A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
20 March 2007
LOCAL GOVERNMENT SECTOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING AUTHORITY & CRL COMMISSION: BUDGET REVIEW 2007/08
Acting Chairperson: Mr S Mshudulu (ANC)
Documents handed out:
LG Seta Interim Updated Progress Report presentation
Booklet: Understanding LGSETA
LGSETA 2006 Annual Report
CRL Commission presentation Part1 & Part2
The Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority briefed the Committee on its progress since October 2006 and its budgets. It reported that there was substantial collaboration with a number of other institutions and departments in regard to training initiatives and that these included structured programmes, full and part time, recognition of prior learning, learnerships, skills programmes, internships and bursaries. The Authority was not receiving any allocation from any government department and relied solely on levies and donor funding. Skills shortages had been identified in several listed areas, and in the next five years these would be addressed, and discretionary funds would be targeted to areas of weakness in municipalities. A number of the programmes were identified, costed and projected numbers of learners were given. Training covered municipal skills, programmes in the scarce skill areas, training on quality assurance functions, and apprenticeships. Most of the municipalities were paying over the levies but where Workplace Skills Plans were not submitted, there was nothing in the legislation to force compliance. An amendment was needed to the Municipal Systems Act. The projects and bursary schemes were identified and the budget explored. The joint programmes with the Department of Provincial and Local Government were also detailed, with costings. Challenges included the lack of funding, insufficient staff in the Authority, due to the restriction of 10% in the budget for administration costs, and the impact of Metros failing to pay. Questions by Members addressed the recognition of prior learning, the reasons for failure to submit the Workplace Skills Plans, identification of small contractors who would benefit from training, the level of support from traditional leaders, how best to link training in with the Department of Labour, the possible duplication of programmes with other departments, and the forthcoming Colloquium.
The Commission for the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities noted that it was a new organisation, and for the first time had been able to draft a budget that was based around specific programmes. The role and function of the Commission was articulated. There was a budget of R15.44 million, divided across the programmes. The last audit report had not been qualified, but had raised matters of emphasis that were largely caused by the lack of infrastructure which had militated against strict compliance with the Public Finance Management Act. The four programmes of Research and Development, Public Education and Advocacy, the Investigation Unit and Community Councils were fully described, with the core programmes, time frames, outcomes and measures listed. In addition, it was indicated that topical issues would arise and require investigation and opinions. Many of the programmes were cross-cutting and focused on youth. Gender issues were also of importance. The Commission's work involved the need for thorough investigation and, in many cases, mediation. The Commission would be drafting a Charter to focus its broad mandate and establish some ground rules. The Commission elaborated upon some issues raised during the hearings of the ad hoc Committee conducting a review of the Chapter 9 institutions. It was stressed that the main question was how to create an environment of self-definition and how to move from the self definition then to the concept of "diverse people uniting" as set out in the mandate. Self discovery was linked to common discovery. The challenge in the country would therefore be the contest between individual and group rights, but neither took automatic precedence over the other. The Committee raised questions on the audit report, the Mother Tongue Day of 21 February, the work on African religions, the need for the Council of Elders, the cooperation of the Traditional Leaders, the budget allocation to the Office of the Chairperson, the issue of sign language, the focus in rural areas, and the relationship with the Department of Provincial and Local Government.
Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority(LGSETA): Briefing
Mr Gavin Lobela, Chairperson, LGSETA, stated that the Board of the SETA had resolved to support the sector in achieving its priorities by collaborating with various organisations and Government Departments. Memorandums of Understanding were entered into. Certain strategic priority areas had been approved for funding. These included infrastructure and service delivery, financial viability, community based participation and planning, management and leadership and Adult Literacy programmes (ABET). The methods of development would include Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), learnerships and skills programmes, internships and bursaries.
Mr Sidwell Mofokeng, Chief Executive Officer, LGSETA reported that the SETA was currently not receiving any allocation from any government department. The question whether the Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) should be contributing to the administration was being discussed in line with a Cabinet resolution of 2003. Other SETAs did get an allocation from the relevant departments to assist in strengthening their administration. The LGSETA's total income was derived from levies from municipalities (1% of payroll) or donor funding.
Mr Mofokeng reported that the Sector Skills Plan (SSP) updating process had been completed in August 2006. The report being given this morning was therefore an update on events since October 2006. The LGSETA had identified skills shortages in engineering, electrical and civil, technicians and artisans, municipal planning, environmental health and emergency and disaster management, including the processes around 2010. In the next five years these critical skills shortages would be addressed, and in addition all the LGSETA discretionary funds would be targeted to areas of weakness in municipalities, which included the need to skill property valuers, and this in turn was linked to the DPLG five-year strategy plan. There was a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with National Treasury (NT) and qualifications had been developed around the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) from level 4 up to graduate level. In the area of community-based planning of ward committees LGSETA had assisted DPLG to put a qualification in place, and it was currently developing the curriculum and learning material. The integrated framework for development of municipalities, including traditional leaders had been drawn in conjunction with DPLG, and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). It took into cognisance the structured capacity building, and encompassed also ABET and RPL. LGSETA was offering a Certificate course in municipal operations, which should be a compulsory prerequisite for anyone wishing to work in the local government field. Repeatedly local government had attracted people with the correct qualification credentials, but they had no experience and were given no orientation, thus found it difficult to operate successfully.
The LGSETA indicated that due to the time lags during each municipal elections projects had been approved only in November 2006. He tabled these projects, which indicated the allocations and the numbers to be trained. The programmes covered the areas of internal audit training, industrial relations training, construction, technical services, infrastructure asset management, property valuation, extension of the bursary contract for engineers, extension of the Community Development Worker (CDW) learnerships, and framework agreements with districts for skills programmes and learnerships. It was necessary to ensure that sufficient property valuers were trained to work in the municipalities. The aim was that there should be a CDW for each municipal ward. The first project cost around R11 million, and was funded from the National Skills Fund (NSF). A further allocation of R13 million had been put forward for 635 learners. Municipalities were not responding to skills requirements, either through lack of funding or because there was no will. R42 million was allocated to all districts to coordinate training for local municipalities.
The LGSETA had further projects directed to quality assurance functions. These included the training of mentors, assessors and coaches per province, to ensure that the training was being properly applied back in the workplace. It would also be training moderators. In order to respond to the rural areas, it had begun to support the emerging providers, through a quality management system developed to assist their accreditation with the SETA. Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) was being developed. LGSETA was responding to the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills (JIPSA) by training artisans. The current apprenticeship system was cumbersome and did not provide for progression to NQF based programmes. Much of the training had been uncoordinated, ad hoc, and funded by various agencies, and there had also been no measurement of the impact. LGSETA needed to assess if there was value for money, and whether the training was appropriate. R4 million had been invested for that exercise. .
Ms Janet Davies, Sector Skills Planning Manager, LGSETA noted that the sector complied with the legislation in the formal sense, and all except for 13 local governments were contributing their levy. 77% of workplace skills plans had been submitted in 2006/7. The Workplace Skills Plan (WSP) and reporting templates had been changed to fall in line with DOL requirements. A comparative table of submission of plans was presented, and the training figures were listed by province.
Ms Davies gave a brief overview of some of the projects and the bursary schemes. One scheme was being run through the Institution for Civil Engineers, for engineering technicians. Internships were run in conjunction with professional bodies in civil engineering, property valuers and National Treasury. The Labour Intensive Construction Project had been completed, and 2 100 senior technical officials had been trained. This training would allow for implementation of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), making use of the Municipal Infrastructure Grants (MIG). The Department of Public Works had requested training of 3 600 emerging contractors, who were not municipal employees, but who would be getting contracts from the municipalities. There was further training in the ABET field, and LGSETA, in trying to address the problems of the extended ABET programme, had worked to set up a customised and compressed programme to better suit the needs of learners, which would be operational from 2008. Workshops for traditional leaders and leadership institutions were planned, and R1.2 million had been spent on the initial profiling. This Portfolio Committee had urged LGSETA to explore programmes, and this had been done in conjunction with DPLG, SALGA and the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL). A Memorandum of Understanding had been signed with the DPLG, to agree on areas of mutual cooperation. LGSETA had a problem in that although a municipality that failed to submit the WSP would forfeit its levy, there was nothing further to force compliance. DPLG had been asked to try to amend the Municipal Services Act to meet this difficulty. Section 68 of the Act was vague as it only required municipalities to make an additional provision for training, but did not name a remedy for non-compliance.
Ms Davies indicated the joint projects with DPLG. These included training of community development workers, for which an additional R13 million had been set aside. A National Diploma around the MFMA had been developed. Councillor Development and Ward Committee Training was being undertaken jointly with DPLG and SALGA. An application for R139 million was submitted to the NSF to roll out the training nationally, but that application was declined. LGSETA was presently sourcing R18 million from its discretionary fund to kick-start the project in the 2007/08 year. There was a qualification framework for Local Economic Development, which would be rolled out with support from the higher education training providers, through contact and distance learning. More than 6 000 learners employed in the sector had participated in learnerships or structured learning. They were usually registered in training programmes at the initiative of individual municipalities. The training was funded through he Capacity Building Fund, and in Gauteng the MEC funded part of the training.
Mr Mofokeng stated that the SETA did not have the requisite number of staff, due to the 10% limitation on the budget. It would need to employ additional staff, project on project, through the Discretionary Grant. Ms Wilma Roberts, Finance Manager, LGSETA, tabled the skills development levy income, and explained that some of the figures were based on eight months actual figures with a four month provision, to March 2007. Total income for eight months in 2006 had been R116 million. The projected income for December 2006 to March 2007 was R50 million, giving a total of R166 million. This represented about 97.8 % variance on the budget. LGSETA had disbursed 65.3% of the Mandatory Grant Income to date. This would increase once all WSPs had been evaluated and approved. The discretionary grants and project disbursements totalled R21.1 million, excluding those projects for which funding was approved in November. The disbursements related to what had been approved. Some of the projects approved in this financial year would only materialise in the next financial year.
The Chairperson noted that the last slide was missing and he would like to receive copies.
Mr I Mogase (ANC) asked for the names of the various organisations with whom the LGSETA was collaborating.
Mr Mofokeng noted that these included the Departments of Public Works, Education, National Treasury, DPLG, and professional bodies. They were generally practitioners and subject matter experts. There was lack of resident skills in all SETAs so all had to leverage on skills established on the professional bodies.
Mr Mogase asked for a report on the recognition of prior learning.
Mr Mofokeng noted that three metros out of the six had been targeted for pilot RPL projects, in relation to water and sanitation. From then, successes in the projects would be replicated nationally across all municipalities.
Mr Mogase noted that the Nelson Mandela Metro had not submitted the WSP, and asked for reasons.
Mr Mofokeng said that the Metros were the biggest clients, representing a substantial percentage of the LGSETA's total income. If they were not able to pay, then this had a direct effect on the skills development targets of the LGSETA. One of the reasons that had been advanced for the failure to pay was that the labour unions were not happy with the WSP. On investigation, this was found to be incorrect. LGSETA was still investigating the position in eThekwini. The Nelson Mandela Metro failure to pay had several dimensions. The failure meant that the Metro would be forfeiting R9 million. It should be taking steps against the officials who did not comply. The failure was essentially caused by bad management, and no person was prepared to take responsibility for the lack of action, nor to take responsibility for punishing the lack of action.
Mr Mogase asked how the small contractors being trained were identified.
Ms Davies said that EPWP was still problematic, because LGSETA was not yet able to measure how far the contractors were being used by governments. The small contractors identified were those who had already been awarded contracts through municipal procurement processes, to engage in MIG programmes.
Mr Mogase asked if there was any support from traditional leaders.
Mr Mofokeng noted that there was good support, and that the recent workshops had been attended by a representative of the King, and the Chairperson of the NHTL and they had validating the outcomes of some of the research. There was good input also from Professor Sobahle of DPLG. A number of issues raised with the SETA around the institution of Traditional Leaders in fact did not reside in its domain, and these issues had been forwarded to the Department of Justice.
The Acting Chairperson commented that community based participation programmes were attended, but there were often no visible results. He suggested that follow ups might be necessary. In any programme approved by the LGSETA the Committee would need to consider how best to monitor development.
The Acting Chairperson asked that the list of service providers should be given to the Committee. He feared that some may be loyal to the old systems and be undermining what LGSETA was trying to achieve.
The Acting Chairperson noted that the RPL process was not new.
The Acting Chairperson stated that he would like to hear from the DPLG on the question of levies. DPLG would have to comment on the 10% limit on administration, as well as the role the Department was playing.
The Acting Chairperson noted that the Committee would need to monitor the issue of labour and there was still a debate on how best to link the training with the Department of Public Works, across the 21 nodes, and what areas should be targeted by the EPWP.
The Acting Chairperson commented that the ABET competing demands was interesting and he was pleased that the SETA had addressed the challenges.
The Acting Chairperson said that all capacitation should be aimed at adding value to the traditional leaders.
The Acting Chairperson commented that he wished the SETA to be aware of the challenges facing government. This included institutional and personal capacity of officials and politicians. In the report it was clear that LGSETA had identified municipalities who could not apply for MIG as well as Infrastructure development grants. Many municipalities were unable to comply and National Treasury was unable to release the funding. The problems included lack of capacity, and this was where the targeted approach became relevant. He suggested that it would be useful to implement a regular monitoring mechanism to assist the Committee in visiting problematic areas. He queried whether training alone, without some form of tracking device, would be relevant. The Committee would need to access the information. In June matriculants would be considering their career choices, and should be advised of opportunities that lay in Government. He noted that different departments would have different definitions of infrastructure, and wondered if there was a way to confine the focus to certain areas in which performance could be measured.
There should be increased efforts to verify the database on financial viability and property valuation skills. DPLG and National Treasury would also need to decide the training roles, and assess what each was doing to assist capacity.
Mr Mofokeng noted that that LGSETA, DPLG and SALGA tried to avoid duplication of effort, given the overall capacity constraints. In areas of education and training LGSETA was to ensure proper standards and qualifications, tracking of learners, measuring of value and impact, and quality assurance. It would therefore discourage SALGA from setting up parallel processes. Its role as a stakeholder meant that it should rather be strengthening the capacity of the SETA to achieve its mandate, rather than trying to duplicate it. It was hoped that each organisation could build on the other's capacity. SALGA was able to do profiling on councillors, which would be useful to the SETA, and DPLG could do the regulation and monitoring to ensure that municipalities complied with the legislation. LGSETA's input, for instance, on performance contracts was beginning to bear fruit.
Mr Mofokeng added that there was also a broader debate around a single public service. Government's participation in skills development left much to be desired. Government was not adequately participating in initiatives, learnerships and programmes. This probably required a larger debate.
He stated that the LGSETA agreed with DPLG on the five focal areas and agreed that there should be a mechanism to monitor and agree on a framework. LGSETA thought it would be appropriate to come up with a National Skills Colloquium in May, where the Departments of Labour and Provincial and Local Government, the Portfolio Committees and other stakeholders would participate, in terms of the five year strategy plan, and would hopefully support and embrace all initiatives, so that skills development questions were not used for bargaining purposes. LGSETA was hoping that there would be a common agenda on how to support government's initiatives.
Mr Mofokeng agreed with and noted the other comments made by the Acting Chairperson.
Mr M Sigaba, Acting CFO, DPLG noted that there was a unit dealing with municipalities, capacity and systems and in the last two years it had been requesting funding to finance the learnerships and training programmes. The Colloquium would be useful and DPLG should be working more with the LGSETA to decide what interventions would be made.
The Acting Chairperson stated that the DPLG and the Committee had noted the presentation and would be formulating a way forward.
Commission for the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities(CRL) Briefing
Dr Mongezi Guma, Chairperson, CRL Rights Commission, stated that the Commission had only been in existence for two years, and therefore most of the time had been spent in setting up the architecture of the systems. Most of the programmes had been informed by the decisions taken by the National Consultative Conference, which was held to test the parameters of what the Commission needed to do. It was work in progress, that had built on the experiences of the past two years.
Dr Guma pointed out that the Constitution accorded all people the right to self-identity, to an environment which positively contributed to the nature of that identity. Previously, many identities were often entrenched in terms from the past, and the terms were used as weapons. The Commission needed to search for ways in which the identities would be formed and would contribute positively. The United Nations had instructed South Africa to generate a culture profile of South Africa. The Commission believed that this was therefore one of its obligations, to add to the deliverables and create the necessary environment for identity formation.
Ms Pumla Madiba, CEO, CRL Commission, informed the Committee that the general mandate, vision and mission were included in her presentation pack, but she would not repeat them as they had been presented previously. She said that this was the first time that the Commission had structured the budget in the way she would be presenting it, and this was because last year it had interfaced with DPLG and National Treasury directly for the first time on the budgeting process. She added that this was the first time the Commission had managed to link the allocations from the lump sum to the programmes, and so the objectives were distinct.
The first objective of the Commission lay in support, and therefore revolved around administration. The second reflected the core business of promotion and protection of the rights of cultural, religious and linguistic communities. The R15.44 million budget had been divided across the programmes, and this would enable the Commission to monitor expenditure against budget and thus to be stricter than it had been in the past.
Ms Madiba stated that the audit report was not qualified, but there were matters of emphasis raised. Many related to incomplete, and therefore inadequate, infrastructure for financial management. The Auditor General had highlighted that there was no separation of functions within the unit. This had resulted from lack of staff, as there were too few to allow for separation of functions. There was a further issue raised on the lack of adequate policies. She confirmed that all policies had since been developed. Once again there needed to be capacity to implement them efficiently and effectively. Having had that audit report, and having interacted with DPLG and Treasury, the Commission was able to motivate for additional funds to improve the capacity, and was allocated an additional R2 million for the next three years. It would be able to employ more staff in the areas of administration and financial management.
Ms Madiba tabled the amounts allocated across the programmes. She indicated that an amount of R5.3 million had been allocated to the Office of the Chairperson, but that this included Corporate Services, which in turn also covered human resource management, and Financial Management. This office also dealt with policy formulation, and included the budgeting for the seventeen Commissioners. .Financial management was allocated R2.3 million, and the Commission was trying to appoint as many people as were needed for full capacity because of the legislative requirements of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). She tabled the budgets for other programmes, and noted that there was a large allocation to policy and financial management, as these were the key areas and starting points, and less for the moment to the four programmes for delivery. The allocation would be rising from R15.4 in 2007/08 to R20.39 in 2009/10. the budget made allowance for the National Consultative Conference, which was a statutory requirement every five years, and which would be held in 2008/09.
Ms Madiba moved on to describe the four programmes, detailing for each the objectives and specific focus areas, the activities planned, the completion dates and the performance measures. The first programme concerned Research and Development. One of the focus areas was that of diminishing heritage, and the Commission recognised the need to look to "the first peoples", and were therefore targeting the Nama. Another area concerned the redefinition of African religion. On the language side, Sepedi was identified as a specific case, following submissions to include it as an official language, coupled with the opposing view that it was a dialect of Sotho. The Commission's task to research all languages needed to start with the official languages. If the rights of linguistic communities were to be protected it was necessary to find out and define what the linguistic communities were. Further issues related to traditional practices, in particular the issue of initiation. The Commission was tasked with discovering how best to protect an institution, but promote it in a safe and acceptable way. Religious treatment and burial practices were also being considered, together with access to burial grounds or other places of spiritual meaning and significance. The youth was a major focus area. 21 February was now set aside as the Mother Tongue Day. The issue of holy days and holidays was also being addressed, to try to find an acceptable strategy for permitting people to observe their holy days, including those in the African religions. The individual programmes were in many cases linked by common threads
Ms Madiba indicated that outside of the regular programmes, further topical issues would erupt throughout the year, and cited the ritual slaughter of animals in Gugulethu as an example. The Commission had not responded until late in the discussions, but this was deliberate, as it also wanted to gauge the input from other interested organisations, such as the SPCA, which had agreed that it would be useful to have a close cooperation with the Commission to establish how communities would perform their rites.
The second programme, Public Education and Advocacy, was similarly linked to other programmes. programme similarly was linked to others. It targeted the youth in its roll out of the research issues identified by other programmes, to try to have the youth establishing good inter-cultural relations. However, the adults who were mentoring the youth must also be targeted, and Councils of Elders, including women, were to be included. There was also the need to look into the initiation of girls, which was a broader programme, include nurturing and educating them to womanhood, whilst also looking at issues of teenage pregnancy. Individual girls had the right and ability to fall pregnant, but the question arose whether this was a cultural religious or community right. The question was often whether "the whole was greater than the sum" of rights. Diversity day was identified as a major project.
The Investigation Unit's programmes had been slow, due in part to lack of capacity, but also because no case could be dealt with without a very clear understanding of where it came from. The revival of cultural, religious and linguistic practices required the Commission to take submissions, and to investigate and research, and the complainants would be included in the mediation process. Many of the matters had been ongoing since 2002, but there was progress through research and testing findings with other communities. Once there was a common understanding there was a need to consider whether issues should be incorporated into policy, which would include both the formal writing into books, and the mindset of communities.
The last programme concerned Community Councils, whose establishment and registration was provided for in the Act. There were challenges in defining what comprised a community. This year the Commission would focus on definitions. Its objective was promotion and protection of rights, linked to the Act, and there was a requirement that these be established in a prescribed way. The Commission was busy drafting a regulation which would be sent to the Minister. In the process it was enlisting community organisations, which would act to procure the necessary points of entry.
Ms Madiba said that the Commission wanted to draft a Charter to focus the broad mandate and establish some ground rules. It had identified the key potential partners, which included traditional leaders, and the Houses of Traditional Leaders, religious leaders, the Pan South African Language Board (PANSALB), the SA Heritage Council, the Heritage Resource Agency, Freedom Park and others. Each of the institutions was established for a defined purpose and mandate, and the collaboration would need to avoid duplication and save on resources, so that any partnerships must clearly articulate the system and manner of working, and be clear on the budgetary implications.
The Acting Chairperson asked the Commission to reflect briefly on its response to the ad hoc Committee that was reviewing the Chapter 9 institutions. He noted that the Commission had now unpacked its mandate into implementable programmes. He suggested it would be useful for the next meeting with the Commission also include to include traditional leaders. Older and younger people would have different interpretations and the sources of information were also important. He wondered if the distinction between individual and community rights was too simplistic, and how a community could be defined.
Dr Guma said that two important terms had been used in relation to the Chapter 9 ad hoc Committee. The first was "context". The Commission had challenged Professor Asmal on whether there was a common understanding for his remark that the review was necessary because "the context had changed". Many of the people in the country historically felt excluded and had been forced to assume politically convenient identities imposed by the government of the day. The Commission argued that the drafters of the Constitution realised that .many people needed a framework to search for identities and to define communities. He stated that the Commission might be having hearings in one place about initiation and circumcisions of young males, and would be approached by a person who resided a few hundred kilometres away, in another town, and asked if it was possible to identify women who would perform female circumcisions. The fundamental question was what that enquirer was saying in regard to her personal understanding of identity. The Commission had also mediated in cases where there was a clash between cultural and religious practices; in the north it had mediated between one group requiring total silence in the village whilst another held religious services at night. This was a problem throughout Limpopo, and had led to the roll out of a programme, which at one level led to knowledge of self identity. People were now, for the first time, able to assert their individual identifies. The question was how to create an environment of self-definition and how to move from the self definition then to the concept of "diverse people uniting" as set out in the mandate. Self discovery was linked to common discovery. The challenge in the country would therefore be the contest between individual and group rights. .
Dr Guma indicated that often people would be persuaded by lawyers, who held the view that the individual perspective must take precedence. However, group rights had equal demand. Sections 9, 15 and 31 should be seen as the same, and none took precedence over the others. It was possible to argue outside the Commission intellectually, but for purposes of the national agenda it was important to recognise that there must be a constant balance between the two sets of rights. People should be allowed to opt out of groups, but the legal framework for the assertion of group rights must be created.
That had been the essential element of the submission to the ad hoc Committee. Dr Guma noted further that the internationally used phrases or notions of "indigenous people" "first nation" and "minority rights' were not used in the Constitution, and instead there was the notion of encouraging "diminishing heritage". South African history and context had resulted in many people being diminished effectively by the legislative and political processes to which they were subjected. The specific context in which the Commission had been created therefore distinguished it and the environment within which it worked from PANSALB or the Department of Arts and Culture. The Commission had to catalogue, in order to define who people were, and how choices should be made, and to produce a Charter of Rights.
Mr Mongale asked if the finances of the Commission were audited.
Ms Madiba confirmed that the Commission was audited by the Auditor General as it was listed in the PFMA. She noted again that the report was unqualified but there were areas of emphasis on internal capacity issues. They had not been fully addressed yet as the functionality of the Commission was dependent on capacity.
Mr Mongale asked more about the Mother Tongue day, when it was founded and by whom.
Ms Madiba said that 21 February was an International Mother Tongue Day. It was chosen because the issues of language was serious and merited consideration.
Mr Mongale asked what kind of time frames were attached to the work on African religions.
Ms Madiba replied that African religions must have existed at the time that the first foreign settlers arrived. The question was how to identify and revive those religions. The Commission, in taking the steps to do so, was beginning to recognise strong commonalities between African and other religions. When Africans converted to Christianity, there was also the question whether they had fully dropped the beliefs and values of their own religions, which might incorporate elements of "paganism", and to what extent these were acceptable to communities.
Mr Mongale agreed that targeting the youth was important, and believed also it was important to encourage older people to be included.
The Acting Chairperson also indicated that most people had lost culture when urbanised. Children were often not being taught about their background.
Ms Madiba agreed that this was an important point. It was for this reason that the Commission felt that, over and above the enabling legislation, there should be a Council of Elders to help to revive institutional memory. Together they should be able to reclaim some knowledge. She pointed out that culture was not static but there were some defined elements needing to be carried through. This then raised the question of what the Commission should protect. It must identify the pillars of the cultural identity. The initiation ceremony, for instance, had changed its format many times, but the institution remained. She noted that gender issues were also important. Although the patriarchical values, practices and language might apply, women had a critical role to play in socialising children.
The Acting Chairperson asked how the traditional leaders were cooperating.
Ms Madiba said that the Commission was developing good partnerships. The Traditional Leaders were fully involved in the initiation hearings. That relationship needed to be strengthened. The Commission must consider how best to synchronise the institution and how the practices were carried out, and there were similar challenges to the co-existing religions. Kgoshi Matanzima had also suggested that protocols in traditional leadership should be dealt with, to set out how to behave and respond.
Ms L Mashiane (ANC) wondered if the budget allocation to the Office of the Chairperson was out of line with the other programmes.
Dr Guma noted that the Chairperson was the only full time Commissioner, and that the budget encompassed a number of programmes that were not dealt with by anyone else in the office.
Ms Madiba added that the budget had been structured around programmes, and the Office of the Chairperson was indeed running certain programmes. She also stressed that this budget covered the 17 Commissioners, and the administrative support to the Chairperson. Policy formulation also emanated from this office. The funding was also paying for some activities that might have initiated elsewhere.
Ms Madiba took up a point of Mr Mshudulu in relation to unfunded amounts, and noted that the Commission needed to establish a reference document, and this was essentially an unfunded mandate for the time being.
Ms P Bhengu (ANC) asked whether sign language was one of the languages under discussion.
Dr Guma said that sign language was one focus area. The Commission was of the view that the Department of Education should teach sign language as a compulsory subject up to a certain level in the schools. That would be presented as a policy option. The Commission would also have to address the question of dialects.
Ms Bhengu asked whether the Commission had a focus also in rural areas, and what its relationship was with other departments.
Ms Madiba replied that the awareness in rural areas was developing. The Commission believed it should start from the rural areas as many of the matters had been lost in urban areas. However, the work of the Commission was only a drop in the ocean.
The Acting Chairperson noted that some areas had been identified as unfunded. He suggested that since DPLG had experience in starting matters from scratch, the Commission could learn from them. It should be able to monitor the first phases in order to measure progress, towards the final phase which would be the integration of all institutions. This would then relate back to how the Commission defined its mandate.
Dr Guma said that this was the second time that the relationship issue was flagged. The relationship of the Commission to DPLG should not be a financial one. The Commission should benefit from DPLG's wisdom and experience. It was hoped that the Commission would be integrated into the DPLG programmes, because it had essentially taken over a pre-existing situation and been told to run with it.
The Acting Chairperson indicated that the Committee, after meeting all the entities, would need to meet with DPLG to analyse the programmes and to decide how best to engage on joint monitoring mechanisms to ensure that the work was done most effectively.
Dr W M Sobahle, Executive Manager, DPLG, stated that the Commission was a new organisation, and confirmed that it had had to embark immediately on certain issues. DPLG had to find ways of interacting adequately with it, and it had not yet done so fully. The shortcomings were on the part of DPLG. The DPLG was too short staffed to undertake oversight adequately. This had been addressed and DPLG had played a role in facilitating some of the interactions that had taken place, including the close relationship with he National House of Traditional Leaders. DPLG would ensure that the Commission was able to learn from good practices over the years. The relationship between his Unit and the Commission was excellent and they would be able to effect inputs to improve the performance of the Commission and to ensure that the concerns expressed were addressed.
The Acting Chairperson indicated that the Committee and the DPLG would deliberate on all briefings, and a report would in due course be delivered to Parliament. He hoped that it would be possible to engage with the Commission more than once a year.
The meeting was adjourned.