ATC160317: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture on the Oversight visit to Limpopo Province, 20- 24 July 2015, dated 02 February 2016
REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON ARTS AND CULTURE ON THE OVERSIGHT VISIT TO LIMPOPO PROVINCE, 20- 24 JULY 2015, Dated 02 FEBRUARY 2016
The Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture (the Committee) having conducted an oversight visit to Limpopo Province, reports as follows:
The Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture undertook an oversight visit to the Capricorn, Mopani and Vhembe Districts in the Limpopo Province from 20 to 24 July 2015 as part of its programme for the third term. The Committee’s oversight approach entailed visiting the abovementioned districts to monitor and oversee the implementation of key strategic priority areas that were identified by the Department of Arts and Culture for the 2014-2019 Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF). The Portfolio Committee visited a range of projects that are implemented by the Department.
Guided by the National Development Plan, vision 2030 and the 2014-2019 MTSF, the Portfolio Committee’s oversight focused on the following projects:
- The Community Library Conditional Grant;
- Flags in Schools;
- Community Arts Centres; and
- Artists in Schools.
The framework of the oversight was guided by priorities for the Arts, Culture and Heritage sector as per government’s plans to ensure preservation, promotion and protection of the national heritage as well as fostering social cohesion and nation building. As part of the oversight, the Committee conducted site visits to schools to gain first-hand experience of the hoisting of flags; community libraries and community arts centres regarding the implementation of priority areas identified for the oversight visit.
Meetings were also held with representatives from the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC); the Limpopo provincial Department of Sports, Arts and Culture; and other representatives from the projects that were visited. The Committee also conducted impromptu visit to the Pan South African Language Board’s provincial offices and observed that the offices were closed and the notification indicated that staff were attending a Nelson Mandela International Day programme. Furthermore, on the request of the provincial Member of the Executive Council responsible for Sports, Arts and Culture, the Committee visited the provincial archives building. While the Committee understands that in terms of schedule 5A of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, ‘archives other than the national archives’ are an exclusive provincial legislative competency it felt that it was necessary to visit the provincial archives building as it had just been opened to the public and it is the one of the first post-apartheid purpose built archives in South Africa.
- COMPOSITION OF THE DELEGATION
- Members of the Portfolio Committee
The delegation consisted of the following members:
Hon Mr. JL Mahlangu (ANC); Hon Ms. P Mogotsi (ANC); Hon Ms. B Tsoleli (ANC); Hon Ms. XS Tom (Chairperson and leader of delegation); Hon Dr. A Grootboom (DA); Hon Mr. W Rabotapi (DA); and Hon Ms NK Bilankulu (ANC).
- Parliamentary support staff
Ms. A Mtiya (Committee Secretary); Mr. J. van De Westhuizen (Committee Assistant); Mr. M Dlamuka (Content Advisor); and Ms. F Clayton (Researcher).
- Department of Arts and Culture
Mr. R Mudau (Deputy Minister’s Parliamentary Liaison Officer); Mr. S Nkanunu (Minister’s Parliamentary Liaison Officer); Mr. M Ledimo (Director: Arts and Youth Development); Ms. S Selepe (Deputy Director: Community Arts Centres and Programming); Mr. M Mabule (Deputy Director: Arts Education and Training); Mr. T Mabaso (Director: National Heraldry)
- Limpopo Provincial Legislature
Ms. M.O. Moloi (Chairperson: PC on Sports, Arts and Culture); two other members of the Limpopo legislature joined the briefing session.
- Provincial Department of Sports, Arts and Culture
Ms. N Ndalane (MEC: Sports, Arts and Culture); Mr. MF Mangena (Acting Head of Department); Mr. GS Mabunda (Acting General Manager); Mr. M Mhangwani (Acting Senior Manager); Mr. P Masemole (Manager); Mr. K Sadiki (Senior Manager: Library Services and Archives); Mr. K Choshane (General Manager); Mr. D Lebello (Provincial Archivist).
- OVERSIGHT BRIEFING WITH THE NATIONAL AND PROVINCIAL DEPARTMENTS
As part of the programme, the Committee had a briefing session with the Department of Arts and Culture and the Provincial Department of Sports, Arts and Culture which focused mainly on the delivery of the Community Library Conditional Grant. The briefing session’s objective was to allow members of the Committee to have a broader understanding of the service delivery environment that underpins the Community Library Conditional Grant.
- Presentation by the DAC
The DAC stated that an amount of R112 million has been appropriated as part of the Community Library Conditional Grant for the Limpopo province. Through this appropriation the following will be achieved during the Medium Term Expenditure Framework:
- Five new libraries are in the process of being built;
- 62 libraries connected to the internet;
- 20 444 library material to be purchased; and
- 79 staff members employed.
In terms of the expenditure patterns, the Limpopo Province expended its first quarter budget in line with its approved business plan. The DAC highlighted that Limpopo has a challenge with regards to the fast-tracking of the delivery of the community library conditional grant. This was partly attributed to the lack of capacity in the supply chain management as well as high staff turnover within the provincial government. The DAC emphasised that the Government Technical Advisory Centre has been set up to provide support on infrastructure planning, organisational development and streamlining supply chain management processes.
- Presentation by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture
The Department acknowledged the unequal distribution of the library services in the province. In the same light it acknowledged that the province’s history has a significant impact in the manner in which libraries are accessed by the public. This is because the province is an amalgamation of four former homelands and a part of the former northern Transvaal. In order to fast-track the delivery of library services, the Department has introduced the modular library system which are temporary structures that are faster and cheaper to build. The Department indicated that it has had challenges with dealing with the backlog of distributing purchased library material due to centralisation and shortage of staff at the cataloguing centres. In addition, the Department indicated that it was in a process of decentralising the cataloguing of library material so that this function would be conducted at a district level which is closer to libraries.
- SITE VISITS
After a boardroom based information session with the national and provincial government representatives, the Committee proceeded to conduct site visits. During site visits the Committee had an opportunity to communicate directly with officials who are involved in the delivery of services.
- Community Libraries
It is vital to point out that the ‘library other than the national library’ is the functional area of exclusive provincial legislative competence. However, given that provinces are recipients of the community library conditional grant which is managed by the national sphere of government, it was imperative that the Committee conduct oversight exclusively on the funding and functions that are associated with the community library conditional grant. Because of the complex nature of the library operations it was inevitable that the oversight of the Committee overlapped to functions that fall with within the constitutional domain of the legislative competence of a province. However, given that the Committee was accompanied by the legislative and executive leadership of the province, issues of provincial competence were relayed to their attention.
The Committee visited the following community libraries: Mankweng Community Library (Capricon District Municipality); Molepo Community Library (Capricon District Municipality); Xihlovo Community Library (Mopani District); Greater Giyani Public Library (Mopani District); Thulamela Main Library (Vhembe District Municipality); and the Musina Nancefield Community Library (Vhembe District Municipality). During the visit and interaction with different spheres of government the Committee observed the following:
- Library competency in relation to schedule 5A of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996
The Committee observed that given the listing of library function in schedule 5A of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, the provincial and local government in Limpopo have not been able to harmonise the delivery of library services between the two spheres of government. The Committee observed that even though the Constitution listed the ‘library other than the national library’ as an exclusive provincial legislative function, there was no clear transversal framework that regulates the provision of these services by municipalities who still own libraries. As a result, the Committee observed that this sometimes leads to confusion as municipalities often perceived libraries as unfunded mandates while the provincial government claimed that the some libraries belong to municipal councils.
- Norms and standards of libraries
The Committee observed that there is no uniform norms and standards that regulate the operation of libraries. Linked to that is the absence of the legislation that governs libraries other than the national library within provinces. As a result the libraries services are fragmented with some libraries offering services which others do not. For example, the Committee observed discrepancies with regards to the provision of access to internet. Mankweng Community Library internet connectivity was malfunctioning yet this is part of the Community Library Conditional Grant.
- Access to Community Libraries
The Committee observed that certain libraries charge membership fees and as a result the community felt discouraged to utilise the services of the libraries. These membership fees were determined by the municipalities and they differ from one municipality to the other. The Committee also observed that in addition to the payment of fees, libraries required that the community to produce stringent documentation which the community did not have because of the spatial development in the area. For example, the Molopo Community Library is located in an informal village that does not have formal street addresses, yet in order to be a member of the library applicants must produce a proof of address and have a municipal account.
In addition, the Committee observed that libraries were opened between 08h00 and 16h00, on Monday to Friday. This basically mean that library opening hours do not accommodate even school learners as they are opened when they are also at school. The fact that libraries close at 16h00 and are not open on weekends limits access of learners and those who are working during the week. In some cases some libraries close during lunch time due to staff shortages.
- Library Infrastructure and Community Needs
The Committee noted that library facilities and materials were not sufficient to enable children to utilise the libraries efficiently. The Thulamela and Xihlovo Library was the only exception since it had a separate space for children. There was a lack of library infrastructure upgrade for example at the Greater Giyani Public Library the library is still operating manually meaning that the librarians could not search the catalogue and do not know which books they have in the library. The Committee further observed that some libraries had a challenge with maintenance and cleanliness.
- Purchase and Delivery of Library Materials
The Committee observed that most libraries did not have stock of recently published or relevant books. The Committee further observed that the Musina-Nancefield library had not received new material in the past two years while the Molepo library did not receive newspapers on a daily basis but received newspapers that had long expired. The Committee observed that the centralisation of the procurement of library material had a negative impact to the delivery of the library function as in some cases libraries received books that were not relevant to their immediate requirements or not ordered at all. The Committee was however satisfied that the provincial government was in a process of decentralising the procurement and cataloguing of library material.
- Library Staffing
The Committee observed that many libraries had a challenge with regards to staffing. While the Community Library Conditional Grant provided for the staffing of the librarians, the Committee noted that because these are offered on contract basis it often led to a high staff turnover. As a result some libraries were staffed by a library assistant. The Molepo library, for example has only one library assistant who sometimes performed the cleaning functions within the library. In addition, the Committee further observed that there were limited opportunities for staff development who were employed through the Community Library Conditional Grant.
- Library and Community Outreach Programmes
The Committee observed that public libraries had limited outreach programmes to encourage schools and the greater public to utilise the library. This could be attributed to staff shortages as well as insufficient funding.
- Flags in Schools
The installation of the national flag in all public schools is a strategic programme of the DAC, along with the promotion of national symbols, popularisation of national orders and distribution of the preamble to the Constitution in school. This programme is derived from the National Development Plan as well as the 2014-2019 MTSF. The flag in schools project is implemented in partnership with the Department of Basic Education, as a custodian of schools. The DAC has committed itself to ensure that 6000 schools receive the preamble of the South African Constitution; 6000 schools receive booklets and posters of national symbols and orders; and 2000 schools receive and install flagpole and flag during the 2015/2016 financial year. The Committee’s oversight focused on the following schools: Mashashane Primary School (Capricorn District Municipality), New Horizon Special Needs School (Capricorn District Municipality), Mashengani Primary School (Mopani District Municipality), Dlamani High School, Muraga Primary School and Tshilidzini Special School (Vhembe District Municipality). The Committee made the following observations:
- Involvement of Learners in the Hoisting of the Flag
The Committee observed that the level of the involvement of learners to the process of hoisting the flag is minimal as the flag was hoisted by members of the South African Police Service. It became apparent that the hoisting of the flag is delegated to school security guards or other non-teaching staff members.
- Knowledge of the National Symbols including the National Anthem
The Committee appreciated that in all the schools that were visited, learners were able to sing the national anthem including verses that are not in vernacular languages. The Committee further observed that learners had a fair knowledge of national symbols although much improvement is required in this area.
- Adherence with the National Flag Protocol
The Committee observed that there was tendency of not taking down the flag at the end of the school day as it noticed the flag being flown after hours. While this is against the flag protocol it also exposes the fabric of the flag to adverse weather conditions thus limiting its life span.
- Community Arts Centres
The South African government has committed itself to build a community arts centre for every ward. This is in line with the policy statement which seeks to utilise the arts as a foundation of building a united and socially cohesive nation. As part of the oversight, the Committee visited the following Community Arts Centres: Lebowakgomo Community Arts Centre, Giyani Community Arts Centre and the Thohoyandou Community Arts Centre. The Committee made the following observations:
- Management of the Community Arts Centres
The Community Arts Centre (CAC) concept emerged from the need provide communities, art organisations and individuals opportunities for participation in artistic, craft and cultural activities. Furthermore, CACs were built to provide training opportunities to youth for purposes of recreation, cultural enrichment, social development and income generation. The Committee observed that the management of the Community Arts Centres was problematic. In the case of the Lebowakgomo CAC the Committee observed that the institution was no longer used for the purposes of the arts but was a municipal office space. The main theatre was in a state of disrepair and dilapidation. On the other side, the Giyani CAC was also not utilised fully for the purposes of the arts but the local municipality was responsible for the building maintenance and minimal artistic programmes. Both CACs did not have centre managers and there were no arts organisations that were utilising the CAC.
- Defining the Role of the DAC and the Provincial Government
The Committee observed that there was no clear definition of roles between DAC and the provincial government especially with regards to the provision of artistic programmes. The Committee further noted that what was planned to be a leading cultural redress project and democratisation exercise was at risk of disintegrating if government and civil society, mainly the arts community organisations, do not find common grounds to work in partnership.
- Location of the Community Arts Centre
The Committee observed that all the three centres it visited were distant from the residential areas of local people. The Committee believes that for the CACs to be accessible to the youth and communities they should be located within the residential areas of people whom they serve.
- Lack of the Overarching Policy of the CAC
The Committee observed that given that CAC fall within the ambit of functional areas of concurrent national and provincial legislative competence, schedule 4 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, there was uncertainty about the roles of each sphere of government. The absence of a legislation or a policy that regulates the provision of cultural matters became a matter of concerns to the Committee.
- Artists in schools practitioners
The NDP recognises the need to improve schooling and education. As such, through its Artists in Schools programme, DAC facilitates the process of placing art practitioners in schools to improve the teaching of arts in basic education. This programme in essence contributes to Outcome 1: Quality Basic Education of the MTSF.
In collaboration with the Department of Basic Education, the DAC has committed to continue in its endeavours to contribute to quality education by placing 1020 artists in schools over the medium term; with 300 artists placed in schools during the current financial year.
The Committee met with the Artists in Schools Practitioners from the Vhembe District at the Thohoyandou Community Arts Centre and made the following observations:
- Coordination of the Project
The Committee observed that there appears to be a lack of efficient coordination between DAC and DBE. This lack of clarity on the integration platform between the two departments has led to administrative complexities that stifle the effectiveness of the project.
- Funding Concerns
The Committee noted that practitioners have not received stipends since January 2015. This has led to a feeling of discouragement amongst the practitioners who have had to use personal funds to ensure the continuation of the various programmes. Over and above this delay, administrative glitches have also meant that in some instances, practitioners were forced to purchase materials with their own funds or, in the worst case scenarios, programmes are interrupted.
- Effective Implementation of the Programme
The Committee observed that there is a lack of understanding of the objective of the project. While the project is envisioned to enhance the quality of arts education, it was in some instances relegated to an extramural activity. As such, learners drop out of the programmes along the way. Further, it emerged that no recognition was given to those learners who participated in the programmes.
- Geographical Representation
The Committee observed that the Vhembe District was the district in which the Artists in Schools project was currently being run.
The Committee recommends the following to the Minister of Arts and Culture:
- Community Library Conditional Grant
- The DAC to develop the transversal library norms and standards;
- The DAC to ensure that the expenditure of the Community Library Conditional Grant is fast tracked; and
- Limpopo’s allocation of the Community Library Conditional Grant is increased proportionally to ensure that the province is able to meet its historical backlogs.
- Flags in School
- The DAC to develop guidelines, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education, to ensure that there is a greater involvement of learners in the hoisting of the national flag and protocols that are associated with it are popularised.
- Community Arts Centres
- The Minister to ensure that the Artists in Schools project is sufficiently funded and conditions of the MOA with the Department of Basic Education are fully implemented.
- Artists in Schools
- The DAC to develop a policy directive that regulates the delivery of artistic programmes within the CAC and clarifies the roles of each sphere of government.
Report to be considered.
Hon NK Bilankulu only participated to the oversight visit of 22 July 2015 as she was part of the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation’s delegation.
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