Arts, Culture and Heritage White Paper: Department briefing

Arts and Culture

26 February 2019
Chairperson: Ms X Tom (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee was briefed by the Department on the Revised Draft White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage and the issues of dissatisfaction with the Department raised by public entities. Public consultations were held in all the nine provinces with multiple government departments.

The Committee was dissatisfied with the way in which the Department of Arts and Culture has dealt with the issues raised by its public entities as a number of the them had written to the Committee stating their dissatisfaction with the consultations and the provisions of the Revised White Paper. The Committee had received communication from a number of stakeholders to this effect. Because of this situation Members were even driven to ask what the Department’s adjudication process was and the timeframes for the drafting of the Revised White Paper and unfunded events.

The Committee, in a state of disappointment accused the Department of not dealing adequately with the grievances lodged by officials from the National Library of South Africa and Robben Island Museum and for not remedying any of the challenges that were identified by the Committee in the previous financial year.

Members heard that some organisations had said that the Revised White Paper is not beneficial to them, in fact that there were sections of the White Paper that worked against them. The Committee asked the Department to keep records of the meetings that took place the Department and CCIFSA, and to be aware that it seemed that CCICSA wanted to take over from the National Arts Council. Members asked to what extent the Intellectual Property Rights Protection Bill spoke to what was envisaged in the Revised White Paper; and if the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) had written to them (the Committee) because they also communicated their dissatisfaction with the consultations. The Department was also asked how they accommodated people with disabilities.

The Committee said that the officials in the Department are being paid to do the job that they have been tasked with – they should therefore respond to all queries and complaints from their stakeholders.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks and breakdown of the current situation

The Chairperson said that the Committee was disappointed in the way the Department had handled the grievances from officials of the National Library of South Africa during the public hearings on the Revised White Paper. Not only that, but the Department has not remedied any of the challenges that were identified by the Committee in the previous financial year. The Department has not been able to deliver service to its service providers and the organisations that applied for funding.

The Chairperson added that she has received numerous complaints from the Department’s stakeholders, which should have not been the case. It is unusual that stakeholders would approach the Committee to intervene in matters that should be managed by the Department. The Committee’s role, concerning the Department, is to conduct oversight on its activities and advise and not get involved in its daily operations and solve its challenges. The officials in the Department are being paid to do the job that they have been tasked with – they should respond to all queries and complaints from their stakeholders. She concluded by thanking Professor Andries Oliphant, Associate Professor, Department of Afrikaans and Theory of Literature, University of South Africa (UNISA)  for his contribution to the Revised White Paper.

Ms Ajabulile Mtiya, Committee Secretary, Parliament said that the Committee was in receipt of an apology from the Minister who is out of the country, and the Deputy Minister who is on a site visit.

The Chairperson said that the Committee is unhappy with the manner in which the Department has dealt with the challenges that were brought forward by the officials from the Robben Island Museum. The information that was brought forward to the Committee shows that the Department did not conduct a thorough investigation on the matters that were brought forward by the officials of the Robben Island Museum.

Ms Mtiya said that after the Committee’s meeting it received communication from Mr M Matyumza, Director: Centre for Book, National Library of South Africa; who had been charged on seven counts of misconduct, and Mr Mavhunga Mashudu, Executive Director: Corporate Services: DAC, saying that the Department has not been truthful with its presentation. The Committee also received communication from Dr Rakwena Reginald Mpho Monareng, Chief Executive Officer: PanSALB (The Pan South African Language Board), on his return to office 18 February 2019, as well as from the Deputy Minister’s office regarding the matters between her office and the officials of the Department concerning the celebration of International Mother Language Day. The Committee received communication from Ms Dinguzulu regarding the delays in funding for the Dinguzulu Exile Project. She said that she would forward the correspondence to the Department for noting and responding.

The Chairperson said that the Committee had also received communication from the Raymond Mhlaba Foundation from the Eastern Cape. She asked the Acting Director-General to explain what the roles and responsibilities of the Department were. She said that the Committee has requested the Department on numerous times to consult with its stakeholders and entities that it worked with. She pulled out an email that was received from an official from the Department and was sent to Dr Monareng. She described this missive as unprofessional and disappointing. The communication channels between the Department and PanSALB are deteriorating, and this problem has affected PanSALB’s efficiency. She asked the Department to guide the Committee on how the it’s adjudication process for funding worked and what its communication strategy was.

Mr T Makondo (ANC) said that the communication in the email between the official in the Department and PanSALB was unprofessional.

Ms N November (ANC) said that officials who do not want to work should resign and allow those officials who want to work to continue serving South Africans.

Responses

Mr Vusithemba Ndima, Acting Director-General: DAC, responded to the Chairperson’s opening remarks saying that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) must be signed by the Department, as well as the organisation applying for funding. Before the MoU is signed the Department only gives the organisation half of the amount that was requested, thereafter; the organisations are expected to submit preliminary financial and managerial reports to the Department. Once these reports have been submitted, and approved by the Department, the MoU is then signed by both parties and the second half of the amount is awarded to the organisation. If the requirements of the MoU are not met by the organisations then the funding cannot be awarded.

The Department is responsible for oversight of its entities; development of libraries; funding of arts and culture projects; Mzansi Golden Economy, management of the Legacy Projects, dealing with infrastructure; the preservation of Indigenous Languages and Archival services. He said the issues regarding the officials from the National Library of SA are sensitive and he believes that these should not be discussed in public.

Ms Charles Mabaso, Acting Deputy Director-General, DAC, said it takes three months for funding applications to be adjudicated and approved. The Department establishes categories and the amount of funding that should be allocated to each category – this is done at the pre-funding stage - for its funding programme and organisations that apply are placed into their specific categories. If one category has more funding applications then it was expected that this can cause a budget constraint and a backlog. Also, there are other external processes involved in the adjudication of funding. The national database system is the responsibility of the National Treasury which the Department has no control over. The National Treasury creates a database called ‘Item’ for each organisation, and it is only when this database has been created for an organisation can the Department pay the funds to the organisation. 

Mr Matlala Makoto, Chief Financial Officer, DAC, said that the National Treasury used to allow the Department to create transfer items itself; however the new Treasury Regulations say that all new financial transfers must be approved by the National Treasury. Hence the creation of the transfer items has become the responsibility of Treasury. Also the General Ledger System is not created at the National Treasury’s head office as this function is the responsibility of another Treasury unit located in Centurion. The Department has requested the National Treasury to create transfer items in advance so that organisations can receive their funding on time.  

The Chairperson said that some organisations have said that the Revised White Paper is not beneficial to them, in fact there are sections of the White Paper that work against them. Also, there were complaints from some entities who said that the public hearings were not effective or democratic. The Committee advised the entities to communicate this information to the Department.

Briefing on the Revised Draft White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage

Mr Ndima said that following the First National Indaba in November 2015 the Department adopted the first Provisional Draft for Internal Discussions at the end of March 2016. The Subsector Public Consultations were adopted in June 2016.The Revised Second Draft base on public input was adopted in July 2016 and the National Sector Indaba was held in November 2016. In February 2016 an inception Report was discussed, revised and adopted. This Report outlined the scope and recommendations of the 1996 White Paper and identified obstacles to transformative policy implementation. It also identified new trends in cultural policy.

Public consultations were held in all the nine provinces with multiple government departments. What emerged from the consultations was that there is a need for an integrated, national, provincial and local system. The first draft of the White Paper was completed in August 2016; the second draft was completed in November 2016 and tabled at the National Indaba on 17 and 18 November 2016. The briefings to the Committee were done in March 2017 and November 2018.

In terms of the overview of the Revised White Paper, the draft material included a background and scope, vision principles policy proposals, education and training, diplomacy, international co-operation and technical skills. The Proposed New Dispensation includes: the South African National Art and Audio visual Council; South African National Heritage Council; South African Book and Publishing Development Council and the South African Centre for African Art, Culture and Heritage.

Mr Ndima said that the Department and the reference panel had agreed that the South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) conducted the Socio-economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) study of the revised White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage. The interdepartmental consultations on the SEIA report were done by April 2018 with the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Basic Education and the Department of Higher Education and Training. The reports to the Department of Monitoring and Evaluation were submitted in May and June 2018, and a final briefing to the Department’s entities was done in October and November 2018.

Professor Oliphant added that problems with the consultations started when each entity wanted to be represented in the White Paper. This is impossible. The Cultural and Creative Industries Federation of South Africa (CCIFSA) felt that they were being excluded from the White Paper. The President of CIFSA was appointed by the Minister to serve in the Reference Panel. This Chairperson attended two or three meetings and never said a word during those meetings or made any contributions. It was only during the development of the Draft White Paper that CCIFSA had said it had issues with the Draft White Paper. The White Paper, in Chapter 6, makes provision for the social status and economic rights of art culture and heritage practitioners. Chapter 6 says that practitioners have the right to form associations or federations for visual artists or heritage practices. The dilemma is that when one organisation is represented in the White Paper, the other organisations will also complain about not being recognised in the White Paper.

Discussion

The Chairperson said that the Department should keep records of the minutes of meetings that took place between the Department and CCIFSA.

Mr G Grootboom (DA) said it seems as though CCIFSA wants to take over from the National Arts Council. He asked to what extent the Intellectual Property Rights Protection Bill speaks to what is envisaged in the Revised White Paper.

Professor Oliphant responded saying the Intellectual Property Rights Protection Bill covers all the arts and trademarks owned by artists and heritage practitioners. The Bill resides with the Department of Trade and Industry. The White Paper only speaks to rights pertaining to artists being compensated for their work, and not to trademarking. He added that in 1996 the White Paper sought to integrate all the nine heritage councils that were formed under the National Heritage Council, however this is yet to be done. All nine provincial heritage councils operate in isolation and there is no correlation of the work that they are doing. For example, the National Arts Council operates as the national body for all the provincial art councils, but the same is not done for the heritage council. He said that this is something that the Department has to remedy.

The Chairperson asked if the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) had written to them because they also communicated to the Committee about their dissatisfaction with the consultations.

Ms November asked how the Department has accommodated people with disabilities, especially those who are blind.

Mr Ndima responded saying that there is an institute in Makhado in the Eastern Cape which works with artists and heritage practitioners that are living with a disability.

The meeting was adjourned.

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