National Council for Library & Information Services Bill; Cultural Laws 2nd Amd Bill; National Archives Commission
Arts and Culture
03 October 2000
A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
ARTS, CULTURE, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
3 October 2000
National Council for Library and Information Services Bill; CULTURAL LAWS SECOND AMENDMENT BILL; NATIONAL ARCHIVES COMMISSION
Cultural Laws Second Amendment Bill [B46-20]
Cultural Institutions Act, 1998
National Archives Commission Chairperson's Report (See Appendix 1)
Proposed Amendments: National Council for Library & Information Services Bill (See Appendix 2)
Certain proposed amendments to the National Council for Library and Information Services Bill were accepted by the Committee.
It was decided that the Committee would write to the Minister to establish a mechanism that would ensure total accountability and also set the wheels rolling for the new legislation.
A decision on the Cultural Laws Second Amendment Bill was not taken since the Committee was not satisfied with the number of consultations made by the Department. It was decided that a list of relevant stakeholders be drawn up and presented to the Committee and the matter be reviewed in November.
The Committee was briefed on the problems of the National Archives Commission: remuneration for members of the National Archives Commission and prioritisation of archives by the government. A more immediate problem was its inability to pay the rent due to lack of funding. A subcommittee was set up to deal with this matter urgently.
National Council for Library and Information Services Bill
Advocate J L Beukes of the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology read out the following proposed amendments to the NCLIS Bill:
Â· Amendment to Clause 3, Line 22: Insert "research" after "scientific"
Â· Amendment to Clause 4(1)(e), Line 1: Insert "including literature in African languages" after "resources"
Â· Amendment to Clause 4(1)(h), Line 6: Insert "and a culture of reading" after "information literacy"
Â· Amendment to Clause 4(2)(b), Line 16: Insert "and develop synergy" after "liaise"
Â· Amendment to Clause 5(1), Line 21: Delete "to 15"
Â· Line 28: Insert 5(1)(e): "A representative nominated by the Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA)"
Â· Amendment to Clause 5(2)(a), Line 32: Insert "(e)" after "(d)"
Â· Amendment to Clause 7(1)(a), Line 44: Insert "and the radio" after "newspapers"
Â· Amendment to Clause 7(2)(a), Line 47: Insert "after the composition was approved by the Portfolio Committee for Arts, Culture, Language, Science and Technology" after "panel"
Â· Amendment to Clause 9, Line 34: Insert paragraph 9(4)(d)
"(d) on recommendation of a majority of Council"
Â· Line 36: Insert subclause 9(6)
"(6) The Minister may dissolve the council:
on grounds of mismanagement; or on any other reasonable grounds "
Â· Amendment to Clause 10, Line 37: Substitute "two times" with "twice"
Â· Amendment to Clause 14, Line 26: "A delegation consisting of the Chairperson and of three council members must brief the Portfolio Committee on Arts, Culture, Language, Science and Technology on the annual report" to be added.
Professor Mohamed (ANC) was concerned about the Act's prescription to Minmec.
Adv Beukes replied that the Act cannot prescribe to Minmec but that the Portfolio Committee was entitled to do so. He stated that Minmec would have to be asked to report to the Portfolio Committee and that instruction could not be done via the Act.
Mr Cassim (IFP) added that the Portfolio Committee could include a mechanism that could ensure total accountability via instruction by the Minister. He added that it was about time that this Committtee began to set the norms and standards nationally for a scientific basis for doing their work.
The State Law Advisor, Mr Smuts, stated that the Section 76 route had to be followed and that if the enforcement of standards and norms had to be included in the Bill it would affect the tagging of the Bill. He suggested that the Committee instruct the Department to draft a new Bill as soon as possible, taking into account the norms and standards by forming a new body. If not there would be far too many technical problems.
Adv Beukes agreed with Mr Smuts stating that a monitoring instruction could not be put on this Bill but could be in the next piece of legislation.
The Chair summarised the discussion and stated that the two suggestions were not mutually exclusive and that the Committee would write to the Minister to institute a mechanism that would ensure total accountability and would also set the wheels rolling for the new legislation. There was agreement on this by the members of the Committee.
The Committee agreed that Line 26 be changed to:
"A delegation consisting of the Chair and of at least two council members must brief the Portfolio Committee on Arts, Culture, Language, Science and Technology on the annual report"
The amendments were accepted by the members of the Committee.
Cultural Laws Second Amendment Bill
Mr Vusithemba Ndima, Director of Heritage in the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology stated that there had been consultations with six bodies already and the amendments had sprung from the recommendations they had made in their submissions.
There was concern over the Director-General's response to the Committee. It was decided that the Chairperson write to the Director-General to review the consultation that the Department has had with the organizations that had made submissions.
The Chairperson commented that a review of only six submissions was inadequate and could not represent the view of those who the Bill would impact on. The committee members concurred with him and it was decided that this Bill be deferred until proper consultation could take place.
In the meantime a proper consultation list would be drawn up and the Committee would find time to sit on this Bill in November. This was agreed to by all.
National Archives Commission
Rev Vuyisile Tisani and Mr Eddy Du Plessis represented the National Archives Commission. Due to time constraints, they were unable to give an extensive account of the paper they had submitted. Rev Tusani outlined the problems encountered by the National Archives Commission:
- Prioritisation of archives by Government
- Remuneration for members of the National Archives Commission
- A rental payment crisis - they were being sued for not being able to pay their rental bills due to lack of funding. They appealed to the Committee for help on this matter.
Ms Tsheole (ANC) suggested that another meeting would have to be held where the National Archives Commission could explain its grievances and the committee could thoroughly scrutinise the issues.
This was supported by Mr Cassim (IFP) and Ms Van Wyk (NNP).
The Chairperson stated that a subcommittee would be set up to deal with the funding problem that National Archives Commission was experiencing. Ms Motubatse (ANC), Mr Cassim (IFP) and Ms Van Wyk (NNP) would constitute the sub-committee.
Ms Van Wyk (NNP) added that a more holistic approach needed to be taken to secure and safeguard historical houses and the country would have to thoroughly combed for places of historical interest.
Mr Cassim (IFP) suggested that a provision be made to halt any development on potential heritage sites during the administrative process.
The meeting was adjourned.
REPORT OF THE CHAIRMAN OF THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES COMMISSION TO THE ARTS AND CULTURE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE MEETING HELD IN CAPE TOWN ON TUESDAY 03 OCTOBER 2000
1.THE MANDATE OF THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES COMMISSION OF SOUTH AFRICA
1.1 APPOINTMENT AND CHARGE: Members of the National Archives Commission had their names published in the Government Gazette (No 18989) on 26 June 1998; letters of appointment having been signed by the Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, the Honourable Mr L.P.H.M.Mtshali on 23 April 1998. Act No 43 of October 1996 referred as the National Archives of South Africa Act provides the framework within which the establishment and mandate of the National Archives Commission must be understood.
It was assumed that the National Archives Commission would be located within the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology which body would shoulder the responsibility to provide offices and the infrastructure. With the exception of only one, all the nine meetings that the Commission has had have taken place within the precincts of the Oranje Nassau Building in Pretoria. The Administrative Secretary of the National Archives Commission has an office in an adjacent van der Stel Building which arrangement was inspired by the National Archivist.
1.2 THE PROCESS OF ESTABLISHMENT OF THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES COMMISSION: Section 6(1) of the National Archives of South Africa Act prescribes the terms on which to establish the Commission. The organisation consists of the National Archivist and not more than nine other members appointed by the Minister from among persons knowledgeable of or have interest in archival matters. The Act lays down that appointment procedures and conditions shall be prescribed.
It was through a process of public nomination, that the Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology made the appointments. The advisory panel who had been presented with forty four nominees could only select eight. It was at the instigation of the panel that a name of a black woman was added. The person had otherwise not featured among the list of nominated people. It was left to Cabinet to condone as well as ratify the situation. The Commission supposed to reflect to a reasonable degree the demographic and gender realities of South Africa, was approved by Parliament.
1.3 INSTALLATION OF THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES COMMISSION: At the first meeting of the National Archives Commission held in Pretoria on 28 September 1998, the Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology the Honourable Mr Mtshali addressed the new members of the Commission defining in particular their role within the South African society. He stated how drafters of the National Archives Commission had conceived the body as broadly representative of stakeholders in archives and having a meaningful role to play in the management of South Africa's archival system. The model of a purely advisory body had been rejected. Essentially the National Archives Commission is an Executive Body with three principal tasks:-
*To be a watchdog over the activities of the National Archives
*To promote the co-ordination of archival services at national and provincial levels
*To represent archives in the broad processes of heritage management
Section 41 of the National Archives Regulations determines that the National Archives Commission shall elect from among its members a Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson. In accordance with the regulation Ezra Vuyisile Tisani and Durkje Gilfillan were elected Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson respectively.
The National Archives was further divided into small committees. Chairpersons and members were elected for work around the following areas:-
1.Archival Policy Formulation and Planning at national and provincial levels
2.Non-Public Records Committee
3.Appraisal Policy Committee
4.Oral History Committee
It was understood that the National Archives Commission would not be divested of any function it had so assigned to a Committee and may amend or revoke a decision of such a Committee.
1.4 COMPOSITION OF NACOM/APPOINTMENTS OF ARCHIVAL STAFF: Not everything said by Minister Mtshali at the launch of the first democratically elected National Archives Commission could be evident immediately. He inferred for example that the Commission should exercise vigilance over the employment of staff in the archives of the country. He urged the body to move swiftly to ensure that the demographics of the South African population are reflected in the archives, and indeed the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology. Without such representativity at the level of management it will be difficult to effect redress in the archival systems of the country. It is not clear at this stage how the Commission shall participate in the staff appointment processes. So far the National Archives Commission has not been formally informed of the departure of National Archivist we have had. The Commission has not been invited to participate in the process leading to the appointment of the new Chief-Director: National Archives. We simply discovered as we read newspapers that the position of the National Archivist was now advertised as that of Chief-Director: National Archives. Yet in terms of the Act the National Archives Commission will continue to advise and assist the new incumbent of the position.
What has been significant however is the fact that the National Archives Commission was being called to participate in nation-building and healing, while upholding at all times the principle of transparency. The members of the National Archives Commission would rely on their varied backgrounds as they worked for unity in the nation. They have the necessary expertise to assist them as they conducted an honest analysis of the situation they were plunged in. The group is composed of people equipped with skills as historian, librarian, media person, information systems, oral historian, theologian, lawyer, businessman.
Research that others have done has showed-up the archives of South Africa as having been a site of job reservation for whites. By 1990 no black person had occupied a professional position within the South African State Archives. Whatmore State Archives Commissions that had existed from the year 1926 had always been white establishments, with not even a single black appointed to these. It has been said that in a land with a past of deep division the 'archive' as a product of strife cannot be neutral, and neither can archival institutions claim non-involvement and passivity. Archives have been created as well as preserved within government institutions. In apartheid South Africa agencies such as public archives had little choice other than to play by the rules of their masters. Bringing about change in such a situation it should be realised, is not going to be easy.
The new democratically elected National Archives Commission is a body entrusted with the responsibility to work for transformation in situations such as those described in this document. Those elected included:-
Professor Daryl M. Balia (Public Service Commission)
Mr Eddy du Plessis (Business)
Ms Bobby M.J.Eldridge (Killie Campbell Africana Library)
Ms Durkje Gilfillan (Land Claims Commission)
Ms Esta H.C.Jones (Archive for Contemporary Affairs)
Professor Pieter H.Kapp (Stellenbosch University)
Mr Glen U.Masokoane (Mass Media)
Ms Thuli Radebe (Natal University)
Ms Marie Olivier (National Archivist)
Rev Ezra V. Tisani (Oral History Research)
The composition, purpose and charge of the new National Archives Commission need to be understood in the context of other instruments aimed at the promotion of democracy in South Africa. Among these are the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Human Rights Commission.
1.5 THE FUNCTIONS OF THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES COMMISSION:
The functions of the National Archives Commission have been given as follows:-
*advise the Minister on any matter related to the operation of the Act (ie the National Archives of South Africa Act No 43 of 1996);
*advise and assist the National Archivist in carrying out the objects and functions of the National Archives;
*promote the co-ordination of the archival policy formulation and planning at national and provincial levels;
*exercise the powers contemplated in sections 5(2) (d) and 12(3) of the Act (ie consider appeals against decisions by the National Archivist to refuse access to a record on grounds of its fragile condition);
*approve the appraisal policy of the National Archives and monitor its implementation;
*maintain a national list of non-public records in South Africa which, in the opinion of the Commission have enduring value (meaning that no person or institution having listed records in their custody can destroy, export from South Africa or otherwise dispose of them without approval of the National Archives Commission).
2.INFRASTRUCTURE AND OFFICE LOCATION
The National Archives of South Africa Act of October 1996 had made no provision for the establishment of offices for the Commission, and neither were arrangements made to supply the Commissioners with equipment they would need. There was some assumption that all the work of the National Archives Commission would happen with the National Archives Repository in Pretoria serving as a clearing house. That seemed to happen naturally especially where in the absence of the Administrative Secretary for the National Archives Commission, the National Archivist offered to exercise the function to write the minutes as well as co-ordinate communication among members of the Commission. The Financial Administrator of National Archives extended her function to cover the business of the Commission. While it must be admitted that the arrangement helped for a smooth start-up process, it however meant that the National Archives Commission should be compromised on its primary objective, which is to act as watchdog over all South Africa's Archival Systems, including the National Archives in Pretoria. We have not as yet given our full attention to what is supposed to happen at the Pretoria repository.
It took more than a year for the Administrative Secretary's position to be advertised as well as have the appointment made. Some of us without the experience of involvement with government structures were baffled by the bureaucracy, especially the various steps of procedure to undertake before anything could happen. There was the constant absence from office by the National Archivist due to sickness. Our Administrative has worked in circumstances that can best be described as very awkward. Not only have some Commissioners refused to accept her status as the Accounting Officer, she has systematically been denied the right to take decisions. She has the status of an Assistant Director. Travels by Commissioners and attendance at conferences have to be cleared by a Deputy Director-General under whom she falls. The Administrative Secretary cannot spend a rand without endorsement by that officer.
A situation had evolved where the Chairman of the National Archives Commission had to co-ordinate the activities of the Commission. For example the process leading to the appointment of the Administrative Secretary had happened entirely within the Chairperson's office in Grahamstown. The matter had been discussed at the meeting of the National Archives Commission held in February 1999. In this way the Eyethu Imbali Trust offices (oral history project) in Grahamstown were practically turned into the National Archives Commission Headquarters. With the hope that the government would realise what had happened to the project the Trustees of Eighth Immobile allowed the staff of our Grahamstown office to get involved. They continued to pay rent, electricity, telephone and staff salaries even when it was clear that only the Commission's work was happening in that office. Funds ran out naturally. At the time we were evicted we owed R60,000 on rent, R10,000 on electricity and water. I personally have been without an income since April 1999; no car nor house allowance. By the time I left Grahamstown all the work of the National Archives Commission was happening from my family garage. The stationery, stamps used in correspondence and telephone calls made on behalf of the National Archives Commission have been paid for out of family resources.
There has been a reluctance on the part of the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology to provide assistance for the Chairman's office,doing it from of a budget of R240,000. It was on that amount that we were meant to operate in the 1998-1999 financial year, according to correspondence sent to me by the National Archivist on 17 February 1999. I have since established that for that same period the National Archives Commission had been allocated R634-000 by the State Treasury. So far the Commission has not been favoured with a balance sheet for the period in question.
3. METHODOLOGY AND ACTIVITIES:
3.1 WORK IN COMMITTEES: Section 6(5) of the National Archives Commission Act No 43 1996 provides for the appointment of Committees from amongst the membership of the Commission. Such Committees were formed at the first meeting of the National Archives Commission, with Chairpersons elected. These were set-up as follows:-
*Non-Public Records Committee: Ms Durkje Gilfillan
*Archival Policy Formulation & Planning: Ms Bobby Eldridge
*Appraisal Policy Committee: Professor Pieter Kapp
*Oral History Committee: Mr Glen Masokoane
*Finance/Fund Raising Committee: Professor Daryl Balia
It was further decided that the Chairperson of the National Archives Commission would serve as ex-officio member of all the Committees. Developments within the Commission saw him become Chairperson of the Finance/Fund-raising Committee, as well as act as Secretary of the Archival Policy Formulation Committee. Even though the Commission or any Committee has powers to co-opt, this option has not been implemented so far. Other than employ an Administrative Secretary in the Pretoria office, we have not augmented the staff as yet. It is going to be essential to attend to this as funds become available.
3.1.1 Non-Public Records Committee: Relying on her training as a lawyer Ms Durkje Gilfillan has provided an essential leadership as work happened in this area. She has been able to link her involvement here to work she has been doing as Regional Land Claims Commissioner in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Northern Province. She has stressed the manner records kept by either individuals or communities have been helpful in the making of claims. Under the guidance of Gilfillan the Non-Public Records Committee has speculated on possibilities of travels to foreign lands by members of the National Archives Commission, where efforts would be made to trace records with enduring value to South Africa. This has been conceived as an important task by members of this particular Committee.
Early in February 1999 the Chairperson of the National Archives Commission received a letter from a certain Ms Michelle Picker who, based at the William Cullen Library, Wits University served as Chairperson of the South African Society of Archivists. Ms Pickover called on the National Archives Commission to investigate the sale of the historic Rivonia Treason Trial records by ex-prosecutor Dr Percy Yutar to Mr Harry Oppenheimer. Since the transaction of 1996 the material has been housed at the Brenthurst Library belonging to the Oppenheimer family and therefore private. Considering the manner those records are part of the National Memory and Heritage, it was raised as a question whether they should not be restored to the rightful owners (ie all the people of South Africa). The Pretoria National Archives would be the right place where to store them.
The Non-Public Records Committee had this matter referred to them for discussion. To date the question about the records of the proceedings of the Supreme Court case, the State versus Nelson Mandela and Others (Case No.CC253 OF 1964) commonly known as the Rivonia Treason Trial, has not been resolved by the National Archives Commission. The best that the relevant Committee could advise was that the matter should be dealt with by the Department of Justice, who should act in conjunction with the National Archivist.
Having been asked to address Mr Nelson Mandela on this question of national importance, the Chairperson of the National Archives Commission wrote him a letter on 20 September 1999. Copies of the correspondence were referred to the following State Officers, President Mbeki, Dr Ben Ngubane and Mr Penuel Maduna. Mr Ayob who acts as Mr Mandela's legal advisor was also favoured with a copy of the letter. Questioned in the letter was the claim made by Mr Oppenheimer that the reason for not making the Rivonia documents public, as that of protecting Mr Mandela's privacy. Possible to draw here is the inference that there are things that the public of South Africa should not know about the Treason Trial, otherwise it would harm Mr Mandela's reputation for these to be divulged. It remains the prerogative of the National Archives Commission to exercise this function anyway, and not the Board of the Brenthurst Library. Mr Ayob appropriately advised the National Archives Commission to raise questions on this matter with the government of the day.
The Non-Public Records Committee has not yet begun the process to generate, let alone maintain the list of non-public records with enduring value for South Africa. There certainly is a need to speed up the process.
3.1.2 Policy Formulation and Planning Committee (national and provincial): A cursory survey of what function 4(c) of the National Archives of South Africa Act stipulates should demonstrate how daunting the task of the Commission is. Central to what is prescribed is the process of devolution that the Commission should monitor. There is the transfer of power and resources from the national repository in Pretoria to provincial structures now emerging. The Commission has the responsibility to ensure that provinces have the capacity to manage the responsibility they are being assigned, which capacity in most cases does not exist. The situation has prompted the Commission to advise two forms of action. It has been identified as essential for programmes of staff training to be set, as well as making arrangements for staff to avail themselves of the training. A cross-pollination exercise that demands the deployment of staff to specific areas of need might be the next option to adopt in measures to cope with what is being suggested by government. There are repositories in the country that would certainly benefit from the proposed strategies.
The Commission headed by Ms Eldridge has been setting-up structures of communication between the National Archives Commission and other management structures at national and provincial levels. Time has been devoted to issues of protocol to observe as effort was made to harness the cooperation of archivists throughout the country. The response by some archival centres has been splendid. Realising the need to improve their performance in the area of Archives and Records Management people have taken the initiative to organise workshops where to allow for healthy exchange of skills. The members of the National Archives Commission have been invited and,as in the case of the Chairperson asked to make an in-put in the form of research papers, as well as served as advisor while E.Cape set up its structures.
But the National Archives of South Africa Act No 43 of 1996 frames the overall mission of the Archives System of South Africa as that of fostering National Identity and the protection of Human Rights. The national heritage is being preserved at this stage not only for use by government, but also the people of South Africa. This means that the records of enduring value do not only need to be preserved but have to be made accessible to the people of this land. It is for this reason that the Chairperson of the National Archives Commission vehemently opposed the suggestion to move the archives facility in Umtata to either KingWilliamsTown or Port Elizabeth. Umtata is easily accessible to communities living on the land between Umzimkhulu and incubi as well as between iGqili and Mbizana. It will help if the government could consider ways and means to improve the Umtata Archives Centre. The staff there are operating in circumstances comparable to someone's backyard at this moment.
Finally, proper management of State records has impelled the introduction of microfilm and electronic for the preservation of memory material. Archivists are following in this regard the example set by countries such as Australia and the United States of America. Section 3(e) of the National Archives Commission states it as one of the functions of the National Archives 'to maintain a national automated archival information retrieval system, in which all provincial archives services shall participate. It will be inevitable for the Committee on the formulation of Policy and Planning at national and provincial levels to take this into serious account. Already the National Archives Commission has become aware of disparities in this regard, between what have been designated national archives and what originated as homeland repositories. Some archivists have travelled not less than three kilometres to get to a telephone, let alone have the skill to manouvre a computer with the aim to retrieve information.
There continues to be an unfair distribution of resources in the country. The situation becomes even more blatant when consideration is given to repositories supposed to serve disadvantaged communities. Without the necessary training of the personnel and provision of equipment the automated service we are talking about will be counterproductive. There will be a centralisation of a kind that the South African Archival community has not experienced before. Rich communities will continue to be central, while the poor will remain peripheral.
3.1.3 The Appraisal of Records: The legal disposal of State records involves either their transfer into the custody of the national archives system or their destruction in terms of the disposal authority. Until the year 1979 it was the task of the Archives Commission to authorise the destruction of State records. Previous Commissions not having the time to peruse documents likely to be destroyed have relied almost entirely on the advice given by the Director of Archives. It cannot be impossible to find the reason why information retained in South African archival holdings could be said to be eurocentric in nature. Whatmore there was a tendency to ommit from the record all information serving to promote the image of the indigenous people of the land. Dominating in the archival holdings of the country, whether in universities, libraries or museums are genealogical records of the white population. Only recently have attempts been made to research and retrieve the geneologies of the black people. Oral history research has been instrumental in spearheading this change of paradigm. At a meeting held at the beginning of 1999 the National Archives Commission had the opportunity to scrutinise the Appraisal Policy document prepared by the staff of the National Archives. Even though unanimity could not be attained on certain detail the National Archives Commission decided to let matters proceed. A Committee of three was elected with Professor Pieter Kapp tasked as Chairperson. It is going to be interesting to hear something of the report by that Committee. The idea was that Commissioners Kapp, Glen Masokoane and Eddy du Plessis would liaise with the National Archives staff while further work was done on a document of such importance and significance to the nation.
The appraisal that public servants are meant to exercise determines that they should carry a heavy burden where they pass judgement on records that are decisive about the National Memory. That service requires that they approach the task with the greatest sense of integrity. It will be very important for the democratic government of the day to be very cautious when it comes to the appointment of the right persons to exercise the responsibility. There can be nothing more noble than have the charge to mould the future of the country's heritage. To have the power to decide who is remembered and who is forgotten; to decide who remains visible and who is consigned to obscurity is to share the platform with the gods.
The degree to which government can be allowed to exercise control over archivists has always been a contentious matter. Archival Science on the other hand has demonstrated the close relationship possible to find between 'archives' and 'government' in fact. Archives have been created as well as preserved within government institutions. However to use archives in the service of the government in power can be a matter that results in massive problems for all involved. The destruction of records happening in the period 1960 to1994 and the systematic elimination of voices that would have participated in the nation's memory, is something that should have been avoided by those in power. That is true of the censorship and control of access to certain records, as well as confiscation of records as happened during a multitude of states of emergency we have had in this country. You can add to that the bannings, incarcerations and assassinations engineered by state agents. The point here is that the mass destruction of records is something that archivists should have long exposed. The matter did not have to wait until that time when there was a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
About a week ago, and as the Chairperson of the National Archives Commission attended a conference organised by the South African Society of Archivists, it was brought to t he attention of the delegates attending that conference that the security records of the country have remained outside the control of the National Archives. As reported these documents have been retained by the National Intelligence of the country. It is possible there are good reasons why such a situation obtains, but things need to be explained to both the National Archives in Pretoria and the National Archives Commission. Otherwise both these structures will not only be embarrassed, but terribly compromised considering what they are meant to have as responsibility. Above this, in so far as those records are not made available the story about the past of this country cannot be complete. One might need to consider in this regard Chapter 2 of the South African Constitution which consists of the Bill of Rights. It reads, "Any information held by the State, and Any information that is held by another person and that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights, National Legislation must be enacted to give effect to this right, and may provide for reasonable measures to allocate the administrative and financial burden on the State"
4.PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED BY THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES COMMISSION:
4.1 PRIORITISATION OF ARCHIVES BY GOVERNMENT: The socio-political situation that prevails in the country is one that has caused the government not to prioritise 'Archives'. Arts and Culture have not been realised as essential elements in the development that South Africa is undergoing. For that reason it has been unfortunate that a body such as the National Archives Commission could be confined within a Department that seemed to experience terrible financial problems such as the Arts, Culture, Science and Technology. One has read in newspapers of the millions of rands that have gone astray as a result of poor management.
Yet the overarching mission that a body such the National Archives Commission has determines that it should straddle across all departments of the governments already demonstrated, the Commission has interest in records created and preserved in all the departments of the government. We have interest in things happening in the Department of Justice, as we do in Land Affairs, Water Affairs, so on and so on. The amount of R634-000 allocated to the Commission each year cannot help us begin to address the issues we are supposed to deal with.
4.2 REMUNERATION FOR MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES COMMISSION: The National Archives of South Africa Act No.43 of October 1996 under which members of the National Archives Commission are appointed does not make provision for their remuneration for services rendered. Neither do National Archives Commissioners enjoy the same privileges and benefits as people serving in other equivalent statutory bodies of the State. As Commissioners we get no salaries, no car allowances, no housing allowances. Things can best be described as very disastrous for those of us without sources of income.
As members of the National Archives Commission we are not affected to the same degree by the situation we are in. That reality has on the other hand determined that there should be division among Commissioners the moment the issue of payment is raised. It is clear that some members of the National Archives Commissioner will risk being penalised by government should they be found to receive payment for work that they do for the National Archives Commission. I will quote from a letter received from our Deputy Chairperson Ms Durkje Gilfillan. Addressed to the Chairperson the letter was written on 02 May 1999. It read as follows:-
"According to the definitions contained in the Manual for the application of the system for the Administration of the Services Benefit Packages for Office-Bearers of Certain Statutory and Other Institutions, I am in full-time employ of the government as Regional Land Claims Commissioner in terms of the Restitution of Land Rights Act. This means that I cannot claim S&T as a member of the National Archives Commission in performing duties for the Commission. I have not been able to discuss the matter with Marie Olivier nor with Daryl Balia. I will do so as soon as Marie is back at work from sick leave"
By the end of the year 1999 it had been put as a requirement that any claims that the Chairperson of the National Archives Commission submitted those should be endorsed by the full Commission before they were paid. Within the National Archives Commission there have been those who steadfastly refused to accept it as their duty to lend such an endorsement. The result of that arrangement has been that claims submitted by me in August last year have not been paid to date. There was even a situation where the Director-General, Dr Rob Adam paid an amount into my bank account on 17 December 1999, but had the same withdrawn on 20 December 1999 doing it on the basis of a telephone call from a Commissioner based in Durban. She denied that she had participated in the endorsement of the claims even though she had been present at the meeting. It was interesting to note how a people who persistently denied to have the power to endorse the payment of claims could suuddenly have the power to take money out of someone's bank account. It might interest to investigate the legality to withdraw money out of someone's private bank account without the holder's permission, as did the Director General of the Arts, Culture, Science and Technology on the occasion.
Nevertheless I have continued with the work assigned by the State in spite of the setbacks. I have derived pleasure from being given the opportunity to serve the people of South Africa as well as contribute something towards nation-building.
5.EVALUATION OF THE COMMISSION'S PERFORMANCE
Members of the National Archives Commission have been conscious of the need to establish ways and means to evaluate their performance.
5.1 We have in the course of drawing a Business Plan for the National Archives Commission tried to evolve a table of performance measurements where we put down tasks we should engage in and time-frames. Unfortunately our meeting of 15 February 2000 could not agree on the Business Plan Draft presented at that meeting by Commissioner du Pleases. He had been commissioned by a meeting we had on the 26 November 1999 to work on such a plan. The Chairperson of the National Archives Commission and the Administrative Secretary had been identified by that meeting as people to work with Mr du Plessis. Agreement was reached that Commissioner du Plessis would be paid according to charges he normally makes. Suggestions were made at the meeting of 15 February 2000 that some of us were on a campaign of self-enrichment. That accusation was made as a result of demands we were making to be paid for work we were doing.
5.2 In preparation for a meeting of the National Archives Commission we had on 07 July 2000, Chairperson put together as well as submitted to that meeting the document headed 'Portfolio of Deliverables: July 2000-March 2001. That same document is attached to the report presently given to the Arts, Culture, Science and Technology Portfolio Committee. You will discover that document states the tasks that the National Archives Commission should perform and dates on which those tasks should be implemented. They will not necessarily be completed by those dates. It will help if the Portfolio Committee could take note of the document.
5.3 The Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology,the Honourable Dr Ben Ngubane has been kept informed of the developments in our work. We have done this by providing his office with copies of the minutes we have had. The Chairperson who has had the responsibility to prepare 'Overview Reports' which have been submitted at the ordinary meetings of the National Archives Commission, has ensured that the Minister was sent copies of these. In return Minister Ngubane has provided feedback by commenting favourably on information received. He has encouraged us to press on.
Thank you Chairperson for the opportunity to address your Parliamentary Committee.
(Chairman: National Archives Commission)
01 October 2000
Â· PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO NCLIS BILL, NO 44 OF 2000
Â· the AMENDMENT TO CLAUSE 3 OF BILL NO 44 OF 2000
Â· Line 22: Insert "research" after "scientific".
Â· AMENDMENT TO CLAUSE 4(1)(e) OF BILL NO 44 OF 2000
Â· Line 1: Insert "including literature in African languages" after "resources."
Â· AMENDMENT TO CLAUSE 4(1)(h) OF BILL NO 44 OF 2000
Â· Line 6: Insert "and a culture of reading" after "information literacy".
Â· AMENDMENT TO CLAUSE 4(2)(b) OF BILL NO 44 OF 2000
Â· Line 16: Insert "and develop synergy " after "liaise".
Â· AMENDMENT TO CLAUSE 5(1) OF BILL NO 44 OF 2000
Â· Line 21: Delete "to 15".
Â· Line 28: Insert 5 (1) (e): "A representative nominated by the Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA)".
Â· AMENDMENT TO CLAUSE 5(2)(a) OF BILL NO 44 OF 2000
Â· Line 32: Insert "(e)" after "(d)".
Â· AMENDMENT TO CLAUSE 7(1)(a) OF BILL NO 44 OF 2000
Â· Line 44: Insert "and the radio" after "newspapers".
Â· AMENDMENT TO CLAUSE 7(2)(a) OF BILL NO 44 OF 2000
Â· Line 47: Insert "after the composition was approved by the Portfolio Committee for Arts, Culture, Language, Science and Technology" after "panel".
Â· AMENDMENT TO CLAUSE 9 OF BILL NO 44 OF 2000
Â· Line 34: Insert paragraph 9(4)(d)
Â· (d) on recommendation of a majority of Council
Â· Line 36: Insert subclause 9(6)
Â· The Minister may dissolve the council:
Â· on grounds of mismanagement; or
Â· on any other reasonable grounds.
Â· AMENDMENT TO CLAUSE 10 OF BILL NO 44 OF 2000
Â· Line 37: Substitute "two times" with "twice".
Â· AMENDMENT TO CLAUSE 14 OF BILL NO 44 OF 2000
Â· Line 26: "A delegation consisting of three council members must brief the Portfolio Committee on Arts, Culture, Language, Science and Technology on the annual report." to be added.
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