2011/2012 Budget vote speech by the Deputy Minister Dr J. Phaahla, to the National Assembly

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01 Jun 2011

Honourable Chairperson of the House
Honourable Minister of Arts and Culture, Paul Mashatile
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Hounarable Chairperson of  The Portfolio Committee, Ms Babalwa Thandile Sunduza and Members of the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture
Honourable Members of The National Assembly
Managers of DAC and its entities
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentleman

This year we celebrated the 17th anniversary of our freedom under the theme “working together to unite the nation, promote democracy and protect freedom”. This was in recognition of the journey we have travelled since the watershed 27 April 1994 elections which ushered in the current democratic order. Who can forget the excitement throughout the country and especially at the Union Buildings when our founding Father and Icon Nelson Mandela took the oath of office on the podium on 10th May 1994.

In his speech to the nation on that historic occasion President Mandela declared
“We have triumphed in the effort to implant hope in the breasts of the millions of our people. We enter into a covenant that we shall build the society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without  any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity –a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.’’

Focusing on the challenges ahead, President Mandela said “We understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom.
We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success.
We must therefore act together as a United people, for national, reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world.”

In concluding his inaugural speech President Mandela declared.
“Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer indignity of being the skunk of the world”
“Let freedom reign.
The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement”

As we celebrated our 17th year of freedom we were therefore reminded of the clarion call of our founding father who committed us to the building of a society in which all South Africans will be able to walk tall without fear in their hearts assured of their inalienable right to human dignity. This government whose foundation was laid by President Mandela remains committed to the creation of a united, democratic, nonracial, nonsexist and prosperous nation. It is not by accident that our constitution also enjoins us to build a society based on the value of human dignity, equality and the advancement of human rights and freedom.

The task of realising all these values within the collective of government is allocated to the Department of Arts and Culture as a lead department. It is up to this department to make sure that the necessary infrastructure, resources and organisational framework is put in place to harness the energies of all South Africans towards the creation of a rainbow South African nation as envisaged by President Mandela. Of course with a history of decades and centuries of entrenched racism under successive colonial and apartheid regimes the task of building a united, cohesive, and inclusive society is not going to be easy. The history of human society has also shown that whenever human beings face various social, economic, and political challenges it is easy to seek refuge in racism, tribalism, regionalism and all such backward tendencies instead of dealing with the challenges of the day. South Africa is therefore not an exception as we have seen with the so called Xenophobia violence of two years ago whose tendencies still remain with us.

Instead of allowing our diversity of race, culture, language heritage etc to be a source of divisions we must make these the building blocks of our unity in diversity. The task of building a united South African nation cannot be divorced from that of building an economically competitive and prosperous nation. A nation which does not know its history will have difficulty in mapping a way forward. A nation which is not proud of its heritage, culture, languages and the best of its traditions will find it hard to compete with its peers. Across the globe nations who are leaders in the economy, technology, sport, arts, music etc tend to be those anchored on strong heritage and cultural foundation whether it is Chinese, Japanese, Germans; French etc one thing in common is pride in their history, culture and heritage
Following the Social Cohesion Colloquium held late in 2009, we have intensified our social cohesion campaign.

The campaign is based on the following pillars:  diversity, inclusiveness, ensuring that we have access to basic services and the promotion of values that define the kind of society we seek to build.
As we implement this campaign, we will be on the streets, taxi ranks, train stations, and in shopping centres and will be going into communities to host conversations about what makes us South African.

This campaign will culminate in a national summit in July, which will coincide with the Mandela Week.
Part of the instruments of fostering national pride and patriotism is the popularization of our national symbols. Who can deny that one of the success stories of our hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup was the promotion of our national flag. Today we are exactly 100 days to the start of the 2011 Rugby World Cup to be held in New Zealand. Working together with the department of Sport and Recreation we will make sure that we encourage South Africans to Fly the Flag high and sing the national anthem with pride.

Another important even though often contentions project of redressing the imbalances of the past and contributing to nation building is that of Geographic Name Changes. There is absolutely no argument about the fact that at the time of our freedom colonialism and apartheid had obliterated most indigenous names of important places and replaced them with their preferred names which were often those of their heroes such as army generals and governors.
The process of geographic names change which ensued after the birth of democracy brought a lot of unhappiness amongst those who felt that important part of their history was being obliterated.

As a result the DAC embarked on a process of wide scale consultations to try to find a win win approach. After consultation involving a wide range of stakeholders a report has been compiled which is ready for presentation at a national workshop. The workshop will be held during the course of this month i.e. June 2011 and we hope that arising out of this we will emerge with an approach which accommodates the desire for change while catering for the concerns of those who fear total obliteration part of our history. We cannot change the fact that Hendrick Verwoed was a player in the history of our country even though his ideology was racist and reactionary

Community Libraries
Honourable Members, DAC remains committed to the important task of promoting a culture of reading and writing.
Community libraries are crucial in carrying out this task.
Honourable Chairperson of the Session, I am pleased to announce that we are consolidating the implementation of the community library recapitalization programme.

The first three years of this project have been successfully completed.
Over the next three years we have allocated an additional R1.6 billion to expand access to library and information services, especially in previously disadvantaged communities.

Since the inception of the programme three years ago over 600 professional and support staffs have been appointed at community libraries across the country.

In addition 170 libraries have been upgraded and 20 new libraries have been built.

In an effort to bridge the digital divide public internet access facilities are also being established in all libraries.
Promoting Languages

Honourable Members, part of who we are as South Africans is expressed through our languages and our shared embrace of a multilingual nation.

Freedom of expression, and of creativity, can only take full effect if we recognize the importance of mother tongues and the right of our people to speak, read and write in the languages of their choice.
Thus, to give effect to the constitutional obligations concerning multilingualism, we will this year, submit the South African Languages Bill (SALB).

This Bill also seeks to promote the inclusive use of all official languages of South Africa, to ensure unhindered and equal access to government services and programmes, to education, and to knowledge and information.
Through this Bill we are pursuing the entrenchment of language equity and language rights so that both national unity and democracy are promoted.

In pursuit of multilingualism together with the National Library of South Africa, we have also engaged in a vigorous effort to republish our indigenous languages literary classics.

In December last year, we launched 20 additional titles as part of this initiative.

We are continuing with the Indigenous Languages Publishing Programme, a partnership with the South African Book Development Council, to produce new material in the nine previously marginalised indigenous languages.

The programme offers publishing opportunities to emerging writers and support to independent small publishers.

The programme has so far produced titles such as A Hi Fambe Munghaname (Xitsonga), Tikhatsi Tegugcina (isiSwati) Ziyodlula Izinsizwa (isiZulu) and Boiteko Ba Ka (SeSotho).

Human Language Technologies

Honourable Members, in promoting multilingualism, we have partnered with the CSIR Meraka Institute on the Lwazi project

  • to develop a multilingual telephone-based information system aimed at improving communication between government and communities.
  • to facilitate access to reliable information whatever the location of citizens (whether living in an urban or remote rural area), whatever their level of literacy, and whatever their language of choice

More than R 14 million has been allocated for this project, which will target mainly underdeveloped parts of our country.

Honourable Members, this project which will be available in all the official languages ensures inclusiveness for all South Africa's citizens and will promote language preservation.

As the Presidential Hotline has shown, South African citizens place great remain value in being able to communicate with government using the telephone. The Lwazi project will ensure that communication becomes significantly more scalable, affordable and efficient for government

Book Sector
Honourable Members, the South African book sector has become globally competitive and our writers continue to command respect across the world.

Today we have two writers who recently won international literary prizes. I would like to congratulate Ms Duduzile Cynthia Jele, winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Africa Region) with her debut novel, Happiness is a Four Letter Word.

I also extend our hearty congratulations to Ms Lauren Beukes, who recently came back from the UK with the Arthur C. Clark Award for her book, Zoo City, beating some of the well-known international bestselling authors. 

The Department of Arts and Culture is committed to the preservation, development and promotion of South African literature.

Our strategic objective in this regard, is to promote the culture of reading and writing and to develop a sustainable book industry that supports equitable development of all South African languages. 

According to an Industry Survey released by the Publishers’ Association of South Africa (PASA) in 2006, the South African book sector recorded a staggering R5 billion net-turnover per annum.

More than 16 000 authors earn an estimated R 308 million worth of royalties. 

The publishing industry employs about 3, 000 individuals on a fulltime basis and 2, 400 freelancers.

More than 7000 people are employed in the printing industry.

Last year, we supported over twenty emerging writers, small and independent publishers and booksellers to participate at the Cape Town Book Fair.

In an effort to create international markets for our literature, we also sent delegations of writers to the Edinburgh Book Festival and the London Book Fair.

This participation is important for growing domestic markets and for South Africa to assert itself in a globally competitive book industry.

We also held a successful African Women Writers Symposium at the Windybrow Pan African Centre of the Arts in August last year as part of our women in the arts programme.

This gathering resolved to form an African Women Writers Network that will help to boost women’s writing on the continent.

The DAC, in collaboration with the South African Book Development Council, established the very first National Book Week (NBW) with resounding success in September 2010.

This platform is one in which through government support, the book sector and civil society have established a dynamic partnership for the promotion of the culture of reading and writing. National Book Week in 2011 will be celebrated from 5-11 September throughout the country.

Film Development

Honourable members, in April this year South Africa hosted the 67th FIAF (Federation of International Film Archives) Congress and summer school.

We are pleased that the National Film and Video Archives of South Africa was co-opted into the executive of this esteemed body to represent the interests of African film archivists.

We are proud that CODESA and the Multiparty South African collections have been nominated and provisionally registered for the UNESCO Memory of the World International Register. This is part of our contribution to the documented collective memory of the peoples of the world.

This year the Annual National Oral History Conference will be held in the North West Province in October, in partnership with the North West Archives and the Oral History Association of South Africa, under the theme of ‘Past Distortions, Present Realities; Reconstructions and Reconfigurations Of Oral History’. This gathering enables practitioners to share knowledge of our past that contributes to nation building and encourages the establishment of community oral history groups.

Honorable House Chairperson, Honorable members as custodians of the vision of Nelson Mandela, Chief Albert Luthuli, Oliver Reginald Tambo, Chris Hani, Yusuf Dadoo, Helen Joseph, Joe Slovo and other esteemed leaders of our glorious liberation movement  we shall continue to champion the cause for the creation of a truly united , democratic ,nonracial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa. This is an ideal President Mandela was prepared to live for but if need be an idea he was prepared to die for and we cannot afford to fail him and our other forebears

I thank you.