Budget Vote 15 Debate: Speech by Ms Ngw Botha, Deputy Minister.

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22 Jun 2004

Chairperson of the NCOP
Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP
Comrade Minister Pallo Jordan and Minister Mangena
Honourable Ministers, Deputy Ministers and MEC’s present
Honourable Delegates
Director General and Officials of the Department of Arts and Culture and the Department of Science and Technology

In August 2002 the then Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology was split into two separate departments and this resulted in the establishment of the Department of Arts and Culture, on the one hand, and the establishment of the Department of Science and Technology, on the other. However, the two departments remained under one Ministry.

It was only in this third term of our democratic government, on 28 April, when our beloved President, Comrade Thabo Mbeki, announced the establishment of a new Ministry of Arts and Culture. So, as you can guess, we are still in the process of setting this a brand new office.

Be that as it may, with the support of our very able team of officials, under the able leadership of Prof. Mosala, DG for Arts and Culture, as well as the support of parliamentary committee and our social partners and stakeholders, we have been able to find our feet. Let me say, here and now, that we will also rely heavily on the active support of this Council as well as the Provincial Legislatures and Local Government in executing our mandate.

Chairperson, at the official opening of the first session of our third democratic Parliament our President, amongst many others, committed his government to “move our country forward decisively towards the eradication of poverty and underdevelopment in our country, taking care to enhance the process of social cohesion” and also “achieve further and visible advances with regard to the improvement of the quality of life of all our people, affecting many critical areas of social existence, including health, safety and security, moral regeneration, social cohesion, opening the doors of culture and education to all, and sport and recreation”.

These are the marching orders and, to achieve this, our Ministry and Department’s mission is to realize the full potential of arts and culture in social and economic development, nurture creativity and innovation, and promote the diverse heritage of our nation.

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Arts and culture permeate all aspects of society and are an integral part of social and economic life. Arts and culture embrace custom, tradition, belief, religion, language and all art forms. It can and must, therefore, play a crucial role in nation-building, reconciliation and the development of a new national identity and ethos which is reflective of our new democracy. It also has great potential to make a significant contribution to poverty alleviation, job creation and economic development in the context of a people’s contract.

Before the advent of democracy in our country, the culture of the majority of our people was neglected, distorted and stifled. Culture was used as a tool of suppression and discrimination. Our people and our communities were denied access to resources and facilities to exercise and develop their creativity in cultural and artistic expression. It is, therefore, imperative for the Arts, Culture and Heritage sector to be subjected to rigorous scrutiny and to be radically transformed.

In 1994 the first democratic Government of National Unity adopted the ANC’s Reconstruction and Development Programme as a policy guideline to effect this transformation.

The policy statement as articulated in the White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage is, therefore, based on the following values (quote):

  • Access to, participation in and enjoyment of the arts, cultural expression, and the preservation of one’s heritage are basic human rights; they are not luxuries, nor are they privileges as we have generally been led to believe.
  • The Bill of Rights of our Constitution states:
    • Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes ……… freedom of artistic creativity [Section 16 (1) (c)]; and
    • Everyone has the right to use the language and to participate in the cultural life of their choice [Section 30]
  • It is the role of government to facilitate the optimum conditions in which these rights may be enjoyed and practiced.
  • A fundamental prerequisite for democracy is the principle of freedom of expression. Rooted in freedom of expression and creative though, the arts, culture and heritage have a vital role to play in development, nation building and sustaining our emerging democracy. They must be empowered to do so.
  • Humans are holistic beings. They not only need improved material conditions in order that they have a better quality of life. Individuals have psychological, emotional, spiritual and intellectual expression, all of which require nurture and development for them to realize their full potential, and act as responsible and creative citizens.
  • Arts and culture play a healing role through promoting reconciliation. Our approach to culture is premised on international standards in which culture is understood as an important component of national life which enhances all of our freedoms. Culture should not be used as a mechanism of exclusion, a barrier between people, nor should cultural practices be reduced to ethnic or religious chauvinism.
  • South Africa is now once more part of the international family of nations. We not only derive benefits from such acceptance, but also have the responsibility to pursue and implement agreed and accepted norms and standards in various sectors of our society, including the arts and culture. (unquote)

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In this respect, our Ministry and Department will encourage an active partnership with the provincial and local government spheres as well as the private sector and other social partners to facilitate the implementation of the programmes which have already been referred to by the Minister of Arts and Culture, Comrade Pallo Jordan.

I do not intend to repeat what he has already mentioned, save to say that, in implementing these programmes, we must also ensure that women, youth, people with disabilities, senior citizens are central, without neglecting the issue of the interdependence of women and men and gender equity.

Another issue of importance is the narrowing of the urban/rural divide. The cities and metros have made tremendous progress in promoting arts, culture and heritage in the past ten years. Our greatest challenge is in accelerating implementation of our programmes in the rural areas. We will need to attend to this as a matter of priority.

And lastly, the importance of our participation in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) is absolutely crucial, if we want to make the concept of the African Renaissance a reality. Our department has developed a position paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage which will be presented at a collaborative workshop with the NEPAD steering committee in September this year.

The Ten-Year Review Report on the implementation of Government programmes noted that “there has been an appreciable resurgence of local self-assertion in the areas of music, the arts, literature, dress and, to a limited extent, film and video”, but that despite the progress made, “there remains a counter-tendency of creating poor imitations of more generic international styles and expressions.

This budget, although it might be inadequate, gives us enough scope to begin to implement in some priority areas of the programmes already outlined by Minister Jordan. However, it will require of us to manage the available funds in a more prudent and efficient manner, at the same time striking the necessary balance between efficiency and equity

We would like to pay tribute to our predecessors in the Ministry of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, former Minister Ben Ngubane, Ministers Brigitte Mabandla and Buyelwa Sonjica (both previously Deputy Ministers of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology) as well as Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who was acting Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology for a while after Minister Ngubane resigned early this year. We acknowledge and appreciate the sterling work done by the honourable Ministers and the former Ministry and Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology. They have laid a solid foundation for the programmes of our department which have enabled our smooth take off. We also thank them for their continued support.

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Thank you Minster Jordan for your guidance and support. I, however would like to make a slight correction to what you said earlier. Since 1994 we have only had three Deputy Ministers of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology. Minister Jordan and Deputy Minister Botha are the first in the brand new ministry of Arts and Culture.

May we also take this opportunity to congratulate the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP and NCOP Delegates as well as MEC’s responsible for Arts and Culture on their election and appointment (respectively).unfortunately, the Minister and I have not yet had an opportunity to meet formally with the MEC’s but we look forward to working together and must urge that we sustain the work already begun, ensure that we accelerate implementation of the programmes, by so-doing we would be assuring our people that we are truly committed to a people-centred and people-driven process of social transformation.

So, as commanded by our beloved President, Comrade Thabo Mbeki, “let us get down to work in a people’s contract to build a better South Africa and a better World”.

I thank you.