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ARTS AND CULTURE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
14 November 2006
CONVENTION ON PROTECTION AND PROMOTION OF DIVERSITY OF CULTURAL EXPRESSION: EASTERN CAPE, FREEDOM PARK AND VOORTREKKER MONUMENT OVERSIGHT VISIT COMMITTEE REPORTS: ADOPTION; NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR LIBRARY SERVICES NOMINATIONS
Acting Chairperson: Ms P Tshwete (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Letter: National Council for Library and Information Services Reconstruction: Appointment of Advisory Panel
Report on Eastern Cape Oversight Visit: 9-11 October 2006
Report on Gauteng Oversight Visit to Freedom Park and Voortrekker Mounment: 1 November 2006
[All available shortly at Committee Reports]
The Committee agreed to adopt the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
The Committee considered, amended and adopted its Committee Reports on the Eastern Cape and Gauteng oversight visits. Members noted that there was a lack of transformation at the Voortrekker Monument. It was pointed out that the monument did not have funds and it needed the Committee to talk to the Minister or Department so that it could get more funds. It was not refusing to transform but only saying that there were no funds.
The Committee also considered a request by the Minister for it to ratify the appointment of people to an advisory panel that would help the Minister in appointing people to the National Council for Library and Information Services. Members complained that they were not given enough time to deal with the issue. It seemed that the Committee was being requested to rubber stamp the appointments. The Committee ratified the appointment of the panel.
Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions
The Department Arts and Culture (DAC) had briefed the Committee on the Convention on 7 November 2006.
Ms Tshwete reminded members that this matter was part and parcel of the South African Constitution. The Department had highlighted the importance of ensuring that the indigenous languages and minorities were taken seriously. International Mother Languages Day was on 21 February and the Committee must ensure that it was recognised in South Africa.
Ms D van der Walt (DA) noted that there were no financial implications in ratifying the Convention. According to the guidelines set out the promotion that would come and the place that arts in this country would have in the world could only benefit South Africa The Democratic Alliance would support it if it were well maintained and sustainable and kept under control.
Ms Tshwete also supported it, there being no financial implications plus it was very important to support such conventions. Ms D Ramodibe (ANC), Mr G Lekgetho (ANC) and Mr C Gololo (ANC) joined their colleague in supporting the document.
Mr Sonto noted that it was a ground breaking convention, that should have an impact on Africa and on the Africa Cultural Expressions as it was one of those vehicles that was moving away from cultural colonisation. He added his support to the adoption.
It was agreed that the document be adopted in principle.
Committee Report on Eastern Cape Oversight Visit 9 – 11 October 2006
The Committee considered the Report written by the Committee Secretary. Points made in the report:
A delegation of six members had conducted a provincial oversight visit to the Eastern Cape from 9 – 11 October 2006. The objectives of the visit were to interact with provincial counterparts working with Arts and Culture; to visit Arts and Culture infrastructure; to access progress made in the implementation of ‘the Living Heritage’ three year theme; to access projects funded by the National Arts and Culture Department; to monitor progress made in implementation of the Community Arts Centres; and evaluate the level of community awareness and transformation in libraries and museums. Places visited were the East London Museums; Gompo Arts Centre; Mdantsane Library; Sosebenza Sonke Women’s League; the Masakhane Handcraft Project; Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Offices; and Bay World – Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum.
The Committee considered the report, which was fraught with spelling and grammar errors, taking considerable time to correct. Mr J Maake (ANC) stated that those errors should have been corrected before the document came to the Committee. Ms Tshwete agreed, and said it was not the first time.
The Committee Report was adopted, subject to corrections.
Committee Report on Oversight Visit to Freedom Park & Voortrekker Monument 1 November 2006
The Committee considered the Report written by the Committee clerk. Points made in the report:
Eight members of the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture undertook a study tour to Freedom Park and Voortrekker Museums in Gauteng on 1 November 2006. The objectives of the visit were to evaluate progress made in Freedom Park on the construction of Phase Two; to be briefed on the annual report and financial statements of the Freedom Park Trust and Voortrekker Monument; and a site tour of the two institutions.
The primary objective of the Freedom Park Trust was the creation of a national monument to South Africa’s heritage that would provide opportunities to explore issues such as nationhood and national values. It also formed part of the processes of nation building and reconciliation. The Voortrekker Monument was inaugurated in 1949 to commemorate the Voortrekkers who took part in the Great Trek during the nineteenth century. The monument had improved from ‘an icon of apartheid’ to one that was accessible to all South Africans. The Committee respected that the Voortrekker Monument specifically depicted the history of the Afrikaners but added that it should transform and be part of all South African Museums, not a museum of a particular cultural group.
A Committee member mentioned that the majority of people at the monument when the Committee visited it were white and from outside the country. He noted that the report said that the monument had "transformed drastically from a certain group to all South Africans". He disagreed with this statement.
Mr R Sonto noted that the last paragraph stated that "members supported the principles of the Voortrekker Monument as it tells where we are coming from". He asked which principles the Committee supported. He did not remember the Committee supporting the principle of the monument.
The Chairperson said that the report should perhaps refer to the history and not the principles of the monument.
Mr Sonto said that the Committee could not have supported the concept of the monument. It could only have understood and sympathised with it.
Ms D Ramodibe (ANC) agreed with Mr Sonto. The Committee respected the history of the Afrikaners but more transformation should take place. The Committee was told that there were no black people. There was no intention to say that Afrikaners should change their culture but the monument should reflect the culture of the country.
Mr J Maake (ANC) proposed that the report should say that the Committee recognised the history of the monument as it said something about South Africa's past.
Mr Sonto said that the monument was for the history of Afrikaners and the Committee respected that. The report should say that the Committee recognised the Voortrekker Monument as it depicted the history of Afrikaners. It should transform and become part of the country's museums and not remain a museum of a particular cultural group.
Mr N Mbombo (ANC) said that there was little transformation.
Mr Sonto said that the transformation was too little.
The Chairperson said that it had been pointed out that the monument did not have funds and it needed the Committee to talk to the Minister or Department so that it could get more funds. It was not refusing to transform but only saying that there were no funds. The board of directors of the monument even had to contribute some funds to ensure that it was sustainable. Lack of transformation could be attributed to lack of funds.
The Committee adopted the report with amendments.
Reconstruction of the National Council for Library and Information Services (NCLIS): Appointment of Advisory panel
The Chairperson said that the Committee was not being requested to engage on discussions on the Council. The Advisory Panel would interview potential members of the Council. Section 14 of the NCLIS Act provided that:
14. (1) The council must annually submit a report on its activities, advice and recommendations to the Minister and the Minister of Education, and the Minister must table the report in Parliament as soon as possible after its receipt.
(2)Within five months after the report has been tabled, a delegation consisting of the chairperson and at least two other council members must brief the Portfolio Committee on Arts, Culture, Science and Technology on the annual report.
Ms T Cawe (Committee Clerk) drew the Committee's attention to section 7(2)(a) of the Act which provided that:
7. (2) (a) The Minister must appoint a panel, after the composition was approved by the Portfolio Committee on Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, consisting of persons with experience or expertise in library and information services to compile a short list of not more than 15 candidates from the persons nominated in terms of subsection (1)(a).
Mr Ramodibe noted that one of the duties of the Council would be to advise both the Ministers of Arts and Culture and Education. She wondered if the Portfolio Committee on Education had already considered this issue (appointment of advisory panel). What would happen should this Committee differ with the Portfolio Committee on Education?
A member said that a certain procedure had to be followed when nominating people to the panel. The letter to the Committee was dated 2006-11-09. He asked how the letter found its way to the Committee because it was addressed to the Speaker of the National Assembly.
Ms Cawe said that the letter on the appointment of the panel was sent to the Committee by the Speaker. The Committee would not have to report to Parliament on the letter because it had not yet been referred to Parliament. The letter would be officially referred to Parliament at a later stage. The Speaker had referred the letter to the Committee so that there would be progress on its activities.
The Chairperson said that libraries fell under the Minister of Arts and Culture but it was also important for the Minister of Education to have people to advise and help her understand issues around libraries.
Mr Sonto agreed that libraries were under the domain of the Ministry of Arts and Culture.
Ms Ramodibe said that the Committee had no options but to only rubber-stamp the nominations.
The Chairperson said that the Committee should not rubber-stamp anything but raise issues of concerns so that they could be addressed.
Mr Sonto said that there was nothing wrong in approving the panel after having looked at the names. The Minister would use the panel to interview people who had been nominated to serve on the Council.
Ms Ramodibe said she had a problem because she did no know the people who were to be appointed to serve on the panel.
The Chairperson said that the Department should respect the Committee and provide documents on time. The Committee had no choice but to approve the appointment of the panel. The Committee should be informed when the panel starts the interview process.
Mr Maake referred to section 5(1)(a) of the Act. He wondered why the letter was referred to the Committee. He was of the view that the Minister came up with the names after a process of public nominations. The Minister should appoint the members himself. How did the Committee feature in the process? Could the Committee reject the appointment of any of the individuals? There were two routes to take: the first was to ask the Minister to postpone the appointments until such time that the Committee had seen the CVs of the persons. The second was for the Committee to approve the appointment. The Minister had asked the Committee to respond to his request by "15 January 2007 if possible". The Committee could say that it was not possible to respond by that date. The Committee could also set aside a day or two in December or January and come back and deal with the matter.
Mr Sonto said that the letter was about a panel that would invite nominations for people who would serve on the Council. Members were correct in saying that the Committee should apply its mind on the issue. However, the Committee had a glimpse of what the candidates represented. Dr GA Dominy was known to the Committee and had appeared before the Committee in its previous meeting. Members also knew Mr J Tsebe who was serving in one of the Arts and Culture entities.
Mr Maake withdrew his earlier remarks and statements. He was all along under the impression that the issue was the appointment of people to serve on the Council and not a panel to interview such people.
Ms Ramodibe said that she was aware that the letter was about the panel and stood by what she had said earlier. The Committee was not given enough time to consider the matter. She agreed that the Committee could ratify the appointment.
The Chairperson said that the Committee could get a person from the Department to introduce the people to the Committee. The Committee agreed to ratify the appointments.
The Committee also recommended that Parliament should approve the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Diversity of Cultural Expression.
The meeting was adjourned.
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