Department of Sport, Arts and Culture Revised Budget & APP, with Deputy Minister; COVID-19 Relief Fund Update

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

16 September 2020
Chairperson: Mr E Nchabeleng (ANC, Limpopo) Co-Chairperson: Ms M Gillion (ANC, Western Cape)
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Meeting Summary

Video: SC on Education and Technology, Sport, Arts and Culture, (National Council of Provinces) 16 Sep 2020

The Deputy Minister provided insight into the newly formed Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, which consisted of the previously separate departments of sports and recreation, and arts and culture. The meeting took place on a virtual platform. Despite successes of the Department, it was evident that the COVID-19 pandemic was negatively affecting its programmes on a grand scale. It briefed the Committee on the changes made to its revised budget and annual performance plan for 2020/21, which had been revised as a result of the extreme disturbance caused by the pandemic. 

Despite the limitations placed on the Department's previous annual performance plan, it was performing well in relation to the extreme challenges it faced. Funds had been diverted to the COVID-19 Relief Fund in an attempt to resolve the issues the nation faced at this time. Unfortunately, some successful applicants for the Relief Fund were double dipping, and steps had been taken to stop this from recurring. The Committee questioned why most of the individuals receiving support from the Relief Fund were from one racial group, and also why most of the funds went to Gauteng. The importance of internal audits to ensure compliance within the Department was emphasised.

Members showed concern for matters involving Robben Island and the Iziko Museum, as both were important heritage sites which preserved the inherited history of South Africans.

The Department assured the Committee that measures were in place to prevent the Relief Funds from being wrongly allocated. It had provided the Presidency with regular reports on gender-based violence to increase awareness of the matter. However, its attempts to promote school sports had been limited during the lockdown, since school children’s activities fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Basic Education.
 

Meeting report

Introductory remarks

Ms M Gillion (ANC, Western Cape) acted as the co-Chairperson, since the intended Chairperson, Mr E Nchabeleng (ANC, Limpopo) had encountered technical difficulties. She welcomed the Members of the Select Committee and the officials of the Department.

Ms Nocawe Mafu, Deputy Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC), confirmed that the Minister, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, was unable to attend the meeting as he was attending a Cabinet meeting. She also acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic had prevented the Department from meeting with the Portfolio Committee this financial year. At this meeting, the Department would present an annual performance plan for this financial year.

She said that the amalgamation of the separate departments into the single Department had been successful. However, the COVID-19 pandemic had created difficulties for the Department which had caused them to revise their annual performance plans (APPs) and cut their budget; which was summarised in the presentation. Despite the challenges caused by COVID-19, the Department had four programmes running well which would be outlined in the presentation, along with the COVID-19 relief measures that had been implemented.

Mr Vusi Mkhize, Director-General: DSAC, said that since the Department’s previous presentation, amendments had been made to the presentation, which included a reduction in the international engagement’s target from 20 to seven, while the current list of project programmes was 11. This included the additional four programmes which would have been implemented in the first quarter had the COVID-19 pandemic not occurred. The amended presentation included provincial breakdowns of the mass participation of sports development grants, and library grants to illustrate whether provinces were receiving adequate support. Additionally, the presentation included the findings of the Auditor General’s (AG’s) report. The APP had been changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic’s negative impacts.

The Department’s strategy was informed by international, national and secretarial prescripts. These international guidelines included the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) which did not all impact the Department. However, the African Union’s (AU’s) aspirations to solidify strong cultural identity values as well as an ethic of hard work by 2063, did directly impact it. In line with the National Development Plan, (NDP) corporate investments into sports had been encouraged, along with efforts to encourage communities to organise sporting events, leagues and championships in addition to providing adequate facilities and ensuring the maintenance of these facilities. These plans were expected to increase social cohesion and inspire transformation within the country.

Issues facing Department

The Department had implemented programmes to act as campaigns against racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia, and all related conditions and ideologies that threaten South Africa. Among these issues, the harmful cultural practices which threaten women and children were issues that it recognised as needing to be dealt with immediately. Additionally, it suggested that all South Africans should be expected to learn at least one native language in order to create a cultural commonality within South Africa, to address the impacts of the cultural attack during apartheid and colonisation. The Department aimed to promote citizen’s participation in forums such as integrated development plans.

The Department’s mandate was a responsibility towards sport, culture and heritage, which included ensuring that everyone had the right to participate in the language and culture of their choice, as outlined in section 34 of the constitution.  Since the Department’s recent amalgamation of the two historically separate departments of sport and recreation, and arts and culture, the new Department envisioned an active creative, winning and socially cohesive nation. To achieve this mission, it aimed to promote sports, arts and culture and preserve the South African national heritage.

The COVID-19 pandemic had forced the Department to recognise the need for creative and innovative ways to deliver services and inspire the nation, along with ensuring ethical leadership in the fight against corruption that it faced. To ensure it achieved its vision, it was imperative that a high level of professionalism and accountability was ingrained within the Department. It had prioritised increasing the market share, as well as creating employment opportunities within the sports, cultural and creative industries.

It was also important to explore opportunities presented by the sport, cultural and creative industries’ economies, since they contributed largely to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country. Despite the growing cultural industry, the demographics of this sector were largely misrepresented, as 86% of those employed in this sector were black, coloured, and Indian, yet the sector was overly represented by white South Africans. Additionally, there was a gender-based employment imbalance within the cultural industry, as there were fewer women employed in this sector than men.

It was crucial that all South Africans were given equal access to all opportunities, which was in line with the NDP towards 2030. It was encouraging that between the 2017 and 2018 financial year, the percentage of individuals who recognised themselves as proudly South African had increased to 81%. However, the structural legacies of apartheid and colonialism remained a root cause for social division within South Africa.

Department’s five-year aim

Within the next five years, the Department hoped to increase the Commodity Channel Index‚Äč (CCI) from 4.9% to 5%. Regarding the deficit between the exports and imports of South African cultural goods and services, It aimed to ensure that South Africans support the domestic sector, to change the deficit of -0.42 to a positive figure of 0.6 within five years. It also aimed to ensure that when surveyed, at least 90% of South Africans identify themselves as proudly South African, along with an increase of public opinion on race relations by 90%. To achieve these cultural aims, the Department was determined to create a well-organised and highly capable and professional sector. Regarding the sports sector, its target was to improve the status of Olympic and Paralympic medals, and to achieve more medals by investing in coaching and sports infrastructure.

The Department planned to support a broad range of cultural and creative sectors within new and traditional creative industrial markets, as well as to increase the economic participation of those who were historically excluded from participating. Additionally, it aimed to protect the intellectual property of creatives to prevent their exploitation. Film documentaries which focused on friendships would be used to promote social cohesion, and government buildings were encouraged to display local artwork to support the local art industry. The Department recognised the economic importance of heritage and cultural tourism, and aimed to expand on the promotion of, and investment into, cultural and heritage tourism.

To promote a socially cohesive South African society, the Department would conduct campaigns that would increase awareness of positive national values and symbols. This would include popularising the “I am the Flag” hashtag, in addition to South African flags being installed at schools. To encourage interaction between different races and classes, greater importance would be placed on traditional days, and school sports clubs would be used to promote interaction between school children.

The Department would increase national access to information by continuing to build libraries and provide translations of documents to ensure that people could access information in a language of their choice. It planned to establish three heritage sites per province to ensure the national history of perseverance was preserved. The National State of the Art was of international importance, and was a site that allowed creatives to practice their art within South Africa. Additionally, community art centres (CACs) and sports infrastructure was set to be refurbished to encourage the engagement of young South Africans. 

Over the next five years, the Department would continue providing performance and/or financial oversight which would inform the strategic plan, the APP and the mid-term expenditure framework (MTEF). It would continue providing internships and other forms of training to increase job opportunities for young people.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department had reviewed the APP.  In June, the Minister of Finance had produced a revised budget that prioritised combating issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The DSAC had therefore considered the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic when the revised APP was developed. The programme for recreational development and sports promotion had faced many challenges during the lockdown, as participation in these programmes was reliant on schools, which were closed. Consequently, the budget for these programmes had been reduced and been used to deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there had been no changes made to the bursaries available for students that focused their studies on heritage academics. The Department had implemented the Living Human Treasures programme, which includes documenting cultural knowledge that could be passed down the generations, to preserve the South African national heritage.

The Department’s chief financial officer said that due to the lockdown, there had been a revised financial framework which had redirected funds from the Department to help manage the issues the nation faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  R5 million had been allocated towards the acquisition of public equipment. Additionally, R62million had had to be reprioritised nationally, and R68million would be transferred to the provinces. R10 million had already been transferred to the sports beneficiaries.

Discussion

Chairperson Nchabeleng outlined his concerns over the distribution of relief funds, and said he was particularly interested in what action had been taken to resolve the issues outlined in the AG’s report. He asked about the level of compliance among institutions such as museums, and whether they could be visited during the lockdown, since they had previously been closed during the lockdown, which had prevented citizens from revisiting their heritage. He suggested that going forward, the Department should conduct internal audits to ensure compliance before the AG highlighted any issues.

Co-chairperson Gillion asked what measures had been implemented to retrieve funds from the Relief Fund that the AG had identified as being wrongly distributed. How was the Department dealing with the demographics of those receiving the relief funding, since she believed that it contributed largely to the demographics of individuals receiving the Relief Fund?

She asked what the Department was doing to address the issues within the sports sector that the “Black Lives Matter” movement had shed light upon. She acknowledged that artists had demonstrated solidarity with the movement, and asked what measures would be taken to resolve the issues highlighted by the movement within South Africa, given that both sectors were integral for the country’s social cohesion.

She stressed that she had previously raised the issue surrounding Iziko Museum’s human resources (HR) department, and asked how this was being managed, as this was an urgent matter. She also wanted to know whether the Department had made progress in regard to their plans for Robben Island.
 
Ms A Maleka (ANC, Mpumalanga) said the Department had established an infrastructure management unit to facilitate the implementation of infrastructure projects, and asked how it would ensure that challenges would be minimised in the future. She asked which office in the Department was responsible for monitoring the beneficiaries of the CACs, and what effect the lack of compliance and slow spending had on the service delivery in the province.

Ms N Ndongeni (ANC, Eastern Cape) asked the Department whether they had a list of the beneficiaries who had not submitted their reports. If it was in possession of such a list, she asked for the details of these beneficiaries to be shared. She asked how many vacancies there currently were in the Department. What roles had the 26 interns employed until October 2020 played, and were any of them were qualified to fill the 14 vacancies that she was aware of? As the CACs’ awareness activities had been reduced from nine to four, with no budget or campaign cuts, what impact had these awareness activities had, and what had the participation rates of these activities been?

Mr M Bara (DA, Gauteng) commended the work that was being done by the Department. Given the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic had caused, he asked what plans it had to support schools and school sport going forward, and what changes were being made to contain and lessen the impact of gender-based violence (GBV). Regarding reimbursement, he asked what the Department was doing to address the issue of individuals previously not being paid.
 
Co-chairperson Gillion highlighted that out of the R121 million, only R17.8 million had been spent. She asked what the expected time frame was for the total budget to be spent. She observed that the greatest number of applications had come from Gauteng when compared to other provinces, and asked why it had received a larger portion of the fund.

Chairperson Nchabeleng said he was concerned with Robben Island and the Robben Island museum, as he recognised it as one of the greatest inheritances of the South African people. Many of the custodians of the museum were still alive, including those who served time in the prison alongside former President Nelson Mandela. Given the national importance of the museum, he was clear that it should be treated with great importance and that a separate discussion concerning Robben Island should be held at a future date. All the stakeholders of Robben Island, where possible, should be invited, especially ex-political prisoners, to share memories to ensure that it remained a beacon of light for South Africa and the world.

Department’s response

Deputy Minister Mafu said that due to time constraints, the Department was unable to present a progress report on the COVID-19 Relief Fund. The report provided details of the measures the Department had implemented to mitigate the issues caused by the lockdown. R150 million had been allocated to provide relief for both athletes and artists, but after the first wave of applicants, a substantial amount of capital remained, which was currently being allocated to the second wave of applicants requesting relief. As applications for the relief fund had only recently closed, it remained unclear as to when the full R150 million would be distributed, and the process of education was commencing at this moment.

The findings of the AG’s report had highlighted areas to which the Department had to pay closer attention. This included ensuring that the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between the Department and entities such as the Banking Association of South Africa (BASA) and the sports trusts used to make payments was secure, to prevent future issues from arising when the Department was called to account. The AG’s report had also emphasised the importance of clarifying the criteria for those eligible to receive the relief funds. By the second week of the Relief Fund being advertised, the criteria had been amended following the AG’s report.

Deputy Minister Mafu emphasised the necessity of addressing GBV, and said that the Department had played a critical role in engaging with the government’s national strategic plan to address this issue. There was currently a stakeholder team investigating the history of GBV, which was a critical area that all departments of government had to report on. 

She was not pleased with the progress the Department had made with school sports. The Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the DSAC had halted the progress of school sports that the DSAC had envisioned, because school students fell under the jurisdiction of the DBE. However, the Minister of Basic Education, Ms Angie Motshekga, and Minister Mthethwa had engaged in the last month to address this matter. Once the proposed plan to ensure school sports was more effective, the DSAC would inform the Select Committee.

Chairperson Nchabeleng said he wanted his concern for Robben Island to be declared as an interest which stemmed from a personal matter, in addition to the matter being a national concern.

Mr Vusithemba Ndima, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Heritage Promotion and Preservation, DSAC, emphasised the importance of Robben Island and the necessity to preserve integrity of the Island’s story of pain, and the story of persevering through pain. Currently, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) was looking at infrastructure development at Robben Island, to deal with the issue of facilities management.  The Department of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) would also be engaged in regard to Robben Island, as both departments in terms of the World Heritage Convention Act were integral. These departments were required to guide the entire team in ensuring that the requirements of Robben Island as a World Heritage Site were met.

Chairperson Nchabeleng commented that the lockdown regulations had negatively affected Robben Island, as it was heavily dependent on tourism.

Mr Ndima referred to the international relations issue, and said the attempts made by the DSAC to ensure compliance had been limited due to budgetary constraints. However, Robben Island was in the initial stages of developing new ways of presenting products that would take advantage of the benefits of international relations, and investments into information systems were expected to act as tools to create opportunities for public access to the world heritage sites.

Dr Stella Khumalo, DDG: Arts, Culture Promotion and Development, said the DSCA had earnestly tried to clear the outstanding payments of the Relief Fund, which had been indicated during the presentation. However, there had been a delay in addressing digital applications which included interventions such as live streaming. The issues surrounding the distribution of the relief funds arose when individuals applied more than once to ensure that their application would be successful. However, changes had been made to the application and payment process during the second wave of applicants to prevent this issue recurring following the findings in the AG’s report. Such changes had been the inter-provincial sharing of databases to verify whether applicants were already receiving funds provided by other entities of government, and the requirement of applicants to submit certified copies of their identity documents (IDs). Additionally, the beneficiaries of the government Relief Fund were required to be tax compliant. Links had been provided for application forms to ensure that accessing the form was a simple process.

Dr Khumalo outlined the measures taken to deal with the demographic issues surrounding the Relief Fund. An individual data report would be available when the closeout report was finalised. However, during the second wave of applications, such information was contained in the application that the applicant completed. This made it possible to report on gender, race and location in terms of geographical classification. The application form had also been made available in a wider variety of languages to increase its accessibility.  There had been success through making the application form available via WhatsApp, since 90% of the second wave of applicants had used this platform to complete their application forms.

Dr Khumalo recognised the challenges the Community Art Centers faced with regard to their programmes, but these remained important platforms because the CACs were within reach of the communities. A recent research report had been conducted to inform the Department on how these programmes should be implemented to maximise their success, which had encouraged it to host road shows between October and November 2020 to engage with provinces and stakeholders. Although not all the provinces had experienced a challenge in terms of sustainability of the programmes that were run within community centres, this remained an issue. However, the proposed models and strategies to address these issues were expected to enhance the programmes for the industry and the people within the community.

The Chief Financial Officer referred to the regarding of interns, and said that since the combined Department was a relatively new development, the start-up structure would change once an organisational design had been finalised. There were 552 field positions, and 118 were vacant. There were currently 23 interns who would not be prevented from filling these vacancies if they obtained the qualifications and experience required. 

Ms Sumayya Khan, DDG: Recreation Development and Sport Promotion, reminded the Committee that during the COVID-19 pandemic, schools were closed and the DBE had issued a direction which suspended extracurricular or co-curricular activities taking place in schools. Consequently, the school sports programme had been cancelled. However, the schools had still received equipment and attire because the DSAC had committed to this provision in its budget. This would hopefully allow sports to commence during the level one phase of lockdown. Interactions between the Minister of Basic Education and the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture to review the Memorandum of Agreement had been held. The Deputy Ministers of both departments were investigating the school issues, and would provide a report to both Ministers by the end of September.
 
Ms Khan highlighted that the cricketer Lungisani Ngidi had played a large role in starting the discussions surrounding “Black Lives Matter” in the sports sector of South Africa.  The Minister had written wrote to Cricket South Africa to ask them what was being done to combat racism within the sport. Cricket South Africa had provided a comprehensive report which indicated their transformation strategy to address racism within the sport, in addition to committing to establish the Office of Transformation to deal with all of the
complaints that were coming through in the cricket sector. However, since the issue of racism was such a large issue, more time needed to be allocated to address the issue within all the different fields of sports.

The Department said that the strike the Iziko museum staff went on prior to the lockdown had been suspended, and further discussions with management were taking place. However, the staff’s demand of a 12% wage increase was not feasible, as management could offer only a 5.5% increase, based on the baseline salary they received from the National Treasury. The differences in salaries within the staff of Iziko museum was a result of the museum initially being an amalgamated institution, and the staff had received the same salaries of their respective institutions before the amalgamation process. However, plans to equalise the salaries of the staff were under way.

Another challenge was that union members did not want to be expected to bring their supporting documents to meetings they attended. However, management was currently arguing against this demand, as these documents were necessary for audits. More importantly, they needed to be produced in the unfortunate event that a staff member was involved in an accident. The supposed unilateral changes to the conditions of employment that had caused the union to be upset could not be substantiated, but management was currently investigating this issue to ensure that such changes were not being made. 

Mr Mkhize clarified the distinction between the role of the Deputy Minister and the board. The Deputy Minister intervened in matters when the board was absent from issues that were raised, or when the board failed to execute its fiduciary duties. The Deputy Minister also provided oversight on the developments in the institutions and followed up on any issues raised by Parliament. This was why the Deputy Minister had been provided with the report from the management of Iziko Museum.

He said both the Minister and Deputy Minister had condemned racism within all sporting disciplines. The Eminent Persons Group (EPG) reports had been used to gauge the transformation taking place within the sporting sector. After reviewing these reports, it was important to implement consequences for those sectors that were found to be non-compliant. Discussions were being held to formulate a plan to address the issues that were taking place within the cricket industry.

Programs had been implemented to create awareness of GBV through dialogue. During Heritage Month, the Department sought to address harmful cultural practices which propelled chauvinism and increased the occurrence of GBV.  

The DSAC closely monitored spending all the time, and following the quarterly report, provinces would be expected to spend or lose the capital that had been made available to them, and in order for provinces to make the best use of the capital allocated to them, they must plan accordingly.

Co-Chairperson Gillion thanked the Deputy Minister for his engagement during the meeting, and asked the DSAC to continue to update the Committee on events surrounding “Black Lives Matter,” the Iziko museum and Robben Island, since they were all matters of national importance.

Committee Minutes
Chairperson Nchabeleng went through the draft minutes of the Committee for September 2, August 26 and July 20, which were all adopted.  

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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