The Public Accounts Committee convened in a hybrid setting for a briefing on the 2021/22 Annual Report by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) and its entities, i.e. the Western Cape Language Committee, Western Cape Cultural Commission and Heritage Western Cape.
The inability to support youth development was highlighted as a major concern considering the socio-economic challenges faced by young people in the Western Cape. Involvement in sports activities was suggested as an opportunity for building successful lives. However, inadequate sports facilities in poor communities contributed to the plight of young people. The Department advised that the lack of youth development was globally recognised as a potential risk. To mitigate the risk, R15 million had been allocated for the After School Programme.
Members had questions about the state of readiness for the upcoming 2023 Netball World Cup tournament, especially as it related to security at venues where young people would be interacting in large numbers. The Committee was informed that the Local Organising Committee was scheduled to brief the Committee on the state of readiness in the near future.
The open public meeting was preceded by a closed meeting with the Auditor-General (AG) of South Africa. The Chairperson remarked that the meeting was advertised in all three official languages of the Western Cape Province, i.e. Afrikaans, English and Xhosa, to allow members of the public to ask questions. The meeting would only be dealing with sections C and E of the Annual Report as the other sections had been covered in the earlier session.
DCAS Annual Report Overview
Mr Guy Redman, HOD, DCAS, said the Department performed exceedingly well considering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Department spent 98,8 % of the budget during the year under review. Underspending was mostly due to Compensation of Employees savings as a result of resignations and delayed filling of vacant positions. In addition, the Department experienced challenges with the procurement of IT equipment and library books due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Discussion: Section C
Mr M Xego (EFF) noted that the Department listed the inability to sufficiently support youth development as a key emerging risk for the next financial year. He wanted to know what mitigating plans were in place considering that young people formed the majority of the constituency of the Western Cape. He questioned the position of the Department to not engage in private-sector partnerships despite the mandate to reach out to young people. He wanted to know what the Department was aiming to achieve by not awarding incentives, grants and investment schemes in support of Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE).
Mr D America (DA) congratulated the Department for achieving clean audits for the past ten years. One of the key risks addressed during the year under review was the inability to implement the legal mandate relating to the provision of public library services. The Audit Committee also highlighted the difficulty of the 15% VAT being charged for library services. He wanted to know if funding to municipalities would be reduced. He asked what impact VAT payable would have on transfer payments and if it would result in liquidity problems if VAT payable were excluded from transfer payments.
Ms A Bans (ANC) wanted to understand what was being done to address the socio-economic challenges of young people. She wanted to know why revenue funds were not used to address the inadequate space for archiving government institution records. She asked if the rollover of the annual regional compliance inspections in the West-Coast, Cape Winelands, Overberg and Metro areas to the next financial year, was due to staff shortages.
Mr Redman said although archiving of records is a function of the Department, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) has the responsibility to provide infrastructure. The construction of a facility was scheduled to start in April 2020 but the project had been deferred due to significant budget cuts as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. He was confident that the project would see the light of day. The matter had been elevated as a provincial risk.
Ms Brenda Rutgers, CFO, DCAS remarked that an emerging risk meant that it had the potential to occur. The lack of youth development was globally recognised as a potential risk. R15 million had been allocated for the After School Programme as a measure to mitigate the risk.
Ms Jacqueline Boulle, Chief Director: After School Programme, DCAS, said the emerging risk of youth development was raised with the Presidency. Resolving the matter is based on three pillars, i.e. the Transversal Youth Forum to get a coordinated response, the development of norms and standards to create an impactful shift, and implementing an internal department life cause approach from early childhood development up to the ages between 18 to 25 years.
Ms Rutgers said the Department was partnering with NGOs because it became too complex within supply chain management (SCM) to enter into contracts with companies in the private sector.
Mr Shaun Julie, Director: Strategic and Operational Management Support, DCAS, said municipalities were still providing for a contingent liability of 15% against transfer payments. The Department was waiting for a response to the tax legislation amendment from National Treasury.
Discussion: Section E
Ms Bans wanted to know why the travel and subsistence budget was not used to support the participation of struggling learners in sports programmes. She asked for detail related to the item ‘Payment for financial assets’. She requested an update on the status and financial implications of the Midnight Storm Investments court case. She asked for details about the irregular expenditure due to non-compliance with procurement prescripts.
Mr M Xego (EFF) noted the lack of speed in filling vacant posts. He wanted to know what the serious challenges were to addressing the high unemployment rate. He wanted to know why no amount had been allocated for ‘Agency and support / outsourced services’ in the current financial year. He requested an explanation for the write-off of R30 000 of staff debt. Claims against the Department included an estimated amount of R2,6 million in respect of personal injury. He sought clarity on the summons instituted against the Department of Education and DCAS. He wanted to know why the significant amount of R492 000 had been reported as irregular expenditure.
The Chairperson asked for an explanation of the significant amount of R10 million (1,3%) under expenditure in the AG’s report. He sought clarity on the land claim lawsuit in which the Department was a defendant. He wanted to understand if the neighbourhood support initiative was linked to community safety under neighbourhood watch forums. He requested the entities to provide detailed descriptions in the Performance Information section of the report. He asked if the budget allocated for entities was sufficient to cover the work expected from them in terms of driving heritage and cultural activities. He cited the Language Committee as an example of an entity not being able to ensure that African languages are being used in Parliament. Instead, Members were all engaging with each other in a foreign language. He noted that the Western Cape was the only province that was not providing seats for traditional leaders. He questioned whether entities were able to execute the responsibilities assigned to them.
Mr Redman replied that most of the costs are driven by the work of committees or the Heritage Western Cape (HWC) Council, while the remaining costs are covered by the DCAS. The Department was collaborating with the Language Committee but more funding was needed considering that Sign Language was declared the 12th official language. He explained that once the recognition of leadership positions of the Khoi and San communities is finalised, the administration thereof would fall under local government. The Department of Local Government was driving the process and a report was tabled in Cabinet.
Ms Rutgers explained that in most cases, staff debts are written off when the State Attorney deemed it uneconomical to pursue the debt. The amounts in respect of the 12 cases, were within the range of between R186 to R3 900. The irregular expenditure of R492 000 related to two cases of R480 000 and R11 800. Both cases had been subjected to processes. The review process would be signed off by the accounting officer and then submitted to Provincial Treasury for condonement. The bulk of the under expenditure related to COE due to the delay in filling vacancies. The remaining balance was due to a supply chain matter. IT equipment and library books were purchased which the service provider could not deliver on time. The payment had since been made.
Dr Lyndon Bouah, Chief Director: Sport and Recreation, DCAS, advised that R12 million was made available to more than 140 federations. R10 000 is allocated for travel and subsistence expenses subject to the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) approval. The R10 million allocated for school sports is specifically for championships within the framework of the 16 sport codes. He explained that the summons instituted against the Department of Education and DCAS related to a learner who suffered injuries during a playground incident. It is regarded as a school matter and not the responsibility of the Department. However, it was raised as a contingent liability until the matter is resolved.
Mr Michael Janse van Rensburg, CEO, Heritage Western Cape, said the Midnight Storm Investments case was pending before the court. The company lodged an appeal against the finding in favour of the HWC but subsequently opted to develop a different part of the site. If the notice of intent to develop and the assessment is accepted, the case would be closed and the contingent liability would be written off.
Mr Julie explained that neighbourhood support referred to support for youth development activities at schools in various neighbourhoods.
Mr Xego said the Western Cape was known for socio-economic challenges including drug abuse, crime and gangsterism. He wanted to know if entities were getting sufficient funding to address these challenges and what was being done to secure additional funding.
Mr Redman replied that the funding was insufficient if measured against security versus prevention of emergencies at hospitals. More money was needed to prevent youth-related problems. However, he wanted to be respectful of government processes and not use this platform to request more money.
Ms Anroux Marais, Minister for Cultural Affairs and Sport, thanked everyone for engaging in the process.
The Chairperson thanked the Minister, and officials of the Department. He noted that members of the public were not present on the platform to ask questions. He thanked the AG and Audit Committee for being dependable partners in the accountability ecosystem and ensuring that the Department delivers on its mandate.
Resolutions and actions
The Chairperson asked for any suggestions or a resolution on the issue of youth development. He considered sports as an area that could accommodate youth development. People who get involved in sport activities at the school level become successful individuals. The problem in the majority of poor communities is that sports facilities are not adequately provided for.
Mr America requested that the Committee be provided with a list of sports federations and non-profit institutions, including the appropriations made to each of the federations and institutions.
The Chairperson agreed that it would be good to interrogate the report from the Department containing detail of appropriations to various federations and institutions.
Mr Xego asked for an update on the readiness for the upcoming 2023 Netball World Cup tournament. He did not want to create fear about crime and proposed collaboration of all policing services during the event.
Mr Bosman drew attention to the resolution by Standing Committee on Cultural Affairs and Sport to invite the Local Organising Committee, which is the implementing agency, for a briefing on the state of readiness for the 2023 Netball World Cup tournament. The Department would also brief the Committee on their state of readiness around the legacy work that it was busy with to ensure the provision of netball facilities in each district municipality.
The meeting was adjourned.
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