Address by Deputy Minister Paul Mashatile at the NCOP Policy Debate on Vote 12: Department of Arts and Culture, Cape Town

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02 Jul 2009

Chairperson
Honourable Members
Senior Management of the Department
Ladies and Gentlemen

Government acknowledges the important task of addressing the legacy of apartheid to ensure that all of our people experience the benefits of freedom. The deliberate neglect of rural areas caused serious harm to our communities. The majority of South Africans were confined to the Bantustans and townships that were totally neglected. As we all know, even the townships, which were largely created in urban areas, had relative development which did not meet the bare minimum needs of our people. Townships were created merely to provide labour for the factories and domestic needs of the minority.

Social cohesion and nation-building
Laws were created to ensure that our people could not feed themselves anymore and thus forced to seek employment away from their places of residence. Urbanisation and its concomitant social-economic ills were unleashed upon us. It is for this reason that the ANC–led government in 1994 recognised the need for a process to reconstruct our country. Rural development, which represents the constituencies of members of this house, continues to be one of the priority areas of our government. This government is committed to tackle the social ills through the social cohesion programme which is led by the Department of Arts and Culture. Our sector plays a significant contribution to social regeneration, unity and reconciliation.
We have identified the popularisation of national symbols, national days and the Standardisation of Geographical Names in SA as pillars of our strategy to foster national identity. We will install South African flags in all schools and promote the proper singing of the National Anthem.

We launched the Fly the Flag for Soccer Campaign in collaboration with other stakeholders on 8 April 2009. The aim of the campaign is to encourage patriotism and use the excitement created by the Confederations Cup to promote the national symbols. We have distributed 100 000 hand held flags to South Africans across the country during this period.

Community and Campus campaign
Between the months of May and June 2009, our campaign focused on the four FIFA Confederations Cup host cities, namely Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Rustenburg. A total of two days were spent at each city. The first day involved a branded double deck bus that drove through each city and stopped at taxi ranks. Hand-held flags were distributed as well as information pamphlets on National Symbols. We conducted competitions on the singing of the anthem wherein each winner was given 4 Confederation tickets.

The second day was dedicated to university campuses where students were treated to music by popular DJ’s and similar competitions on national symbols were conducted. From 20 May to 3 June 2009 we visited the Central University of Technology, Bloemfontein; University of Johannesburg, North West University, Mafikeng and Tshwane University of Technology.  

Our Department continues to promote oral history as part of our efforts to ensure that our heritage landscape is indeed reflective of our national memory and contributes to nation building and identity. We will promote oral history especially among marginalised communities whose heritage and history has been ignored for many years. We will later this year host the annual oral history conference in Cape Town to ensure that we preserve the rich heritage of our nation for posterity.

Access to the arts
Honourable Members, the ANC-led government is committed to the principle of universal access to the arts as stated in our Constitution. This means that we must provide the necessary infrastructure to enable people in the rural areas to practice their art. Currently we have a lot of art centres throughout the country but some of them are dysfunctional and do not have the necessary programmes that respond to the needs of our people.

We have decided to come with a revitilisation programme to ensure that the art centres continue to serve our communities. This year, we will establish a cultural Centre of Excellence per province. The plan is to use these centres as flagships or models for the rest of community art centres in the provinces. The plan is to ultimately restore quality art programmes in all our centres.

We will support the promotion of people’s arts in Community Art Centres, through encouraging local theatre groups, music groups, local cultural forms of expression and other creative work. National government will provide training in the management of art centres and ensure that programming is effective, that is, these centres are used for what they were created for. Provincial and local government spheres will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the centres.

Choral music
Chairperson, choral music continues to be one of our main forms of cultural expression. Every community has some form of a choir and we regard this art form as very participatory in nature because it is practiced by both the youngest and oldest members of our society.

We will conduct nation-wide consultations with the sector to ensure that the policy framework represents the aspirations of our people, the practitioners of choral music. This process will culminate in a national conference to finalise and adopt the Policy Framework. Provincial Departments of Arts and Culture have already expressed their support of this plan and will lead the process to identify choral societies across the country.  I am happy to announce that we will subsequently establish National Youth and Adult Choirs that are truly representative of our people and will thus enjoy government support.

Promoting Multilingualism
Part of the Department of Arts and Culture’s mandate is to develop and promote our official languages. In this financial year, we will table to Cabinet the South Africa Language Practitioners’ Bill for promulgation.  We will also have an annual campaign to promote multilingualism with effect from this financial year. We will continue to assist departments and provinces to establish language units.

Creative Industries
Creative Industries make significant contribution to job creation in the rural areas. South Africa, notwithstanding its rich history of beading, does not produce beads but imports them from other countries. The Department is currently working with our embassy in the Czech Republic and factories in that country towards the possible establishment of partnerships. This will ensure that our crafters will buy the materials here at home at a better price and work from their bases in the provinces.

Technical Services and Events
Our Department has identified the Technical Services and Events industry as an important element of economic empowerment and job creation. We have completed a study to reposition and transform this key industry to ensure that we create job and business opportunities for the previously disadvantaged individuals. Government is a key consumer of the technical services through government related events and exhibitions. We must make good use of our muscle.

Mandela Day
This year, South Africa together with other nations of the world will celebrate the life, values and ideas of Isithwalandwe, Nelson Mandela! July 18 has been declared Nelson Mandela Day. We call upon everyone to dedicate 67 minutes of their time on July 18 for the goodwill of others and service to humanity. The Department of Arts and Culture together with Parliament will coordinate government’s participation in the activities planned for Mandela Day.

2010 FIFA World Cup
I would like to congratulate our soccer team, Bafana Bafana for their excellent performance during the Confederations Cup. Our Department will continue to work with the Local Organising Committee to ensure that we present an unforgettable African experience. There is no doubt that the world was bowled over not only by our ability to organise large events, but also our culture, customs, cuisine, music, heritage, the mighty vuvuzela and many other practices of our beautiful land. We have set a high standard; the world will not allow us to regress.

Thank you