Speech by Deputy Minister Makhotso Maggie Sotyu at the Arts and Culture 2017/18 Budget Vote, Parliament, Cape Town
Speaker / Chairperson,
Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr. EN Mthethwa, All Ministers and Deputy Ministers present, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee of Arts and Culture, Ms XS Tom,
Honourable Members of Parliament, All MECs present,
Acting Director-General, Mr. Vusithemba Ndima, All Top Management of the Department of Arts & Culture,
All the Board Chairs & Heads of DAC Public
All other Government Departments present here, Our Traditional leadership & Civil Society present here,
Distinguished Special Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As I make my maiden speech today in Parliament as the new Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, I would like to immediately convey my gratitude to Minister Mthethwa and the entire Department for warmly welcoming me in their midst.
Also, I wish to thank Umntwana, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi and all other leaders and people who wrote me letters of congratulations and best wishes, wishing me success in my new portfolio. Ndiyabulela.
Therefore, Chairperson, we are obligated to pay tribute to BOTH our artists/creative workers who suddenly died in the period under review: artists like Mama Thandi Klaasen, Baba Joe Mafela, and recently Mandla Hlatshwayo and others, and also to our innocent vulnerable groups (women and children) who fell victim to violence and brutality.
Because, right now, in our country we are experiencing heightened violent hateful crimes against innocent people of all backgrounds, races, classes, ages, genders.
And, rightfully so, our number one citizen, the President is outraged; and so are the whole law- abiding citizens of this country.
It is with this reason that even the Cabinet is insisting that our Department of Arts and Culture must quickly draft, complete and submit a Comprehensive Strategy on the Promotion of Social Cohesion and Nation Building.
As far back as in 2001, His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma, in his then capacity as the Deputy President, observed that:
“Moral regeneration is not something, which can be left to either Government or religious community alone. We require the participation of all sectors in this campaign against child rape and sexual violence in South Africa”. End Quote.
All what this means then is that, most of violence committed in South Africa, are violent behaviours arising out of factors over which the police have little or no control of whatsoever.
Bana bathari entsho hosenyeile kae. Botho barona bokae?
Factors, which include the decline in the standards of morality or moral fibre, have nothing to do with the core mandate of our law enforcement agencies per se.
The whole South African nation and its communities must therefore become the last line of defence, the alpha and omega in the fighting and preventing violence and perverse behaviour against our most vulnerable groups in our society, especially women and children; because this violence is committed by the people most closest to them.
The much needed National Strategy on Social Cohesion and Nation Building has to yield to a foundation that says: all community sectors, including traditional leaders, parents/family members and indeed educators; are unwittingly “front-line officers” in identifying people who could potentially pose a risk to the peace and order of our communities and families.
As the Ministry of Arts and Culture, we will then enhance the cooperation and collaboration we currently have with the Department of Basic Education.
Our young people and learners must be empowered to understand the unique heritage that this country has, before they can even begin to understand the related national symbols such as the flag, anthems, etc.
Building a social cohesive nation and national identity, will thus not only be about hoisting a South African Flag in each school.
National Identity to our young people, the future of this country, must also start to mean a deep appreciation of the values that are entrenched in our heritage and history as a nation and country, which have also intrinsically informed the Preamble of our Constitution.
Our National departmental projects on archiving, language and library, are not only about preservation of a heritage or a culture/tradition. They are fundamentally about our identity: who we are as South Africans.
This is at least what was proven to me, when I attended the 2017 National Archives Awareness Week, the departmental campaign that ran from
8th – 12th May 2017 in various districts of the Western Cape.
This particular campaign seeks to show that, South Africans can never appreciate or love what they have achieved as a collective society since1994, if we don’t know who we are, and where we come from as a nation and as a country.
The Departmental Project of the Re-print of the South African Classics written in indigenous languages will thus not only encourage and promote our children in writing, speaking and reading in their respective indigenous languages/mother-tongue.
These classic literatures will fundamentally transmit a unique wealth of knowledge and value system of ubuntu, ubumelwane, ubudlelwane, and imbeko, all pillar-stones of social cohesion and nation building that South Africa so yearns for.
There is a saying that charity begins at home, but so is prejudice. The migration from one belief system to another has had negative ramifications for our children, and has not been easy for parents to make their children feel the same zeal for their roots.
More than often, Black children attending private affluent schools are encouraged to regard English as a superior language than their native/mother tongue. As a result, they avoid speaking their mother tongue to avoid feeling rejected by their peers.
As parents, teachers, leaders and Government, we have a major role to play. We must always emphasize the importance of learning to appreciate one’s mother tongue in order to gain self-awareness.
To be able to learn, speak, read, and write in respective mother tongues, strengthens self- esteem of every child.
The South African Heritage Resource Agency (SAHRA) indeed has a critical role in facilitating the promotion, preservation and transmission of our heritage by documenting and archiving the living human treasures’ knowledge.
We will then have to further explore and expand the Project: Women of Power. It must not be a once off publication, but an ongoing project with the aim to archive this wealth of wisdom and knowledge, from elderly rural women who are making enormous contribution to their communities through the arts, culture and heritage.
The development of new terminologies for indigenous languages to become languages of science, medicine, technology and commerce, can only be possible if we have strong implementable Policies, Programmes and Projects on Indigenous Language Promotion; Centres for Reading, Writing and Publishing Literature written in Indigenous Languages; and Archival Institutions.
We are pleased to acknowledge that the Department of Arts and Culture is still in the forefront creating a large pool of highly qualified language professionals.
For instance, bursaries are offered to students; and funds to the tune of R3million have been channeled to 6 Universities (Universities of Limpopo; North West; Western Cape; WITS; UNISA, and Nelson Mandela), respectively.
It is also pleasing to announce that all 47 National Departments are complying with the implementation of the Use of Official Languages Act 12 of 2012.
SiliSebe lezeNkcubeko naMasiko, sinondwendwe apha namhlanje, uGqirha Hleze Kunju, oye wenza imbhali apha eMzantsi Afrika ngokutyikitya izibhalo zakhe zemfundo ephakamileyo I PhD Thesis, ngolwimi lwesiNtu, isiXhosa.
UHleze uvela eMqanduli, kwaye uselusana, ungumntwana ka 1985, yiyo nale nto ephelekezelwa ngu Mama wakhe, uMrs Namhla Kunju, uMaMqoma, uMthembu. Ukuzala kukuzelula Mama Kunju.
Dr Hleze’s Thesis was inspired by his stay in Zimbabwe where he taught music and drama, and where he discovered a large community of Xhosa people about 200 000, living in Zimbabwe, who were taken from the Eastern Cape to Zimbabwe by Cecil John Rhodes in the 1800s.
The achievement of Dr Hleze is not only progressive for transforming and decolonizing education; breaking the barriers and prejudices in the academia.
This achievement is also part of social cohesion and heritage preservation that is so needed in our country and our continent. Therefore, it is an achievement for the whole Africa.
This is indeed a good story to tell, befitting the Africa Month we are currently celebrating, and a definite testament to the potential that our indigenous language possesses.
Preserving our indigenous languages will ensure that the evolution of our society will not change our heritage foundation, but only adjust it. And, we will not be able to adjust it if we are not a reading nation.
Our Department will then continue to prioritize the building and upgrading of libraries in our communities, especially in the rural communities. It is a fact that most of our rural communities and rural schools do not have libraries.
In this instance, I would like to pay tribute to our former Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, Ms Rejoice Mabhudhafasi, who ensured that the Nkuri Village in Limpopo receives a Modular Library in 2016, whilst a new Library is currently being built.
These Library initiatives definitely transform the atmosphere in rural communities and their schools towards having great aspirations of growing with life despite their impoverished settings.
The culture of reading inspiring books and archiving important milestones achieved by our nation during colonialism, apartheid and post-first democratic elections, will mean and ensure resilience to our rich history and heritage.
It is with this reason that our Ministry will engage with the Minister of Finance on behalf of our Department to source extra funding to implement our mandate of developing and promoting arts and culture in South Africa.
We want to mainstream Department’s role in the sustainable social cohesion, economic development and nation building for all South Africans, with the special emphasis on the historically disadvantaged communities.
Our Department definitely needs more funding as it is shocking to know that as a country we still cannot archive one of our biggest milestone as a nation: the 2010 Soccer World Cup!
Archiving our achievements as a nation, and preserving our heritage, and using one’s mother tongue will also help with extra tool for success.
For instance, rural-based people will have the high esteem and courage to integrate the indigenous socio-economic system with current technology.
We must appreciate that more than 14 million South Africans still reside in deep rural areas, and as such indigenous systems such as Traditional Leadership will also always be part and parcel of anything to do with governance, economic development and nation-building of rural communities.
It is for this reason I had also decided to pay a courtesy visit to His Majesty King Zanelizwe Dalindyebo of AbaThembu in Bumbane, Eastern Cape. During this meeting, held on 18th May
2017, the King and the attending Chiefs raised concerns on:
The non-completion of an Arts and Culture Multi-Purpose building.
The marginalization of the rural youth and women from arts and culture projects funded by Government.
The Ministry will make a follow-up visit in the course of this Financial Year 2017/2018 bringing along the relevant Top Management of the Department of Arts and Culture in order to effect much needed Arts and Culture Projects for the Youth and Women, and to also address the incomplete building in Bombane, with the Provincial Government of the Eastern Cape.
We are also going to visit the rest of the eight provinces to further engage with the various Traditional Leaders; as their respective concerns and challenges will never be the same.
But, what remains a common denominator in our rural communities is that, these communities are dependent on their respective traditional leadership to develop and revitalize their economies.
Even, the crafters that are yearning to be entrepreneurs, are inter-dependent on this relationship with the Traditional Leadership.
So, we acknowledge that all the Department of Arts and Culture-led Programmes and Projects for the rural communities must include the Traditional Leadership as one of the core stakeholders for Rural Development.
The Ministry will have to oversee for a transformed arts and culture sector that will ensure a growing rural economy, that will reverse a brain drain and declined population in our rural communities.
As a heartbeat of the nation, the Department of Arts and Culture must ensure that our talented young residents must not see a need to leave their places of birth in search of better economic opportunities elsewhere.
To achieve this, we will have to have a solid foundation of mutual beneficial partnership with our sister National Departments of Small Business, Tourism, DTI, COGTA, Basic and Higher Education. Without these six Departments, our mandate will be half-implemented.
In conclusion, I want to assure our arts and culture stakeholders that, the current White and Paper on Arts and Culture, that is currently being reviewed, will definitely ensure that as many South Africans as possible, will have access to and enjoy the Arts and Culture offerings of our country, and to also maximize the development of socio-economic opportunities that exist within this mandate.
I thank you all.