Build a Future or Perish

Dr GA Grootboom MPL

Democratic Alliance Northern Cape Spokesperson for Sport, Art and Culture

Honourable Speaker, Honourable Premier, Honourable Members of the House, guests in the gallery, members of the media

I do not want to come here with idle rhetoric but with clear direction. When I evaluate this department, it is like many other departments – a mixed bag. On the one hand there are high levels of competency and on the other, even higher levels of incompetency. However, I am here to talk about the impacts of this department on our communities.

This department has, next to education, the future of our youth in their hands. In his Red Book, Lenin, the father of communism, said that he who controls the mind of the child, controls the future. However, Alvin Toffee said, “All education springs from some image of the future. If the image of the future held by society is grossly inaccurate, its education system will betray its youth.” This is the tragedy of the post apartheid education. Post apartheid education was approached in a nihilistic manner.

If we do not build that future, it will lead to the decay of society – this is exactly what is happening in South Africa today.

There is a serious lack of innovative planning and programmes to build the social and moral fibre of our society. We need to use sources availed judiciously to build society, not individuals pockets.

Some of the glaring problems include:

• This department does not yet have a clean audit.

• This department has under-spend in respect of conditional grants – this is as criminal as overspending.

• Lack of making appointments seriously hampers success.

• Filling of positions are still based on deployment.

• Failing to call municipalities to order in respect of grants allocated to them.

• Non-delivery in sports: training of coaches.

• Nothing concrete is happening, everything hangs in the air.

• Mass participation is so poorly organized that all events fizzle out without leaving a memory that we united albeit for a short while.

• Tenders are still given to a selected few.

Hon. Speaker, Hon. Members, it is one thing to be critical, what alternative does and will the DA bring to this budget and to the province. Allow me hence to outline the DA’s vision and agenda for social change.

This is our first President of SA’s agenda: how will we give effect to this?

This agenda includes the following:

* Continuation to facilitate redress

* Promotion of the principles of reconciliation

* Promotion and celebration of our diversity and

* Carrying out the electoral mandate and continue with delivery.

Redress:

Redress means: to set right, as a wrong; to repair, as an injury; to make amends for; to remedy; to relieve from.

Our historical past must be reclaimed and repaired, not used as a tool to break down the present. For example, has the Hanging Tree of Adam Kok been given back to the community? What happened to Jan Bloem’s hanging tree (luckily it is still standing). You have restored Sobukwe’s house – these are some of the past we must rebuild as real monuments. The DA would like to see that the Bondel Swarts Rebellion gets the same recognition as the Upington 26.

We should never allow ourselves to be selective when we want to redress the wrongs of the past. Your current agenda is albeit racist and like the apartheid government giving a skewed view of our shared past. You are the new baas boys, the slaves becoming a worse slave master. Redress is about building and giving recognition to our present, cultural reconstruction. In this regard, the Mayibuye centre is doing a good job.

Reconciliation:

Hon. Speaker the second item on the agenda for social change is reconciliation. Reconciliation projects are not limited to singular events, but it is a process to heal the divisions of the past. It takes time, it is not a once off project.

Reconciliation is not only what government does, it is also about what society and local communities are doing.

Through arts and culture, we will take our programmes to the rural areas. In this way we facilitate reconciliation between urban and rural, between men and women, between black and white and haves and have nots.

We need to showcase our artists by staging black and white artists together. (Either on the stage or community arts exhibitions in places where it is accessible to all.) When we start viewing artistic expression as racist, it portrays our stunted intellectual growth.

The Heritage Council should not only try to identify the past but also look at how we ensure that our heritage is not stuck in the past but is future directed. The Calvinia Museum is a case in point. After three years, no curator has been appointed. I know about applicants – who happened to be white. It seems like you are fixed on making appointments based on race. You have already lost the moral high ground of our liberation struggle. You are not the sole custodians of our collective heritage. You are destructive rather than builders of a true democracy.

Whether we recognize it or not, renaming is an emotional issue. It touches the soul of a community, especially when it is a cultural heritage. Self serving name changes like the Perseverance change, only divides rather than unites; proliferates rather than knitting together.

The HOD assured me, due process was followed- now I am only awaiting the proof of this. Look at the name given to the conference centre. Why not give it a provincial name instead of building monuments. Naming a hall in the centre would have been effective! Let us not name for political expediency!

Language is a cultural heritage. The ostracization of Afrikaans shows our lack of understanding in the meaning of a language, as a cultural heritage. The DA will look towards ensuring that we afford the same status to languages without enforcing one above the other. In the true spirit of reconciliation, we need to respect each other’s past.

Diversity:

Hon. Speaker, a third agenda of social change in the province is our commitment to diversity.

Mega events have the potential to unite people with diverse backgrounds. Thus mass participation sport events have the potential to heal our society. These events seem to be more leisure orientated without a theme but only mass participation.

Let us not fool ourselves, national focus days have become ANC events. In the true spirit of community and diversity, the DA will ensure that all political parties share the stage and address the public to be united in their diversity and not just to beautify the podium. These events are organized with government funds and should not be used as electioneering tools.

Provincial festivities like the Gariep Fees, Diamonds en Distils Fees, and the Rosyntjie Fees can all be transformed to be more inclusive and not socially exclusive.

Delivery:

The fourth leg of the DA’s social agenda is delivery.

Isiswe esifundayo, sisizwe esiphuckayo! Ndi thanduk buza, siza funda na? Isiswe esingafundiyo asinalo ikamva!

Library services have the critical edge of transforming our lives. Grants for library services to municipalities, how well do we monitor these? I am referring that you ensure appropriate appointments – not a person with a Grade VIII in charge of a library. You hold the purse – force municipalities to comply with minimum regulations in this regard. The DA believes in fitness for purpose.

The facilitation of internet access in libraries is a move forward – well done and continue with this. In the same vein, continue building the Writer’s Festival to become an even bigger national event.

In the absence of a fully functioning Sport Academy, we need to lend a hand to proven sports persons and assist them as they climb the sporting ladder.

This section is doing the mundane – there is no innovation, no projects and no vision. The spending of the budget is more akin to events management. I have said this previously and I unfortunately had to say it again!

Hon. Speaker, I have listened with a clear ear to what precisely the plans are as put forward by the MEC, but my ears were blocked by the lack of delivery in this regard.

What could possibly change this?

The DA’s analysis indicates that social dysfunction and disintegration are primary drivers of anti-social behavior and that social problems are multi-faceted and complex, requiring a comprehensive and holistic approach.

In response, a DA government will target the youth, especially primary and high school learners, through a comprehensive after school programme. Research indicated that drugs and alcohol abuse, as well as sexual abuse, take place during 2-6pm in the afternoon.

An after school programme at selective schools in poor communities with high levels of social dysfunction can give learners an opportunity and an alternative to break the cycle of social disintegration. When we engage learners with the assistance of coaches and coordinators in constructive activities after school, we will reduce the risk of exposure to anti-social behaviour. This is why my point of critique was a lack of training and programmatic synergy with the department of education.

The DA has such centres in the Western Cape and some of your officials went for a study tour. These centres have four primary objectives:

– Firstly to give children an opportunity to have fun. Having fun is part of the make- up of any child.

– Secondly, the facilitators and coaches identify talent (talent identification). That is the reason that I focused on the failure to complete the training as per schedule.

– Thirdly, to reduce the risks of anti-social behaviour and

– Fourthly to improve discipline and learning outcomes of learners.

It is the intention to achieve the following outcomes, over time – you will also see linkages with other departments:

(a) improved school discipline (Education)

(b) improved learning outcomes (Education)

(c) increased school attendance (Education)

(d) reduced crime and youth at risk (Police)

(e) reduced teenage pregnancy (Social Development)

(f) increased mass participation (Sport and Culture)

(g) improved healthy lifestyles (Health)

(h) reduced substance abuse (Social Development)

In closing, Hon. Members, we as legislators must leave our footprints for future generations to follow. We should be the political conscience of all departments to ensure that what they do contribute to nation building and social cohesion. The officials on the other hand should ensure that they are there to serve the people, not politicians. In the execution of their duties they have to ensure fairness and equity to all people within their area of responsible influence.

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