I am starting my input to this debate with a quote by V. Pinchuk who said: “Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics.”
Looking at the current state of our country and the widening gap of racial disharmony this quote touches a nerve and it is incumbent on us, as Members of Parliament, to set an example as our actions and utterances are examples to the public.
I have to acknowledge our government’s funding of cultural festivals across the country. These festivals bridge the cultural divide as art cuts across cultures and builds social cohesion. Speaking of social cohesion, the intentions of this Department is good, however the government must put more emphasis on the cultures, heritage and histories of the Khoisan communities. We cannot continue to marginalise exhibitions that depicts the Khoisan as the First Nation of South Africa.
The Department of Arts and Culture has spent a lot of money on conducting Nation Building and Social Cohesion Community Conversations, but the Department is yet to enlighten the Committee as to the outcomes of these conversations.
If these conversations are not bridging the divide between cultural groups, they are sadly in vain.
Our aim is and should remain to bring South Africa together under one National Anthem and under one flag.
Race relations in South Africa is need of a serious makeover. We owe it to our children to build on the racial harmony that was displayed by the first Democratic Parliament of South Africa.
Currently, only the DA is working to ensure that democracy in South Africa does not die an untimely death. We need to restore race relations in South Africa which are being eroded by political figures who utter reckless and irresponsible statements.
We best express ourselves through our language of choice. We find our cognitive base in the tongue of our mothers. Having said that Honourable Speaker, excluding and vilifying others based on their language has no place in a democratic South Africa.
The silence from the Pan South African Language Board’s (PanSALB), an organisation which is mandated to promote multilingualism, develop the 11 official languages and protecting language rights in South Africa, has been deafening.
Honourable Speaker, we best express ourselves through our language of choice. We find our cognitive base in the tongue of our mothers. PanSALB must come to the party and fight to protect and promote all 11 official languages. Having said that Honourable Speaker, I would like to highlight a concerning case of demonising Afrikaans through the closing down of Afrikaans schools as driven by Panyaza Lesufi. This seems to be driving a wedge between cultural groups. Honourable Minister, the silence of PanSALB who have to drive the language issue, is deafening.
Having said that, language must never be used as a tool for exclusion. I acknowledge that this Department has created jobs, under the Mzansi Golden Economy (MGE) program. However, these jobs are not sustainable. Even though the relief is temporary it does contribute to poverty alleviation. When you know the face of poverty it must be applauded when people are given an opportunity to empower themselves. The Department must prioritise sustainable job creation.
A DA government will allocate more funding for the creation of cultural spaces where the artistic community can have more avenues for expression. This wil bring art to communities that cannot afford to go to expensive theatres or concerts.
My colleagues spoke about funding for the art drying up and government giving less funding for operas or so called euro centric cultural expressive nodes.
The DA will look towards tax incentives for companies that donate to the arts. We can only build the arts as a nation when all contribute and all can enjoy.
Art can lead the way towards moral regeneration.
Even though the Department has given money for the restoration of our core values and moral fibre, we still do not know whether these programmes have a positive impact on our society.
For a country to flourish in artistic expression it is important to restore the moral fibre by investing in value based programs to restore our moral fibre and focus on individual responsibility.
Honourable Minister, your Department has cut down on its key targets from 65 to 38. The targets that have been reduced mostly centre around monitoring and evaluation and accountability.
Honourable Minister, these are the key components of managerial responsibility and accountability of this Department, in order to ensure people get value for money and government money is used responsibly.
A DA government will focus on key issues of monitoring and evaluation to ensure that there is freedom of artistic expression for all; fairness in the work place; diversity and opportunity irrespective of political affiliation where all are embraced regardless of race or creed into the true democratic ideal.