United Nations Development Programme Report on Global Human Development: 2004 &Department’s overview: 2005

Arts and Culture

01 February 2005
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

01 February 2005


Mr S Tsenoli (ANC)

Documents handed out:

UNDP PowerPoint presentation: Report on Global Human Development: 2004
Departmental presentation: Department’s overview: 2005
Human Development Report 2004 (offsite link)

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) resident coordinator gave a presentation on the UNDP Report on Global Human Development: 2004. The Report focused on cultural diversity and indigenous minority groups, as this had raised a global debate. Some members felt that cultural diversity had been used as a tool in South Africa’s past to promote Apartheid.

The Director-General of the Department of Arts and Culture gave a departmental overview, highlighting its plans to develop arts and culture. Amogst other concerns, the question of dysfunctional Community Art Centres and the lack of libraries in rural areas was raised.

UNDP presentation

Ms Scholastica Kimaryo, UNDP resident coordinator, said her role was to co-ordinate the UN system in South Africa. The UNDP report was done by the UNDP and the recommendations would be presented to other United Nations countries in Africa.

The Report asserts that accommodating people’s growing demands for their inclusion in society, for respect of their ethnicity, religion, and language, takes more than democracy and equitable growth. Also needed are multicultural policies that recognize differences, champion diversity and promote cultural freedoms, so that all people can choose to speak their language, practice their religion, and participate in shaping their culture—so that all people can choose to be who they are.


The Report outlined the global threats and challenges to cultural diversity and asserts that believes that cultural liberty is a vital part of sustainable human development. The Report identifies myths regarding cultural diversity and the policies necessary to ensure political participation, religious freedom, equitable treatment of languages and access to socio-economic opportunities. The Report can be seen as providing a roadmap for building multicultural democracies.

She stated that the issue of Human Development had not been taken into consideration for many years. The UN system made an effort to advocate for Human Development which had to include among other things economic development. Human development had to do with issues of levels of education, health, nutrition and longevity. The debate should look at how countries achieve human development.

There was also a concern about HIV/Aids and a need to increase partnerships between governments, civic society and the private sector.

The Report included the background of concerns about ethnic violence and other issues of ethnic cleansing in Eastern Europe and Rwanda. Another concern was the issue of terrorism and the fact that it was linked to a certain religious group. The UN felt there was a need to revisit issues of cultural diversity in the context of today’s world.

It also identified other global challenges such as racism, sexism, xenophobia, and religious intolerance. It recognised that cultural diversity was an inescapable feature of the landscape of politics in the 21st century. Some European countries had been discussing issues of migration and emigration.

The Report had made an assumption that cultural diversity was a vital part of sustainable human development. The UN felt South Africa had taken the issue at the right level of discussion. It would have been difficult to implement policies had the discussion been taken outside parliament or treated as an academic issue.

Department of Arts and Culture presentation

The Director General, Mr Itumeleng Mosala, gave an overview of the work of the Department. The Department had three branches: Arts and Culture and Language in Society, Cultural Development and International Relations, National Archives and National Library Services.

Under Cultural Development, the Department would implement recommendations towards policy and strategy development. International plans included a regional conference on cultural diversity to be held this year. Another conference would be held on the role of Culture in the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD). A traditional and indigenous Music and Dance Indaba would be organised jointly with Botswana, Mozambique, Swaziland and Namibia.

Investments in culture included setting up stakeholder review committees. A world Heritage Committee meeting will be hosted for the first time in South Africa and a World Heritage Fund would be launched.

South Africa would also co-host a colloquium of the Southern African Developing Community (SADC). Ministers of Culture would participate in the Aichi World Expo in Japan. South Africa would finalise partnerships with the European Union (EU) and others and finalise membership at the Commonwealth Foundation.

There was a joint project with the Library for the Blind, to provide better multi-lingual access to braille literature. To encourage a culture of learning, the department would set up a library in Mdantsane. The Department together with Mozambique will manage certain archival records and there would also be a restoration of the Timbuktu historical records.

Arts would be made accessible to the youth and a Youth Summit would be hosted in June 2005, to develop an Arts and Culture plan of action for the Youth.

The Department had also embarked on a Social Cohesion and Social Justice Programme and Cabinet had approved its framework.

There would be campaigns around youth, gender, national symbols, building a culture of voluntarism and art in prisons.

The Department also had a cultural diversity and intangible heritage programme with Unesco. The Director General emphasised the special areas of focus which were youth, gender, branding, and the economics of culture.

The Chairperson opened the floor for comments.

Mr I Mosala commented that the Department was participating on the issue of cultural diversity through Unesco and had attempted to get Unesco to formalise its position on the matter. South Africa had a different perspective on the issue. The country’s democracy is based on the establishment of non-racialism. This had arisen as a response against the form of racism that was presumably based on cultural diversity. Colonialism and Apartheid in South Africa had used cultural diversity to divide people. He asked how South Africans could embrace cultural diversity when it had been used against them as a mechanism for enslavery.

He enquired about the place of non-racialism in the cultural diversity debate. He asked if the UNDP’s fuller report defined culture. He added that cultural diversity was very broad and that South Africans spoke about cultural diversity within the context of non-racialism. This was the preferred way of uniting communities in this country.

The Chairperson asked Members and Provincial Legislature Chairpersons to look at the executive summaries of the UNDP report, particularly at issues such as race and cultural hegemony. The presentation defined these issues as global facts and South Africa should look at how it dealt with them.

A component of the performing arts people was concerned about preparations to ensure that cultural provisions and agreements should be appropriate to local artists. Unemployment, poverty, inequality, stereotyping, neglect and stigmatization of indigenous minority as a global threat also had to be looked at.

On the issue of xenophobia, Mr I Mosala said that a contributing factor was that employers often preferred non-South Africans [from the African continent] to South Africans and asked if this was exploitation or embracing. He added that when black South Africans responded, they were viewed as being xenophobic.
He asked for a report on what were the experiences of the European countries that have had an influx of indigenous groups.

Ms S Kimaryo said she was not defending the UNDP report. The UN consisted of a club of Member States and its decisions were acceptable to all Members. Member States were owners of UN institutions and the Secretariat’s role was to implement and have an advocacy stance.

Issues of cultural diversity needed to be addressed publicly. The position taken by the UN is that this was an input into each national debate. The context of the countries themselves would describe the nature of the national debate.

She understood the position South Africa took and would take notes of the different views expressed including decisions that could be taken as a way forward.

The question of immigrants was complex. Countries like Canada, had sections were the immigration population was at 45%, which excluded the whites who were also immigrants when they first arrived.

Ms D van der Walt (DA) expressed her disappointment that Members had not been invited to last year’s National Consultative Conference. It dealt broadly with the topic and would have been beneficial.

Mr S Thobejane (Limpopo) said countries in Africa could not compete with those with stronger economies and added that the issue of xenophobia needed to be emphasized by the UN.

Ms D Barnard (DA) commented that South Africa had one of the most celebrated success stories. She added that the country had moved on and the minority strove to protect its own culture. She was impressed at how predominantly the word "freedom " had been used in the Report.

Mr H Mbata (KZN) commented that culture evolved with time and that South Africans needed to create the atmosphere for that.

Mr R Sonto (ANC) commented that the two presentations were similar on issues affecting culture. The cheap labour issue was resurfacing and capitalists exploited people from North Africa because they had no rights. He added that all UN coordinated countries needed to give reports.

Mr Pule Malefane (Gauteng) said there was a need to engage on cultural issues. The national Parliament and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) failed to ensure that provinces also received reports and appealed for hard copies of reports. He also asked what the relevance of the South African Music Week. He felt the campaign undermined the South African music industry as this should be constantly promoted and not just have a week set aside for it. There was a lack of clarity around choral music in the country and how it could be addressed.

Ms N Mbombo (ANC) asked what the Department’s plans were about rural areas without libraries and those that had dysfunctional Community Art Centres.

Mr I Mosala responded that there was a problem of cross-cutting issues [between the different spheres of government] plus the majority of projects went to government agencies. He noted the issues raised and said the Department would have a major policy review.

He acknowledged that choral music had been neglected and that a special emphasis needed to be put on this form of music.

Mr L Zitha (ANC) said there had been an omission on the status of township cultural life. He asked if there was a relationship amongst the National Heritage Council, Local Government, the Department and the public broadcaster. He also enquired about the South African artifacts that were stolen during the Colonial rule and if they would be returned.

Mr P Maloka (Free State) asked if there was a link between the Department’s sub-directorates and provincial departments. He asked how the Departments would ensure the success of its campaigns. He added that agencies failed to meet the demands of people. He felt that urgent strategies should be put in place ensuring that people were benefiting - even before policy reviews.

The Chairperson asked if anything could be done regarding dysfunctional Community Art Centres and the lack of libraries.

Mr I Mosala responded that there were no resources to run these centres and that local and provincial government had these issues on their MINMEC (Ministerial and Members of Executive Council Committee) agenda.

He acknowledged that there was no investment on cultural infrastructure and that most of these structures were inherited. He added that this was a major item on the agenda. The Department was consolidating a relationship between local and provincial government. The Department would take up the issue of cultural life in the townships. He noted that the problem with the Freedom Park project was that there was a rollover of funds every year. He said that there was no relationship with the public broadcaster. There were plans to repatriate the artefacts and the Netherlands government had already repatriated some of them.

Ms D Barnard (DA) asked when the Design Council would be established.

Ms D van der Walt (DA) suggested that the department sponsor music concerts to keep local artists alive.

Mr I Mosala responded that the department could not specify deadlines for its plans for the Design Council and that the deadlines were usually ready after the budget speech.

The meeting was adjourned.


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