The Committee met to first consider and adopt its draft Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR), dated 18 October 2017. Having gone through the Draft report page by page, the Committee emphasised recommendations made in the previous financial year were important to focus on especially as tangible results of the legacy of the Committee were imperative. Members reflected on their disappointment with entities not achieving targets except for the National Film and Video Foundation. The Draft Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report of the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture, dated 18 October 2017, was adopted with minor amendments.
The Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy briefed the Committee on the Kader Asmal Report, with a particular focus on the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB). Members were also informed of the prominent recommendations made in the Report namely delinking of ISD budgets from government departments and establishing a single Human Rights Body – the presentation looked at the motivation behind, advantages and challenges of these recommendations. The presentation then looked the constitutional mandate of PanSALB, general conclusions and recommendations of the Asmal Report.
The Committee was concerned that many of the recommendations of the Asmal Report would not be easy to implement because of the political will required for such implementation and changing of the status quo. The Committee would have its own meeting to further interrogate the Report and reach its own recommendations and proposals. This was important as some Members had firsthand experience dealing with PanSALB and how it operated. The Committee highlighted that it will need to be kept abreast with and developments on the recommendations.
There were apologies from the Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, Ms Maggie Sotyu, Ms V Mogosti (ANC) and Dr N Dlamini-Zuma (ANC).
Members took time to thank Mr J Mahlangu (ANC) for being part of the Committee and wished him well in his new appointment as Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services.
Draft Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report of the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture
The Committee considered the Draft Report page by page.
The Chairperson highlighted that recommendations made in the previous financial year were important to focus on. It was imperative to focus on those recommendations as the term of Parliament was coming to an end soon and there was a need for tangible results of what the Committee had delivered in the five years of service. It was therefore critical that the Department of Arts and Culture implement recommendations of the Committee. She also expressed concern and disappointment that the entities have not met their targets. She did, however, note the National Film and Video Foundation as an entity that achieved its set targets, which attested to good planning by the entity.
Dr P Mulder (FF+) referred to the sentence in the Draft Report which read: “The dictionaries in indigenous languages should be made available to the respective races and schools as soon as possible” - he asked what ‘races’ meant in that sentence and expressed doubt that it was an appropriate word to use. He suggested the use of the word ‘groups’ to replace ‘races’.
The Chairperson agreed that the word did not gel well - she suggested ‘language groups’.
Mr G Grootboom (DA) asked to what extent the Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) being discussed took into consideration the Kader Asmal Report.
The Chairperson responded that the Kader Asmal Report was not yet finalised. The Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy was present to brief the Committee on said Report. This would be an opportunity for the Committee to have an input on discussion around the Kader Asmal Report.
The Draft Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report of the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture, dated 18 October 2017, was adopted with minor amendments.
Draft Committee Minutes dated 22 August 2017
The Chairperson said it was important for the minutes to state concretely why the Department of Arts and Culture was sent back during the meeting - this was because there was no letter of apology and delegation from the acting Director General.
Draft Committee Minutes dated 22 August were adopted with minor amendments.
Draft Committee Minutes dated 5 September 2017
The Chairperson said it was important for the minutes to reflect that the Committee was concerned with junior officials of the Department being sent to oversight visits.
Mr G Grootboom noted the figure in the last sentence of the first paragraph was incorrect. The sentence read: “In 2014 the DAC entered into another contract with the IDT to facilitate the construction of Enyokeni Cultural Precinct for an approved amount of R130 000.00”. He said the figure was supposed to read R1 300 000.00.
The Chairperson noted a minor grammatical error.
Draft Committee Minutes dated 5 September 2017 were adopted with corrections.
Draft Committee Minutes dated 12 September 2017
Mr Grootboom noted a minor grammatical error.
Draft Committee Minutes dated 12 September 2017 were adopted with minor amendments.
Draft Committee Minutes dated 3 October 2017
The Chairperson noted minor grammatical errors.
Mr J Mahlangu (ANC) also raised a minor grammatical amendment required.
Draft Committee Minutes dated 3 October 2017 were adopted with minor amendments.
Draft Committee Minutes dated 10 October 2017
The draft minutes were adopted without amendment.
Draft Committee Minutes dated 17 October 2017
The draft minutes were adopted without amendment.
Kader Asmal Report on the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB)
Mr Kaya Zweni, Head: Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy (OISD), Parliament, informed the Committee that the presentation was a summary of the Kader Asmal Report. The presentation provided a brief background on the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of Chapter Nine and Associated Institutions. The said Committee was chaired by Professor Kader Asmal and produced a Report with recommendations commonly referred to as the Asmal Report.
Mr Zweni said the role of the OISD was to coordinate interactions between the National Assembly and Institutions Supporting Democracy. The mandate of the OISD was to enhance capacity of the National Assembly to perform its functions of oversight, accountability and support relevant Institutions Supporting Democracy (ISD).
There were two prominent recommendations in the Ad Hoc Committee Report, namely delinking of ISD budgets from government departments and establishing a single Human Rights Body.
In terms of motivation for delinking of ISD budgets from government departments, according to the Ad Hoc Committee Report, Chapter 2 page 20, the budgets of all bodies identified by the Constitution should be part of Parliament’s Budget Vote. According to the motivation of delinking budgets, Parliament’s Budget Vote would be more appropriate to take on this as the ISDs themselves were accountable to the National Assembly and Parliament maintained oversight over them. To this, Parliament needs to establish or identify appropriate structures and mechanisms to ensure an effective and efficient budget system. The process would also include giving ISDs an opportunity to motivate their budget submissions directly to the National Treasury before decisions on budget allocations were taken. If the above was agreed to, the programme within Parliament’s Budget Vote for these institutions would still fall under the Public Finance Management Act and would be subject to accountability and audit arrangements common to other organs of the state.
Mr Zweni noted the Report recommended a highly organised and unitary body called the South African Commission on Human Rights and Equality. The Ad Hoc Committee Report further stated that that this body will be better equipped to deal with the many challenges in promoting and protecting human rights in SA. This proposed human rights body should include the current South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL), PanSALB and the National Youth Commission. The Ad Hoc Committee highlighted that this umbrella human rights commission have dedicated commissioners for areas including gender, children and youth and people with disabilities. In addition to this there should be a dedicated information commissioner. The Report further stated the single human rights body should be well-funded, have the necessary legal power to promote human rights and address systemic violations of rights and operate in SA as an advice centre for the millions of people in SA who otherwise would not have been able to challenge breach of their rights.
In terms of the challenges of establishing a single human rights body, the Asmal Report pointed out the process of amalgamation would neither be easy nor speedy. The ISDs were established by the Constitution and the creation of one human rights body would require significant constitutional amendment. In order for such amendment to be effected, Parliament and the Executive must give it due consideration. The present institutional framework created fragmentation and confounded the intention that these institutions would support seamless application of the Bill of Rights.
Looking at the advantages of establishment of an umbrella human rights commission, firstly, there would be avoidance of the potential for duplication of effort. Furthermore, the present lack of collaboration and co-ordination, that characterised the relationships of ISDs with one another, exacerbated the potential of duplication of activities. Secondly, a single human rights commission would be administratively more efficient thus ensuring that resources were utilised most advantageously. Third, establishment of a single human rights body would make it more accessible to the public, who, at present must, determine which of the several institutions was the correct forum to approach. The status quo of the institutions at present proved to be quite a tedious and confusing process for complainants often referred from one body to another. A single human rights body would provide opportunity for a co-ordinated approach to the promotion of public awareness of the Bill of Rights.
The presentation then looked at the constitutional mandate of PanSALB – the Board was established from Chapter One of the Constitution of SA, under section 6 (5), and therefore differed remarkably from ISDs which were Chapter Nine bodies. To this, the Board did not have independence and authority guaranteed in the Constitution. The Board had no constitutional obligation to act without fear, favour or prejudice when implementing its mandate, although these guarantees were contained in legislation. No provision was made in the Constitution for the Board to be accountable solely to the National Assembly.
Mr Zweni then gave an account of the general conclusions and recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee. To this, he highlighted how the Report noted that the contribution of the Board to democracy was limited. Further to this, the reorganising of PanSALB would bring about sharper focus on its constitutional mandate and avoid duplication of work carried out by the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities and the Department of Arts and Culture. The appointments procedure of the Board required revision, particularly to assert further independence of the Board.
Another noteworthy recommendation was that the institutional governance arrangements of the Board required attention, by establishing clear lines of accountability between the Board and the CEO. This would also mean a stringent system for disclosure of interests. In addition to the above, the relationship between the Board and the National Assembly, through the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture, was unsatisfactory. Funding of the Board appeared inadequate and thus budget arrangements require amendments to assert further independence of the Board.
In terms of specific recommendations to PanSALB, it was noted that there was unnecessary, ineffective and costly duplication of work between the Board and the CLR and between the Board and the Department of Arts and Culture on language development skills. To this, it was recommended the Lexicography Units of the Board be transferred to the Department of Arts and Culture and that the Board be incorporated into the CLR as a joint activity. The Ad Hoc Committee was aware the Board and the CLR were constitutional bodies and that it might not be possible to amend the Constitution in the near future. Consolidation of the two bodies, as a joint activity, should, or can be, achieved in a relatively short period. Legal advice obtained by the Committee suggests the location of the Board as a joint activity within the Commission can be achieved without necessarily amending the Constitution. The Ad Hoc Committee pointed out that it would be constitutionally tenable, but not legally ideal in the long term, for Parliament to adopt legislation that would combine the Board with the Commission if certain conditions were met.
In conclusion, there was a Task Team established to examine feasibility of a single human rights body and delinking of the ISD Budget from the associated departments. A report will be submitted to the presiding officers on the findings of the task team.
Dr Mulder said that it would not be easy to implement most of the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee. This was mostly due to political reasons because once government’s/the Executive have power; they seldom want to lose it. He was sceptical that any of these recommendations would be implemented unless there was a President who was ready to challenge the status quo.
Mr Grootboom asked how soon the Report would be adopted.
Mr Zweni responded that the process of implementing the recommendations was politically difficult. A task team was established and was meeting before the end of this month with a draft action plan that will run up to May 2018. Before the end of this term the Report must be finalised, either by adoption or rejection. There was general consensus with regard to delinking of budgets of the ISDs as it enhanced independence of those institutions. There was also general consensus on appointments and removing participation of the department. Amalgamation was a difficult process but partial amalgamation was proposed. The CRL and PanSALB could merge and the SAHRC and CGE can merge. The Task Team would be looking at what legislation needs to be amended to facilitate amalgamation of these institutions. The process of amalgamation will be open for public opinion and input and this will be made available to the Committee, including the three delinking options.
The Chairperson said the Committee would need to have its own meeting to also come up with recommendations and proposals. This was important as some Members had firsthand experience dealing with PanSALB and how it operated. She also encouraged the OISD to give the Committee information on how the process was unfolding. It would be helpful if ideas of the Committee were incorporated.
The meeting was adjourned.
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