Inauguration of the Council for National Heritage Council

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04 Jun 2010

The Chairperson of the National Heritage Council, Mr. M Mlengana
The Honourable Members of the National Heritage Council;
The Director-General of the Department of Arts and Culture, Mr. T Wakashe;
The Chief Executive Officer of the National Heritage Council, Advocate S Mancotywa;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is with great pleasure and privilege that I greet you tonight. Today marks the 6 days countdown to the FIFA World Cup spectacular which will be hosted by our beloved country, South Africa. We are indeed honoured and privileged to be South Africans.

Honourable members of the Council, I want to start by congratulating you for having been identified as Council members of one of the Department of Arts and Culture esteemed statutory agencies, the National Heritage Council. I also want to, on behalf of the South African government, extend our sincere gratitude to all of you for accepting the challenge of serving in this august institution. By accepting this challenge, you have automatically joined the Department’s pursuit of its vision to develop and preserve South African arts, culture and heritage to ensure social cohesion and nation building. You have joined us in the consolidation and promotion of policies, programmes and projects that are designed to achieve this noble vision. Together we shall work hand in hand in ensuring that financial and human resources that are set aside to give fruition to this vision are properly utilized.

It is indeed fundamentally important that statutory agencies and heritage institutions that fall under the Department of Arts and Culture align their strategies and activities to this vision. It is against this background that in the last couple of years, my Department has introduced induction programmes which seek not only to share strategic priorities of government with institutions, but also to forge synergies between our work and that of institutions.

Honourable members, the synergies are necessary because we regard our institutions as implementing agencies. The Department alone cannot reach out to every nook and cranny of our society, but our institutions, which are spread throughout the country, have that advantage. More importantly, it is significant to note that our institutions utilize the largest portion of our budget. Our heritage institutions alone utilize 67% of our budget. This shows that only 33% of our heritage budget is left in the Department. It therefore becomes imperative that there is a seamless connection between ourselves and our institutions in the advancement of interests and aspirations of arts, culture and heritage communities.

Honourable Members, in his State of the Nation Address on the 11th of February 2010, President Zuma reminded us of the commitment made by this administration to the South African citizens when he said (I quote):

“When this administration came into office last year, we undertook to work harder to build a strong developmental state. We said it would be a state that responds to the needs and aspirations of the people, and which performs better and faster. This year, 2010, shall be a year of action. The defining feature of this administration will be that it knows where people live, understands their needs, and respond faster. Government must work faster, harder and smarter.” (Unquote)

The National Heritage Council is one of the most significant institutions in the heritage sector. Therefore, for the National Heritage Council to work harder, faster and smarter as implored by the President during his State of the Nation Address, it is important that the National Heritage Council has clearly defined, non-conflicting and unambiguous strategic roles. One of the strategic roles of the National Heritage Council is to fund heritage-related projects. Most of these project proposals come from the poorest of the poor in our society. They come from the neediest sections our rural, urban and peri-urban populations. As an institution which is operating within the developmental state, the NHC must take it upon itself to assist emerging heritage practitioners and entrepreneurs to access financial resources.

The NHC must conduct workshops that are aimed at training heritage practitioners and entrepreneurs in packaging good project proposals that attract funding not only from the public sector but also from the private sector. This can only happen if there is proper training in the preparation of credible proposals seeking funding for heritage projects and financial reports after the completion of funded projects. This could go a long way in minimizing risks that are inherent in funding and thus boosting sponsor and investor confidence. By so doing the NHC will be contributing to income generation, economic development and job creation which are pre-requisite for social and political stability, which in turn constitute solid foundation for social cohesion and nation building.

The NHC is in a better position to promote projects that seek to address social cohesion, nation building and national reconciliation. Its funding model could prioritize those projects that encourage intercultural dialogue, non-racialism, non-sexism and those that transgress creedal and ethnic barriers. The NHC is also in a better position to become a reservoir and a powerhouse of knowledge and information for heritage through conducting research on various subjects within heritage. It is our strong belief that it is through research and dissemination of knowledge that there can be better understanding among various cultures. Such mutual understanding is pertinent to the recognition of cultural diversity in our country.

It is thus incumbent upon you as Council members to ensure that you give strategic leadership to this institution so that the mandate that the people of South Africa gave to the present administration is carried out smarter, faster and in an expeditiously efficient way.

In addition to the strategic roles that I alluded to above, as members of the Council, you are entrusted with fiduciary duties. This means you have a stewardship and custodianship role to play. Care and protection of state assets and resources allocated to the NHC in the next three to five years will be under your strategic leadership. This means you bear responsibility of ensuring that systems and mechanisms are in place to ensure proper utilization of state assets by management and staff of the NHC.

Honourable members, President Jacob Zuma has made a clarion call to all the citizens of this country, the public sector and private sector to join him in the fight against the scourge of corruption that destroys not only our economy but our moral fibre and the ethical soul of our society. We need not look far to see the examples of what corruption can do to a people or nation. We have our examples in our country and in our beloved African continent.

Corruption takes away resources from where they are needed most to satisfy selfish insatiable greed of groups and individuals. Corruption takes away resources that are earmarked to address genuine NEEDS of our communities to satisfy WANTS of selfish groups and individuals. Corruption breeds apathy and thus destroys conscience, sympathy and empathy among those who are corrupt. This must be stopped before it is too late. I implore you to join this new cadreship in the fight against corruption.

In conclusion, Honourable Council members, in pursuit of the Department’s vision to develop and preserve South African arts and culture to ensure social cohesion and nation building: firstly, I expect all of you to execute your fiduciary responsibilities without fear and favour to your best abilities: secondly, I expect all of you to align the strategies and activities of this esteemed institution, the National Heritage Council, to the vision of the Department of Arts and Culture and to the priorities of our government. Thirdly and finally, in exercising your fiduciary responsibilities, I expect all of you to take up the President’s clarion call to nip the scourge of corruption in the bud. These three focus areas are amongst other messages that I will be echoing and re-echoing as I inaugurate other councils. May I once again thank you for accepting this responsibility and wish you well in the execution of the arduous task ahead of you.

Thank you.