Speech notes: Annual report 2015/16 Vote 14 – Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture. 1 February 2017 by Nosimo Balindlela MPL

Hon Speaker

It gives me great joy to be back home again.

I would like to thank the Democratic Alliance for having availed me this opportunity and also to thank Hon. Ross Purdon for having made my transition a smooth one.

Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture, like many other departments, have undergone many changes in terms of the increased number of participants in different sporting spheres. It is of vital importance to remember that within this portfolio we include cultural affairs, libraries and archives.

The development of sports and culture in rural and urban areas bring positive social changes and opportunities for our people from all walks of life:   young and old, men and women, able-bodied or disabled.

On the road, I regularly pass by elderly people between 70 and 80 years old who keep themselves physically and mentally fit.   It proves the importance of sport in maintaining a healthy body and mind.

In the South African context, we can take to heart writer Paulo Coelho’s sentiments that “Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other better in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers. But first, they have to understand that their neighbour is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions.

In this instance, it is the political administration and more specifically the Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture, who is meant to facilitate that ever-important community spirit, which we so desperately need to learn through our understanding of each other’s culture as well as our communal African culture.  We have to embrace this if we want to move forward as a province.

Sadly, Hon Speaker, the findings and recommendations made by the Portfolio Committee on Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture dated November 2016, hold and are very much repetitive of what has ben said in this House for years.

I want to quote the MEC for Finance, who said in his budget speech 6 March 2015: “Going into 2015/16 financial year the most important factor is our ability and capability to deliver on our undertakings to our people through the implementation of key programs funded in this budget”.

Madam speaker and MECs, how is it then, that this department which has one of the smallest budgets of all the votes still managed to spend only 45 % of its budget?  The extent of under-expenditure in this department certainly does not reflect the sentiments of the MEC for Finance regarding delivery.  This department had projected to spend less than half of its budget of R796-million.  Actual expenditure was even less, only R356-million!

As mentioned in the report, the matter of under-expenditure on programme 2 has been repetitive in nature.  Hon. Speaker, mention in made of a few Arts Centres, but what about the ones standing empty at the roadside on so many of our rural towns?

These centres must be revitalised to support our local artists and crafters.  We have such talented people and we cannot abandon them because the department is unable to support them.  The money is there, so what is the problem, Madam MEC?

Yesterday, my colleague, Hon.  Bobby Stevenson, told this House that we need to wake up to the fourth industrial revolution that is sweeping through our universe and that we ignore them at our own peril.  The Internet of things impacts everything we do.  It is, therefore, a matter of great importance that our libraries and archives become places where our people can have access and connect to the world out there.  We cannot have a situation where only 35% of the budget for programme 3 is spent.

In her policy speech, the MEC for this department said that the 2015/16 financial year offered “unrivalled opportunities to grow participation, physical activities and enhance transformation.  I implore the MEC and her department to reflect on the commendable ideas contained in that speech but to be honest about the true outcomes and whether these goals were achieved.

What we need are sustainable programmes which will support all cultural and sports activities in this province and which will have a positive impact on the daily lives of our citizens.  We have the potential to develop our arts and culture to tie in with tourism and the economy.  Please MEC, your department must do better.   Isolated “commemoration days” are nice and necessary, but such activities do not fulfil your mandate.

The DA believes that public policy on arts, culture and heritage must make every South African feel welcome, at home and proud.    We believe the government should provide platforms for cultural and artistic expression.  Making people aware of their potential to affect the destiny of the country will contribute to their sense of ownership and South Africanness.    Artistic and cultural expression has inherent value – including economic growth, job creation and poverty alleviation.

The DA supports to report.