Roles and responsibilities of Western Cape Cultural Commission & Western Cape Language Committee

Community Safety, Cultural Affairs and Sport (WCPP)

22 June 2021
Chairperson: Mr R Allen (DA)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Standing Committee on Community Safety, Cultural Affairs and Sport, 22 June 2021, 09:00

The Committee convened virtually to be briefed by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport on the roles and responsibilities of the Western Cape Language Committee and Western Cape Cultural Commission.

The Department took the Committee through the nomination procedures of the Western Cape Cultural Commission and the legislative framework governing the commission. The briefing focused on the powers and functions of the commission, composition of the commission, and eligibility to become the member of the commission.

The Western Cape Language Committee then explained that it is guided in its mandate to monitor the use of Afrikaans, English, isiXhosa, and development of previously marginalised indigenous languages in the Western Cape Government by some key legislative pieces such as the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Constitution of the Western Cape as well as the Western Cape Provincial Languages Act, amongst others.

Members asked what the Cultural Commission has done about the removal of statues that are important to some cultures, and what has it done to protect Afrikaans, places, and monuments of cultural importance to certain cultural groups.

Members also wanted to find out what the Cultural Commission has done in the past three years or its highlights, so that the Committee could know what to do going forward. They remarked that the Committee should investigate how to prevent Afrikaans from being dominated by other languages because some feel they have been prevented from speaking Afrikaans in the Committee meetings yet 49% of their constituency in the province comprises of Afrikaans speaking people.

The Committee resolved to look at the qualifications of the current members of the Cultural Commission and Language Committee. It was further suggested that the Committee should consider each Member to speak a language of his/her choice for the sake of his/her constituency. The Committee resolved to consider the use of interpreters for Members who want to speak languages of their choice.

 

Meeting report

The Chairperson opened the virtual meeting, welcoming the Members, Committee support staff and all the guest delegates from the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS). She introduced the agenda and handed over to the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport for the briefing.

Briefing on the nomination procedure of the Western Cape Cultural Commission
Ms Jane Moleleki, Director: Arts and Culture, DCAS, took the Committee through the nomination procedures of the Cultural Commission and the legislative framework governing the commission. She focused on the powers and functions of the commission, composition of the commission, and eligibility to become the member of the commission.

The Cultural Commission is guided in its mandate to preserve, promote and develop culture in the Western Cape by some of the following legislative pieces:

Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.
Constitution of the Western Cape, 1997 (Act 1 of 1998).
Public Finance Management Act, 1999 (Act 1 of 1999).
National Treasury Regulations.
The Western Cape Cultural Commission and Cultural Councils Act, 1998 (Act 14 of 1998).
Traditional Khoi- S Leadership Act, 2019

On powers and functions of the commission, she said that the commission must consider the registration and deregistration of cultural councils; control, manage, develop and maintain movable or immovable   property placed under its supervision in terms of section 2(1)(a) or (b); and perform such other functions as the provincial minister may assign to the Commission.

The Cultural Commission may, at its own accord or after approval by provincial minister, also be responsible for visual, performing and literary arts; natural and human sciences; cultural-historical fields; and youth’s cultural awareness and involvement. The Cultural Commission may, after approval by the provincial minister and finance provincial minister, acquire, hire, let or otherwise alienate movable property; erect, equip, maintain, or alter any building or structure on the movable property referred to in sub-section (1)(b); and receive movable or immovable property as a gift, bequest or in trust, and control, use, manage or otherwise deal with it subject to the conditions of the donation, bequest or trust – which are consistent with the aims of the Cultural Commission.

In addition, the Cultural Commission may give assistance within its available resources to a cultural council or councils by subsidising culturally related projects, research and conferences determined by the by the provincial minister, and for which a cultural council or councils have applied; promoting and coordinating national and international intercultural contact; and providing information to preserve, promote and develop culture.

Further, the Cultural Commission is entitled to establish, compile and maintain databases of organisations, institutions, equipment, and facilities relating to cultural affairs in the province. It should also make recommendations to the provincial minister in respect of the determining of tariffs for the renting of any movable or immovable property. Members of the Committee will be the accounting authority of the entity and will be responsible for all governance related matters according to the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). All the work of the entity is done by staff within the arts and culture component.

When it comes to the composition of the Cultural Commission, the entity will be represented by the chairperson and deputy chairperson or any of its members designated by the Cultural Commission in general or for a specific purpose, and will consist of no fewer than 10 and no more than 14 members, none of whom may be full-time members. The number will be determined by the provincial minister, taking into account the following factors:

     (a) cost-effective management;
     (b) administration and service rendering;
     (c) cultural and language realities; and
     (d) geographical and demographical considerations.

Members of the Cultural Commission must:
be South African citizens
be permanent residents in the Western Cape
be representative as far as possible of the cultural diversity of the people of the Western Cape.
have full command of at least two of the three official languages of the Western Cape.
have knowledge of cultural matters and must actively contribute to the development, promotion and preservation of culture in relation to the citizens of the Western Cape.
   
About the appointment process for members, the provincial minister appoints the Cultural Commission in accordance with the procedure for a period of three years. The Standing Committee must, on the instruction of the provincial minister, invite the general public to nominate persons for appointment as members of the Western Cape Cultural Commission. The Standing Committee must compile a short list of a maximum of 20 candidates and submit it to the provincial minister. The provincial minister appoints the members of the Cultural Commission from the short list of candidates submitted to him or her. Any member of the Cultural Commission may, upon expiry of his or her term of office, be re-appointed. A member of the Cultural Commission may be dismissed by the provincial minister only on the basis of misconduct, inability or incompetence.

If a vacancy occurs in the Cultural Commission before the expiry of a member’s normal term of office, the provincial minister must, after consultation with the Standing Committee, appoint another person for the unexpired portion of his or her predecessor’s term of office. The administrative work attached to the performance of the functions of the Cultural Commission will be performed by officials in the service of the provincial department responsible for cultural affairs, as mutually agreed between the chairperson of the Cultural Commission and the Provincial Minister.

Briefing on the nomination procedure of the Western Cape Language Committee (WCLC)
Ms Moleleki briefed the Standing Committee about the criteria for nominations, responsibilities and obligations of the minister, responsibilities of the WCLC members, and powers and duties of the WCLC.

The WCLC is guided in its mandate to monitor the use of Afrikaans, English, isiXhosa, and development of previously marginalised indigenous languages in the Western Cape Government by some of the following legislative pieces:

Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.
Constitution of the Western Cape, 1997 (Act 1 of 1998).
Western Cape Provincial Languages Act, 1998 (Act 13 of 1998).
Public Finance Management Act, 1999 (Act 1 of 1999).
Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) Handbook for the Appointment of Persons to Boards of State and State-controlled Institutions (approved by National Cabinet in January 2009).

About criteria for nominations, the Standing Committee must invite members of the public to nominate persons to serve on the WCLC. The nominees must:

Be South African citizens of at least 21 years of age and permanent residents of the Western Cape
Have full command of at least two of the three official languages of the Western Cape
Have knowledge and experience of language matters and must actively and proactively contribute to the promotion of the use of the three official languages spoken in the province/previously marginalised indigenous languages/South African Sign Language
Have sound financial management and compliance experience in terms of the Public Finance Management Act PFMA (Act No. 1 of 1999)

The Standing Committee must nominate a maximum of 20 candidates for appointment to the WCLC and submit this list to the provincial minister for consideration, taking into account of the following:

cost-effective management
effective administration and high-quality service delivery
representation of Afrikaans, isiXhosa, English, SA Sign Language and previously marginalised indigenous languages
geographical and demographic representivity

It should also be considered that the official languages of the Western Cape are Afrikaans, English and isiXhosa. According to Census 2011, the proportion of first language speakers of each of these languages in the province was as follows:

Afrikaans: 49.7%
isiXhosa: 24.7%
English: 20.2%

Based on these statistics, the 11-member Language Committee should be constituted to represent the language interests of the province as follows:
 
Afrikaans: four
IsiXhosa three
English:            two
SA Sign Language/the Deaf community: one

The provincial minister appoints a maximum of 11 members to the WCLC for a period of three years. None of the members may be full-time. Members must be representative of the users of three official languages. All members must have proven competency in at least two of the three official languages.
One member must represent the previously marginalised indigenous languages. If vacancies arise during the WCLC’s term of office, the minister may, after consultation with the Standing Committee, fill such vacancies from the remaining names on the Standing Committee’s list of nominations.

The WCLC must appoint a chairperson and deputy chairperson at its first meeting; declare any interest in projects and programmes and recuse themselves when a conflict of interest may arise; reveal any other conflict of interest to the WCLC; and determine its own internal arrangements, e.g., sub-committees. The WCLC must monitor the use of Afrikaans, English and isiXhosa by the Western Cape Government; and
make recommendations to the provincial minister and the provincial parliament on proposed or existing legislation, practice and policy dealing directly or indirectly with language in the Western Cape. The WCLC should further actively promote the principle of multilingualism; promote the development of previously marginalised indigenous languages; advise the provincial minister and the Western Cape Cultural Commission on language matters in the Western Cape; and advise the PanSALB (Pan South African Language Board) on language matters in the Western Cape.

Discussion
Deliberations on the Western Cape Cultural Commission


Mr P Marais (FF+) asked what the Cultural Commission has done about the removal of statues that are important to some cultures, and what has it done to protect Afrikaans, places, and monuments of cultural importance to certain cultural groups.

Ms Moleleki stated that there is a geographical committee within the Department, which focuses on renaming of names, offensive names, and removal and erection of monuments and memorials.

Ms A Bans (ANC) wanted to find out what the Cultural Commission has done in the past three years or its highlights, so that the Committee could know what to do going forward.

Ms Moleleki responded that it is recommended that Members should have an understanding of governance because responsibilities put on the commission are surrounded by governance requirements. For example, in the past she was the accounting authority of the Cultural Commission, overseeing financial and risk aspects and also ensuring effective and efficient management. That responsibility now resides with the Cultural Commission.

Ms L Botha (DA) requested for the Committee to be taken through the handover process from one commission to the next.

Ms Nerine Jeaven, Deputy Director: Arts and Culture, DCAS, informed the Committee the aim of the Cultural Commission is to preserve, promote and develop culture. This is done in various ways through the funding of cultural councils that are used to convey to communities and youth traditions, dance, music, and poetry. In the past, there were 13 programmes. For example, a stage production, Passage, was done to make people understand the concept behind initiation. The commission has further equipped facilities with much needed infrastructure so that organisations and communities could use these facilities as a way of conveying cultural messages. The Department also encouraged interaction amongst cultural councils and members to attend some of these events.

Mr Marais wanted to know what was being done to prevent dominant cultures from destroying minority cultures and what has been done to protect Afrikaans in Stellenbosch and other tertiary campuses.

Ms Moleleki explained that in the promotion and preservation of languages, the role of the commission is to advise the minister of cultural affairs and sport on matters concerning culture and languages. The commission meets four times a year and has got sub-committees that also meet four times a year. The focus is on the preservation of culture, including languages as well. That is executed within the Department and these are reflected in the annual report.

Mr Zukile Jama, Deputy Chairperson, Western Cape Cultural Commission, added that the discussion is very healthy, especially when it comes to the preservation and promotion of indigenous languages in tertiary institutions because it underlines the problem. Multilingualism is expedient. The Western Cape University works closely with the department on these matters. The university started with a colloquial, which was a collaboration between the departments of isiXhosa and Afrikaans. The aim was to keep having a conversation in these two languages. The dominance of English is not necessarily the standard. For the past two years, there has been a colloquy on mother tongue collaboration with isiXhosa, Afrikaans, Swahili, and Khoi San languages. This culminated in making an application to the university to offer short courses in KiSwahili and Khoi San languages so that they could be developed into fully fledged university courses. The use of languages has been identified as an important tool for social cohesion in our communities. The possibility of accommodating Sesotho speakers in the province is being discussed. The UWC is trying to teach isiXhosa in Afrikaans and vice versa to bring more synergies in our communities.

Deliberations on the Western Cape Language Committee
Mr Marais remarked that the Committee should investigate how to prevent Afrikaans from being dominated by other languages because he feels he has been prevented of speaking Afrikaans in the Committee meetings yet 49% of his constituency in the province is Afrikaans speaking people. Members must not be forced to speak English, which is spoken by a minority.

The Chairperson explained that there are translators and interpreters the legislature is using, but those services have to be requested ahead of time. No one has been prevented from expressing himself/herself in his/her own language.

Mr G Brinkhuis (Al Jama-Ah) asked if the Members of the WCLC are employed full-time.

Ms Moleleki said that Members are part-time and attend four meetings a year. The Language Committee is given a chance to meet the minister and head of department to convey recommendations and concerns to both the minister and head of department.

Mr Jama added that the Department has got a forthcoming publication where it maps out the close relationship between Khoisan languages, isiXhosa and Afrikaans.

Mr Xhawulengweni Nyembezi, Chairperson of the Western Cape Language Committee, said that he wanted to draw the attention of the Committee to the annual report of the period passed, where it is indicated people of the Western cape are empowered through languages to enhance human dignity through multilingualism. The approach of the Language Committee is to promote the use of these three languages as a human rights issue and empower people concerned. This is not an elitist or exclusionary effort, but it is aimed at bringing peace in the province. He urged the legislature to note the conduct of organisations that have fallen short of complying in their activities or programmes with the Language Act.

He said that the inclusion of translators and interpreters should happen seamlessly in the legislature and other government departments. Some of these challenges would be indicated in the upcoming annual report. In addition, he indicated that the Language Committee assumed the responsibility of being an accounting authority on its own. That responsibility was shifted away from the Department. The new members who would be joining the committee would be inducted on this responsibility when the current term of the Language Committee expires. Some of the processes (budgeting, annual performance plans, etc.) may be complex to some individuals because of lack of exposure on these areas. He pointed out there are some gaps in the monitoring the implementation of the language policies in the province, especially between PANSALB and Language Committee. Overlooked areas do not serve the people of the Western Cape well. On amendments to the Act, the Language Committee would take a cue from the Standing Committee. He asked for the language committee to be included in the Committee programme for the year, especially on things related to languages so that it could participate meaningfully.

Ms Moleleki thanked the Committee for inviting the Department, and she indicated the current term of the Cultural Commission and Language Committee would end on 30 October 2021.

Resolutions
The Committee resolved to look at the qualifications of the current members of the Cultural Commission and Language Committee. It was further suggested that the Committee should consider each Member to speak a language of his/her choice for the sake of his/her constituency. The Committee resolved to consider the use of interpreters for Members who want to speak languages of their choice.

Consideration and adoption of Committee documents
Meeting minutes

The Committee considered and adopted its minutes of 15 and 24 March 2021

Draft Oversight Report to the Genadendal Mission Museum

The report was adopted with no amendments.

Draft Quarterly Reports of April to June 2020, July to September 2020, October to December 2020, and, January to March 2021

The reports were adopted with no amendments.

The Chairperson thanked the Members for attending the meeting and the Committee support staff for their hard work.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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