The IFP supports the R1.5 billion Budget Allocation for the 2022/23 financial year.
2022/23 FINANCIAL YEAR BUDGET
Hon. Chair, this Department is very important for various reasons. It is a vehicle for social cohesion, and, most significantly, it is important due to its educational and emancipatory roles. This is why we, as the IFP, view the R1.5 billion Budget as inadequate. We urge the Premier and Treasury to look at increasing the Budget so that the Department may pursue its mandates effectively, in the interests of the people of our Province. Our biggest concern with this Department are the funds that remain unused in each financial year and are later forfeited. Infrastructure projects get delayed and end up costing the Department exorbitant amounts in fees. Some projects have not been finalised, resulting in fruitless expenditure. The IFP views this as a lack of capacity within the Department’s top management to deliver, especially within the SCM Unit.
This Department also was not spared from Budget cuts. In 2020/21, the Department’s Budget was reduced by R34.825 million and in 2021/22, the Department’s equitable share Budget was cut by R97.127 million. We have seen many projects delayed, for many years. We note the R2.108 million for 2022/23 for the EPWP Integrated Grant for Provinces, which will be used to employ 40 contract employees to continue to assist in the implementation of infrastructure, SCM and more.
It is commendable that a further R7 million has been allocated to employ 222 contract employees as Library Processors, Library Practitioners and Library Assistants under the EPWP Integrated Grant for Provinces.
We do not expect that the R1.5 billion budget allocated for the 2022/23 financial year will be fully utilised for all the responsibilities of the Department, as this Department has not been able to spend its entire budget since 2009.
We acknowledge the commencement plans of the much-delayed infrastructure projects, namely the refurbishment of the Winston Churchill Theatre and the uThungulu Art Centre. We are disappointed, particularly about the uThungulu Art Centre. The Department spent millions building a state-of-the-art facility in a questionable site, thus leading to the building becoming a white elephant. The IFP calls for a thorough investigation into this matter and demands feedback as to what action has been taken against those involved so far. Delays in these projects have resulted in the Department under-spending in the previous year.
For example, due to the delay in the construction of the Provincial Archive Repository, funds amounting to R138.411 million were forfeited from the 2019/20 budget, which is also a concern to us. We hope that there will not be questionable service providers who might jeopardise these projects this time around.
In addition, the feasibility studies for the construction of the Arts and Culture Academy and Archive Repository were not conducted. Further, the Department under-spent by R15.447 million in 2018/19, mainly as a result of the Department withholding transfers to organisations, art councils and the Rorkes Drift Art Centre. Furthermore, the Department underspent by R36.602 million in 2019/20, of which R28.830 million was in respect of the Community Library Services Grant. The culture of underperforming and underspending in this programme should be done away with, once and for all.
It has been an ongoing problem for many years. More libraries must be built. We urge the Hon. MEC to urgently address the chronic culture of overall underspending in this Department. Also, filling vacant posts will assist the Department to fulfil its mandate diligently.
We note the amount of R10.872 million for Cultural Affairs for 2022/23. The IFP commends the Department for always supporting traditional events, such as uMkhosi woMhlanga and others. Umkhosi woMhlanga, revived by His Majesty and His Traditional Prime Minister, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, has become one of the biggest events on the country’s heritage events’ calendar.
Umkhosi wokweshwama and other commemorations of our Zulu culture and heritage bear the same significance. These are what have made us – and will continue to make us – the people that we are in our country. The Zulu Nation today is the envy of not just other nations in South Africa and Africa, but is the envy of many around the world.
COVID-19 ON ARTISTS
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the South African sports, arts, culture and heritage sector. People in the sector have been losing sleep and have had much higher levels of anxiety, due to how the pandemic affected their personal finances and created uncertainty about the future. As the IFP, we want to know how the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture intends to assist the artists? There must be transparency when financial assistance is offered.
Arts and culture strengthen social cohesion through the removal of the barriers that seemingly hinder mutual understanding and communication. The Department of Sports, Arts and Culture must work harder to ensure that all races participate fully in cultural and provincial events. One way to strengthen community cohesion and feelings of belonging is through implementing cultural and art programmes.
I thank you.