Budget Vote Speech by Deputy Minister Ntombazana Botha , National Assembly, Parliament

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06 Jun 2008

Chairperson
Minister and Deputy Minister
MECs of Arts and Culture
Honourable members
CEOs of our Arts, Culture & Heritage institutions
Senior Management of the Department of Arts and Culture

Introduction and dedication

Chairperson, since this is my very last Budget Vote Speech before I retire, I wish to dedicate it to the victims of the recent incidents of violence in our beloved country which is referred to by some as “xenophobia”. What is xenophobia ? My understanding is that it is ‘strong and unreasonable dislike and hate or fear of people from other countries'. But surely, people from other countries who have lived with us and among us in our communities for so many years do not deserve to be treated in the manner it has been demonstrated recently.

It is evident, however, that the criminal elements perpetrating these atrocious crimes are not just targeting the so-called foreigners . They are specifically targeting our African sisters and brothers, be they non-South African or South African citizens – a repeat of the so-called ‘ black on black' violence fomented in the 1980's. Are we, perhaps, experiencing the ‘total onslaught' of the 1970 against the people of South Africa all over again? I think that these incidents are challenging the very foundation of our national democratic revolution.

This debate provides us with an opportunity to reflect on these challenges. The Department of Arts and Culture is, indeed, the lead department responsible for the implementation of government programmes designed to address the challenges of social cohesion. Its primary mission is to develop and promote South African arts, culture and heritage and to mainstream its role in social development.

It is also an opportunity for us to reflect on the lessons we have learnt in the past 14 years and to chart the way forward in the spirit of this year's theme which is “Business Unusual: All hands on deck to speed up change”.

Democratic government's approach to the apartheid legacy

The history of South Africa since the advent of colonialism has been shaped by race as a determinant factor of social relations among communities. The apartheid state systematically introduced laws which were meant to create and promote inequality based primarily on race and culture. All of these were created to sustain the fallacious apartheid system in which non-white South Africans were treated as second-class citizens while the white community enjoyed all rights and privileges. Thus the South African society during the apartheid era was not cohesive. It was divided and racial discrimination was the order of the day. Social instability, loss of human life and property that were a result of the apartheid system are all well documented.

It is against this background that we opted for a government of national unity in 1994. We were aware of the need for unity and reconciliation and that we had to place the well-being of our people at the centre of government programmes. Like any other country that emerges from being deprived and disenfranchised, the natural thing to do was to look at the material conditions of the ordinary people and to meet their basic needs. Our government spent the first decade of democracy focusing primarily, but not exclusively, on social needs such as housing, education, safety and security, participation in the economy, water and sanitation and land restitution, to mention but a few. Our main objective was to improve the material conditions of our people.

The political emancipation of 1994 also made our people aware of their own way of life and made them value it. Gradual transformation enabled them to know who they are and to rediscover their own hitherto suppressed capabilities and capacities.

We have now learnt that what people really need is much more than material prosperity. People need to be free - free to lead the life they have chosen. Prosperity, therefore, cannot exclude freedom. Culture and creativity are an integral part of that freedom. They are important elements of human development and agents for social change.

The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP)

This notion is further substantiated in the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) adopted by this government in 1994 which states that “an arts and culture programme is set out as a crucial component of human development. This will assist us in unlocking the creativity of our people, allowing for cultural diversity within the project of developing a unifying national culture, rediscovering our historical heritage and assuring that adequate resources are allocated”.

New focus in the second decade of freedom

In this, the second decade of freedom, we have started to focus more on human development. Human development (as defined by the UNDP) is “a development paradigm that is about much more than the rise or fall of national incomes. It is about creating an environment in which people can develop their full potential and lead productive, creative lives in accord with their needs and interests”. It, therefore, becomes imperative that we invest in the intellect (mind) of our people. However, the responsibility of the state to provide certain services should not erode the individual's responsibility to be responsible and resourceful.

Ubuntu

Honourable members, building a caring and cohesive nation has become a non-negotiable that requires our collective action in order to meet the challenges of the second decade of freedom. The National Heritage Council has also been spearheading campaigns to revive the values of Ubuntu . We have taken to heart what our President Mbeki said in 2005, that, “the values enshrined in this philosophy of ubuntu have the highest potential to unite not only the people of South Africa but also the continent”.

Arts and Culture in Society

Youth and Children

We must invest in our children at an early age. Our children should be taught to believe in themselves and yet be humble and respectful.

We must teach our children to be critical thinkers. To this end we will be focusing on the development and enrichment of young people in a programme called Youth in the Arts which we will be launching in July this year. Through such interventions young people will have the latitude to showcase their inherent talents and capabilities.

Although we are a part of the world and our lives are influenced by what happens elsewhere in the world, we have our own positive values, national pride and our democracy to protect.

In the area of youth development and enrichment, we promote youth-driven festivals to unearth and nurture talent in technical services. The festivals will enable young people to acquire technical, production and event management skills. Through our national youth arts, culture and heritage campaign, young people are afforded an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the socio-economic development of society.

With regard to the events and technical services industry, we have facilitated the establishment of a task team to develop a comprehensive action plan with a view, not only to accelerate transformation, but also to ensure an effective industry. This initiative will address issues such as enterprise development, training, code of good practice, funding and licensing of patents.

Women and the W ar against Poverty

The establishment of a National War Room for a War against Poverty as announced by President Mbeki in his State of the Nation address is a milestone in the fight against poverty and deprivation. We acknowledge that women bear the brunt of poverty. We have, thus, intensified our efforts to facilitate the creation of strong social and economic networks for the total emancipation of women. The business sector has also come on board in support of the small and medium enterprises led by women. This symbiosis will ensure the transference of business acumen and intellectual capital to the women.

We will continue to invest in community-based projects that benefit women and youth. We have supported the creation of women-led small and medium enterprises.

The department is also supporting women in the area of visual arts. In August we will be awarding women artists for excellence in this field. There will be an exhibition at Museum Africa to showcase the works by women from all the nine provinces.

Investing in Culture

The Department has responded to this mandate in a very comprehensive manner. As I have mentioned earlier, our intention is to build communities. We believe that in order to successfully achieve the objective of social cohesion, nation building and national identity, we have to look at the needs of our people comprehensively. We have identified education and skills as the critical constraints to our ability to improve the quality of life for our people. In the past year, through our Investing in Culture programme, we funded and supported 394 projects to the tune of R200m. The programme created 7 374 jobs and training opportunities to the beneficiaries. 45% of the beneficiaries were women, 39% youth and 4% were people with disabilities. We are proud to inform this house that three of our investing in culture projects have won the Sowetan -Old Mutual Community Builder of the year Awards. The projects are, Ndhengeza Xizambani Community Project, Kopanang Community Project and Tinghwazi arts and crafts . These are sustainable projects that are based at rural communities in the Mopani District Municipality , Limpopo Province . This is another indication that indeed our people are gradually taking their destiny into their own hands.

Working with other members of the Jobs for Growth Task Team which is led by our Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka , we intend to establish Mzansi Store . The envisaged Mzansi Store will market quality products in large quantities to meet the growing demand for South African arts and craft products.

In up-scaling the Investing in Culture projects, we continue to develop relationships with the private sector to market and sell quality products that are made by our projects ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup and beyond. Shoprite-Checkers, a first economy business that operates in South Africa and other parts of the continent, has pledged to work with us in selling good quality products produced by our projects. The Strokes of Genius portal is also in existence, sponsored by Shoprite-Checkers and supported by our department and the Department of Trade and Industry, to market arts and craft products. We believe that the footprint of Shoprite-Checkers and the power of online marketing will benefit our craftswomen and men. We encourage entrepreneurship. This is the only way through which our interventions can make a meaningful impact.

JIPSA

There is currently a shortage of accredited providers with the required craft knowledge and technical skills in South Africa . Our intention is to scale up these training initiatives. Project managers will be trained to become assessors who will be registered with MAPPPSETA and will be responsible for quality assurance and pricing of the craft wares.

Project managers will also be trained to become accredited and SMME training providers.

This year, we will pursue our bilateral programmes with Germany and the United Kingdom who have undertaken to assist us with providing training to young South African as curators. Our guiding principle, as we implement all of these programmes, is sustainable partnerships.

Human settlements

The apartheid system subjected our people to systematic settlements that had no regard for the general wellbeing of our communities. Our people were forcefully removed to arid lands with no basic infrastructure. Even the townships, generally located in urban areas, offered nothing for the wellbeing of our people especially in the areas of arts, heritage and recreation. They were essentially created to serve as labour reserves for the minority rulers.

Our government intends to reverse these anomalies by embarking on a social agenda that is aligned to the transformation of the built environment.

Recognising that our past informs our present, we are undertaking research to identify specific arts, culture and heritage elements in our built environment. These elements will form part of our input in the creation of integrated sustainable human settlements that will reflect the culture of the inhabitants as well as the architecture. Youth volunteers will be invited to be involved in projects that will see to the beautification of public spaces through artistic expression making them aesthetically appealing.

The envisaged settlements and those that have already been started provide us with an opportunity to build bridges across cultural barriers and to address perceived differences with openness whilst ensuring that these settlements are inclusive, culturally adequate and do, indeed, cater for the different types of families of our society.

We believe that in order to develop a common sense of nationhood, we must ensure that the types of settlements we create are integrated and therefore likely to encourage better interaction with one another, in a close but less threatening environment. Our settlement patterns have to deliberately incorporate social cohesion and nation building.

In the creation of sustainable human settlements it is imperative that we create these in close proximity to vibrant urban centres and economic development zones; so that the residents of new settlements have open and equal access to jobs and services. We all know that such economic access promotes a sense of inclusion, which is important to the security of our democracy and social integration.

There is a growing consciousness that the provision of liveable spaces, for recreation, sports, health, education and other services, is integral to sustainable and humane human settlements. We advocate thorough planning for spaces that will cater for persons with disabilities, older persons, and will also nurture the talent and skills of the young people who will form the next generation of sportspersons and cultural workers.

Community Arts Centres

As honourable members are aware, community art centres are at the coalface of the development of arts and culture at grassroots level. These centres serve as our service delivery points. In order to address challenges faced by these centres, we have established a National Task Team to develop a framework for all categories of community art centres. The framework will cover issues of funding models and programming. Through this Vote, the Investing in Culture programme will be able to fund arts, culture and heritage training provided at the community art centres.

Film

One of our interventions to instil a sense of pride in our arts, culture and heritage is to encourage an appreciation of local content in filmmaking. The status of the South African film industry is growing rapidly in line with the Department's forecast in its Film Development Strategy almost ten years ago. The subsequent establishment of the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) as an institution mandated to lead efforts to develop the film industry has started to bear fruit. As a developmental state and a department concerned mainly with nation building, we have started to improve on alignment of the strategic plans and financing criteria of our institutions such as the NFVF, National Arts Council, and National Heritage Council. This ensures that matters of redress, transformation and other government priorities are factored in as these institutions develop their business plans. Despite our dual focus of development and excellence, our film industry continues to enjoy international recognition as a result of all of these interventions.

We however still face the challenge of developing young people in the rural areas to enter the film sector. The ability of previously disadvantaged people to own film businesses, own their stories and distribution channels still remains a serious challenge.

National Days

Informed by the imperative of nation building and social cohesion, our national days should serve as a platform to promote unity in diversity, democratic principles and the rights guaranteed in our Constitution. To this end, we have begun to make an effort to ensure that all South Africans, irrespective of their background, understand the meaning of these days and participate in these celebrations. Reconciliation Day 2007 was one such successful event. Regrettably, participation at subsequent celebrations has not been quite reflective of the demographics of our society.

As President Thabo Mbeki said in his 2008 state of the nation address “our nation should unite as never before and strain every sinew of its collective body to address our common challenges and keep alive the dream that has sustained all of us as we travelled along the uncharted road towards the creation of the South Africa visualised in our Constitution”.

As we are all aware, on 09 August; we will once again commemorate the women's anti-pass march to the Union Buildings. Our vision of a non-sexist society depends on the collective efforts of all sectors of our society. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to call upon all sectors of society to work together in a national effort to bring an end to the marginalisation of women in all spheres of our national life. 

The way forward in the second decade of freedom

The Arts and Culture Policy Review initiated in 2005 will be completed with the submission of the final report in June 2008. The report provides an analysis of the appropriateness of the objectives contained in the White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage. It will also assess the performance and viability of the organs created through this policy and other related pieces of legislation.

On the international front a general review and assessment of all our cultural agreements will be initiated. This exercise will, undoubtedly, present opportunities for our arts, culture and heritage sector. Such a review will help us to focus and establish strategic as well as sustainable partnerships that must be nurtured.

We will create a balance on supporting both the children and youth programmes. This is critical in nurturing and developing future audiences for the arts. In order to fulfill our commitments government will need to increase its investment in the sector.

Honourable members, the government will not achieve the goal of social cohesion on its own. We need to enter into a social contract with our communities if we are to successfully implement the social cohesion programmes. The department will support programmes that encourage national dialogue on social values that should be pursued by the South African society.

I would like to thank Minister Pallo Jordan for his inspirational guidance and leadership.

I would also like to thank all the MECs of arts and culture, HODs, mayors and Chairpersons and CEO's of our associated institutions for their co-operation and unwavering support in the implementation of our programmes.

Thank you to members of the Portfolio and Select Committees on Arts and Culture for their oversight role and whipping us into line every now and again but also ensuring that our work is in line with the national priorities.

To staff members in the department led by the Director-General, Mr Themba Wakashe, I say enkosi bethu for your commitment and hard work. And, last but not least, to the staff in my office for supporting me and tolerating me xa isiciko siphakamile.

I thank you