The Committee met virtually to deliberate on Vote 13: Cultural Affairs and Sport in the Schedule to the Western Cape Adjustments Appropriation (COVID-19) Bill [B4-2020]. It was adopted, with the ANC invoking Rule 90 and not supporting it.
The Department highlighted how it was working under difficult conditions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as their mandate was to bring people together. However, the regulations meant they had to maintain social distancing at all costs in order to avoid the spread of the virus.
Members asked how the cuts and reprioritisations would affect sporting and cultural bodies which relied on support from the province. What role was the Department playing in preparing for the return of contact and non-contact sports? What criteria were being applied to applications for financial relief from sporting and cultural bodies, and how many artists had benefited?
A Member said the country was facing tough times due to the pandemic and racial tensions, especially in sports, which was worrisome. She asked what role the Department played in transformation, and whether it had met with Cricket South Africa and the South African Rugby Union (SARU) regarding transformation at the grassroots level.
Department’s response to COVID-19
Mr Brent Walters, Head of Department (HOD): Cultural Affairs and Sport, said that COVID-19 had affected the Department in a devastating way, because its main function was to bring people together but because of the pandemic, social distancing had to be maintained.
The Department had allocated its coaching staff to assist in feeding schemes around the province, to make sure that they kept occupied and assisted in fighting the pandemic with communities.
There had been reductions in the Department because of the reprioritisation of funds to deal with the pandemic. It had received additional funding of R5 million towards the purchase of library books. Non-critical vacant post funding had also been surrendered. The rural library connectivity programme had been postponed to 2021/22, and these measures had assisted in raising funds for the reprioritisation.
Museums had been supported during this pandemic. R2.9 million had been reprioritised for personal protective equipment (PPE) because all buildings require sanitisers, masks and thermometers in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Chairperson tabled the vote, from pages 231-235, and the annexures on pages 236-240 for consideration by Members, and asked if there were any questions.
Ms A Bans (ANC) noted the report, and said the country was facing tough times due to the pandemic and racial tensions, especially in sports, which was worrisome. She asked what role the Department would play in the return of contact and non-contact sports. What role had it played in transformation, and had they met with Cricket South Africa and the South African Rugby Union (SARU) regarding transformation at the grassroots level? She wanted to know what had been reduced by R113.6 million on table 13.1 in the report, and what the impact of this reduction was on the sporting codes, as well as arts and culture in the province.
Ms R Windvogel (ANC) asked about the payments and estimates on page 232 table 13. She wanted to know how many vacancies were going to be affected by the reduction in the compensation of employees (CoE), and if these posts would be filled in the future. Regarding the R2.3 million for PPE, she wanted a detailed breakdown and asked if the PPE would cater for other facilities like museums. She asked what type of support was being given to museums.
Mr M Kama (ANC) wanted more details on the R4.7 million referred to on page 233 of the report, such as how much had been paid out already, and how many artists had benefited. What had been the impact of the R40 million cut shown on page 239? He concluded by saying that he understood the difficulties that were being encountered by the Department because of the pandemic.
The Department said there were not many vacancies at the moment, and there was a need to be cautious when filling them because of the pandemic’s affect on many budgets. Vacancies had been put on hold, and were being filled only if they were critical posts.
A detailed breakdown on the PPE situation would be sent to the Committee, showing what the Department had done, including at museums and library services. Subsidies had also been provided to museums, and they were receiving PPE, but would have to wait for the national guidelines. PPE had been provided for staff and for the buildings used by the Department.
The Department had 50 sites where they operated, with 550 employees and another 1 000 in various contexts, and all of these people required PPE.
It was the municipalities that run libraries, and they had directions and conditions under which they could open libraries and provide PPE in library spaces.
Dr Lyndon Bouah, Chief Director: Sport and Recreation, responded on the timing of the safe return of sports, and said there were daily and weekly meetings with the sports confederation in Western Cape, as it represented 140 federations. Any directive received from the national guideline was disseminated to the federations and societies so that the information was received by them all.
There had been ongoing talks on transformation, and a budget for transformation was available. Some of the funding had been received for transformation of sport, and there had been ongoing debate on the issue of transformation within cricket and rugby. Later this year, sporting codes would receive quota funding in order as to empower them.
Mr Guy Redman, Chief Director, Cultural Affairs, responding to Mr Kama's question on the number of artists who had benefited, said that there had been 1 058 applications, and after removing duplicates, 948 had been left and adjudicated. Of these, 691 had been approved for funding and 257 had been declined. Of the applications declined, 155 had been funded by the national Department of Arts and Culture. The categories that were made available for funding were legends, arts venues and freelancers. Freelancers had the most applications, with 746, arts venues had 102 applications, and legends had 57 applications. There was also a smaller category for events that were funded by the Department, and seven organisations had applied, but this category had been cancelled due to COVID-19. All the applicants had been informed of the outcomes of their applications, and the first batch was going to be submitted for payment this week.
Ms Cecilia Sani, Director: Library Service, said the cuts to their conditional grant of R34.7 million would not allow for the paying of salaries for library staff for the whole nine months, and this meant that the Department would be funding libraries for the financial year. A big library project in Swellendam was still going on.
The Chairperson thanked the Department for their responses, and asked Members if they had further questions or input.
Mr P Marais (FF+) raised a point of order, and asked why no presentations were available, because there was nothing to see from where the discussion was flowing. He was not in support of how the virtual meeting was set up.
The Chairperson responded that all Members of the Committee had received an email from the Department, and all the votes were documented in the blue book.
Mr Marais said that he had not received the email that contained the book and the Bill.
Ms Philander said the Department should provide clarity on the programmes and sub-programmes.
Ms Bans referred to page 233, and asked if the applications had come from one province. She wanted clarity on the sanitisers, because it appeared from the presentation that they were only for schools.
Mr Kama followed up on the relief fund for artists, asking for the reasons behind the applications that were declined. Referring to page 236 of the report, he asked if the Department could justify the close to 50% cut in Western Cape Heritage funding.
The Chairperson reminded Members that they were dealing with Vote 13, and also asked the Department if there was an appeal process for the applications that had been declined.
Ms Windvogel had a follow up question on Programme 1, and said she had not heard anything about service providers, and if the Department was going to provide a written response. Referring to table 13.5 on Sport and Recreation on page 240, she wanted to know the reasons for the large cuts, and if this affected the federations in any way.
The Department told the Committee that no programmes or sub-programmes had fallen away.
In terms of the regional spread, the project covered the whole province. The sanitisers purchased were not for schools, but were used for the Department’s buildings and staff. Application forms had been sent to all the sporting codes in the Western Cape.
The breakdown of service providers could be provided in writing.
There was an appeal process for the applications that had been declined, which gave applicants an opportunity to provide proof that they needed funding. To eliminate “double dipping,” artists who had received funding from the national Department did not receive funding from the province. The Department had approached the Western Cape Arbitrators Forum to assist it with the appeal process in the sport sector.
Programmes that had been cut meant that this year, there would be no youth camp, indigenous games, or national school games. The Department had been given until 31 July to revise its business plan and targets, and move the funding appropriately. Funding to sports federations had also been cut, and most events would not take place in the Western Cape this year.
The reason for the cut in Heritage Western Cape (HWC) funding was because it operated virtually, and although it did not close like others, it had a small portion of investments to cater for its liabilities, so it could dip into that if the operational requirements made it necessary.
The Chairperson thanked the Department for the engagement, and excused them so that Members could deliberate on the report.
Committee resolutions and Vote on Committee report
Mr Kama asked if the Committee could be furnished with the list of sponsors for HWC.
Ms Bans requested a list with details of the relief fund.
Ms Windvogel asked the Department to provide a list of service providers.
When the report was put to the vote, the ANC evoked rule 90 as the minority party, and did not support the budget.
The Committee supported the vote.
The meeting was adjourned.
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