Address by Deputy Minister Ntombazana Botha at the launch of the events and technical services task team on 13 July 2006 at the Holiday Inn Arcadia, Tshwane

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13 Jul 2006

Programme Director
Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Members of the Executive Council
Head of Departments
Representatives from key stakeholder organisations
Officials from Government Departments
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen

In his inaugural address in May 1994, former President Mandela said: “The time to build is upon us. We have at last achieved our political emancipation. We pledge ourselves to liberate all our people from continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender and other discrimination”

Indeed, this has been our government’s foremost objective – to eradicate poverty completely in our country. We have, however set ourselves a target to halve poverty by 2014.

Government, of course, cannot do this alone. To achieve this objective, government would have to enter into a partnership with other role players.

In this instance, it is the Technical Production Services Association (TPSA) who approached the Department of Arts and Culture and suggested the partnership we proudly celebrate today. The DAC, in collaboration with TPSA, then hosted the first-ever Indaba for the Technical production and Events industry which was held in September last year.

The purpose of the Indaba was to create a platform for the industry role players to deliberate on critical challenges, such as transformation of the sector and compliance. The indaba was attended by local and international experts. On the last day, the conference elected the Task Team which was introduced to us today.

I was already becoming concerned that we were not seeing any movement since the task team was elected. Now I can see that the co-ordinators of the Task Team had been busy behind the scenes making sure that all stakeholders shared a common vision before they could take the process forward.

As I had said last year when I addressed the Indaba, over time, celebrations have transformed. From an informal set up of an Imbizo at a village setting in Cofimvaba, to spectacular productions requiring new sets of skills, experience, creativity, tools, financing, planning and leadership. The celebration event has evolved into a business and an industry, with professional standards and very high expectations, academic programmes and educational certifications, and with new demands and challenges every day.

Many of you will agree with me that the inauguration of a President is one of the biggest events in this country. There are also many other international events that we hosted, for example the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 was a demonstration of our capacity to stage world class events. And then, of course, there was the 46664 Concert, which was hosted in our country in our country equipment and technicians from outside South Africa.

Furthermore, there are more than 150 documented Arts festivals held annually and other re-occurring events (including community festivals, parades, fairs, sporting events, carnivals, car shows, exhibitions, corporate events, funerals, political rallies, national day rallies), with an estimated combined economic impact in the billions of rands, not excluding our events and productions that take place across the world especially in major cities in big powerful countries. For example, the 2006 Fifa W.C. closing ceremony that we put up in Germany.

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These festivals and events are some of the most successful vehicles that contribute to economic growth of the tourism industry of South Africa and we can have enormous economic spin-offs for people who live in the vicinity where these events take place.

The Technical and Events Industry has for many years operated in obscurity. It is not until recently that my attention was drawn to the fact that this industry is a gold mine. That’s when I became interested to know more about this industry.

I do believe that this industry can absorb a lot more people into sustainable employment and has the potential of opening up new business opportunities.

This brings me to the point about Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGI-SA). ASGISA acknowledges that there is improved economic growth which should lead to job creation, but the question is: Is this economic growth shared adequately and equitably, equally amongst citizens of our country in order to rapidly improve job creation? ASGI-SA’s aim, therefore, is to unblock any blockages that retard equal and balanced distribution of wealth and access to job and employment opportunities especially for the poor and the marginalized.

I am convinced that the technical and events industry can play a critical role in achieving the goal of ASGISA. The Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) is also another intervention strategy of government which is aggressively looking at addressing the issue of skills development and training particularly within scarce skills and I am happy that the Task Team will be looking into these matters.

We, as government and the industry, need to accelerate the transformation process through capacity building and skills development. The industry has the responsibility of taking capacity building seriously by imparting knowledge and transferring skills to advance the previously disadvantaged workers to new levels of working with modern technological equipment, not only as operators but also as creative thinkers in technology design and planning.

Government is indeed the leading client and investor in this industry, 16 (Sixteen) billion rand was generated between 2003 and 2004 in this industry, and 65% (Sixty five percent) of this revenue comes from Government.

Government contributed R10.4 billion in 2 years to this industry. Now as partners with the industry, we know that the industry is willing and shares the vision of Government to address the issue of transformation and Broad Based Black economic empowerment.

This year our country celebrates the 50th (fiftieth) anniversary of the women’s march to the Union building protesting against unjust laws and restrictions. There are very few Technical companies owned and run by women. We should be seriously discussing how we can include and empower women in this male-dominated sector.

I also think that the sector should work towards developing a transformation and value charter in line with government’s broad vision of our development path of a vibrant and inclusive economy which is targeting an average growth rate of at least 6% by 2014.

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We need to make strong and effective interventions in the second economy. We cannot do that without effective partnerships between government and the private sector.

ALL EYES ARE NOW ON SOUTH AFRICA. South Africa will be hosting the most prestigious and massive event in the world, 2010 Fifa World Cup.

The Events and Technical Services industry will have a major responsibility and a crucial role to ensure that every event in this country becomes a safe environment for hosts and people attending such events. The Events and Technical Services industry is compelled to be organized with a strict code of conduct and safety measures to eliminate human errors and sloppy productions. Is the industry ready for 2010?

The Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Bill which is before parliament, is specifically looking at giving crucial guidelines in hosting big sports and recreational events.

On the 20th April 2006 the Health and Safety at Live Events General requirement was launched. The production of the Health and Safety guide is an initiative of the partnership between TPSA and the South African Bureau of Standard. I would like to commend TPSA for its sterling contribution towards ensuring that events are held with high health and safety consideration. I hope that copies of the draft safety Guide will be distributed throughout the sector so that everyone is informed and is able to make a contribution to the draft as it is being fine-tuned.

I am told that more than 45 000 jobs were directly created by the Fifa World Cup in Germany. I am certain that between now and 2010 in South Africa we are going to double that number. We must ensure that these jobs are sustainable beyond 2010.

Ladies and Gentlemen: I now officially launch the Events and Technical Services Task Team, as requested. The Department of Arts and Culture commits itself to supporting this Task Team. The Department will make some resources available to the Task team to assist them in carrying out their duties. The task ahead is enormous and very challenging, but, as Joseph said earlier, it is not insurmountable.

I would like to think that the people with expertise in this field would be welcomed to advice and may perhaps be co-opted to the Task Team. I am sure that meaningful contributions and advices will highly be appreciated by the Task Team.

The Task Team presented to us this morning need our utmost support as they are entrusted with this huge task of overseeing the execution of high level projects and to ensure that the conference resolutions are carried out.

From our side, as the Ministry and the department of Arts and Culture we have already briefed the Provincial Governments, MEC’s and officials on these developments.

In Conclusion, I wish to take this opportunity to thank government officials, honoured guest, stakeholders, and all role players in the sector and related sectors for making time to be with us this morning. I know that your schedules are tight but you made time to be here. We appreciate your contributions and continued support.

We are indeed in the Age of Hope.

I thank you