DA KZN:  Arts and Culture budget totally inadequate 

George Mari, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Arts and Culture

The KZN Arts and Culture department budget sees a baseline increase of approximately R14 million, a figure which is totally inadequate to carry out its mandates for the current budget year.

This is of great concern to the portfolio committee.

The Department has overspent its budget by R7.6million. This is not due to under-budgeting but because of the department funding events that were not on its budget.  The MEC must answer for this.

Overspending on events is also very worrying and organizers must stick to their budgets. The Reed Dance is a glaring example with a budget increase from R4m to R14m. Surely this financial burden should not be only on the Arts and Culture Department?

His Majesty the King drew attention to expenditure on meetings and Imbizos.  He also questioned the benefit was derived from some of these events. Should we be spending millions on a Jazz Festival when a Clinic or Community Hall would be of real, long- term benefit to a community?

The spending of R29.1million on War Room Packages needs to be investigated. I know that the ANC has become a “take-away” party. I wondered where all the food parcels came from during the By-Elections and the General Elections. I actually tailed some ANC activists in their Hyundai Bakkie when they were issuing food parcels in return for votes. I advised the voters to take the food parcels and vote for the DA.

The Documentation Centre or KZN Heritage Centre has still not been officially opened.  The MEC, in last year’s budget debate committed to handing over the double-storey building to the Heritage Centre. More good news is that the KZN Music House is now under the control of the Department and the DA welcomes this.

The KZN Music House has failed emerging artists. This facility had become the fiefdom of one individual.

A great disservice had been done to the Indian community when the property was taken from them. The return of this property will go a long way towards reconciliation. He DA urges the MEC today to recommit to the opening of the Centre with a firm date. The date of November 16 is significant and I propose that this be the target date.

The dismal funding to cultural organisations within the Indian Community has reared its ugly head again. MEC – there must be a more equitable way of funding organisations who are promoting culture? The allocation of musical instruments has not happened. Why?  I will be watching this.

The construction of Art Centre’s has taken a back seat, with only one earmarked to be built. I have raised on many occasions the sustainability of the Art Centre’s. What is being done to market the goods made by the crafters. There is very little support given to them.

Another concern is that only two libraries are being constructed. Libraries are a critical component of educating communities given the literacy levels among communities.