Meeting with the Iranian Delegation

Arts and Culture

12 October 2017
Chairperson: Ms X Tom (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Committee met with the Iranian Delegation to discuss issues of mutual interest and handover an invitation to the Committee.

The Iranian delegation highlighted that there were striking similarities between South Africa and Iran, with South Africa having Nelson Mandela fighting against the oppressed state and this was similar to Iran where there was also an oppressed state. It was a great responsibility to free people from oppression. The common enemy was fighting against an oppress state. The backing of high spirituality and having people supporting the need for freedom was helpful towards Iran gaining freedom. The 27 years that Nelson Mandela spent in prison was a true test for the people of South Africa but in the end the people were victorious.

The Cultural Committee in Iran is composed of 17 Members responsible for laws to be tabled and reviewed in Parliament. Documents are approved by Parliament but oversight was conducted by the Cultural Committee.  There is a section for minority groups in the Committee and these included women and people with disabilities. There is also consideration of minority religions such as Christianity. The Committee is required to execute its work based on the mandate in place. Women in the Committee made up 20% of Members.

The delegation hoped that the visit would strengthen the relationship between two countries. There will be a meeting next year in Iran where the main focus would be on cultural issues and the Committee was also invited to this important meeting.

Members appreciated that the delegation was using its own language as language is part and parcel of culture. The culture of South Africa included languages that had been lost as colonisers took away the culture of South Africans. The indigenous languages in the country are in the periphery and those who are able to speak English are perceived as “clever” and this was killing the culture of South Africa. It was encouraging to see that the country had international radio within the Committee as this allowed broad representation of the culture. Radio and television are outside the cultural sector in South Africa. This was absurd considering that this is the sector that had been entrusted with social cohesion. The country fosters Ubuntu and this is important in terms of improving relations with other people. It would be important to hear from the delegation as to ways to ensure that people in rural areas are able to benefit from these programmes that promote arts and culture.

Members asked about the number of tribes in the country of Iran.  What strategy was being used to bring people together? The Committee should be briefed on the participation of women in the Cultural Committee. In terms of regulating technology especially social media, how was this being done? The Committee should be briefed on the tension between Iran and United States of America especially from President Donald Trump and how this tension had affected the social fabric of the Iran community. 

Meeting report

Welcoming remarks
Mr J Mahlangu (ANC) welcomed the Iranian delegation and indicated that this was the second delegation that had visited the Committee in the fifth Parliament. Iran was a country that assisted South Africa during apartheid. The history of the Iranian community and South Africa had striking similarities, especially in terms of fighting oppression. There were also internal problems that both of the communities faced and therefore there should be a way forward on how to deal with those challenges in a cooperative manner. All Members present in the Committee today are Members of the ruling party but South Africa was not a single party state, opposition Members had to attend a funeral. The Iranian supreme leader like Mr Ali Khamenei was similar to Nelson Mandela in South Africa as he sacrificed his life to fight against oppression. 

The Chairperson handed over to the Iranian delegation to brief the Committee on any important matters and why it specifically chose this Committee over other committees.

           
Briefing by the Iranian Delegation
Mr Ahmed Salek, Member of Parliament, Iran; also appreciated the opportunity to present to the Committee, this was an opportunity not to be missed. The delegation was happy to hear the Committee talking about the great leader of Iran, Mr Khamenei and how he fought against oppression. It was indeed true that there were striking similarities between South Africa and Iran with South Africa having Nelson Mandela fighting against the oppressed state, similar to Iran where there was an oppress state. It was a great responsibility to free people from oppression. The common enemy that the country was fighting against was an oppress state. The backing of high spirituality and having people supporting the need for freedom was helpful towards Iran gaining freedom. The 27 years that Nelson Mandela spent in prison was a true test for the people of South Africa but people in the end remained victorious.  The commonality of the two countries was stark including the diversity of both countries including tribe, languages and religions. There is also a committee in Iran that is related to Arts and Culture. 20 entities are pushing for cultural agenda in the country.

Mr Salek said that Mr Khamenei highlighted that culture in itself is pure and this resonated well with the country. The delegation invited the Committee to visit Iran, with particular focus on their Committee dealing with cultural affairs in Iran. There is monitoring of the ministry of arts in Iran and this monitoring was looking at contracts and activities being done by relevant entities. There are three separate spheres of government in Iran, as in South Africa.  The delegation hoped that the visit would strengthen the relationship between two countries. There would be a meeting next year in Iran where the main focus would be on cultural issues and the Committee was also invited to this important meeting.
           
 Mr Alireza Ebrahimi, Member of Parliament, Iran; also welcomed everyone in the meeting and stated that the Cultural Committee in Iran is composed of young people and media. There are specialised duties for everyone and this is where most of the work was being done. The Cultural Committee is composed of 17 Members and they are responsible for laws to be tabled and reviewed in Parliament. The documents are approved by Parliament but oversight was conducted by the Cultural Committee.  There is a section for minority groups in the Committee and these included women and people with disabilities. There is also a consideration of minority religion like Christianity. The Committee is required to execute its work based on the mandate in place. Women in the Committee made up 20% of Members. The delegation would be happy to welcome the Committee in Iran as this would certainly increase collaboration between the two countries.

Mr Salek once again thanked the Committee for the warm welcome and reiterated that the Committee should regard Iran as a second home. Culture is the foundation of how we move in our daily lives and our daily routines. The country was primarily focused on culture including looking at the Islamic way of living as supported by the supreme leader Mr Khamenei. There are systems in place in Iran to prevent the dangers of technology like social media. There are obviously forces that are pushing the youth to go astray and this should be avoided by both countries. There are deep cultural roots in the country of Iran and these needed to be respected. Legal instruments are in place to prevent the purity of the culture of Iran. The country does not interfere with legal systems of other countries and this is the nature of good governance. The introduction of Iranian culture in a new country also means learning the culture of that specific country.

Discussion
The Chairperson appreciated that the delegation was using its own language as language is part and parcel of culture. The culture of South Africa, including languages, had been lost as colonisers took away the culture of South Africans. The indigenous languages in the country are in the periphery and those who are able to speak English are perceived as “clever” and this was killing the culture of South Africa. The country also has value called Ubuntu and this was simply saying “I am because you are”. The country had been eroded of its culture and identity and this is why the Committee always emphasised the culture needed to be used to bring people together and not to divide them. Culture is the backbone of everything as it had the potential to prevent the situation where people ended up adopting any culture.  Job creation can be made through culture or cultural representation and this is an important aspect that the Department was focused on. The Department took a conscious decision to monitor the cultural entities to ensure that they complied with their mandate. She would have liked the Committee to take the delegation to the cultural monuments.
    
Ms S Tsenoli (ANC) appreciated the brief presentation. The information provided to the Committee about Iran was helpful and very important. Iran is a very rich cultural country while South Africa was coming from an oppressed state but still managed to keep some aspects of our culture. There is a plan in place to instil cultural pride in young people so as to ensure that culture was kept intact. It is important for people to be proud of who they are and this should be started in school and communities. It was encouraging to see that the country had international radio within the Committee as this allowed broad representation of the culture. Radio and television are outside the cultural sector in South Africa and this was absurd considering that this is the sector that had been entrusted with social cohesion. It is indeed true that the country fosters Ubuntu and this is important in terms of improving relations with other people. It would be important to hear from the delegation as to ways to ensure that people in rural areas are able to benefit from these programmes that promote arts and culture.

Ms V Mogotsi (ANC) appreciated the role played by Iran during the dark days of apartheid and most important the Committee should thank the country for lifting those sanctions.  How many tribes in the country of Iran? What was the strategy that was being used to bring people together? The Committee should be briefed on the participation of women in the Cultural Committee. How was technology especially social media, regulated?

Mr Mahlangu said that South Africa is a constitutional country and this is a tedious but necessary journey that needed to be taken. The South African Parliament was probably the leading Parliament in the world to be taken to court on a weekly basis and this was a price that was being paid for being a constitutional democracy.  The Committee should be briefed on the tension between Iran and United States of America, especially from President Donald Trump, and how this tension had affected social fabric of Iran community.

Mr Salek responded that for 40 years Iran had been resisting aggression of the West and for 15 years resisting aggression of USA. Iran has come out independent and resourceful through these aggressions. The country resisted the sanctions that were implemented by USA and this once again showed that the country did not need to bow down to the USA. The inspirations are coming from the Holy Book especially on the importance of resistance to gain independence. What would South Africa do if the USA imposed sanctions? The main weapon is resistance. Iran is a highly powerful country and the Constitution of the country is primarily based on the Holy Book of Quran. There is a strong advancement of women in Iran, especially in Parliament.  The Committee would be provided with an English version of the Constitution. There are adequate checks and balances in place to ensure that there is compliance with the Constitution.

Chapter 3 of the Constitution speaks about avoiding discrimination either by race, tribe and gender and also to avoid oppression of other countries. There are different tribes in Iran including Turkish and Arabs and the commonality with all of them is the history of oppression. These tribes have different languages, dress and their own dialects but the most important aspect is that these are all Iranians. The country needed to be careful of the work of the West as the aim of the West is to destroy different cultures. A parliamentary system is in place to accommodate people in rural areas and this takes the views of people in rural areas and brings them to Parliament for consideration. There should be awareness about countries that portray themselves as nice while in reality they want to destroy the values of different cultures. Language is a very important part of destroying culture and there is a need to embrace different languages without losing our original culture and identity.

The Chairperson accepted the invitation that had been forwarded by the delegation but also made it clear that the invitation needed to go through proper channels of Parliament. The Committee would certainly love to visit Iran as soon as possible but all this would depend on the approval of Parliament. The Committee once again thanked the delegation for choosing the Committee out of all other committees in Parliament. The aim of the meeting was to have an ongoing interaction so that the relationship between two countries is strengthened. The Committee and everyone hoped that the visit to the Committee meeting was worthwhile and added value to the delegation.

The meeting was adjourned.          




 

Documents

No related documents

Present

Share this page: