A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
ARTS AND CULTURE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE Mr S Tsenoli (ANC)
5 November 2004
DEPARTMENT ANNUAL REPORT: BRIEFING
Documents handed out:
Department of Arts and Culture Annual Report 2003/04 (document awaited)
ARTS AND CULTURE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
Mr S Tsenoli (ANC)
The Department presented their Annual Report for 2003/04, and answered Members' questions around the failure of certain institutions to submit reports timeously. Issues around poor financial management and the allocation of the budget were also discussed. Concerns were further raised over the lack of specialised skills in archive and museum management, and the promotion of multi-lingualism. The Department Chief Financial Officer (CFO) spoke about mechanisms put in place to improve control of funds to institutions and the Deputy Director-General spoke about various initiatives on the international front, regarding strengthening of skills in the Department and the preservation of national heritage. The Director-General expressed his frustrations on several occasions regarding lack of funds urgently required to implement his Department's mandate.
Department briefing on financial statements
The Director-General of the Department, Professor I Mosala, reported on the programme performance indices until the end of March 2004. Administration spending had been around R41 million; the unit for Arts, Culture, Language and Society had spent R235 million with a R16 million surplus, the Cultural Development and International Relations unit had spent approximately R121 million, while the Heritage National Archives and National Library Services required the bulk of the budget with R532 million, and with R4 million remaining unspent. Professor Mosala said that the total surplus of R23 million would still be called upon by cultural institutions this financial year for capital works. Expenditure on the ten-year Celebration of Democracy had been slower than expected, and would continue in 2005. Freedom Park was also not yet complete, and would require further funds. Administration had accounted for 5% of the budget, 'Arts Culture, Language and Society' for 25%, 'Cultural Development and International Relations' for 13% and 'Heritage, Archives and National Archives' for 57%.
The Department was divided into four branches. Actual expenditure on administration in the Director-General's office constituted only 3% of the programme's budget, while 53% was spent on IT. 'Programme Two' was responsible for the promotion of Arts, Culture, Language and Society of which 18% of the budget went to the National Arts Council (NAC), and 9% went to the National Language Services. Most of the budget in this programme went towards transfers to arts and culture institutions.
Cultural Development and International Relations was encompassed by 'Programme Three', of which 83 % went towards International Relations and the remaining 17 % went to the National Film and Video Foundation. Heritage institutions consumed 52% by transfer payments, the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SARA) 3%, Promotion of Heritage 4%, and National Archives 12%.
Professor Mosala said that the Departments had received an unqualified audit report. This did not mean that there was not room for improvement in control and accounting processes The Department was in the process of appointing a service provider to assist with internal audits and to teach skills to existing staff. The Department was responsible for ensuring that all 28 cultural and arts institutions submitted their reports to the Auditor-General. The Director-General was therefore held accountable for the financial management of all these institutions. Consequently, the internal auditing capacity was being outsourced to strengthen this function. Seven out of the 28 public entities had not submitted their quarterly reports, which had been due 30 days after 31 March 2004. Professor Mosala noted that at issue was the interpretation of Section 26 of the Treasury Regulations, which stated that these quarterly reports had to include the report for the fourth quarter. In most instances, these reports had not yet arrived in time for the Auditor-General's audit, despite the fact that these entities still had 30 days in which to submit these reports.
Despite more than 80% of Department funds being transferred to institutions, a certain amount was retained for special interventions to drive policy. This took the form of special grants and aid. The new CFO had identified weakness in this system and had put in place measures to control expenditure by these project or NGO's. Scheduled and unscheduled visits had also been instituted to these project to monitor progress and appropriate use of resources. A dedicated official had been appointed to review these projects regularly before further funding was approved.
Operational challenges related to the relative 'newness' of the Department. Human resource requirements and capacity were still being determined, and the Department was experiencing difficulty in gaining approval from Treasury for these appointments. Professor Mosala said that especially the Heritage, National Archives and National Libraries was facing the predicament of employing highly specialised and experienced ageing white men, who were on the brink of retirement, and had to find replacements for these positions. Insufficient transfer of skills was taking place in this regard. Arts and Culture administrators were also in short supply, as well as all the staff needed to revitalise culture on a national scale. The President had prioritised arts and culture and the building of a national identity and consciousness based on non-racialism and non-sexism.
Broad sector challenges in the Cultural Development and International Relations Programme were the implementation of the many agreements entered into with other countries, such as India, Brazil, Italy and the UK. It was vital that with each agreement's implementation followed almost immediately. Without funding and resources to capacitate the International Relations Unit, these agreements could become meaningless. Treasury had not been forthcoming in this regard, and did not seem to have a sufficient grasp of what was required to leverage these agreements. Work was also taking place in Africa and in countries of the South. South Africa was a prominent participant and major decision-maker in United Nations Science and Culture Organisation (UNESCO). The Department often found itself having to choose between attending equally important events, as a result of a shortage of staff. He suggested Committee Members might possibly fill this gap.
The Department had been invited to host the World Heritage Meeting in July 2005. This was a highly prestigious event, involving the appeal to the Heritage Committee to pronounce certain sites in the country as World Heritage sites, and thus securing international support for the preservation of these sites. Treasury had not yet approved any funding for this event, despite Cabinet approval for hosting the event in South Africa. The Minister would be taking this further. Professor Mosala said the funding provided by the Department projects had contributed billions to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and towards poverty alleviation and job creation.
The Heritage Programme was involved with legacy projects such as the Chief Luthuli Project and the Freedom Park Project. The latter had seen the completion of phase one, and the second phase was progressing well. New legacy projects were still very much on the Department's agenda, despite major challenges.
The maintenance of archives and libraries required far more funds. The cost of acquiring new materials and preserving old materials was huge. These were grave concerns facing the country as a whole. Political issues around archives and Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) materials, was another concern.
Professor Mosala did not personally agree with the way arts was funded on an expenditure model. Funding for projects currently took place through the Arts Council or directly. This funding was not sustainable as the same projects requested funding year after year, instead of 'building a business' to become self-sufficient.
The Department had commissioned a financing study, which would hopefully result in a model based more on investment funding, where funds would be geared towards setting up a profitable business. Universities had used all funds given to them every year, but such funds were not sufficient to cover the ever-increasing expenditures of such institutions. A new model was needed.
Multilingualism was an important mandate of the Department, but was difficult to implement,as it involved other government departments, institutions like the SABC, as well as educational institutions. It cut across all society and yet the budget was very small. The Multilingualism Bill had been sent back as Cabinet foresaw implications far wider than had been initially realised. The Department had hoped that the Bill would steer and drive the multilingualism mandate. The Departments of Justice and Arts and Culture had been requested to explore non-legal instruments to implement multilingualism.
The Department was involved in the Social and Economic Cluster. The incentives framework for the film industry concerned both the Departments of Trade and Industry, and Arts and Culture, from economic and cultural perspectives respectively. The printing and music industries had important issues around ownership and the impact of content on national identity. The Department had also participated in the social cluster, which had been mandated to create social cohesion and justice. This involved campaigns for creating a national identity. The Department had launched a campaign at schools promoting national symbols and a prison campaign would be launched as well. The Department would also be represented in the coming campaign of non-violence against women and children. Professor Mosala said that recently the President had asked how far South Africa had progressed in achieving social cohesion.
Mr C Gololo (ANC) asked what would be done to force public entities to submit reports on time. He asked what steps were being taken to replace the ageing white male museum specialists. He suggested the Department invite Members of this Committee to international meetings if it were running short of representatives. Mr Tsenoli suggested that a 'flag campaign' be launched to promote awareness of the meaning behind the flag.
Professor Mosala said that the Department had held a seminar with all the institutions once the Auditor-General had raised the non-compliance. The Auditor-General had made it clear that according to PFMA regulations, the Department could not continue funding any institution which did not comply with reporting standards. The Department had held meetings with the various CEOs and CFOs of these institutions and identified weaknesses in capacity. They had offered to assist in appointing the right people to fill these gaps. Similarly, the Department had also strengthened its own internal auditing capacity in order to facilitate an early warning system.
Mr V Julius (Deputy Director-General) said that in its agreements with other countries, the Department had placed emphasis on heritage practitioners and much exchange had taken place between countries to facilitate a transfer of skills. A recent agreement with Italy, which was still to be ratified, focussed on receiving assistance from Italy in the fields of archiving, museum management and paper preservation. Similarly, an agreement with Britain also included training opportunities. France, Flanders and Japan were also assisting. Domestically, learnerships would also be addressing the need for these special skills. International interaction was diverse and comprehensive ,with many endeavours to gain aid for the preservation and growth of archives.
Professor Mosala said that the flag was in the current symbols campaign, and the Department of Education was also involved in the campaign.
Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) had looked at the submitted reports from the 26 institutions and was concerned with the poor standard, as reflected by the rating system. The vast majority of reports had failed to fulfil acceptable or even minimum standards. She asked where would the funding for the World Heritage Conference would come from, if not from Treasury. She asked whether the outstanding reports from Robben Island and the National Arts Council (NAC) had been received.
Ms T Letsebe (CFO) said that the Robben Island report was still outstanding, since the financial director had resigned just as the report to the Auditor-General was due. The NAC was in the process of finalising their report.
Professor Mosala said that in principal, the Department would be forced to stop funding all institutions that did not comply with these regulations, but that political considerations often overrode these intentions. Certain institutions simply could not be cut off from funding, such as educational institutions. The rule should not be considered punitive measure, but simply a measure for self-protection, since the Department was accountable for funding all these institutions and was therefore responsible for management.
Mr Tsenoli asked how weaknesses in the system of special grants and aids had been eradicated. Professor Mosala that a system of 'weighting' had been put in place and a means of monitoring progress.
Ms Letsebe said that previously money had been transferred in its entirety once approval for a contract had been granted. Now monies were transferred in instalments, subject to constant review and the submission of invoices.
Mr Tsenoli asked about the early warning system, which should have alerted the Department that certain reports were not going to be submitted in time.
Professor Mosala said that non-compliance was often due to lack of capacity and that despite efforts by the Department to assist, it could not carry full responsibility as the institutions were independently managed.
Mr J Kwadi (Department) said that until recently, the Department had not been proactive enough. Two officials with legal and financial expertise had been appointed to assess the needs of institutions to comply with standards. A pilot research project had been launched with the Market and State Theatres to develop a model for capacity requirements. The early warning system, which had recently been implemented, had links with all the institutions' records and was based in the Department, making it possible to access and assess each institution's financial reports at any time.
Professor Mosala said that the current policy framework presupposed that the actual work was done by professionals and artists, while the Department acted as the guardian of national policy. This meant that the Department was not in a position to intervene to any great degree,
Mr R Sonto (ANC) asked whether the Departments was satisfied with the way funds were being used and whether the institutions were satisfied with the way the Departments allocated funds. He asked why so much funding had been allocated to Heritage, while disadvantaging Arts, Culture, Language and Society. He asked whether any institutions were committed to assisting with funding and arranging the Heritage Conference.
Mr M Matlala (ANC) asked who would be replacing the ageing white male specialists of museums.
Mr B Zulu (ANC) said that rural areas were in dire need of libraries. He said that people should be named when they appear in photographs used by the Department in their reports. He asked whether the Department made bursaries available to students in the fields they were seeking to promote. Recently the Minister had said that he could not find novels in indigenous languages. Were any steps being taken to encourage publishers to publish books in other languages? He asked whether the TRC material was accessible. Mr Zulu commented that the standard of interpreting in Parliament was not up to standard, and asked what the Department was doing with regard to the training of interpreters. Ms N Mbombo (ANC) concurred with the last comment.
Mr Tsenoli asked why events did not also take place in parts of the country besides Soweto and Cape Town.
Ms Kohler-Barnard said that in the Heritage sector, it seemed that funds allocated for salaries were inordinately high. She doubted whether artists could be expected to become self-sufficient and asked from where money could be requested. She asked about the funding for the World Conference.
Mr Tsenoli asked what happened when certain project areas overlapped with the Department of Science and Technology, and how did the Department related to the Department of Trade and Industry.
Dr N Mgijima (Department) said the Department was involved with training interpreters and it had identified various institutions that offered training courses in interpreting. The Department was in the process of advertising posts and providing financial assistance to those wishing to study interpreting. The National Language Forum had been set up, representing all provinces, government departments and provincial legislatures. It had approximately 60 members, who were essential in the dissemination of information. She said the bursary scheme of the Department was limited.
Mr Tsenoli said that there should be strategic centres for language development, such as the Centre for the Book and the SABC, in promoting language.
Dr Mgijima said a Language Research and Development Centre was being started to promote writing and literature, and that satellite centres would be set up in rural areas. The SABC would also be involved in setting up local broadcasting centres. Oral tradition and history would also be included in these endeavours.
Mr Julius said that currently a study of the print industry indicated that it contributed billions to the GDP, and that issues around representation were being considered.
Mr Tsenoli asked what was being done to promote the 'spoken word'. Mr Julius said that an oral history project was one of their projects, in conjunction with Flanders.
Professor Mosala said that there were many instances of overlaps between this and other departments For instance, Groot Constantia was a heritage site and had been owned by the Department for many years. When the question of funding for the conference came up, the cost had not yet been determined. UNESCO would also be contributing to the conference. Other institutions would have to help in this regard.
Professor Mosala agreed that salaries did make up a large part of the budget of the Heritage unit, but that this was simply due to its relatively small allocation. The budget should be increased, rather than salaries decreased. This sector was seriously under-funded. He had asked for a base-line increase, but this had been declined.
He said that "the whole of South Africa was part of his parish" and that places like Soweto and Cape Town served as good launching pads for campaigns, which were followed through across the entire country.
A Professor of Literature was currently involved in a project to promote the publication of more books in the vernacular. Bursaries were mostly the domain of the Department of Education, but resources were limited. He took the point regarding the proper labelling of photographs in the report. The Department had entered into an agreement with the UK, which included skills development. He said UCT and UWC offered various heritage courses.
Ms Letsebe said that only the Robben Island report was still outstanding. Various heritage institutions were involved in funding the conference, such as the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) and the Department of Environmental Affairs was also involved. The budget allocation for Heritage was by far the largest because it had the greatest density and infrastructure. It was not possible to decrease this budget further.
Mr Sonto asked whether the lack of funding for Arts, Culture, Language and Society was impeding the process of transformation in the country. Professor Mosala said that he had reservations about the level of return on investment from the various institutions. There was good work being done, but much more needed to be done. Boards needed to practice good governance.
Mr Tsenoli commented that cost recovery seemed to be problematic. Professor Mosala said that statutory bodies like the SAHRA and the NAC had been created by an Act of Parliament and that they were legal institutions. This made it awkward to dictate to them since they had their own boards. It was the Department's duty to ensure that policy was carried out, although this was open to the interpretation of the professionals. It was essential that good communication be maintained at all times between the community and the Department.
The meeting was adjourned.
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