The Director General of the Department of Arts and Culture gave a presentation its Strategic Plan and Budget. Members raised concerns about the lack of clarity in the budget about provincial allocations, financial management at institutions, the building of new libraries in townships and rural areas where there were still no libraries, the promotion of mother tongue as medium of instruction, especially at Foundation Phase, geographical name changes, community arts centres and vacancies in the department. The Department promised to return with a full presentation on community libraries and community arts centres.
The Chair noted that very few Members of Parliament were in attendance. He welcomed and congratulated the Director General on his appointment earlier in the year. The Chair expressed his surprise that the Strategic Plan and Budget had not yet been formally tabled in Parliament since all government departments had already tabled these. He also stated that it was unfortunate that the briefing documents had not been distributed before the meeting to enable members to prepare for the meeting. The late submission could affect the quality of the discussion. He reminded the Director General that it was procedure in Parliament to distribute discussion documents well in advance of a meeting.
Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) presentation
Mr Thembinkosi Wakashe, DAC Director General, apologised for the late submission of documents. He said the Strategic Plan had been finalised and it was his understanding that treasury regulations required that the Strategic Plan had to be tabled 10 days before the Budget Vote. Since the Budget Vote would be taking place on 6 June 2008, the department still had time to submit the Strategic Plan to Parliament.
Mr Wakashe explained that the aim of DAC was to develop and preserve arts and culture, and to ensure social cohesion and nation building. He wanted to pay particular attention to social cohesion and nation building, since these two issues presented some of the serious challenges facing the country, especially in the light of current xenophobic attacks on foreigners.
The work DAC was doing fell within two clusters, namely the Social Cohesion and National Identity cluster (within which DAC was leading the government) and the Information Society and Development cluster (ISAD), which was shared by the Department of Communications and DAC. The Department of Communications was mainly responsible for the technological side of the development of ITC, while DAC provided the content. The main focus of the work DAC was doing in the second cluster was developing the National Digital Repository to digitise the archival heritage of the country.
DAC was also linking this cluster to community libraries, as well as linking libraries to the development of ITC libraries and heritage institutions. It was hoped that libraries would be easily accessible to educational institutions. DAC was also looking at the implementation of Open Source Software in and around the Dinaledi schools.
Regarding Programme 1 (Administration), the DG said that filling vacancies was a priority. DAC was finalising the Policy Review Process that had started in 2007 and the results would be published by September 2008.
About Programme 2: Arts and Culture in Society, the DG stated that substance abuse and teenage pregnancies, amongst many problems, were serious challenges. He asked whether there was not overemphasis on interventions aimed at the level of youth while the children were being neglected, with the result that youth interventions took place when the damage had already been done. More interventions needed to be aimed at Early Childhood Development (ECD). In order to do that, DAC needed to intensify ECD efforts and ensure broader programmes and participation in the community arts centres to instil social values. Broader access could be ensured through the performing arts.
Develop a vision 2010 strategy: The DG stated that preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup focused mainly on infrastructure, while DAC was working on programmes to ensure that country would be socially ready for the event. A number of campaigns were also planned such as the social histories of the host cities.
Increased funding to the National Arts Council: On 20 May 2008 the Strategic Plan of the National Heritage Council had been finalised. Funding for the National Heritage Council was increased to R16 million for the Council to implement campaigns to popularise the values of ubuntu.
The DG said that DAC welcomed the increase for statutory bodies, such as the National Arts Council and the National Heritage Council.
Regarding Programme 3 (Establishment of Provincial Language committees to ensure the promotion of awareness of multilingualism), the DG expressed concern regarding a growing trend that African children neglect their mother tongue in favour of English, while white children were not encouraged to study and think in an African language. The result was living in a country where people could not participate in discourse. This was a threat to social cohesion.
Establishment of the National Centre for Human Language Technologies (HLT). According to the DG, the establishment of the centre was what would take African languages into the 21st Century. On the development of African languages, the DG stated that solutions should not be looked for abroad, since a local language, namely Afrikaans, had developed into a language of commerce, law and politics, and could therefore serve as a model for the development of African languages. DAC would engage with universities, especially the former Afrikaans universities. Linking language development to technology would unlock the economic potential of African languages.
Establishment of Language Development Research Centres (LRDC). The DG said that DAC had been partnering with the historically black universities to develop African languages.
Programme 4: To manage bi-lateral and multi-lateral relationships. The DG stated that the arts community was not aware of how much government was doing to establish partnerships. This was a challenge that needed to be addressed.
South Africa and China were celebrating ten years of diplomatic relations. There was currently a large contingent of South African artists in China. A second contingent would be going in October. Chinese artists would also perform in South Africa.
Ratification of the Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Goods and Services. The DG stated that the more than 60% of the content of South African television was not South African. DAC was currently working with a number of countries, including France, Brazil and Canada to address the matter of diversity. A forum existed, namely the Informal Network of Cultural Policies, which was a network of governments, that endeavoured to ensure cultural diversity and access to the market. DAC was looking at possible cultural exchanges with other countries, such as Brazil, especially with respect to television. This was a result of the violent content of American television programmes, since violence on television led to violence in society.
Programme 5: Heritage Promotion (Intensify fund raising campaign to the NEPAD Agenda through the establishment of the African World Heritage Fund.) The fund had been established and was operational, based at the Development Bank of Southern Africa. A number of countries contributed to the fund, which currently stood at US$ 5 million.
Conduct social cohesion campaigns through the National Public Hearings on Geographical Names. The DG noted that during calls for nominations to the South African Geographical Names Committee, a trend emerged, namely that the Afrikaans speaking population made the most nominations, while the English speaking population hardly made any nominations. This underscored the perception that name changes were seen as targeting Afrikaans heritage. A campaign would be launched in June 2008 whereby the Geographical Names Committee would visit the provinces.
Conduct research on the social history of 2010 host cities. The DG said that social history usually reflected traditionally white areas while the history of black areas was ignored.
Programme 6: National Archives, Records, Libraries and Heraldic Services. The DG stressed the importance of good record keeping in government and said that archival standards and good management of records across government departments had to be of the highest professional standard.
MTEF Expenditure trends: Preparing for the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2010 FIFA World Cup (R 50 million in 2008/9 and R 75 Million in 2009/10). The DG stated that the focus would extend beyond the opening and closing ceremonies to include upgrading of theatres, cinemas and music halls, for example the Playhouse in Port Elizabeth. Additional venues for upgrading still had to be identified.
2008/2009 Budget Summary: Transfers dominate the total budget allocation at 86.21%. According to the DG, transfer to institutions posed a huge challenge to DAC in that the strategic plan of each of the institutions had to be carefully monitored and evaluated to ensure that the work they did was aligned with the priorities of government.
Detail per programme: Castle of Good Hope. The DG pointed out that the R 3 515 million budget allocation was for managing the process of transferring the Castle from the Department of Defence to the DAC.
Ms F Mazibuko wanted to know what was meant by 'Open Source Software'.
The DG said that Open Source Software was implemented by the Department of Communications to provide free internet access to schools, as well as linkages to other institutions, such as clinics and the Post Office.
Regarding Slide 8, Ms Mazibuko asked to what extent DAC was supporting schools to ensure that mother tongue becomes the language of instruction in schools, especially in the Foundation Phase.
The Chair responded by saying that language policy was driven by the DoE policy.
Ms Mazibuko commented on the celebration of the diplomatic relations between South Africa and China and wanted to know what DAC was doing to ensure copyright.
The DG stated that patents and copyright presented a challenging issue that was mainly led by the Department of Trade and Industry and which extended beyond the creative industries, and that it was particularly difficult when it came to crafts.
Ms Mazibuko asked what was being done about security at museums.
The DG replied that R 322 million had been budgeted for upgrading security infrastructure.
Ms Mazibuko said it was important for provincial representatives to be able to see the budgetary allocations for provinces. She requested a breakdown of allocations to provinces. She criticised the format of the budget, saying it was unclear whether figures should be read as thousands or millions.
Ms Mazibuko wanted to know how allocations to institutions were made and justified, since some institutions did not have adequate financial management and could not account for expenditure, such as Robben Island which had the biggest allocation.
The DG replied that the complexity of the infrastructure of Robben Island required sophisticated management skills and he was not satisfied with the quality of management. The matter had been discussed with the Council which was inaugurated in 2007, as well as with the Minister and Deputy Minister, which led to the suspension of the CFO and COO. A forensic audit was underway and the recommendations of the forensic audit would be looked into carefully. Moreover, Robben Island was a World Heritage Site and had to meet minimum requirements in order to remain a World Heritage Site. The DG said the department would use the necessary legislative framework to address the problems at Robben Island.
Ms J Vilakazi (IFP, KZN) expressed concern about language in schools where indigenous languages were often relegated to third languages. Although there were laws and policies in place, these were not implemented.
She wanted more information about digital television to be introduced in November 2008.
Ms P Appalraju explained that South Africa would be changing from analogue to digital television since digital technology was more satellite friendly. In preparation for 2010 FIFA World Cup, during which visual material would be broadcast around the globe, South Africa would switch to digital technology in November 2008. Analogue televisions would become obsolete when the switch-over was complete.
Ms J Masilo wanted a progress report on service delivery in rural areas with respect to community arts centres and libraries. She said the focus seemed to be the upgrading of existing libraries in towns and cities, whereas it did not seem as if new libraries were being built in black areas.
Mr T Motlatjo (DA) (Limpopo) wanted to know whether the grants for community libraries were forwarded to the provinces. He also asked whether DAC had a plan for the building of new libraries in townships.
Due to the questions on community arts centres and community libraries and investing in culture, the DG requested that they return to the NCOP to do a presentation. Cultural infrastructure in South Africa could still be called apartheid infrastructure since townships did not have libraries. As libraries form part of the support system of learners, it was imperative for new libraries to be built in those areas where there were no existing libraries. The presentation would clearly show who would be benefiting from social investment.
The Chair stated that when the presentation was ready, the DG should schedule a meeting through the parliamentary liaison officer.
Mr J Setona wanted to know what the Language Development Research Centre had achieved in terms of its own objectives with respect to language policy.
The DG stated that the language centres existed for the creation, promotion and publication of literature in African languages. The focus would be on the most marginalised languages, namely Siswati, Tsonga, Tsivenda and Ndebele.
Mr Setona said there should be national policy framework according to which provinces could access funds.
The DG stated that there existed a national policy framework for funding. One of the challenges was considerable differences between the capacity of provinces to write proposals. Provinces that submitted better proposals tended to get more funding. Illiteracy should be taken into consideration. He said the process whereby provinces accessed funding had to be simplified.
Mr Setona wanted to know what was meant by 'schools of historic significance'.
The DG replied that historic schools referred to those schools that produced leaders. The schools needed to be looked at in a socio-historic context. Currently students showed no attachment to their educational institutions. Effort had to be put into getting alumni involved in institutions.
Mr Setona commented that tourists took an interest in, for example, sites where political leaders spent time under house arrest. Communities were currently taking responsibilities for these sites. He wanted to know what DAC was doing to coordinate these efforts.
The DG replied that South Africans still did not share a national memory and that creating a national memory started at a local level. He agreed that it was important to support community heritage initiatives.
Mr Setona said that South Africa was polarised due to the number of official languages, unlike many other countries with many official languages but which had one unifying language. At school, children were taught too many languages and could not communicate with one another.
Mr T Motlatjo asked whether DAC had liaised with the DoE about the building of new libraries since community libraries could serve a number of schools in an area.
The DG responded stated that DAC did interact with the DoE on the matter of libraries.
Mr Setona wanted to know why Members of Parliament were given single tickets to the Cape Town Jazz Festival, as he was married.
Referring to Slide 15, Ms Masilo said that budget allocations to provinces were not clear. For example, Women's Day celebrations had a budget allocation of R 4.5 million. She stated that each province celebrated Women's Day and wanted to know how much each province would receive. She suggested a restructuring of the budget in future.
Ms J Vilakazi wanted to know the name of the official responsible for national flags. She was inadvertently in possession of a flag and needed information on what to do with it.
Ms Mazibuko wanted a breakdown of budget allocations per province, as well as for investing in culture. If conditional grants were given to provinces, the provincial representatives needed to be informed.
Regarding conditional grants to provinces, the DG stated that the complete figures would be sent electronically, but that he had the following information at hand:
Province Received Spent
Eastern Cape R 17 m R 10 m
Gauteng R 18.8 m R 18.4 m
Free State R 16 m R 16.5 m
KwaZulu-Natal R 13.9 m R 13.9 m
Limpopo R 17 m R 12.7 m
Mpumulanga R 22.8 m R 22.5 m
Northern Cape R 24 m R 21 m
North West R 16 m R 15 m
Western Cape R 16.7 m R 16.7 m
Ms Mazibuko said there was a need for the standardisation in information given by tour guides at Robben Island. She urged DG to schedule a follow-up meeting on libraries.
The Chair stated that languages are part of heritage and it was therefore important to preserve and develop indigenous languages. He suggested DAC sponsor a competition to encourage MPs to debate in their mother tongue, since MPs were role models for the general public. Afrikaans started in 1935 and it was now a well-developed language. It was therefore necessary for government to spend money to encourage the use of indigenous languages. He commented on the fact that the budget for National Language Services was smaller than the budget for DAC Administration and that the entire budget for languages was only 5%. He stated that if Government did not take the language issue seriously, no-one else would.
The DG agreed that the budget for languages was insufficient and that attention would be paid to it.
Regarding the staff organogram and vacancies, the Chair noted that only 54 out of 93 positions advertised in 2007 had been filled, which meant 39 positions were vacant. He wanted to know why the 39 vacancies still existed. Regarding mentorship and coaching, he requested information on representivity and equity, especially in senior management, how many women were employed, what the department’s target was and by what date. He also said that on average it took government eight months between advertising a position and filling the vacancy. He said this was not acceptable and that the period had to be shortened.
Ms Matyila said DAC had embarked on an organisational development exercise to come up with an HR plan in order to address the time between advertising and filling vacancies. She said that regarding the male / female ratio, DAC had a target of 50/50 to be reached by 2010. Currently the ratio was 40% female and 60% male. During the previous two months, three women had been appointed in senior management positions. Mentorship and coaching programmes for women in senior management were a priority.
The Chair wanted to know why the process of geographical name changes was so slow in all provinces except Limpopo.
Mr V Ndima (Chief Director: Heritage) stated that the South African Geographical Names Council was composed of national and provincial representatives according to the South African Geographical Names Council Act. Regarding what happens in municipalities, he pointed out that the renaming of streets did not fall within the competence of the Council The renaming of streets fell under the Municipal Structures Act. The Council was established to provide national coordination. Public hearings would take place throughout country. The Minister had written to all Premiers, MECs and Mayors to ensure that the public hearings would involve all spheres of government. The Council would therefore play a coordinating role and ensure that uniform principles and procedures were followed. It was believed that these measures would alleviate tension. There would also be a research component to ensure accuracy and validity of proposed names. Regarding the pace of renaming, he stated that the challenge was that the South African Geographical Names Council Act did not allow the national department to drive the process. In the process, DAC was playing the role of referee and it was assumed that there would be champions at community level who would submit to national level where validity would be examined and recommendations made to the Minister. That was why provinces were moving at a different pace. The fact that the process in Limpopo was moving fast was due to handling at provincial level.
The Chair wanted to know whether the 12.5% annual budget increase was actual or nominal.
The DG stated that the budget increase was nominal, which included inflation.
The DG reiterated the request for a follow-up meeting with the Portfolio Committee on community arts centres and community libraries.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.
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