THE Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture has congratulated the Deputy Minister of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Nocawe Mafu, on the birth of a new department after the successful amalgamation of the two historically separate departments of sport and recreation, and arts and culture.
Mafu, who led the newly merged department of Sports, Arts and Culture in its meeting with the committee on Wednesday, told the committee that the process of amalgamation is completed and that now there is only one department, under one Director-General.
The department briefed the committee on its revised budget and annual performance plan for the 2020/21 financial year, and on the COVID-19 relief fund.
Briefing the committee, Mafu assured the committee that in spite of challenges, the department is performing well in all its programmes.
She said the budget had to be adjusted because of the new COVID-19 realities, and funds had to be redirected according to the new priorities presented by COVID-19, among other things.
The chairperson of the committee, Elleck Nchabeleng, highlighted concerns that have been expressed by the people on the ground on the distribution of relief funds, the application of consequence management as a result of the Auditor-General’s report on the funds, and non-compliance by some of the institutions under the department’s oversight.
“There is much theory on consequence management and less translation of that into action. Consequence management should not be a talk shop,” said Nchabeleng.
He said the internal audit resource within the department is supposed to pick up non-compliance and advise the department long before auditing takes place.
Members of the committee told the department about the unequal distribution of the relief fund among the racial groups, and double-dipping.
On the distribution of funds among racial groups, they said a huge chunk went to Africans, and on the distribution of funds to the country’s nine provinces, a huge chunk went to Gauteng.
The committee also wanted answers on a number of questions on Robben Island and Iziko museums.
Nchabeleng said Robben Island cannot be treated as an ordinary museum or heritage site.
“It is a premier heritage site and our beacon of hope, and always remember that there were political prisoners who were imprisoned there,” said Nchabeleng.
Nchbeleng, who declared his personal interest in Robben Island, said the committee needs to have a meeting with the few Robben Island’s ex-political prisoners who are still alive to hear their views about the island that was their university of the politics of freedom, reconciliation and patriotism.
Mafu answered all the questions of the committee and assured the committee about the department’s plans in place for the improvement of its performance.
On the relief fund, she said the department has been consistent in working on its plans of mitigating the effects of the lockdown.
They told the committee about the distribution of the relief fund and cleared all what was not clear.
On the role of the department on gender-based-violence (GBV), Mafu said the department is responsible for social cohesion, and based on that, it has a bigger role in the implementation of the government’s National Strategic Plan on GBV.
She said in as much as the plan is driven from the Presidency, the department reports on its role to the President regularly.
On school sport, which the committee wanted more explanation, Mafu said the Department of Basic Education is a custodian of schools, and based on that, school sport is its responsibility.
However, she said the Minister of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture interacts with the Minister of Basic Education on the issue of sport.
(REPORTING BY INSIDE EDUCATION STAFF)