Department on Adjusted Budget & Revised Annual Performance Plan; Update on COVID-19 Relief Fund; with Minister and Deputy Minister present

Sports, Arts and Culture

07 July 2020
Chairperson: Ms B Dlulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Portfolio Committee on Sports, Arts and Culture, (National Assembly) 7 July 2020
Audio: Department on Adjusted Budget & Revised Annual Performance Plan; Update on COVID-19 Relief Fund

The Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC) said its programmes had been affected by the Covid-19 lockdown, as its work was focused on social cohesion and nation building, which encouraged the coming together of people in shared common spaces. The easing of the Covid-19 lockdown had had little effect on improving the situation of the sports and culture sector, resulting in the overall scaling down of its services.

A key consideration for the revised annual performance plan (APP) was the R956m reduction in the Department’s budget. It provided details of the cuts and revised allocations affecting its four programmes. For the 2020 special adjustment budget, it had re-prioritised its budget to contribute R130m towards the R500b Covid-19 Fund the President had announced. Overall, its budget originally had been R5.7b, and the adjusted appropriation was now R4.7b.

The Department gave a status update on its Covid-19 R150m Relief Fund, and said that to date there had been a total of 4 773 applications, of which 3 249 had been successful, and 2 320 had been paid out a total of R39m.

Members asked what the implications of the effective loss of the first quarter had been for the Department. How would technology play a role when the Department’s task was a people-driven solution where people shared space? They questioned if the pace of the Covid-19 relief fund disbursements was not too slow. What monitoring and accountability mechanisms were in place to ensure entities were disbursing relief money timeously and accurately? How would the delays on municipal infrastructure project work impact on the performance of the Department and its interventions? How was it measuring the impact of its gender-based violence (GBV) programmes?

Other issues raised by the Committee included how many apartheid and colonial statues there were in the country, and how much money was being spent to preserve them; when the Minister would act against the Chief Executive Officer of the National Arts Council; a suggestion that the Department should open a second phase of relief disbursements to use up the full budget of R150m; how the smaller federations would survive financially, as most were facing bankruptcy;  and if any follow up was made on how provinces were disbursing funds transferred from the national Department to deserving artists.

Meeting report

Mr T Mhlongo (DA) complained about receiving the list of beneficiaries of the Department’s Covid-19 relief fund, which comprised 42 pages, only 12 hours before the meeting, which did not allow Members time to do their oversight work.  

The Chairperson said she was happy that the Department’s presentations had been sent to Members earlier, and asked that the agenda of the meeting be adopted first where any queries could be raised.

Mr A Seabi (ANC) said Mr Mhlongo’s concerns should be noted, but the list was only an annexure, so he moved for the adoption of the agenda.

The agenda was adopted, and the Chairperson took the opportunity to convey her condolences to those who had passed on, including Ms Mary Twala, Mr Welcome Msomi and the mother and wife of Mr Paul Mashatile.

Department of Sports, Arts and Culture: Annual Performance Plan

Mr Vusumuzi Mkhize, Director-General, Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC), presented the revised annual performance plan (APP), as the budget had been reviewed and re-prioritised. He said the Department’s work was focused on social cohesion and nation building, which encouraged the coming together of people from different walks of life to share common spaces, and this did not necessarily encourage social distancing. The easing of the Covid-19 lockdown had had little effect on improving the situation of the sports and culture sector, resulting in:

  • the overall scaling down of services in its service delivery mandate;
  • planned medium-term outcomes not being achieved within initial time frames;
  • the stagnation of projects already under-implementation;
  • athletes and artists not being adequately prepared to compete/perform internationally;
  • economic hardship/loss of income for professional athletes and artists;  and hence
  • the increased need for relief, thus further eating into the budget allocation of the Department.

He said a survey had been conducted on the impact of Covid-19 on cultural creative industries in May. In a survey on the impact of Covid-19 on sport, 83.7% of respondents had said they could survive for only six months or less under the current lockdown environment. Some of the key considerations for the revised APP were the R956m reduction in the budget of the Department, and the impact of Covid-19 hotspots. These were not geographical locations, but places where there was a concentration of people contracting Covid-19, and these places were dynamic in that the hotspots could move and this created unpredictability. If the private sector shed jobs, it would become the government’s burden.

Programme 1- Administration

There would be no scaling down of the number of interns enrolled against funded posts, and vacant posts would be filled. On the number of services modernised, there would be no scaling down, and the information communication technology (ICT) unit would fill all vacant posts. The savings associated with not implementing national day programmes would be re-prioritised. The target for the percentage of invoices paid within 30 days would be retained, as would the percentage of Councils/Boards that were fully constituted. On the involvement of public entities, funds had been allocated to the National Arts Council, the National Film and Video Foundation and Business and Arts South Africa, and they had been requested to contribute to job creation.

Programme 2- Recreation Development and Sport Promotion

The original budget of R1.46b had been reduced to R1.1b, of which R120m had been allocated for Covid-19 relief funding. The Mass Participation and Sport Development Grant had been reduced by R 224m, and R107 million was cut from the infrastructure grants to entities budget. Because of the fluid nature of the environment created by Covid-19, the Department had introduced a new output indicator relating to the social relief of practitioners, coaches and technical personnel in sport, where the target was the 100% processing of applications. 52 districts had been prioritised in line with government’s district development model. On Gender-Based Violence (GBV), the Department’s events had been cancelled, but there were still two programmes remaining. Provincial programmes, and programmes with partners like Lovelife and Sport for Social Change, would be used. He also referred to three sub-programmes -- Active Nation, Winning Nation, and Infrastructure Support, adding that two legacy projects, Sarah Baartman and Enyokeni, would remain but with delayed implementation dates.

Programme 3- Arts and Culture Promotion and Development

There had been a budget reduction of R10.15m for local and international market access platforms being supported. There was a new target indicator – the number of GBV and femicide programmes. The Mzansi Golden Economy (MGE) projects had been reduced from 88 to 12, and its budget had been reduced by R79.1m

Programme 4- Heritage Promotion and Preservation

The budget allocation had been reduced by R387m. Together with the lockdown, it was severely impacting on the implementation of heritage preservation and promotion programmes, and the achievement of APP targets.

2020 Special Adjustment Budget

Mr Makoto Matlala, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), DSAC, said the Department had been tasked to re-prioritise its budget to contribute R130m towards the R500b Covid-19 Fund the President had announced. He then detailed where the budget cuts had taken place within the Department’s budgets. Overall, the budget was R5.7b, and the adjusted appropriation was R4.7b.

Covid-19 Relief Fund

Mr Mkhize gave a status update on the Relief Fund. For sport, as at 20 May, 470 applications had been received, and 296 had been approved and paid, while 15 had appealed successfully, bringing the total to 311 approved and the amount paid to R6.2m. For arts and culture, by mid-June there had been 3 562 applications, of which 1 250 had been successful. To date, there had been a total of 4 773 applications, of which 3 249 were successful, and 2 320 had been paid out a total amount of R39m.

Discussion

Mr Seabi asked what the implications of the effective loss of the first quarter were for the Department. He asked if the Department would deliver on effective technology solutions, when in reality its task was a people-driven solution where people shared space. How would technology play a role here? He asked if the pace of Covid-19 relief fund disbursements was not too slow. What would the impact on the Department and the sector be if the lockdown remained at Level 3? What monitoring and accountability mechanisms were in place relating to entities disbursing relief monies timeously and accurately? He said work on municipal infrastructure projects had stopped until lockdown Level 3 was implemented -- what was the implication of this delay, and how would it impact on the performance of the Department and its interventions?

Ms V Malomane (ANC) asked if there were mechanisms to measure the impact of the Department’s GBV programmes. She said there were risk targets that could be achieved only if a Level 1 lockdown was proclaimed. How would this impact on the performance of the Department? She urged the Department to continue to get a clean audit.

Dr N Nkabane (ANC) said the revised APP and budget would impact on the performance contract of the DG. Had work on a revised contract started, and if not, when would it be done? What timeframe had been set for indicator number two of the administration programme -- the recruitment of interns in the modernisation of work processes?

Mr B Madlingozi (EFF) asked how many apartheid and colonial statues there were in the country, and how much money was spent to preserve them. What was the appeal procedure if an artist’s relief claim was rejected? Who were the companies that had done the digital streaming of artists’ work?

Mr Mhlongo asked who the service provider for the outdoor gyms was. When would the 89.8% of organisations still waiting for relief funds receive that relief -- for example, the boxers of Boxing SA? When would the Minister act against the chief executive officer (CEO) of the National Arts Council (NAC)? Why had the beneficiary list been sent to Members so late? Why had singer Abigail Kubeka received R10 000, while kwaito musician Arthur Mafokate had received R20 000? What was the difference between the two applications? How many people had received R20 000 in relief funds, and how many had received other amounts? What was the total amount disbursed? He wanted confirmation that R39m had been paid out.

On the R480m for Programme 2, which affected different federations, he asked if the Department had had discussions with the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), because the reduced budget would affect it. Why were people being hired to do the work of the Department? He asked the Minister who the experts were that would be appointed to monitor the training sessions. How much were they going to be paid, what were their qualifications, and what was the total budget? He proposed that the Department should open a second phase of relief disbursements to use up the full budget of R150m. The Department was not responding to emails and as seen on Facebook, people were still waiting for relief. He said the monies should be directed to the beneficiaries.

Mr W Faber (DA) said Ms V van Dyk (DA) had had difficulties with her internet connection and had forwarded her questions to him to put to the Department. She had said most small federations were risking bankruptcy, yet sport and recreation had received the biggest budget cut of 32%. How would the smaller federations survive financially? The target for community libraries had been reduced from 29 to 12. When would catch up work on the construction of the remaining 17 libraries happen?

Mr Faber said some relief fund beneficiaries had received R20 000, while others had received R53 000. Did the latter amount apply for more than one month’s worth of relief? He asked who did the survey on the impact of Covid-19 on the cultural and creative industries and on sport. How many participants were there? Were the participants only relief applicants, or had the survey been done amongst all sports people?

The Chairperson asked if the White Paper was affected by the budget reductions. Were the Department’s tools able to monitor how the money transferred to provinces was spent, whether it was spent on time and whether there were checks to prevent double dipping?

Mr L Ntshayisa (AIC) asked if any follow up had been made on how provinces were disbursing money transferred from the national DSAC to deserving artists. How were artists living in far off areas dealt with? How were people over 60 encouraged to retire, to create employment for the young? How would the fourth industrial revolution affect the libraries being built?

DSAC’s response

Mr Matlala said the Department was using agencies to process payments because its internal processes took too long, while the agencies, which were online, took less than a day to verify identity documents (IDs) and bank details.

He agreed with Mr Seabi that the pace of payments was slow, but this was because of due diligence work in the preparation of documents, and there was a large amount of applications. The Department’s officials were working 24 hours on the preparation of documents.

On the pay-outs of R20 000 and R53 000, he said beneficiaries were classified into two categories. One category received a maximum of R20 000. In cases where no amount was requested, R10 000 was paid. The second category covered digital services for the live streaming of events, and here the maximum payment was R75 000, comprising a first tranche of 70%, which was equivalent to R53 000.

On the appointment of interns, advertisements for the recruitment of interns would take place by September.  The intern positions were across all divisions, including IT.

On the R480m in Program 2 referred to by Mr Mhlongo, all the money was not necessarily for federations, but included compensation of employees, goods and services, and payments to departmental agencies.

Dr Sakiwo Tyiso, Chief Director: Strategic Management and Planning, said targets had to be adjusted and either be reduced or deferred -- for example, the building of community libraries target. This target had been reduced from 29 to 12 because of capital expenditure budget cuts resulting in a R200m cut to the library fund and a R100m cut to the operational expenses budget. This work had been deferred to the new financial year. 

Ms Sumayya Khan, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Recreation Development and Sport Promotion, DSAC, said there had not been too many changes to the infrastructure budget, and the Department would look at the outer years of the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) for the delayed projects.

She said a service provider had been appointed to build ten outdoor gyms a year for a period of three years. The Department had a list of locations for these outdoor gyms, but this list was being reviewed so that the gyms could be within community library precincts.

On relief to Boxing SA, she said the Department had had funds for federations, and Boxing SA had made a submission for all boxers for events committed to in the period from March to June, so the boxers had benefited.  The Department needed to look at how it would deal with fights after June.

Regarding the SASCOC budget, the Department had not interfered with any non-profit organisation’s budgets, and transfers would not be affected.

She was not aware of any experts being appointed to monitor the return to training of athletes, but the government and the DSAC had put together a team of departmental officials to look at the plans of federations.

On how smaller federations benefited, she said the Department had a framework of financial support for programmes and projects, and was reviewing it to assist with the administration and operation of federations.

The survey had been conducted by SASCOC, which had a ‘war room’ on the sustainability of the sector. It had put out a call to 76 federations to complete the survey, and 46 federations had responded. The survey subjects were not the beneficiaries of relief funds.

Mr Charles Mabaso, Chief Director: Cultural Development, DSAC, responded to Mr Madlingosi’s question on who the companies were, and said it was part of the digital solution so that artists could continue to do their work in a digital space. The Department had a list available of the applicants and those which had been successful.

On the research on the relief done by the SA Cultural Observatory (SACO), he said SACO was the research arm of the DSAC. It had been open research, and the Department had a report regarding its scale and nature which could be distributed to Members.

Regarding the R20 000 being given to Arthur Mafokate, while R10 000 was given to Abigail Kubeka, he said that Ms Kubeka’s amount was under the relief for Living Legends, where she had provided digital master classes for intergenerational skills transfer.

Mr Vusithemba Ndima, DDG: Heritage Promotion and Preservation, DSAC, referred to the impact of the fourth industrial revolution on libraries, and said libraries had to embrace cutting edge technologies. One provision of the conditional grant was that there had to be internet connectivity in libraries to ensure equal access to information. In addition to conditional grants, partnerships had been entered into with the Gates Foundation, which had contributed R32m to ensure access to the internet.

Responding to Mr Faber’s question, he said the Department was the transferring department to provinces, but it did monitor the implementation by provinces through quarterly reports and site visits to libraries.

He said the SA Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) managed an inventory of declared heritage resources in South Africa, while the management of memorials, monuments and statues were a provincial responsibility of the Provincial Heritage Resources Authorities (PHRAs). Currently there was no verified total of colonial and apartheid statues documented in the SAHRA information system. There was a list of 24 memorials and monuments declared after 1994.

On the cost of preserving statues, he said that different bodies maintained monuments, statues and memorials, such as the Department of Public Works (DPW), local municipalities and private foundations, so the Department could not provide an amount for the maintenance of monuments and statues.

Mr Mkhize said the service provider for the outdoor gyms was Green Outdoor Gyms, which had a national footprint.

On the CEO of the NAC, he said there was role segregation -- the Minister appointed the Board while the Board appointed the CEO. The Board had disciplined the CEO, and the Minister had written to the Board on the matters referred to by Mr Mhlongo. The Board was taking the Public Protector’s report on review.

Tthe Department welcomed Dr Nkabane’s comments on the issue of modernisation.

On the timeframe to fill the posts, the Department had a draft advertisement for interns, and the posts should be filled by the end of August.

Regarding the response to GBV and the issue of the provinces working with the Department and meeting their targets, he said it was important to note that the Minister and Deputy Minister had standing meetings with the Members of Executive Councils (MECs) of provinces, and the DG met with heads of departments (HODs), who presented reports on their programmes. These meetings provided feedback on the progress of the provinces relating to the Department’s work.

Responding to Ms Malomane’s question on risk targets, he said the terrain was difficult to predict, but the DSAC could not do nothing, and would do what it could and have mitigation strategies in place.

On why artists were appealing their unsuccessful relief applications, he said the artists were providing extra rationale for their arguments, and this allowed them to get what was due to them.

On the White Paper, he believed there would be more consultations on how boards were reconfigured, for example, and therefore the pace of the process might be affected.

The Department was sharing its lists with the provinces so that double dipping could be avoided.

Deputy Minister f Sports, Arts and Culture, Ms Nocawe Mafu, reminded Members about the “new normal” the Department was operating under in relation to Covid-19 and the relief fund.

She said the adjudication teams were appointed from artists and athletes, and not from the Department, and the Minister had appointed appeal teams to deal with declined applications. Of the 1 009 artists who had lodged appeals, 951 had been successful. In total, there had been 3 249 recommended applications and 2 320 of these had already been paid.

Regarding the slow payment and when payment would be completed, she said payments should be concluded this week. The relief fund was for the period March to June, and the Department would look at what to do next.

Referring to the performance contract of the DG, she said Covid-19 was a national government issue and affected all departments, and there needed to be a uniform government approach. The Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) was looking into the matter.

On the monitoring of provinces, she said the Department met with provinces and shared with them the Department’s beneficiary lists so that there could be no double dipping, and to spread out the impact of the relief funds.

Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, said Minister Senzo  Mchunu, of the Department of Public Service and Administration, was looking at the performance contracts of DGs.

On the issue of monitoring the implementation of “Back to Play”, he said the Department was monitoring the Cape Town City Football Club, which had commended the professional manner in which the monitoring was done. 

Replying to Mr Faber’s question on research, he said research methodologies differed and was a matter of scientific decisions. SACO could clarify points raised by him.

He said the current Covid-19 situation was fluid and unpredictable, and that situations would dictate the Department’s responses.

On the monumental flag, he said the Cabinet had decided that the Resistance and Liberation Museum would host the monumental flag.

From the beginning, he had made it clear that the disbursement of the relief funds should be a clean and transparent process. There was an agreement with the Auditor General’s (AG’s) office to work together, and the Department was being audited as they went along in the process.

He said it would be good for Committee Members to remember the processes of government regarding the divide between the Minister, the Board and the CEO, and that such questions should not be raised at meetings. The NAC had confirmed with him that they were taking the report of the Public Protector on review.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

 

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