PANSALB blockages: briefing & discussion

Committee: Arts and Culture

Date of Meeting: 05 May 1998

Summary

No summary available for this committee meeting.


Minutes

ARTS, CULTURE & LANGUAGE, SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
5 MAY 1998
PANSALB BLOCKAGES: BRIEFING & DISCUSSION

Document handed out:

Report of the Commission on the Dilemma of the Pan South African Language Board (PANSALB) (see appendix).

MINUTES
Items on agenda:

1. Report on blockages regarding PANSALB
2. Amendments to PANSALB Act
3. Subsuming of lexicographical functions into PANSALB
4. Language policy for South Africa

1. The above report highlights the problems that have caused PANSALB's inaction. This being that there is no administrative infrastructure to implement the resolutions taken by PANSALB's (part-time) board members. The building of an administrative arm depends on PANSALB's regulations which still have to be ratified by the Department of Arts, Culture & Language, Science & Technology. The Department responded that the regulations have been accepted but still have to be translated and then sent to the President's office for his signature. PANSALB requested that this matter be regarded as urgent and that the issue of translation should not delay the signing of the regulations as soon as possible by the President's office. It is envisaged that the recruitment of staff can begin from July/August 1998.

Another urgent priority is a redefined procurement policy that will require an amendment to the Act that instituted PANSALB. The CEO of PANSALB referred to the stifling bureaucratic measures that have allowed them no access to the R11 million budget available to the Board which has been rolled over for the past two years. The Director-General of the Department, Mr WR Jardine, indicated that the Department wanted to free the Board from the tight financial controls required by the Exchequer Act of government departments. PANSALB should be enabled to operate more flexibly as do the Science Councils.

The report was passed by the Committee. The Chairperson, Dr M Serote, deemed that the meeting had been successful in identifying solutions for the problems. PANSALB requested a press statement to clarify the reasons for the perceived inaction of board. The Committee agreed to draft such a statement jointly with PANSALB.

2 Amendments to the Act have not yet been tabled with the Minister though draft versions have been formulated. Besides the agreed-upon amendments to increase administrative efficiency to PANSALB, there appeared several substantive issues requiring amendments where consensus still needed to be reached. These were:
- the status of PANSALB, the nature of its independence and its relationship with the department;
- the policy decision to subsume the lexicographical units into PANSALB.

The Director-General outlined the department's position on the independence of this statutory body. He distinguished between the board's operational autonomy for carrying out of policy as opposed to policy-making which is not the role of the board. He gave the assurance that the Department does not want to micro-manage the board but it does want to make it accountable to the department via business plans. PANSALB said they agreed with the Director-General on this distinction and recognised that it could only advise the government on policy issues. The department gave an assurance that no amendment was envisaged for Section 8 of the PANSALB Act which outlines the powers and functions of the board. (The independence of the board does not enjoy constitutional protection as it did in the interim Constitution but only legislative protection.)

It was agreed that amendments regarding functions might be required once the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities was established because of possible overlap of functions with the Commission.
However this would be revisited only once the Commission was constituted, though government should consult PANSALB during the Commission's establishment.

The policy decision by the Minister to subsume the lexicographical units into PANSALB was a contentious issue that related to the definition of the role of PANSALB. It had led to the resignation of at least one board member. A consensus understanding of its role was needed. While the board was not averse to facilitating the establishment of these units, it believed that the huge task of managing these units on an ongoing, day-to-day basis would minimise its capacity and constrict its ability to promote multi-lingualism and language development in an innovative manner. It believed that it should monitor not administer these units as this was only one aspect of language development.

The Director-General believed that the development of these units would be better served by a statutory body than by a government department with regard to the speeding up of delivery. He pointed out that rather than taking away its powers, its powers were being built up and that resources would be made available administratively for it to manage this additional function. The various political parties in the Committee concurred with the Director-General's assessment. Though some board members were still not convinced that this was the route to go, others now appeared happier with this proposal. The request was made that in future such planning should be done in a transparent manner and the advice of the board should be sought.

The meeting adjourned for lunch. The afternoon session was not monitored.

Appendix
REPORT OF THE COMMISSION ON THE DILEMMA OF THE PAN SOUTH AFRICAN LANGUAGE BOARD (PANSALB)

PANSALB: Report presented 98/05/04
REPORT OF THE COMMISSION ON THE DILEMMA OF THE PAN SOUTH AFRICAN LANGUAGE BOARD (PANSALB)

1. Date Commission Constituted
28/10/97

2. Members of the Commission
Prof. CTD Marivate (One man Commission) hereafter referred to as "THE COMMISSION"

3. Problem Statement
The Portfolio Committee on Arts, Culture, Language, Science' and Technology (hereafter referred to as "THE PC") viewed with concern the somewhat non-performance of the Pan South African Language Board (PANSALB) and urged the Chairperson that something be done to look into the state of PANSALB.

4. The Commission's brief
4.1 To establish the blockages which prevents PANSALB from functioning effectively.
4.2 To recommend steps to be taken to remove the blockages.

5. Time Frame
The Commission to report to the Chairperson as soon as possible but not later than the end of February 1998.

6. General Approach to the investigation: Methodology in respect of information gathering
6.1 Consulted the Chairperson of PANSALB - Prof. NCP Golele (University of the North).
6.2 Held a meeting with Dr. N. Alexander (University of Cape Town) NB: the Chairperson of the sub-committee on Language, Ms NM Tsheole was present.
6.3 Consulted the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PANSALB, Prof. NC Marivate.
6.4 Requested all possible documentation concerning PANSALB from the CEO
6.5 Consulted the Director-General (DG) of the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA).
6.6 Consulted and worked closely with the Chairperson of the sub-committee of the PC on Language, Ms NM Tsheole

7. Findings
7.1 PANSALB did not receive adequate and effective administrative support after it was constituted. Such support was necessary before it could build its own administrative infrastructure and capacity.

7.2 The organs of State which should have given PANSALB effective administrative support until it got off the ground are the following:
(a) The Department of Arts, Culture, Language, Science and Technology (DACST)
(b) The State Language Services (SLS)
(c) The Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA)

7.3 SLS is a component in DACST specifically charged with the responsibility of Language. According to a letter dated 21.05.96 from the Director of SLS to the Chairperson of PANSALB, the Director states as follows:

Quote : "The SLS was involved in preparations for PANSALB from the onset The Parliamentary subcommittees (PC) responsible for the PANSALB legislation approached the SLS for assistance, and the office (SLS) agreed to render secretarial services... The SLS was instrumental in the whole process of preparing the PANSALB Bill for publication, organizing Public Hearings to elicit comments on the Bill from the public, and preparing the Act for tabling in Parliament... As an interim measure, pending the appointment of a chief executive officer, the SLS (in the person of Dr. Beukes) would still be prepared to assist with such administrative arrangements if the Board so desires..."

(NB. Dr. Beukes became one of the Board members of PANSALB appointed by the Ad-hoc Committee of the Senate"... in the same transparent and democratic way as all other members ..." {quote from the same letter as in paragraph 7.3 above}).

7.4 Unfortunately, when PANSALB was constituted by the Ad-hoc Committee of the Senate, that Ad-hoc Committee did not inform PANSALB that SLS would render administrative support (see Chairpersons statement of PANSALB to the Chairperson of PC dated 15.05.97 which reads as follows:

" ... This is information which would have assisted the Board, had it been provided at the beginning ..."

Evidently, PANSALB was left on its own to grope about for administrative help (Commission's personal perception based on the information at the disposal of the Commission).

7.5 SLS, in conjunction with DACST, helped PANSALB advertise the post of CEO after PANSALB was constituted in April 1996. However, in the absence of regulations drafted by PANSALB, SLS and DACST decided to put PANSALB's CEO at the post level of Deputy Director. As early as June 1996, PAN SALB objected, stating that the post level and its salary were too low. DACST responded by stating that the upgrading of the post could be negotiated at a later stage. The result is that in the absence of the regulations for PANSALB, the salary question of the CEO is still in a state of flux up to now.

7.6 Reading between the lines, SLS indirectly played the administrative support role because in PANSALB's minutes of its first meeting of 15.05.96, it is stated as follows:

" ... Some members (of PANSALB) expressed unhappiness about the prominent role SLS appears to be playing in the affairs of the Board...")

7.7 PANSALB's Chairperson responded to this statement by advising members of PANSALB as follows:
" ... until the CEO has been appointed and administrative infrastructure is in place, the Board will use the facilities available to it."

7.8 The Commission could not get a clear picture of the administrative role SLS played after PANSALB was constituted, especially the part played by Dr. Beukes, except for the general impression that some members of PANSALB were not happy about the role played by SLS (see paragraph 7.6 above).

7.9 PANSALB Regulations
Soon after PANSALB's inauguration (April 1996), DACST promised PANSALB to help this body in drafting the regulations. Despite repeated requests and reminders from the Chairperson of PANSALB, DACST never presented PANSALB with such a draft until one member of PANSALB, a Ms Marais, took it upon herself to draft the regulations. PANSALB approved Ms Marais regulations. DACST submitted PANSALB's regulations to DPSA for ratification. DPSA has not yet finished the ratification of PANSALB's regulations at this point in time.

7.10 The Commission intervened by writing to the DG of DPSA on 05.11.97 requesting that DPSA expedite the question of ratifying the regulations. On 20.11.97, the DG of DPSA responded by stating in his letter that the regulations would be finalized within 30 days. To date (20.02.98), it is 92 days (Ninety two days) since the Commission received the letter from the DG of DPSA promising the availability of the ratified regulations. So far, the Commission has received nothing.

8. Conclusion
8.1 PAN SALB does not function because it has no administrative infrastructure.
8.2 Members of PANSALB are not full-time employees of PANSALB. They have their own respective engagements. They only attend PANSALB meetings four times a year (see section 7 of the Act : Act No 59 of 1995). Consequently, PANSALB needs a permanent administrative component to implement its resolutions and objectives.
8.3 The logistics of building PANSALB's administrative infrastructure depends solely on PANSALB's regulations.
8.4 PANSALB has submitted its draft regulations to DACST and to DPSA for ratification and up to now, PANSALB has not received these regulations. Consequently, PANSALB cannot at present engage in the process of advertising posts and mounting interview panels to build its administrative infrastructure. That is where the blockage lies.

9. Recommendation
That the PC prevails upon DPSA to ratify PANSALB's regulations as soon as possible so that PANSALB can quickly get on the business of building the capacity of its administrative support staff.

Signed : Date: 20.02.98 Place : Cape Town
PROF. C.T.D MARIVATE

 

 

 


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