most young people are in prisons. She asked Mr Mazibuko if MRM has gone to the prisons and done workshops. She commented that MRM can work with young people at universities, but they can read and write and articulate and help the organisation, but in the community, young people from Soweto are unable to do so. In terms of Project 20/20, the people sitting on the streets must be part of this project in order for MRM to achieve the things it wants to do. Ms Mogotsi then addressed the Chairperson by inviting her to participate in the MRM programmes and to have an influence.

Mr M Rabotapi (DA) asked about the progress in the other provinces. There is unrest happening all over South Africa, and not just in Gauteng.

Ms Ntombi Botha, an MRM board member, asked if she could first address the comments before handing the floor over to Mr Mazibuko. She mentioned that the presentation addressed several issues with regard to restructuring. The purpose of restructuring will enable MRM to reform the provincial structures and to make other changes as suggested by the Committee. The provincial structures will be able to form their own substructures, whether regional or local. Every person in South Africa has a responsibility to contribute toward moral regeneration.

In his response, Mr Mazibuko said on restructuring that MRM is speaking to SALGA and asking them to allow MRM to work with local structures. That is one area in which MRM is reforming its objectives. Another way is by working with businesses and community partners, specifically, SAB and religious organisations. MRM has been meeting with businesses and community partners to revive MRM and to discuss how MRM can bring ethical and value-driven structures to the community. Crime and corruption are major issues to address, and we are admitting we have not, hence the purpose of restructuring.

Mr Mazibuko commented on the Western Cape, saying there was a very good structure at one time. But the structure fell to pieces because of political tensions, causing MRM to be used as a political tool. MRM does not want to be used for political reasons, and is working on coming back to revive the structure in the Western Cape.

On foreign nationals, MRM has a meeting addressing this on 25 March, tomorrow. The United Nations has also formed partnerships with MRM to address this.

On youth, MRM has a chapter dealing with youth concerns and it is involved on campus and in the community. The students on these campuses are all coming from communities. MRM also conducts Saturday classes were not only are maths and science taught, but also matters of morals. On the budget, MRM has just submitted its budget to the DAC, but the DAC DDG has been very busy. On our media goals, MRM has signed an MOU to get slots on SABC.

Mr Rabotapi mentioned that young people who are affected by drugs are not listening to the radio or other media, so instead of trying to get media slots, there needs to be local structures to educate them about moral regeneration.

Mr P Mulder (FF+) echoed Mr Rabotapi's concerns, saying that several problem come from the media, but larger issues are present. People are very difficult to change, and politicians know that. He thinks that MRM did a good job of defining morality, but the key problem is immorality in the family structure and the need to strengthen the family. The change in families will not occur over night, but the Movement needs to focus on the family. There are less than 20-25 percent of normal families, as defined by two parents, and maybe a grandmother or grandfather in close contact. The family structure is the strength of the nation, and values need to get back to the families. There is not much information in the presentation about how to do that. If MRM can address the problems with families, then the secondary issues like crime and youth in prisons would not be relevant.

The Chairperson commented that Mr Mulder's remarks were thought-provoking, and reminded him about the Family Preservation Programme and that the DAC has money set aside for that. The Chairperson used that as a segue to address the issue that MRM needs to work in full collaboration with other programmes and other departments. The tendency is to work individually and waste resources, but it is important to identify programs that have similar mandates and to work hand-in-glove with them.

Mr J Mahlangu (ANC) brought up the definition of morals as provided in Mr Mazibuko's presentation. The definition should be unpacked by those involved with MRM projects to see what the participants feel about the issue. If one finds that most agree with the definition, what does that say about the citizens of South Africa? The definition is very interesting and MRM should speak more about it. When South Africans speak about right and wrong, what does that mean? Morals and ethics are deep, serious, emotional issues.

The main moral issue is land redistribution. This needs to be addressed. When a man is landless in his own country, and when someone else has gotten all of the land, how can there be morals? Mr Mahlangu mentioned that his father and mother died without owning a piece of land. He spoke about his children who had a landless father up until now. He then compared the issue to the way the Indians were treated in the Americas, and the Aboriginals in Australia. The moral issues involving displacement are paramount. Referencing Mr Mulder's points, Mr Mahlangu said that the family and one’s upbringing are part of cultural socialisation, but fundamental morals are more important, and they deserve more attention.

The Chairperson mentioned that these matters all go back to the interconnectedness of programmes which all need to work together to achieve a common vision. MRM needs to be part of conversations with other programmes to figure out what is happening and what is being discussed in related forums. This is not something MRM should do because they want to, but because it needs to be done for the good of the citizens.

The Chairperson continued to address what MRM needs to do in the future. The Committee needs to see that MRM's interventions are addressing the challenges in the community. The interventions must be informed. MRM cannot just go into a community setting and deal with problems. The projects must be informed ahead of time. Since there are different types of challenges, there are different ways to address them. For example, there are immediate goals which involve life and death situations. If these immediate concerns are not addressed, people will die. And so there are short term, medium term, and long term projects. Long term projects would be going to preschools to teach students to grow up with good morals.

Given all of the feedback from the Committee, it is important that any criticism should not be taken personally. The Committee does not deal with people; the Committee deals with issues. The Committee believes it is never about itself, rather it is about the people they are serving.

Mr Mazibuko addressed Mr Mahlangu's point about land reform, saying that during the 20/20 conversations, land reform came out very strongly. Many matters were raised but land is one of the most important identifiable concerns since nothing has been done to deal with land in the past 20 years. Unfortunately land redistribution cannot be handled by MRM, but instead directed to the correct department.

On working with other departments, he said that MRM has been working with the Department of Education on matters such as values and race. It has interacted with several other departments, but there are some departments that it has not yet reached.

On Mr Mulder’s comments on family, he said the family is very important to MRM.

Ms Botha echoed the sentiments expressed by Mr Mazibuko. What the MRM is doing is looking at the charter and unpacking the important conversations. When gender arises, MRM addresses gender. In the future, as other issues arise, MRM will submit detailed reports to the Committee mentioning the matters that are being brought up.

She added that when there are provincial or regional conferences, the expectation is not just that civil society participate, but also governmental departments and religious groups. That way MRM is involved at all levels.

Mr Grootboom mentioned that he was still not convinced that the work will succeed. While it is well thought out, there is nothing concrete happening. The voice of the MRM has been silenced. The MRM should be the conscience of the nation, but the programme is not bearing fruit.

Mr Mulder said that while this forum is not the place for a debate, he disagrees with Mr Mahlangu on the land issue. While it does play a role, it is difficult to say that it is the only important issue. Addressing land reform will not change rape statistics or pregnancy. And when land reform is discussed, exactly what is being discussed needs to be clear. He asked the following questions: What does land mean? Is it something that people own? Or is it in terms of agriculture? These issues are important to clarify.

The Chairperson agreed that the setting in the Committee is not a debate platform. The MRM should look at the underlying causes of the problems discussed. In comparison, the doctor will prescribe medicine for a stomach ache, but that won't solve the problem. If people are angry, MRM needs to investigate the reason why people are angry. It is important to deal with the cause, not the symptom.  She again stated the importance of setting up structures in a community. People who develop programmes go into communities and then leave, but there are people in the street who have to deal with the issues when the developers leave. Planners will come for a conference and then go, but they need to continue the work what they have started. It is very important to understand that if the MRM is a movement, then it is moving; if it is not moving, then it is dead.

Mr Mazibuko said that he takes that criticism very positively. It says to MRM that there is somewhere where we are not moving. When MRM is not moving, it has to be able to say "How can we restructure and reorganise ourselves so that we can move? MRM can only reach the heart and the head of people, but not the hand. MRM accepts that it may not be reaching out fully to the people, but MRM can only work as far as the budget allows. MRM not only depends on government, but others must make contributions as well. MRM might not be loud enough or structured enough to deal with the challenges of crime and corruption and everything else in South Africa, but MRM will enhance the structures moving forward and work with other departments.

Ms Maseapo Kganedi, DAC Deputy Director-General: Institutional Governance, thanked the MRM for the presentation and the Committee for inviting them. She said that Mr Mazibuko was correct in saying funding was a big problem. It is one of the biggest challenges that faces the country. The presentation indicates how much money the Department has given MRM over the years; sometimes it is a lot of money and sometimes it is not. How much the Department gives is a reflection of the budget given by Treasury. She would be meeting with the MRM chairperson on the following Friday, and is certain that there will be disagreement with regard to the funds. In 2014/15, the DAC allocated R3.5 million to MRM, and the last installment was paid on 12 March. The budget that MRM has submitted to the Department for 2015/16 is about R48 million. The total budget for social cohesion programmes is R7 million, and half is already going to MRM. The Department makes do with the resources that are available, but the projects are more than just funding. Collaboration with others is key as well. If everyone works together, the rand can go much further.

Ms Botha thanked the Committee for the opportunity to share the work that MRM is doing. She said that several years ago, there was talk about bringing together all of the departments for the purposes of funding, but now the DAC is merely a conduit. MRM is asking for more support that just from the DAC. Ms Botha called on the Committee to look at how it can assist MRM with bringing the departments together, since each department is supposed to have something on social cohesion and moral regeneration.

Ms Botha said that currently, there are only three people in the office and three coordinators for nine provinces. The board members are volunteers.

The Chairperson addressed the matter of personnel , saying that this is happening all over government. She then expressed disappointment that only one board member was present, and wished that next time all board members will avail themselves. She asked Ms Botha to convey that message to the board.

Ms Botha responded that the reason the board members were absent is because MRM is trying to cut down on costs. Ms Botha indicated that she was there because she had free air miles, but the rest of the board members did not have the money.

The Chairperson replied that providing transport to Committee meetings for board members two to three times a year should be included in the budget. She mentioned that it is difficult to work with people who the Committee does not know. She again thanked the presenters.

Social Cohesion Programme presentation
Ms Maseapo Kganedi, DAC Deputy Director-General: Institutional Governance, said that the Programme is designed to mobilise society to work together to build a caring and proud society. The programme is closely related to the National Development Plan (NDP). The NDP has designed five long-term nation-building goals, and the structure of the Social Cohesion Programme relates to those five goals. The first goal is increase knowledge of the Constitution and foster constitutional values. The Social Cohesion Programme plans to do this by increasing the number of women in legislative bodies to fifty percent; distribute the Preamble of the Constitution to 100 percent of schools; and have 100 percent of schools flying the South African flag. Other project plans were mentioned in the presentation.

The second goal is to equalise opportunities, promote inclusion and redress among South Africans. The Social Cohesion Programme aims to do this by: having a five percent improvement in the disability inequality index; build 95 libraries; establish a cultural observatory; improve the trust index and the social cohesion index; have 66 percent of citizens support national sporting teams; produce movies on African civilisations; and increase the number of over-18-year-olds that belong to a charitable organisation. Other project plans were mentioned in the presentation.

The third goal is to promote social cohesion across society through increased interaction across race and class. The Social Cohesion Programme aims to do this by: designating May as Africa month; use international events to promote South Africa as a diverse socially cohesive nation; and promote social cohesion in schools. Other project plans were mentioned in the presentation.

The fourth goal is to promote an active citizenry and broad-based leadership. The Social Cohesion Programme plans to do this by: crafting a social compact and introducing other projects as mentioned in the presentation.  The fifth goal is to forge a new overarching identity.

Ms Kganedi alluded to working with delivery partners, but indicated that the list of partners is not exhaustive and that they are all important to help achieve these five goals. There is also a programme that involves 54 social cohesion advocates. Social cohesion advocates are important members of society and are represented in community dialogues, they lead campaigns on bringing about ubuntu, they conduct media interviews, and they promote a culture of tolerance to prevent human rights atrocities. They are involved with using sports and drama to spread unity and national pride.  The advocates do not get paid, but make themselves available in working with the programme.
The Social Cohesion Programme has also developed a toolkit for social cohesion to assess community conversations, and will be using the toolkit as an assessment instrument.

Ms Kganedi mentioned that most provinces have held the provincial summits and that community conversations were rolled out throughout the country. Some key concepts that have been raised in the community conversations are about issues that have divided the country like: division of resources, classes, and political organisations; racism; unequal education; family values; nepotism; land reform; lack of understanding about political diversities; the inability to accept one another; crime; teenage pregnancy; and substance abuse. These broad issues are the ones that seem to be cutting across all conversations that have been facilitated by the Social Cohesion Programme.  Ms Kganedi then presented a chart that provided information about the demographics of people who participated in these conversations.

The Chairperson asked Ms Kganedi who gave guidance in the provinces relating to these conversations.

Ms Kganedi responded that the DAC provincial wings provided the Social Cohesion Programme with guidance about where to go to conduct the conversations, and which communities were the most crucial to have these conversations. The local DAC also ensured that the communities that were visited would provide participants from various cultural backgrounds.

Ms Kganedi provided recommendations for how to improve the Social Cohesion Programme. This included targeting more townships and moving away from the urban areas, having better communication in and across divisions, working with NGOs and community-based organisations to build a culture of human rights.

The Chairperson indicated that there are several questions that come to mind. The Committee needs to know that in small villages, there is something happening. There needs to be the conversations going on, as mentioned by the Social Cohesion Programme, but it is crucial that they are happening in small villages. In small villages, none of the stuff is currently happening as presented. The things that the Social Cohesion Programme is referring to are happening in hotel rooms and board rooms, but not where the people are. The programme needs to provide a list of the social advocates, because perhaps they know more about what is happening at the local level. The Chairperson asked Ms Kganedi to provide that written information at a later date.

The Chairperson mentioned that while the presentation was good, it does not assist the Committee in performing its oversight function because key information is missing. The Committee needs to see how the taxpayers' money is getting used. The Chairperson then asked the following questions: What happens if some schools get placed with artists and other schools do not get artists? What is the timeframe between having the community conversations and making the necessary changes based upon the recommendations? How will the Programme achieve its goals?

Mr Mahlangu referred to the statistics presented about the demographics of the people who participated in the community conversations. He indicated that the pie chart was causing confusion because females represented 20 percent of the population, and males represented 21 percent of the population. Since this total does not add to 100 percent, Mr Mahlangu asked for clarification. Ms Mogotsi and Ms Tsoleli echoed Mr Mahlangu's comment.

Ms Kganedi said that she did not have complete responses to the inquiries. The percentages and the baseline numbers in the document are taken from a report that was approved in August 2012.  The pie chart does provide a distorted view, but a complete written report from the Programme will address this.

In terms of how the Social Cohesion Programme will accomplish their goals, the detailed Strategic Plan will provide a year-by-year breakdown for the steps that should take place each year. The list of advocates will also be provided in the written report. The Programme will also provide information about how the provinces choose the areas in which the conversations are held.

The Chairperson indicated that the document, in the way that it was presented, was not easy to understand and not helpful for understanding the overall impact.

Mr Grootboom once again addressed the statistics. While that discrepancy is a fact, another area of concern is the overall tone of division. Instead of addressing what those divisions are, the programme should concentrate on what binds South Africa as a nation in order to have our values re-instilled. It is also crucial to understand how social identity develops, and how social identity change overtime, especially in the context of a new South Africa.

The Chairperson reminded Ms Kganedi that since all of the documents presented to the Committee were made public, making sure all information is correct is crucial. The Chairperson also expressed disappointment that no other member of the DAC was present. It is important to have everyone there for discussion.

Committee business
The Committee adopted the minutes of the 17 March with amendments. The minutes of the 10 March were held over until the next meeting or corrections to be made.

The Chairperson thanked the Members for their work this session and she wanted to ensure the Members were recognized for their work and that their constituents would be proud of them.

The meeting was adjourned.

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