State of Archives in South Africa: Archival Platform briefing; Use of Official Languages Act implementation: Department briefing

Arts and Culture

01 September 2015
Chairperson: Ms X Tom (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee was briefed on the settlement agreement between Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) and the South African Roadies Association (SARA), the state of the archives in the country, and progress in the implementation of the Use of Official Languages Act.

The Department said that three issues were hindering the process of the agreement with SARA. Firstly, the Department was currently waiting for a detailed plan of action from SARA, outlining how they would spend the R10 million that would be given to them by the Department. Secondly, the Department was searching for an independent third party through which to administer the funds. Thirdly, the DAC was trying to determine whether it was legal for the Minister to allocate R10 million to SARA.

The Committee was not happy the Department’s briefing. Members generally felt that it was being disrespectful towards the Committee, and that it was not doing its job. Instead it was giving the Committee excuses and stories, instead of concrete responses. The Chairperson felt as though the Department was trying to pull out of the agreement, and asked the Department to submit a detailed plan of action on how and when the Department would deal with this matter.

The Archival Platform Steering Committee presented on the state of the archives in South Africa. The main challenges and problems that were highlighted were poor records management and preservation; the lack of transformation and redress; the lack of accessibility to the public; and the lack of collaboration between the different archive services and entities. The Archival Platform felt that the national archival system was in trouble and not delivering on its mandate. It felt that the archival system had been marginalised. It challenged the national and provincial government to address resource and capacity challenges through the conditional grant; to improve effective delivery of archives and records management services; and to step up engagement with citizens, memory institutions and organisations.

The Department’s response acknowledged all of these problems and the challenges highlighted by the report. It said it was currently in the process of making efforts to improve the state of the national archival system, but it was difficult due to limited human and financial resources. The biggest effort that was being made towards improving the system was the conducting of a feasibility study which it hoped would produce solutions that would help deal with the challenges and problems.

The Committee felt that most of the problems and challenges that were prevalent in the system would be sorted out if the Department had a National Archivist, and asked when this vacancy would be occupied. It said the problem with the Department was that it was forever planning things instead of doing things. The Committee challenged the Department to start doing its job.

The Chairperson was very reluctant to allow the Department to brief the Committee on the implementation of the Use of Official Language Act of 2012. She was disappointed by the presentation because it contained nothing new -- it was the same story and the same excuses from the Department. The Department said the implementation of this Act was being hindered by the non-compliance of most departments, entities and enterprises, and the lack of resources.

The Committee Secretary briefed the Committee on their proposed oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal, provisionally from 13 to 18 September. The visit had not yet been approved. The oversight visit would be a joint one, with the Portfolio Committees on Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

Relevant documents: 
Meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture Minutes Proceeding (Tuesday, 09 June 2015)
Meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture Minutes Proceeding (Tuesday, 11 August 2015)
Meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture Minutes Proceeding (Tuesday, 18 August 2015)

Meeting report

Welcome and apologies
The Chairperson welcomed everyone and emphasised the importance of looking at the state of the country’s archives. Over the next five years, the Committee would be looking at how the state of the archives was being improved.

The Chairperson extended a special welcome to Ms A Matshobeni (EFF) who had been changing committees and moving around, but was finally back. Three apologies were noted. Ms S Tsoleli (ANC) was currently on sick leave. Dr P Mulder (FF+) had a prior commitment to attend. Mr J Esterhuizen (IFP) was attending another portfolio committee meeting. The Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) had also put forward an apology on behalf of the Acting Director-General, who was currently out of the country for an important meeting.

Mr J Mahlangu (ANC) asked that apologies be formalised, in a written form, and not just said over the table. He suggested that written apologies be sent to the Chairperson before the meeting so that the Chairperson could decide whether the apology should be accepted or not. It was important that accounting officers should be present for such meetings for accountability reasons.

The Chairperson said she felt that the DAC did not respect the Committee, and that the Committee was subject to poor treatment from the Department. This was unacceptable, and she rejected the apology put forward by the Department. The Committee supported the Chairperson’s rejection.

It was established that an e-mail had been sent to the Committee Secretary, who explained that an e-mail was not adequate and that a formal written letter needed to be sent.

Presentations not received
The Committee Secretary said that presentations from the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) and the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State (PACOFS) had not been received from the two entities. They were meant to resubmit their presentations on 28 August 2015, but had not submitted them.

The Department requested an opportunity to follow up on the matter.

The Chairperson asked that someone from the Department make a call of enquiry and find out what was happening regarding the presentations from these entities. The Committee had not been happy with the presentations, which were inadequate, and as a result they had been sent back for correction.

Settlement agreement between DAC and SA Roadies Association (SARA)
Dr Mbulelo Jokweni, Chief Director: National Language Service, DAC, updated the Committee on behalf of Deputy Director-General, Ms Monica Newton, who was attending a cluster meeting.

The Chairperson asked if there had been an apology from Ms Newton. It was established that no apology had been received.

Dr Jokweni said that SARA had been asked to submit a plan of action explaining in detail how the money they would receive from the Department would be spent. SARA had submitted this plan of action, but the Department had not been happy with it. The plan of action was not detailed and it was not clear how SARA would spend the R10 million that they would receive from the Department for renovations. The Department was currently looking at the legality of administering the R10 million to SARA, in order to avoid auditing queries. There was the Cultural Promotion Act, but the Department was not happy with relying solely on this Act, so it was currently exploring other avenues. The Department had consulted Public Works on the matter. The Department was also looking to administer the money through a credible independent third party. It had initially suggested that the Independent Development Trust (IDT) be used, but later the Department had advised against the use of the IDT.

The Chairperson said that the Department had signed an agreement back in 2008 in the Public Protector’s office, agreeing and committing to allocating R10 million to SARA for renovations. The Public Protector, Ms Newton, SARA and the Chairperson had been present at that meeting. The Chairperson was concerned that the Department was trying to back out of this agreement.

Ms N Bilankulu (ANC) asked what the time frame for this process would be.

Mr Mahlangu said that the agreement that had been established and signed was presumably based on certain principles. If the Department had committed to that agreement, the Department should respect those principles and not back out of the agreement. The presentation had not helped because it lacked details. He asked whether the agreement under discussion was part of the Department’s annual performance plan, and whether the expenditure was part of the plan. He warned the Department against taking up projects that were not part of its annual performance plan.

The Chairperson asked what the Department had done to ensure that it had all the information necessary to move forward with this matter.

Dr Jokweni reassured the Committee that the Department was still committed to administering the R10 million and fulfilling their signed agreement. The Department was trying to ensure that no auditing queries arose. He had not been present at the meeting when the agreement had been signed. What was holding up the process of administering the funds was the lack of a third independent entity, and the lack of an adequate detailed plan of action from SARA.

Dr Jokweni said that the expenditure was not reflected in the annual performance plan. He had just been informed to brief the Committee on the status of the matter. He had not been adequately informed on the matter and as a result could not adequately address the questions and concerns brought forward by the Committee.

Members said they felt disrespected by the Department, and that it did not take them seriously.

Mr T Makondo (ANC) felt that the Department has crossed the line, and was beyond being disrespectful to the Committee. He requested that if the Department had no concrete response to the Committee’s questions, that the Department should please leave.

Ms Bilankulu echoed Mr Makondo’s request.

Mr Mahlangu told Dr Jokweni that one could not play second in command at a Committee meeting, due to accountability. He illustrated his point by using Dr Jokweni as an example. He said that at the moment, Dr Jokweni was taking responsibility for things that he was not responsible or accountable for, which was not acceptable. He also said that his saying that he did not know and had not been properly briefed was unacceptable. The response was not acceptable because as a member of senior level management, he should have known what was going on in other parts of the Department.

Mr Mahlangu said that the Department needed to go to a legal specialist for legal advice. He did not understand why the Department was seeking legal advice elsewhere, and asked what legal opinion the Department could possibly receive from the Department of Public Works.

Dr Jokweni responded that there was a need to consult the Department of Public Works about their opinions on the matter.

Ms Bilankulu also said that it was not acceptable for a member of senior level management to not know what was going on in the Department.

Mr Mahlangu requested that the Committee ask the relevant person to answer the questions and concerns raised by the Committee, instead of wasting time and entertaining this matter. He requested that the meeting move on.

The Chairperson said that this was the worst meeting she had attended. She asked for a detailed plan of action and report from the Department, outlining how and when the implementation of the agreement would take place. This was necessary so that the Committee could monitor the Department’s progress on the matter. The Chairperson was very disappointed in the Department, and felt disrespected by the Department. She asked that the Department shape up and start doing what they were meant to do.

Archival Platform on state of archives in South Africa
Mr Mbongiseni Buthelezi, Archival Platform Steering Committee Member, and Ms Jo-Anne Doggan, Archival Platform Director, presented on the state of the archives and gave the Committee an analysis of the national archival sector.

The Archival Platform had been established in 2009 and operated under the auspices of the University of Cape Town’s National Research Foundation Chair in Archive and Public Culture, Professor Carolyn Hamilton and the Nelson Mandela Foundation. The Archival Platform aimed to play an advocacy and intervention role in respect of memory, archives and records as dynamic public resources in South Africa in the 21st century and within the context of a fledging democracy. It did this through activities directed broadly at public education, professional development, research, networking, advocacy and sectoral mobilisation.

The archive and archives sat at the heart of some of the fundamental concerns of South Africa’s fledging democracy -- access to information, accountability and good governance, truth, justice and reconciliation, human rights, historical memories, national identity and social cohesion.

The Archive Platform aimed to make a positive contribution to the growth and development of the national archival system. The national archival system was the institutional network of state structures which was charged with the responsibility for ensuring the proper management of public records and preserving and making accessible South Africa’s archival inheritance. The system was made up of the National Archives and Records Service, the National Archives Advisory Council, the various provincial archives and records management services, and their advisory bodies.

The national archival system derived its mandate from the Constitution, Act No. 108 of 1996, and the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa Act No. 43 of 1996, as amended.

The national archival system was responsible for ensuring the proper management and care of all public records. As had been noted repeatedly by the Auditor-General, the South African Humans Right Commission and others in recent years, the state of government record-keeping was embarrassing. The public archives were not equipped, resources not positioned to do the records auditing and records management tasks that they were required to do.

The national archival system was responsible for preserving public and non-public records with enduring value for use by the public and the state. 21st century record-keeping was primarily electronic, but public archives remained geared towards paper-based realities, which was problematic. Swathes of documentary memory were being lost, especially in electronic environments. Repositories were full or not functioning, and there was not enough skilled staff to undertake all the tasks required to preserve records adequately.

The national archival system was responsible for promoting transformation and redress through the collection of non-public records with enduring value of national significance, and to document aspects of the nation’s experience neglected by archives’ repositories in the past. Generally, public archives had been unable to transform themselves into active documenters of society. Little attention had been paid to the collection and preservation of non-public records.

The national archival system was responsible for ensuring access and use through making records in its custody accessible and promoting their use by the public. While the archives remained largely the domain of the elite, they were being used increasingly to provide evidence for significant actions, such as land restitution and chieftainship claims. Capacity constraints meant that public archives did very little outreach, and only a fraction of their holdings were accessible online.

The national archival system was responsible for providing guidance and facilitating collaboration between the provincial archive services. There was little collaboration between the public archives and other institutions that generated or held custody of records. In the absence of a national strategy, the duty of care of individual entities within the national archival system to each other, and to other institutions and organisations, could only be inferred from legislation.

The analysis demonstrated that the national archival system was in trouble -- it was not delivering on key elements of its mandate, despite the best efforts of practitioners. There was no overarching policy framework for archives beyond that implicit in public legislation. The political will required to change things was absent, and chronic under-funding and the lack of resources was ever present.

The Archival Platform challenged the national and provincial government to address resource and capacity challenges through the conditional grant; to improve the effective delivery of archives and records management services; and to step up engagement with citizens, memory institutions and organisations.

The Archival Platform concluded that in the face of other priorities, imperatives and agendas, and in the absence of a clear understanding of the role of archives and records in driving service delivery, fostering democratic governance, reckoning with the past and producing history, the national archival system had been marginalised and left to flounder.

Response by Department
Mr Vusithemba Ndima, Deputy Director-General: Heritage Promotion and Preservation, DAC, presented the response to the Archival Platform report, saying that the Department was not going on to the defence.

The Department acknowledged the pro-active approach and support by the archival sector and the public in the country. The report produced by the Archival Platform testified to the intense and robust conversation taking place within the sector. The report did not paint a situation which was completely new, but the findings would complement other findings of internal processes that had been embarked upon in the Department, such as the feasibility of a conditional grant.

The Department acknowledged the challenges and problems that were prevalent in records management. They also acknowledged the lack of state-of-the-art, modern archival equipment, infrastructure and systems to cope with the 21st century demands. However, systems for the following have been put in place:

  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning in order to improve the preservation of records. To date, eight strong rooms had been completed;
  • The National Archives Automated Information Retrieval System was being upgraded in order to make information more accessible to the research community;
  • The website was being revamped in order to make it more user-friendly, and it would be linked to the collections that were available in the archival repositories throughout the country.

In 2012, the Department had signed a memorandum of agreement with the Office of the Auditor-General. This had been a pointer to the Department’s acknowledgement of the weak systems in records management. It was also the Department’s acknowledgement of the fact that proper record-keeping was essential for good governance and accountability. The Department had been participating in workshops arranged by the Auditor-General. It had also been participating in records management sessions arranged by the Auditor-General, the first session taking place in the Eastern Cape on 31 July 2015.

On the preservation of records, in 2014 the Department had sent circulars to both national and provincial departments, sensitising them to the need for preparing records that were 20 years old, or older, for transfer to the national and provincial repositories. With regard to electronic record-keeping, the National Archives Automated Information Retrieval System was being formatted to deal with some of these challenges. It was also designed to prevent the loss of information, particularly in the electronic environment. In relation to repositories being full or not functioning, in addition to heating ventilation and air conditioning, the Department was upgrading an old library building to make space for the preservation of archival records. The issue of non-functioning repositories and skills development were in the scope of the feasibility study that would be completed in October this year.

On transformation and redress, it was not totally correct that the archives were not acquiring non-pubic records that could not be more appropriately preserved by another institution. Mr Ndima gave the example of the Percy Yutar Papers, which had been donated; the copy of the Freedom Charter, which had been purchased; stamps stolen from the archives year ago, which had been donated; and the Peter Tladi Collection, which had been donated. Mr Ndima said that with more resources, the Department could do more national registers for non-public records with enduring value.

On access and use, the National Archives developed annual outreach programmes which were intended to reach out to less privileged sectors of society, to make known information about records. The staff of the National Archives usually took information to people during expositions or events that were happening in communities nationally, and learners were usually invited to the annual Archives Week. The Department acknowledged that with more financial and human resources, it could have a better and more effective and efficient outreach programme.

On guidance and collaboration, a structure called the National and Provincial Heads of Archives Forum had been established. This forum provided a platform for information sharing between the national and provincial archives. The Department acknowledged that the collaboration was still at a low level, but the situation was fast changing.

The Department acknowledged that although there were problems, it was not in agreement with the Archival Platform’s indication that the vision of 1990 had evaporated. There was both administrative and political support for the work that was being done to acquire both human and financial resources. There was full support of the feasibility study which could pave the way for getting the required resources, and the Achives were being given prominence in the current prioritisation and filling of posts in the Department,.

The Department had already commissioned a feasibility study to assess the needs of the archival landscape nationwide. The White Paper review presented an opportunity for the Department to review, rethink and reimagine what it wanted the archival system to be in the 21st century.

On addressing resource and capacity challenges, these were being covered by the feasibility study, and depending on the nature of the challenges, they would be addressed over the short, medium or long term. The annual Archives Week was now being held in provinces in order to spread and disseminate information about the archives. In 2015, Oral History would take place in Kwa-Zulu Natal, while the annual Archives Week had been held in Limpopo.

On improving service delivery, the feasibility study was also looking at improving service delivery by training and retraining archivists.

Mr Ndima concluded by saying that the core of the problems faced by the national archives system was human and financial capital challenges. Despite the scarcity of resources, the Department would continue to step up its effort to improve the archival system. He highlighted the things that the Department would be able to improve on if resources were available. These included skills development, infrastructure, a national strategy for the collection and preservation of non-public records, and the strengthening of partnerships with various stakeholders. With the costed feasibility study report, the Department would be able to approach National Treasury for a possible conditional grant for archival services, and believed that with the grant, the DAC would be able to go a long way in addressing the problems and the challenges that had been raised and highlighted in the report.

The Chairperson asked when the employment of a national archivist would be completed.

Mr Ndima replied that there was a need to reopen the advertisement calling for applicants. The applications had closed on 17 August and the Department was currently shortlisting candidates. The Department hoped to have interviews in October and have a national archivist by the end of October.

The Chairperson asked that the Committee be given a focused response -- it wanted to know how and when, so that it could hold the Department accountable. She made it very clear that the Committee was not interested in essays or stories.

Ms Matshobeni said that the country was facing the struggle of forgetting its past and the people who helped shape the present. She asked how the Department justified the level of negligence the state of archives was in. What would the country’s excuse be to justify the loss of important historical records? She argued that the apartheid regime had their justification, but the current regime would not have an adequate justification.

Mr Ndima agreed that it was not justifiable. The Department was looking into the matter and was currently conducting a feasibility study which it believed would help it to come up with solutions tailored to specific challenges.

Mr Makondo argued that the Department was in actual fact being on the defensive. He had expected the Department to explain what it was doing about the state of the archives, but instead the Department had presented on what it was thinking of doing. Thinking would not take the Department anywhere, and it was not very clear what the plan for the archives was. The Department needed to do something to correct the current situation. He pointed out that the recurring problem that was being mentioned by both presentations was that of record management -- the Department was failing to manage records.

Mr Ndima responded that the Department was not on the defensive. He had acknowledged that the Department had problems and challenges, and he had explained that the Department was making small changes and interventions to deal with these problems and challenges. The interventions included increasing capacity, making renovations to some archives and increasing space for archives. He acknowledged that their efforts and interventions were not enough, and said that the Department would do more once they had the resources.

The Chairperson asked the Department to inform the Committee of all the vacancies that needed to be filled in the archives, and for a clear plan of action outlining what the Department would do with the current situation of the archives. The deadline for this plan of action was next week on Tuesday.

Mr Mahlangu stated that the root to all the problems and challenges that the Department was facing with archives was due to the national archivist post being vacant. He asked when this post would be filled.

He said that Germany had some records of South Africa which they were willing to hand over to the country.

Ms Mandy Gilder, Acting National Archivist, agreed with Mr Mahlangu that Germany was in possession of South African records which they were more than willing to hand over to South Africa. She explained that these were church records. There had been an agreement to obtain these records from Germany, but a change of leadership had taken place, which had interrupted the process. The Department was currently in the process of resuscitating this project.

She commented on the Freedom Charter. The South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) required documents over 50 years to be declared, but this was not possible with the current Freedom Charter document because it was a copy, not the original. However, it was decided that since the country had paid for this copy, it could be declared as an original. The process of declaring the copy of the Freedom Charter original was currently under way.

Mr Mahlangu asked for clarity on page nine of the presentation, on transformation and redress.

Mr Mahlangu asked when the annual Archivists Week had taken place in Limpopo.

Mr Ndima said it had been held in Polokwane in May 2015.

Mr Ndima spoke about the use of the conditional grant. He explained that the conditional grant was used to assist in the maintenance of the archives.

Ms Gilder said that following the process of provincialisation, there should be nine provincial archives, and that the National Archive should coordinate these archives. She said that the Steve Biko autopsy was missing and that an investigation to look into the matter was currently under way. She stressed that no destruction of records was taking place.

Ms Gilder informed the Committee that the National Archives was in the process of determining how some stamps had gone missing. She explained that a couple of years ago stamps had been stolen and sold on line. Fortunately they had been bought by a patriotic South African who had then donated the stamps to the National Archive.

Ms Doggon welcomed and supported the Department’s response, but asked to add on to what the Department had said. She outlined four concerns that were recurring throughout the presentation that needed to be addressed. The issues that she highlighted were records management, the issue of amending and costing the Act, addressing the inequalities across the different provinces, and the vacant or non-public records.

She requested to add three issues to the agenda for matters that needed to be addressed. She asked for the establishment of an archives advisory council, which was currently non-existent. She asked that the Department take the issue of litigation very seriously, as the Archival Platform was aware of a number of citizens who want to take legal action against the Department because of the issue of poor record preservation. She also asked that the digitisation of records be revisited, as it had been on hold since 2010. She said that the Platform was very active and involved in the White Paper process, and were committed to providing the country the best archives possible.

The Chairperson asked that the Department commit to having a National Archivist by the end of October. The Committee wanted something concrete and definite that they could hold the Department accountable for.

The Chairperson got the impression that the feasibility study was an afterthought by the Department, and this was unacceptable.

She asked for a breakdown of the Department’s budget, and how it was being used. She pointed out that Bills needed to be costed before they were tabled and made into an Act.

She told the Department that it needed to remember that it was not about them, but about the people that they were serving.

The Department needed to focus on record management and involve the National Council of Provinces in its endeavours.

She thanked the Archival Platform and Department for their presentations on the state of the archives.

Briefing: DAC on the implementation of the Use of Official Language Act, 12 of 2012
The Chairperson said she was very disappointed with the presentation, because it offered nothing new or different from what they were hearing from the Department -- it was more stories and excuses. As a result, the Chairperson did not allow the Department to deliver its presentation. She felt that it would be a waste of time, because it would be like listening to a broken record. She asked when this plan would be implemented, warning the Department about possible legal action against them because of the delay in implementation.

Dr Jokweni agreed with the Chairperson. The implementation date had initially been set as 14 November 2014. He made a humble request to present some of the slides to the Committee that would explain where the Act was, specifically the recommendations, which would highlight what needed to be done in order to ensure action and the implementation of the Act.

The Chairperson granted permission to present the recommendations.

Dr Jokweni highlighted the challenges that the Department was facing that were hindering the implementation of the Act. Most departments, entities and enterprises complained about the inadequate resources and the lack of support within departments. The Department recommended that PanSALB do oversight on the implementation of the Act by all national government departments, national public entities and national public enterprises. It recommended that the Committee encourage and support non-complying departments with the Act. It recommended that the DAC continue sending notices and reminders to non-complying departments, national public enterprises and public entities. It recommended that the DAC continue reporting on implementation, as part of Outcome 14 reports to Cabinet.

Mr Mahlangu stated that the promotion of language was part of the responsibility of the Committee and Department, and that both parties needed to fulfill that responsibility. He warned the Department that people would take the Department to court over this matter. This matter should not reach Cabinet and become a Cabinet issue, because it was a simple administrative issue that should have been dealt with by the Chief Directors. The problem with the Department was that it was forever planning things and never actually doing anything. It was time to pull up their socks and take their work seriously -- excuses were becoming cheap and they were no longer acceptable. He reminded them that they were not simply running a department, but that they were running a country, and it was time that they started acting as if they were.

He requested that a letter from the Committee be issued to the entities that were not complying. He supported the Chairperson’s recommendation to get the other relevant Committees on board, to place pressure on the non-complying departments and entities.

The Chairperson quoted from one of evangelist T.D Jakes’s books to the Department. ‘My fear was that too often the greatest threats to our personal success operates like a terrorist stealing moments from our day, sabotaging opportunities to our advancement, transforming our strengths into weapons of mass destruction and mess. My collective term for this terrorist threat was mediocrity in our daily lives. While I’m sure you understand the meaning of this word, I want you to pause and consider it for a moment. Mediocrity results from accepting the second rate, the average or below average, that which was ordinary, run of the mill, commonplace and middle of the road, rather than striving for the excellent, the extraordinary, the best, the first rate. Mediocrity begs me to stay and resign yourself to the status quo.’ The Chairperson strongly felt that this was what the Department was doing, that the Department was not striving for anything. She told the Department that it needed to strive for excellence, and reminded it that it was paid to do what it was meant to be doing, which it was not currently doing.

She excused the Department from the meeting.

Dr Jokweni thanked the Chairperson and the Committee for the intervention. He said that it had been needed and ensured the Committee that things would change from that point on.

Committee minutes
The Committee considered the minutes of meetings held on 9 June, and 11 and 18 August 2015.

Mr Mahlangu requested that abbreviations that were the same as political party abbreviations be written in full. He used distributing agents as an example, which had been recorded as “DA” in the minutes.
The minutes were adopted.

Other business

Government Entities
The Chairperson asked if the Committee could go through the Kader Asmal Report before the next meeting so that the Committee could have a discussion about it next week. The Chairperson had been invited to attend a meeting where they would be discussing the report and she would like to attend the meeting with the Committee’s interests and opinions in mind, and not just her own.

Oversight visits
The Committee asked for an update on their oversight visits. The Committee Secretary informed the Committee that the oversight visit will be joint one -- the Committee would be travelling with the Portfolio Committees on Environmental Affairs and Tourism. The oversight would be taking place in KwaZulu-Natal. The proposed date for the visit was 13 September to 18 September. Approval had not yet been granted for the oversight visit, but the Committee Secretary hoped to hear from management by the end of the week. The Chairperson asked the Committee to voice and submit any projects or sites that needed to be visited. The Committee wanted to avoid being told which projects and sites to visit.

Mr Mxolisi Dlamuka, Content Advisor for the Committee, spoke about the draft suggestions of projects that cut across all three Portfolio Committees. Among those suggestions were the two world heritage sites, the Drakensberg and iSimangaliso parks. He acknowledged that the two were more biased towards tourism, but pointed out to the Committee that the two sites had a strong cultural aspect to them that was often not exploited or taken advantage of. iSimangaliso was rooted within a rich cultural environment, and the Drakensburg Mountain Park was surrounded by a number of sites that were not taken care of. The cultural element of the region was neglected. Mr Dlamuka argued that the Committee would have the opportunity to raise these issues on the oversight visits.

It was also suggested that Isandlwana be visited. This site was where the British had lost for the very first time on African soil. It was currently a provincial heritage site and was on the verge of disintegration. He stated that strategic intervention needed to be made. The Ncome Museum was also suggested as a project to visit -- a reconciliation bridge existed near the museum but it was closed, which was problematic. The Ncome Museum did not receive a vote, but was tied to Msunduzi Museum. The two museums were linked by history. Administering the two was difficult. The two museums were meant to have established separate leadership, but that had not happened. Mr Dlamuka suggested that the Committee explore areas of opportunity at this site.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Dlamuka.

The meeting was adjourned.

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