The Standing Committee on Community Safety, Cultural Affairs and Sport (WCPP) deliberated on the 2020/21 Annual Reports of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport and its entities; Heritage Western Cape; Western Cape Language Committee and the Western Cape Cultural Commission.
In her opening statement, the Minister for Cultural Affairs and Sport broke down the financial aspects of the Department. The Department stated off with a national budget of R886 million which was then reduced to R745 million. From an adjusted budget of R745 million, the Department spent R735 million which translated to 98.6% of its budget. The Department also achieved its 9th consecutive unqualified clean audit.
Committee Members asked the Western Cape Language Committee if the new working environment created by Covid-19 led to any significant cost saving measures; if the Department could explain how the targets mentioned in sub-programme 2.5 of the Annual Report were exceeded, and if the pandemic played any role in this happening. Members said according to the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Act, the new law would require the Department to adopt a more systematic approach when addressing the languages of the Khoi and San, which were currently not declared as official South African languages, and asked if the Department could provide any clarity on how the process was unfolding, including the engagements which were taking place.
The Western Cape Cultural Commission said there were challenges because of the Covid-19 pandemic, however only one target was not met for the year under review. This target related to ‘Visitors to the Facilities’. A number of the Commission’s facilities were used as quarantine and isolation sites. Some were still being used and a few were handed over to the Department a couple of weeks ago. The Commission continued to focus on job creation. There are 52 interns employed across the Commission’s facilities, through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
Members also commented about under-utilisation of cultural and arts facilities, asking if there were any marketing strategies to address this challenge; and asked if there were any fees received for rental or maintenance of facilities used as isolation and quarantine sites.
A Committee Member asked the Heritage Council, Western Cape to step forward and protect the heritage of all cultural ethnic groups in the Western Cape, as dominant cultural groups should not destroy the cultures of minorities.
A Committee Member asked the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport how the national closure of schools impacted the After-Schools Programme; asked about the appointment and election of adjudicators, and asked if there was any funding allocated to this.
A Committee Member asked for a detailed breakdown of the funding the Western Cape Provincial Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport approved for the Museums Covid-19 Relief Fund, including which museums received funding, how much the museums received, and how many of these museums were non-affiliated museums.
The Chairperson began the meeting by tabling the agenda, introductions, and apologies. He said the Committee would deal with parts A and B, while part C and E would be dealt with by the Public Accounts Committee.
Western Cape Cultural Affairs and Sport Minister, Ms Anroux Marais, said the year under review was a difficult one; needless to say the effects of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown regulations had significant social and economic consequences which devastated the arts, culture, and sport sectors. The Department achieved 66 out of 89 programme performance indicators, and 16 out of 30 conditional ground indicators through the combined effort of its service delivery partners.
Financially there were major budget cuts, starting off with a national budget of R886 million which was then reduced to R745 million. From an adjusted budget of R745 million, the Department spent R735 million which translated to 98.6 percent of its budget. The Department also achieved its ninth consecutive unqualified clean audit. The Minister said she was extremely proud of every official within the Department for the combined efforts made in trying to navigate through the difficult environment resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Chairperson officially tabled Part A of the Annual Report.
Western Cape Language Committee
Mr G Bosman (DA) wanted to know if the new working environment which was caused by Covid-19 led to any significant cost saving measures.
Ms Brenda Rutgers, Chief Financial Officer, Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS), said cost saving reductions mainly related to travel and catering expenses. Those reductions were a result of physical meetings being switched to virtual online platforms.
Ms W Philander (DA) referred to sub-programme 2.5, and said ‘Language Support Services’ had a target of 380, but it achieved 492; ‘Projects Planned’ had a target of three, yet achieved six. She wanted to know if the Department could explain why or how those targets were exceeded, and if the pandemic played any role in this.
According to the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Act, the new law would require the Department to adopt a more systematic approach when addressing the languages of the Khoi and San, which were currently not declared as official South African languages. Ms Philander asked if the Department could provide any clarity on how the process was unfolding, including the engagements which were taking place.
Mr P Marais (FF+) said the Committee and the Department must promote Afrikaans as an indigenous language. Indigenous languages ought to receive the same recognition as English, Xhosa, or Zulu. It went against the principles, values, and rights enshrined in the Constitution of South Africa to promote other languages as superior to Afrikaans, where the languages ought to be given the same recognition. It was unfair to allow a ‘black’ person to refuse to learn in Afrikaans, yet an Afrikaans person had to learn Xhosa in school. He said this was not equality.
He asked what the Department and Committee would do in cases where language policies were not equal, instead of remaining silent and letting AfriForum fight those cases.
Ms Jane Moleleki, Director: Arts, Culture and Language Services, DSAC, said when the Department set its targets, it was unaware of how it would achieve those targets because of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, the Department was able to implement six projects. The same applied for the category of ‘Projects Planned’.
The Department was busy focusing on the promotion and development of indigenous languages and worked very hard with the University of the Western Cape, who introduced a certification training programme. All three languages, including Afrikaans are given equal status. Translations are being done in all three official languages to allow citizens access to information in the citizen’s mother tongue.
Ms A Bans (ANC) wanted to know what progress was made in recognising Khoi and San as official languages in the Western Cape.
Ms Moleleki said the Committee and the Department developed terminology for the Khoi and San languages which are available in print and audio. The Department is also working in conjunction with and alongside universities on programmes. The Department not only supports such programmes financially but also with strategic guidance and directions.
The Western Cape Cultural Commission
Ms Chuma Fani, Chairperson: Western Cape Cultural Commission (WCCC), said there were challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, only one target was not made for the year under review. This was the ‘Visitors to the Commission’s Facilities’ target. A number of the Commission’s facilities were used as quarantine and isolation sites. Some were still being used. A few were handed over to the Department a couple of weeks ago. The Commission continued to focus on job creation. There were 52 interns employed across the Commission’s, facilities through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
Ms Bans said it seemed there was under-utilisation of cultural and arts facilities. She wanted to know if there were any marketing strategies to address this challenge. She also asked if the Commission received any fees for the rental or maintenance of facilities being used as isolation and quarantine sites. She wanted to know what the Commission’s advice was to the MEC regarding the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Act, and what work was done to fulfil this objective.
Ms Moleleki said the facilities were rented at an affordable rate. Where the facilities were deemed unaffordable to some, the Minister waived fees to accommodate persons who could not afford it. There has not been a single case where an application was declined to use the facility as a result of unaffordability. There were five facilities identified as isolation and quarantine sites.
Ms Rutgers said the Department was not able to collect any revenue for utilisation, however, the Department was able to claim back for the utility. The Department of Transport and Public Works only paid the Department the costs related to utilities. The Department, during its adjusted estimates process, was able to transfer R1 088 000 to the cultural facilities to ensure its sustainability beyond Covid-19.
Heritage Council Western Cape
Mr Mandla Mdlulu, Chairperson: Heritage Western Cape, said the Council seemed to be immune from some of the problems it thought it would have faced. Currently, everything seemed to be going well.
Mr Marais asked the Heritage Council to step forward and protect the heritage of all cultural ethnic groups in the Western Cape. He said cultural groups should not destroy the cultures of minorities. He quoted Nelson Mandela and said, ‘Beware of the tyranny of the majority.’
Ms Bans wanted to know the details of the cases before the courts and tribunals. She asked what the Heritage Council’s view was on heritage sites which are taken over by developers, and also asked about the number of applications received and approved by the Council for the development of such sites. She asked why local authorities were not keen to take on the function of heritage sites, and how the Council would ensure independence of the Heritage Council to mitigate the risk of political influences in municipalities.
Mr Mdlulu said the Council would be reluctant to support the destruction of heritage and cultural centres for development purposes. Heritage sites are the backbones of the people of the Western Cape and South Africa.
There was a case involving the area alongside Observatory, but the matter was not decided yet.
Ms Colette Scheermeyer, Deputy Director, Heritage Western Cape, agreed with Mr Marais regarding the importance of diversity, inclusivity, and respect for all cultures. The Council understood the importance of the human journey and not only the tangibles. While there was a responsibility on Heritage Western Cape, there was also a responsibility on citizens and communities to reach out and voice opinions. According to Section 27 of the Act, communities and citizens are entitled to put forward an application to Heritage Western Cape. The Council would then assess the significance of the resource and due process would be followed.
Ms Bans said the budget of Heritage Western Cape was reduced to R500 000. She wanted to know the implications of the budget reduction; asked about the risk of heritage site decisions; and which developments were exempted.
Mr Michael Janse van Rensburg, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Heritage Western Cape, said the amount of R500 000 merely accounted for the amount received by the Department. It did not equate to the full budget of the Council. The entity was still able to generate revenue through the collection of fees and permit applications.
The amount of applications processed remained just over 2000, which financially amounted to approximately R2 million for the year. Exemptions would apply to areas which were deemed to have little to no heritage significance. This would be declared after a thorough investigation was conducted by Heritage Western Cape, and this would allow development in those exempt areas to proceed unhindered.
Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport
Ms Philander wanted to know how the national closure of schools impacted the After-Schools Programme.
Mr Guy Redman, Head of Department, DCAS, said with the schools closed, the Department moved towards alternative methods of service delivery, focusing on reading material.
Ms Jacqueline Boulle, Chief Director: After School Programme, DSAC, said the Department ran programmes in 412 schools in the Western Cape. There were collaborations with a number of organisations, to support learners. There were also collaborations with the Department of Social Development and its youth portfolios on a strategic level.
The Chairperson officially tabled Part B of the Annual Report.
Ms Bans asked about the Minister’s Independent Tribunal, and wanted to know details and processes surrounding rulings, appeals, and member composition.
She asked if the Department did an assessment to determine the magnitude of the impact of Covid-19 on the industry, and also asked for recommendations.
She wanted to know the number of job losses in the industry, which resulted from the pandemic.
The Chairperson asked about the appointment and election of adjudicators, and asked if there was any funding for this.
Mr Redman said the assessment was done by the South African Cultural Observatory, which covered the whole country, including the Western Cape. Further meetings were held for research, focusing primarily on the impact within the Western Cape.
Ms Scheermeyer asked if the details of the members of the tribunals could be provided in writing, as she was not privy to the information. Tribunals were treated as separate processes, independent from Heritage Western Cape.
Ms Moleleki said from the onset of level five gatherings were prohibited. This directly impacted the industry. Many jobs were lost as a result of people not being able to perform and make a living. It was not only in the performing arts, but right through the value chain, from filming to art galleries. The Department had a relief fund to the full value of R3.6 million, and an amount of R1.3 million was set aside for museums, which fall within the value chain of arts and culture. A further amount to the value of R379 000 was made available for what is called the ‘gig economy’. This was allocated to artists who could no longer perform at restaurants and festivals.
On the appointment of adjudicators, she said the art sector was and remained a contested area. The principles of equity, fairness, and appropriate fund management were the key factors behind the establishment of the adjudicators. The Department therefore appointed independent adjudicators to avoid bias. These have not necessarily applied for funding. The Department can also use members of the Western Cape Cultural Commission as adjudicators.
Ms Bans referred to the funds approved by the Minister for the Museums Covid-19 Relief Fund, and asked for a detailed breakdown of the funding, and also which museums received funding, how much the museums received, and how many of these museums were non-affiliated museums.
She asked if there was a reason why relief for museums would continue post Covid-19, whereas relief for artists and athletes stopped. Referring to page 36, she asked about the number of rural towns without access to libraries, and requested the geographical spread of the 228 libraries. She also asked about facilities to help disabled people, and wanted to know what the total funding from Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) was annually for the province, from 2014-2021, specifically for municipal infrastructure. She also asked how the funding was allocated.
Mr Redman said three non-affiliated museums were funded, including the Darling Museum, which received R78 000, the District Six Museum, which received R334 000, and the South African Perfume Museum, which received R33 000. The Covid-19 Relief Fund was a once off payment, and the same applied to the artists. Affiliated museums however, continued to receive support. The matter of land was an ongoing issue. Mr Redman said there was great progress with the City of Cape Town (CoCT).
Ms Cecilia Sani, Director: Library Service, DSAC, said there were 228 connected libraries, and a further 104 libraries which were part of the City of Cape Town. There were 41 libraries which were not connected to the internet yet. Most of these were located in small farming communities. He said he would furnish list of the 41 libraries not yet connected, to the Committee in writing.
The libraries were especially designed and built to be accessible for disabled people. All libraries were accessible to the blind, but there were only 27 public libraries which provided reading materials in the form of Braille and audiobooks.
Dr Lyndon Bouah, Chief Director: Sport and Recreation, DSAC, said COGTA funding only began in 2016. To date, COGTA made R109 million available to municipalities in the Western Cape.
Ms Philander asked if the Department engaged with municipalities to make sports facilities available for community development programmes, at no fee. She said it seemed it fell within the mandate of local government, and as the custodians of sport and well-being in the Province, it was the Department’s duty to better serve communities based on the community’s needs.
Ms Bans wanted to know if there were plans and strategies in place to create more libraries with the capacity to accommodate the visually impaired with actual reading material and audiobooks.
Ms Sani said the Department was working with the South African Library on this. Currently, the Department could only manage five libraries a year, as training and installing equipment took time. Each year, five additional libraries would be added, reaching 33 by the end of the current year.
Dr Bouah said in the Department’s last engagement with the City of Cape Town, the Department was told the Municipality took a decision that where sports clubs were unable to pay fees for use of a particular facility, the club could apply for a waiver of the applicable fees. The waiver was available across all municipalities. The Department has also been engaging with sport federations and municipalities to gain access to its stadiums and facilities. People would not be making use of these facilities if it were not for sports, and this would ultimately hinder the promotion of social cohesion and social inclusion.
The Chairperson officially tabled Part D of the Annual Report.
Mr Marais asked if anyone made enquiries into how women were being deprived of rights under the banner of culture, and asked what could be done about this.
Mr Redman said there may be challenges in the area of representation of women. The Department’s point of departure was that women are central to all cultures, even cultures where there was not representation of women. This had very little to do with the actual culture in most cases, but rather with the abuse of the culture. Cultural organisations within the country, including the National House of Traditional Leaders were clear on its stance regarding the protection of women. The Department was also working on getting more women involved in sporting activities and activities in general. This was a legitimate issue and the Department tried its utmost to make sure women are fully represented, anything less would mean losing an entire central element of the community.
The Chairperson said he agreed with Mr Marais and it was encouraging to see females bringing home medals in the Olympics and Paralympics, for example.
Ms Bans referred to page 172 and asked how employee wellness was being guaranteed during the Covid-19 period; if there were any employees who contracted the virus while in the line of duty; and if so, what had been done about it. She also referred to the ‘Employment and Vacancies Programme’ on page 175, and asked for an explanation behind those vacancies.
Mr Marais said the Khoi-San were considered the original inhabitants of Africa. According to the equity law, the term ‘Black’ encompassed Black, Indian, and Asian, however, ‘Coloureds’ were excluded from the definition. He objected to this. It seemed to mean ‘Coloureds’ were not Black or African. It was discouraging to see how ‘Coloureds’ were labelled as ‘not South Africans’ or Africans. The Department ought to throw away the term ‘Coloured’ and label people as South Africans and Africans. The definition of Black needed to be more inclusive to reflect the society of South Africa and not prejudice people by labelling them as ‘Coloured’.
Mr Redman said the Department of the Premier entered into a sales level agreement with Metropolitan Health, an external service provider, to render employee health and wellness services to all Western Cape government department employees. Services and interventions were offered to employees to ensure staff felt and received the necessary support from management, to navigate through the difficult period of the pandemic.
Mr Shaun Julie, Director: Strategic and Operational Management Support, DSAC, said 50 staff members from the Department had tested positive, of which one unfortunately passed away as a result of it. None of those incidences occurred in the workplace. Support was and would continue to be offered to all members who found themselves contracting the virus. All protocols would be followed diligently.
The Chairperson thanked the Committee and the delegation, and said any further questions could be posed to the respective entities in writing.
The meeting was adjourned.
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