2012/13 Budget Vote Speech by the Deputy Minister Dr Joe Phaahla

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03 May 2012

Honourable Chairperson
Honourable Minister of Arts and Culture Mr Paul Mashatile
Honourable Chairperson of Portfolio Committee Arts and Culture Ms T. Sunduza and Members of the Committee
Honourable Ministers, Deputy Ministers
Honourable Members of  the National Assembly
DG  for Arts and Culture Mr Sibusiso Xaba, Managers and Staff of DAC
Heads of entities and Institutions linked to DAC
Our lifeblood, the artists, creative workers from all aspects of our creative industries
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentleman
Comrades and friends

It is indeed a great honour and privilege for me to contribute to this debate on the budget of our department for 2012/ 2013

This year 2012 is a very important one for us in the Arts, Culture and Heritage Sector. This is so because this is a year when we mark one hundred years of the establishment of an institution which became the cornerstone of the building of a free, non-racial and democratic South Africa which we were able to start building in earnest in 1994.That institution is none other than the African National Congress.

Honourable Chairperson and members, while the ANC is today - in the context of our parliamentary system - one of the political parties and the biggest one for matter, I wish to remind members that for over 82 years of its life this movement fought relentlessly for the freedom and democracy we often take for granted. While we accept that there were many other political formations and civil society organisations which played a serious role in the struggle for freedom and democracy, there can be no argument that the founders of the ANC left us with an institution to unite initially the African population and in later years all the people of our country.

We would like to urge all honourable members, Chairperson, to set aside issues of political competition especially that there is no election this year and join us in celebrating the Centenary of this heritage, The African National Congress. It cannot be that everybody in Africa, the African diaspora and everywhere else in the world celebrate this momentous occasion and we in South Africa bicker over whether this is indeed a matter of national pride or just a party political matter.

Hounourable Chairperson having declared this centenary year as the year of unity in diversity, we are therefore strengthening the work we are doing in building an inclusive society.

Over the last 100 years  the world as a whole and South Africa in particular has come a long way in the struggle against all form of racial prejudice which has cost countless suffering of humanity across the globe. Who can forget that millions of people all over the world perished or were tortured and abused in the name of racial supremacy? We in South Africa remained the outpost of this backward philosophy in the latter part of the twentieth century.

We must therefore never take for granted the foundations laid by our forebears deep in the belly of apartheid in 1955 when they gathered on 25-26 June 1955 in Kliptown and declared that South Africa belongs to all who live in it black and white. Let us remember that simply daring to declare this principle, 156 of the most senior leaders of the congress movement including Chief Albert Luthuli, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Helen Joseph, Ahmed Kathrada and many more were charged for high treason.

For over 4 years many of them were either in jail, banished or dragged to court daily until the case collapsed in March 1960.

It is in this regard that we must all be concerned when the National Planning Commission notes in its National Development Plan that ‘South Africans have made progress since 1994, in uniting the country, yet society remains divided. Inequality and inequity continues. Opportunity continues to be defined by race, gender, geographic location, class and linguistic background.’ It goes further to say ‘Inequality hardens society into a class system, imprisoning people in the circumstances of their birth. Inequality corrodes trust among fellow citizens, making it seem as if the game is rigged.
   
I agree with the NDP when it asserts that ‘A united and cohesive society is a critical precondition for peace, security and prosperity ‘and that nation building and social cohesion matters both as an end-state and as a facilitator.

Social Cohesion

 Hounourable Chairperson , in implementing our mandate of nation-building, promoting social cohesion, reconciliation and national healing, we continue to facilitate social dialogues among all sectors of our society.

These dialogues are conducted in order to strengthen efforts towards building a people-centered and caring society; characterized by high levels of inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development.

As part of building social cohesion, last year alone we conducted forty community conversations in eight of the provinces.

Participants at these conversations expressed shared challenges of class distinction, language barriers and cultural intolerance.

They also recommended that ordinary members of the community support and be involved in social cohesion projects.

It was also recommended that social cohesion be treated as a national priority with regular feedback and ongoing workshops on progress made towards nation-building, and promoting an inclusive society.

Honourable Members, we have taken on board the proposals made by our people.

They will be included in the submissions to the National Social Cohesion conference to be held in the second half of  this year. In preparation for the Conference, we have undertaken research and produced a draft discussion document towards the development of a national strategy for building an inclusive and cohesive society.

The document is being released for public comment and will be work-shopped in all provinces, before being finally presented at the National Social Cohesion Conference.

As noted by the National Development Plan, lack of economic opportunities remains a serious threat to the achievement of a cohesive society. It is due to this understanding that over the last two State of the Nation Addresses the President has focused the work of the government on job creation and inclusive economic growth. Through our department’s Mzansi Golden Economy Strategy we hope to contribute towards the national effort to reduce poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Geographic Names Standardisation

As we reported here in this house last year , our department remains charged with the responsibility of steering another imperative for our goal of national healing, reconciliation   and nation building , that of geographic name changes and standardization 

As part of our restorative work, we recently held a National Workshop on the Standardization of Geographical Names in Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni.

This workshop was part of efforts to build a national consensus on the process of geographical names standardization.

This workshop attracted great public interest and enthusiastic attendance.

The workshop recommended, among others, that there be greater co-operation between governments at all levels to enhance the processes related to the standardizing of names.

Honourable members we will continue to guide our communities through their representative bodies and local authorities on how to deal with this very essential yet sensitive matter of redressing one of the legacies of colonial and apartheid conquest with its attendant ideological dominance. The matter of the name of our Capital City is receiving attention and should be resolved soon because it is not in the country’s interest to remain with ambivalence in this regard.

Languages

Honourable Members, part of the process of healing the divisions of the past and promoting an inclusive citizenship, is the need to ensure that all languages, especially indigenous languages, enjoy equal status.

The South African Languages Bill of 2011, which is now before Parliament, is an attempt to elevate the status of indigenous languages and sign language.

We have introduced the Bill in recognition of the reality that over many years their use was diminished and their status not upheld.

We trust that once approved this Bill will go a long way towards ensuring parity of esteem for all official languages and allow our people to receive government services in the languages of their choice.
 
Human Languages Technologies

Honourable Members, as part of ensuring language promotion and development, the National Language Service has partnered with North West University to develop machine translation systems for English to isiZulu, Setswana and Afrikaans respectively.

We are also developing similar systems for the other official languages. These systems assist translators in their work by expediting the translation processes and ensuring high quality and standardization.

The existing systems are available for free through open source software and are already in use by the National Language Service and freelance translators.

The Department is continuing to award bursaries for undergraduate studies in language   practice.

This year UNISA, the University of Zululand, the Walter Sisulu University, the University of Johannesburg and the University of Limpopo are the beneficiaries of this bursary training.

A co-operation agreement signed last year between the Department and the Dutch Language Union will bear fruit as projects in the field of Human Language Technologies and the translation of children’s literature in all the official languages take off this year.

Honourable Members, in strengthening our work in promotion and preservation of languages, we are in the process of appointing a new council for the Pan South African Languages Board.

Books, publishing, literature.

Honourable Members our Mzansi Golden Economy Strategy, focuses on advancing the economic potential of the cultural and creative industries in order that they can make a greater contribution to job creation, skills development and poverty reduction.

The Books and Publishing sector is the biggest contributor worldwide of all the cultural industries to the GDP of many countries.

In this field, the Department has created platforms that can develop a sustainable book industry.

In order to further promote a culture of reading and writing, the Department of Arts and Culture together with the National Library of South Africa is implementing the third phase of its African Classics Publications programme with 22 new titles having been launched.

The classics launched in terms of this initiative included Chaka by T. Mofolo, UDingezweni by P.T. Mtuze, Makgale by H.D. Bopape, Izegemegeme zodwa  by M. Xulu, Mambuxu by E.T. Ndhambi to mention but a few.

We congratulate South Africa’s National Librarian, Mr John Tsebe, who has been chosen as Chairperson of the Council for Directors of National Libraries, a council of all the heads of national libraries of the world that focuses on information exchange and the sustainability of library and information services worldwide.

The Department of Arts and Culture has also funded the Indigenous Languages Publishing Programme which is aimed at supporting small independent publishers in publishing books by emerging writers in nine indigenous languages.

The first batch of publications was unveiled in September 2011 during the second National Book Week.

Significantly, this project will continue to have a strong enterprise development thrust while developing publishing in indigenous languages.

The 2012 National Book Week will be held at the Red Location Museum precinct in Port Elizabeth, from the 3rd to 8th September this year.

Honourable Members as part of our work in preserving the stories of our nation, the National Archives together with the Oral History Association of South Africa hosted the National Oral History Conference in October 2011 in Mahikeng.

More than 50 learners participated in training as part of the Schools Family History Project.  

This year this Conference will take place in the Free State and learners from the province will be trained on how to conduct oral history research and present their findings at this conference.

Through such initiatives and partnerships which the Department is committed to expanding in the coming year, we are encouraging ordinary people to document our local histories, and to promote the sustainable development of writing and reading, through ensuring that writing is recognized as a profession and by providing platforms that promote freedom of expression and of creativity.

Honourable Members as part of promoting the African agenda together with the Windybrow Theater, we will continue to hold the African Women Writer’s Symposium.

The Symposium brings together women writers from the continent and Diaspora to share best practice and promote excellence in women’s writing.

Libraries and National Archives

Honourable Members, the role of libraries in educating our youth remains a priority. A reading nation is an educated nation who can handle the challenges of the present and future.

As part of the Community Libraries Conditional Grant during the 2012/2013 financial year, 15 new libraries will be built and 50 upgraded.

This coming week sees the Annual Archives Awareness Week take place from 7 to 11 May 2012.

During this period 600 learners will visit the National and provincial archives and interact with conservators, records managers and historians.

The National Archives is also seized with the development of an institutional Digitisation Strategy and work has already commenced on identifying pilot projects in collaboration with stakeholders.

As I conclude let me touch briefly on two matters:-

Firstly, let me again thank all the role players in making it possible for the remains of Klaas and Trooi Pienaar to be returned to South Africa .This brought to the fore the ugliest picture of colonial exploitation where indigenous people  were exploited even in death. I was privileged to lead the delegation which executed the final leg of this long process and we enjoyed full cooperation from Austrian authorities and civil society.

Secondly, let me take this opportunity to congratulate the participants and winners at the recently held SAMA awards in Sun City. It was encouraging to see the diversity of the participants and one was left with the hope that music is indeed contributing a lot in the building of non-racial nation.

I want to particularly congratulate the young lady from Phumulani Village in Eastern Cape, Bulelwa Mkutukana, popularly known as Zahara for her magnificent achievements at a young age of 24 years .She is a role model for many girls of her background and we wish her the best of the future.

Thank you.

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