ATC110331: Report on Oversight Visit to Gauteng, Limpopo & Mpumalanga from 29 to 31 March 2011

Arts and Culture

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture on an oversight visit to Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga from 29 to 31 March 2011, dated 7 September 2011


The Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture having conducted an oversight visit to the Windybrow Playhouse, the Freedom Park, Noria Mabasa Arts Craft Centre and to Samora Machel Monument (a Monument of the late Mozambican President), reports as follows:


1. Introduction


The Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture, inspired by the desire to ensure effective oversight and greater accountability of entities funded through transfers from the Department of Arts and Culture, embarked on an oversight programme from 29 to 31 March 2011. It covered three Provinces namely, Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.


The purpose of the visit was multi-fold. The visit sought to ensure that these entities were carrying out the mandates for which they were established. The Committee also sought to assess the challenges that these entities were faced with. In addition, it intended to assess the impact these entities had on tourism, job creation and rural development. The need to foster international relations and cooperation also formed the basis of the visit.


2. Delegation


The delegation consisted of the following members of the Committee:


Hon MsT B Sunduza (ANC Member)

Hon Ms L Moss (ANC Member)

Hon Ms F F Mushwana (ANC Member)

Hon Mr LPKhaorai (ANC Member)

Hon Ms TLP Nwamitwa-Shilubana (ANC Member)

Hon Mr DV Mavunda (ANC Member)

Hon Ms A Lotriet (DA Member)

Hon.Ms HSMsweli (IFP Member)

Hon Mr P Ntshiqela (COPE Member)


The following staff members supported the Committee:


Mr. L Myoli (Committee Secretary)

Mr. V Muhadi (Researcher)

Mrs. O Siebritz (Committee Assistant)



3. Findings


3. Windybrow Playhouse


Windybrow Playhouse was built in 1896 by one of the early South African Mining Engineers, as a family home. It was declared a National Monument in 1996 and as a Cultural Institution







in April 2005 by the Department of Arts and Culture. As an Arts Centre its history spans almost twenty years. Windybrow is regarded as an incubator for the development of high quality performance artists and productions that are inspired by Africa and its rich diversity of cultural forms. Its mission is to facilitate cultural exchange between theatres and theatre practitioners in South Africa and those from other parts of Africa. In this context it serves as an artistic point of contact.


On arrival at Windybrow Playhouse, the Committee was welcomed by Mr V Maphela, Chief Executive Officer and Mr Allie Achmat, Chief Financial Officer. Mr Maphela indicated that the last encounter with the Portfolio Committee was in 2005 and added that the entity had attained major milestones since then.


In her introduction, the leader of the delegation, Hon. Sunduza stated that members of the Committee were public representatives who had to ensure that funds transferred to entities were properly utilized. She indicated that the Committee had to ascertain what challenges the entities were experiencing and what interventions were necessary. She went on to state that the Committee was interested to know whether the Playhouse was active and whether it was still producing artists; what its marketing and job creation plans were; its accessibility to different communities; its partnership with other sectors and its international relations strategy.


 The Chief Executive Officer indicated that the Playhouse was functioning without a Council, as the previous Council was suspended by the Minister in 2010. This resulted from a dispute with the current management. He pointed out that since then there had been no communication with Council members.


Mr Maphela addressed the Committee on the challenges the Playhouse was experiencing, citing as key amongst others; insufficient funds from the Department; change from being a satellite for the State Theatre to a fully fledged Playhouse without careful consideration having been given to the implications of the new status. This resulted sometimes in the inability to pay staff and stage productions and maintain the property. Mr Maphela stated that in the previous financial year, the theatre only staged 6 out of 15 scheduled stage productions. He also mentioned that the location of the Playhouse posed a challenge as the area (Hillbrow) was regarded as dangerous. Mr Maphela indicated that while the Playhouse was faced with a number of challenges, it also had a number of successes. In this context the Chief Executive Officer indicated that there was positive progress with regards to further funds being made available and the employees were going an extra mile, doing more than was expected of them.


On job-creation the Chief Executive Officer distinguished between the production side and the permanent establishment. With regards to the first, he emphasized that it was the nature of the industry that jobs were normally short term. However, they planned to hire personnel on an eight week period and such personnel would include Script Writers and Artists. He indicated that the Playhouse had 14 permanent employees of which five were cleaners. He reported that according to a skills audit that had been undertaken, gaps were identified and 29 additional personnel were required.


With regards to accessibility, the CEO reported that they had looked at the immediate community of Hillbrow and Berea - an area that is highly inhabited by a large number of foreign nationals and realized that they would lose an opportunity in other areas if they focused only nationally. Against this background and particularly in the wake of the xenophobic outbreak, the CEO reported that they had organized a plenary around the time of the 2010 World Cup and they are holding monthly meetings with organizations to promote social cohesion. In addition, they had also issued invitations to crèches in the area to attend the theatre shows as part of an outreach programme. Mr Maphela concluded by indicating that the Playhouse is fostering international relations with five countries within the continent with an understanding of creating relations with theatres in those countries. He mentioned such countries as Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia,Botswana and Mozambique. He brought it to the attention of members that theatres in those countries were not funded by Government and the definition of Performing Arts in those countries differred from the definition used in South Africa.


During the discussion that followed members were interested to know what the reasons were for the suspension of the Council; time-frames and cost for the renovations; what structure was there to manage the project and the funds; how long double duties were going to continue; what types of skills were needed most and what danger the neighbourhood posed. 


The Chief Executive Officer reported that the renovations would cost R22m, involving the roofing of the entire National Monument and the Heritage Site. He pointed out that these were not straight forward renovations and work on Heritage Sites tended to be more expensive. In this context, he mentioned that a Serbian Group – Heritage Specialists - was appointed to do the work. The project was started in November 2010 and would be completed in October 2011. The first phase was to rehabilitate the building. The bulk of the work involved plumbing; storm water drainage and electrical work.


The Chief Executive Officer reported as well that soon after work was started it was discovered that the Playhouse was exposed to blue and white asbestos and specialists had to be brought in to deal with the problem. The project was completed. He also indicated that most of their plans were contained in their strategic plans which were submitted to Parliament.


The Chief Executive reported on what he termed strategic areas namely, alignment of their work by August/September 2011 to Government Celebrations; servicing arts centres in underserviced areas to reclaim artists who are at this level; Arts and Culture Policy Review which was stopped mid-way. Mr Maphela also cited the Lottery Board, National Treasury, the Department of Arts and Culture and Internal and External Auditors as the bodies that the Playhouse reported to.


Mrs Baduza, the Acting Director General of the Department of Arts and Culture also confirmed the suspension of the Council and assured the Committee that the Minister was





seized with the issue of Councils. She promised that by 1 April 2011, they would start with the nominations of the new Council.


It was also reported that besides two security guards, Windybrow had no other means of security features. Management was advised to install security cameras. The sewage system challenge Windybrow is experiencing was also brought to the attention of the delegation. Hon Sunduza advised Windybrow Managers to involve Publics Works in their Projects.


The delegation, accompanied by Mr Nicholas Scott, Capital Works Project Manager, was taken on a short walk-about of the premises. The delegation was informed that this project is designed to rehabilitate and restore the Windybrow Precinct. The project aims to adopt adjacent heritage sites under Windybrow Management, to create support for the Windybrow Precinct; refurbish and upgrade the current heritage site, to ensure compliance with heritage, health and safety regulations. The project began in the 2010/11 financial year and will end in the 2012/13 financial year. During the 2010/11 financial year it was funded with R20 million while for 2011/12 the costs would amount to R158 million. The last phase of the project in the 2012/13 financial year would cost R138 million. The Project Manager summed up the implications and challenges that Windybrow would face if funds were not allocated as follows:


  • Deterioration of National Heritage Site and degradation of the infrastructure beyond point of salvation. 
  • Self evident risk to user agencies Health and Safety, opening up potential liabilities for  national government, Windybrow operational management and the vast user community accessing the infrastructure on a daily basis;
  • Windybrow will be unable to fulfil it’s mandate as an organisation; 
  • Non-compliance to Occupational Health and Safety and other Statutes.
  • Escalation of costs through delays and lack of support from key stakeholders at various levels of government.
  • Inability to accommodate and provide support to the Arts Programmes, the User community, and basic Aesthetics of a safe and clean environment;
  • Eradication of 100% Water-logged foundation, to a National Heritage Site and a Theatre currently serving a growing user community.
  • Exposition to Risk and Safety of users and the management team


4. Freedom Park


The Freedom Park was declared a Cultural Institution in April 2009 and was tasked with governance, construction and maintenance ofSouth Africa’s icons of freedom, reconciliation and nation building. Its core function is to use South Africa’s rich multi-cultural heritage to reconcile a divided nation and showcase the Country’s indigenous knowledge system as an underpinning principle. It is also charged to create a narrative of South Africa’s pre-colonial, colonial, apartheid history and heritage spanning centuries – to acknowledge those who contributed to freedom in the country.







Its vision and mission incorporates an embrace of national unity and fellowship; provision of pioneering and empowering heritage destination aimed at mobilizing for reconciliation and nation building. The Park has been divided into five different areas or elements, namely //Hapo, Uitspanplek, Isivivane, S’khumbuto and Mveledzo. Each element is dedicated to different aspects and serves a specific purpose. //Hapo tells the story of Southern Africa, dating back 3.6 million years. Our rich and colourful history unfolds in seven epochs or eras, from creation to the issue of reconciliation and nation building that we face today. Uitspanplek is a peaceful place where families can spend the day together or where visitors to the Park can relax and reflect after the tour. Isivivane is a sacred space, the spiritual resting place for those who played a part in the freedom and liberation of South Africa. It is inclusive of all faiths and religions; it invites visitors to celebrate their shared spirituality and heritage. Isivivane is composed of eleven boulders/stones surrounding the circular shaped sacred site. The boulders represent the provinces, national government and the international community respectively. The boulders representing national government and the international community come from the site whilst the boulders representing the provinces come from each respective province.  These boulders have been taken from sites of significance either symbolizing a historical event, natural occurrence or a social construction. S’khumbuto is the main memorial; it stands as a testimony to eight conflicts that have shaped the South Africa of today. These are Pre-Colonial wars, Genocide, Slavery, War of Resistance, the South African War, the First World War, the Second World War and the Struggle for Liberation. Lastly, Mveledzo is a spiral path that links all these elements into one inclusive whole.


The Committee was welcomed by the Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Ms P Photolo, who was in the company of Mr R Gouws, Chief Finance Officer; Mr R Abrahams, Head: Heritage and Knowledge; Mr J Nkwana, Head: Human Resources; Ms J Mutamadi, Deputy Head: Incubation and Innovation; Mr J Phelogo, Education Manager; Mr P Baholo, Deputy Head: ICT; Mr T Khoza, Acting Head: Park Operations.


The following Council Members were present namely, Ms S Mabusela, Chairperson and Ms N Mdlalose. Ms M Strydom, Executive Assistant to the Deputy CEO; Ms T Tshivhase, Guest Relations Officer; Mr R Hafeni, Security Supervisor; Mr P Mhlanga, Driver/Administration Officer, were also in attendance.


In a brief overview of the Freedom Park - in front of the main building - Mr Abrahams reported that when Freedom Park was established in 1999, it was not known exactly what the Park would do but through extensive consultations with civil society; individuals; academics and religious leaders, there was consensus that Freedom Park’s main focus should be the healing of the nation as a principle and the emancipation of the African voice.

At the end of the overview, the entourage moved inside the building. Here the Committee was introduced to a reception area referred to as “//Hapo”, which is “San” for “a dream is not a dream until it is shared by the entire Community” From here the entourage moved to the start of the narrative, which the design of the building is intended to give effect to. The journey started from an epoch or era called “Earth” then it moved to “Cultural versus the Scientific story of creation”, to “Ancestor’s life after death”, “the Physical”, “Peopling”, “Slave





Trade and Bantu Civilisation”, the Colonized and Colonizer”, “Resistance and Colonisation”, “Industrialisation and Urbanisation” “Nationalism and Struggle”, “Negotiations” and “Reconciliation. The significance of all these epochs is that they create that narrative which takes the nation from pre-colonial times – through other phases - to where it is today. And, this is the evolution of the South African nation.


As the delegation entered the building - where the first epoch is located - by the end of the session, the delegation was almost outside the building. From there, the entourage moved to “Moshate”, a place that houses the Gallery of Leaders. This was followed by a visit to “Isivivane”, (for Cleansing, Healing and Return of the Spirits) which was followed by a visit to the “Wall of Names”, and the “Sanctuary”.


The entourage moved back to Moshate to conclude the visit. During the closing remarks it was agreed that further presentations would be done in Parliament.


5. Noria Mabasa Arts Centre


Noria Mabasa is one of the most popular South African sculptors and, the one and only female woodcarver. She was born on 10 May 1938 in Xigalo in the Limpopo Province in South Africa. In the early 1970’s, after a long struggle for economic survival, Noria began making clay sculptures of Domba figures. She explains, "I started because of a dream. It took a very long time, because I didn't understand it well. This was in 1965 and in 1974, I started the work". In 1983, after meeting the Venda sculptor Nelson Makhuba, she was encouraged to venture into woodcarving. Her skill made her the first black woman, and the only Venda woman in South Africa, to become a famous wood carver.


Joseph Mathe, an official from the National Department of Arts and Culture welcomed everyone and introduced the Mabasa family, who are also Board members of the Centre. Hon Sunduza reciprocated and introduced her delegation and also outlined the reasons for the visit – which was to ensure and oversee the management of government funds in pursuit of service delivery and better management of the Noria Mabasa Arts Centre. Also present at the meeting were Hon. N. Mhlana, Chairperson, Provincial Committee on Sports, Arts and Culture; Mr H Nkwashu, Office of the MEC; Mr G Mavunda, Senior Manager, Provincial Department of Sport, Arts and Culture; Ms M Maake, Researcher, Provincial Legislature; Ms M Tshweu, Researcher, Provincial Legislature; Ms S Malungana, Secretary, ANC Caucus and Mr L Shilabye, Researcher, ANC Caucus.


Noria Mabasa Arts Centre consists of four board Members, namely; Mr Maxwell Mabasa, Mr Avhashoni (Woodcaver), Mrs Joyce Mabasa (sculptor & ceramist) and Mr Mudau (local representative) and four additional support staff. The delegation was informed that no cameras were allowed in the Arts Centre as some people take photos of her work and publish them with no royalties.


Vhutsila A Vhu Tibiwi Arts Centre recruits students who have passed Grade 12, train and assist them in sculpture/pottery and woodcarving techniques. Noria Mabaso as the specialist is responsible for training these students. The delegation further learnt that Ms Mabasa has trained





13 students since the Centre was constructed in 2007. Before the Department of Arts and Culture intervened to help Ms Mabasa to have a proper facility from which to work and train people, she was previously working under a tree to produce her crafts and train people. Ms Mabasa was very grateful for the construction of the Arts Centre and applauded a job well done by the Department. The Arts Centre is composed of six rooms namely; 1 Display Room, 2 Storage Rooms, 1 Work Room, 1 Kitchen and 1 Room for Administration and four bathrooms. The delegation was informed that after the construction of the Arts Centre, Ms Mabasa only received two grants. She revealed that it has been four years since the Centre received the last grant.


She reported that the works of the Centre are for sale just to boost the livelihood of herself and her students. The Centre,also offers overnight accommodation.


The delegation further heard that after the construction of the Arts Centre it was uncovered that both the Provincial and National Department never sat down to discuss a way forward for the management of the Centre and how skills development would be strengthened.


Noria Mabaso emphasized the lack of support from both the Provincial and National Department in terms of funding, marketing and exhibition of the Centre. She is left with only 6 students, others have left due to lack of marketing and publicity for their products or crafts. As grateful as she was about the construction of the Arts Centre, she found it unacceptable that she was not receiving further grants to maintain the building, fund her students and market her products. She informed the delegation that the Department visited her over three times making empty promises about her next funding. She was very emotional about the lack of support from both Provincial and National Department. She stated that during President Thabo Mbeki’s term of office the Centre received support from the Department. She revealed that the former President even took her to Belgium. The former President also unveiled one of her sculptures in the Union Buildings.


The delegation was saddened to be informed that an international icon was being exploited locally. In this context, a certain Mr John Crude was said to have published a book with photographs of her work and yet she was never compensated for this.  Another incident involved the Lesheba Lodge where she was contracted to make decorations in the lodge and again after such hard work there were no royalties. The National Department and Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture promised to make follow ups on the challenges that Ms Mabasa was experiencing.


In closure, Hon Sunduza urged both National and Provincial Department to give full support to the Arts Centre. The role of Municipalities and Councillors in this issue was also raised. The Chairperson also encouraged the Department of Arts and Culture to engage with the Department of Higher Education for skills development projects. The Chairperson advised the Department to educate Ms Noria Mabasa about accountability and procurement processes. Lastly the Chairperson acknowledged the work of Noria Mabasa as being in its own class.








6. Samora Machel Monument


The Monument is built on the crash site, which is up on the hill, towards Mozambique. The wreckage of the Russian Tupelov 134A-3 Aircraft C9 – CAA, was found approximately 35 Nautical miles west of Maputo Airport, in South Africa. A Museum - a cooperative project between the South African Government and the Mozambican Government - stands next to the Monument. The Department of Arts and Culture also built a Community Library in honour of the late President.


Two architects, one from Mozambique and one from South Africa were hired to design and oversee the construction of the Monument which conveys the mourning of the death of the President and his companions. 35 steel tubes symbolize the number of those who lost their lives. At the bottom of each steel tube a brownish substance forms on the concrete slab, representing their blood. The pillars cast long shadows over the base. The wind at the top of the steel tubes causes permanent whispering through incisions in the pillars – the whispers represent the cries of those who died. Among those who died along with the President included Ministers; Ambassadors; Russian Crew; Cuban Presidential Medical Team; Cabin Crew and Government Officials. The President had been returning from an international meeting in Lusaka, Zambia.


The delegation of the Committee was welcomed at the site by Ms Mjwara, Head of Provincial Department (HOD) – Mpumalanga; Mr S Singh, Director in the Department; Ms S Nkosi, Director – Communication; Mr T Shilubane, Ms L Nhlapo and Mr T Nhlapho. Also present to welcome the delegation was Mr M J Mavuso, Executive Mayor; Councillor, T S Khoza - MMC; Councillor, G R Khubayi and Mr S Mpanza; Mr F Malatsi; S Madonsela; B Shekwa; N Mahlalela; M Mahlalela; A Borman and R Magagula.


The Head of the Provincial Department gave a short summary on where the Department was coming from with the project, in collaboration with the National Department. She reported that at the initial stage the project consisted only of the pillars while the second phase saw the introduction of the curatorship. The following phase, in partnership with the National Department, would focus on drainage and water-proofing. She also reported that they have small commemorations every year and a big one every 5 years. Further, that the Community was assisting in looking after the site.


The Head of Department then called on Mr Magagula to lead the delegation through a tour of the Museum. At the reception area the delegation was greeted by what symbolically represented a family tree of the late President. On the wall in the background is the history of the Nation of Soshangane and the actual family tree of former President Machel. From here, the delegation was led through a narrow passage of the museum up to a part of the building where some of the remains of the wreckage are collected and kept. On the other side of this collection stands an ox built from some parts of the wreckage. The ox is said to represent the preservation of the spirits of those who died.







The delegation thereafter moved to an area which was prepared for questions and closing remarks. Here the Executive Mayor addressing the gathering and emphasized that they saw the potential of the site and that they would prioritize it, as unemployment was high in the area. Further, he reported on the twinning of the local municipality with Matola, Mbombela and Mbabane. He promised that they would set-aside funds to see if they could not build some stalls on the site.


A request was made for the delegation to consider raising with the appropriate authorities the issue of free movement of people betweenSwaziland; Mpumalanga and Mozambique.   


The leader of the delegation, Hon. Sunduza, summing up the discussions emphasized the question of partnership with tourism to stimulate economic development in the area and the creation of jobs. She also encouraged the involvement of all races, suggesting a partnership with the Department of Education as there was a need to foster social cohesion and skills development. In addition she raised quite sharply the need to strengthen international relations and proper marketing of the monument as some of those who died in the crash came from other countries as well.


In closing the Head of Department recognized the Mahlelani tribe for donating the piece of land on which the monument was built. She extended her recognition to include the Department of Arts and Culture, Ms A Borman, the Curator and Mr R Magagula, the tour guide, whom she said volunteered to looked after the place. She also reported that this year would be the 25th Anniversary and the Presidents of both Countries and their families would be invited.


The Head of Department thanked everyone who attended but reserved her special gratitude to members of the Committee, promising to consider their inputs and wise counsel.     


7. Recommendations


The Committee recommends that the Department of Arts and Culture:


7.1        Should assist and empower the above entities to engage themselves towards skills development projects.


7.2        Should assist the entities to collaborate with other Departments such as the Department of Tourism, for local economic development through sustainable tourism projects.


7.3        Should assist the entities to join forces with the Department of Basic Education and Department of Higher Education for skills development programmes. It is equally important for these entities as well as the industry as a whole to demonstrate how their programmes contribute towards employment opportunities, rural development and social cohesion.






7.4        Should appoint the Windy brow Playhouse Council as soon as possible, for proper and efficient operation of the playhouse.


7.5.1          Should offer more support to Noria Mabasa Arts Centre, to assist her with her funding challenges and also to provide skills training to her in order for her to run her business effectively.




Report to be considered.



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