ArtSpoken & Reviews

Attention: The Creative Industries of SA

Thami aka Mbongo
07/22/2019 17:32:13

Let history remember you for CLEANING UP THE MESS our black government has made us to be in as the Creative Industries.

The Creative Industries of South Africa practitioners.

Cc: Honourable President Cyril Ramaphosa

Bcc: Honourable Minister Nathi Mthethwa

There are those who already know what I am about to share. Take this as a reminder.

There are those who never knew this information. Masirhabulisane. Know it so that you can know what you will be engaging yourself in.

The Department of Sport, Arts & Culture under the leadership of Minister Nathi Mthethwa has been embarking on CCIFSA District Consultations, CCIFSA Provincial Summits which will led to CCIFSA National Conference on 26 - 27 July 2019 (if it will happen as delegates don’t even know where it will take place up until this day). The National Conference aim is to adopt the CCIFSA MOI and elect new CCIFSA Leadership.

This whole process by the Department of Sport, Arts & Culture was really confusing and wrong in many instances. The District Consultations were badly organized and poorly attended. Many people who sent their application forms have got responses from the Department and were left out of the entire process.

Those who attended were also confused about why the Department of Sport, Arts & Culture was in the forefront of organizing these CCIFSA District Consultations & Provincial Summits. Many people believed that CCIFSA was disbanded. With less help from the Department it was not properly communicated (in these District Consultations & Provincial Summits) that CCIFSA was never disbanded. Clearly there was an agenda, whether politically or otherwise, by the Department of Sport, Arts & Culture, or those who were spreading the rumours. Only time will tell.

The CCIFSA Interim Committee appointed by Paul Matshatile was given R5 million. And they have not submitted the audited financial as the chaotic 2015 CCIFSA National Conference did not want to hear their report.

The 2015 CCIFSA National Conference had two statuses:

1. Consultative and
2. Elective

The delegates felt so strong that they wanted to focus on election and then later deal with the consultative process. This resulted in the mess we have today regarding the federation.

CCIFSA Leadership was elected in a chaotic National Conference.

The elective conference was held in Bloemfontein from 23 – 24 March 2015 whereby the following were elected to the Board of CCIFSA:

• Mr Tony Kgoroge - President
• Mr Kobane Gezani (Penny Penny) – Deputy President
• Mr Phemelo Sediti – General Secretary
• Mr Zwelibanzi Mdakane – Deputy Secretary
• Mr Dodo Monamodi – Treasury General
• Ms Andrea Dondolo – National Coordinator

SECTOR REPRESENTATIVES

• Indigenous Wisdom: Mr Benjamin Mfaba
• Arts Education & Training: Mr Windy Mthembu
• Languages & Publishing: Prof Cosbie Mbele (Ms)
• Visual Arts & Crafts: Ms Sheryl Msomi
• Cultural & Natural Heritage: Ms Nkosazana Machete
• Audio Visual: Mr Dale Davids
• Design, Creative & ACH Services: Ms Siyasanga Sebe
• Performance and Celebration - Ms Mamela Nyamza

Just as the 2015 CCIFSA National Conference was chaotic, the elected leadership failed the Creative Industries dismally in their term of office.

We have heard of some members who resigned from the federation and some who just lost interest in the whole structure. The Creative Industries practitioners were left in the dark with all these developments.

The Creative Industries practitioners have expressed their unhappiness about CCIFSA in different platforms. These are some of the issues and concerns raised by the practitioners:

CCIFSA that we do not want:

• Self-enrichment
• Financial looting
• Abuse of creative industries
• A lack of consultation of interested parties.
• Federation related to political objectives & political interference. Logo coincidentally happens to be in ANC colours.
• Federation 'mishandling' funding
• Federation of corruption
• Lack of transparency
• Poor communication and late invitations to consultative meetings.

Some of CCIFSA failures that have been raised:

• CCIFSA has not been structured legally.
• There are no records of minutes which give a clear direction of where the federation is headed.
• It has failed to secure the buy-in of most organizations and interested stakeholders in the creative sector.
• Has failed to unite and consistently report to the creative sector as a whole.
• National General Council (NGC) members have not met for the past three years.
• The legality of the CCIFSA’s constitution and its opaque processes for electing officials. The memorandum of incorporation was never discussed or endorsed by the arts fraternity.
• Lack of representation of different groups and unclear mandate.
• Deviousness and cheating was quite evident in how the provincial lists were compiled prior 2015 National Conference. (This year there seems to be foul play again.)
• Two members of the interim committee (Tony Kgoroge vs. Eugene Mthethwa) who have been gunning for key positions mobilized their own supporters instead of doing what they were tasked to do by CCIFSA. (This year there seems to be foul play again.)

Clearly from the above experience and concerns, one would think the Department of Sport, Arts & Culture would learn and would want to do things differently, but they did not.

No proper consultations with the arts fraternity across all nine provinces were done. It was a matter of box ticking. The attendance of District Consultations & Provincial Summits was poor and the major role players in the arts fraternity who can properly engaged in policy, regulations and governance were very few. One would think this time around the Department would get most of these major role players, whether they were against the formation of CCIFSA or not, whether they are regarded as the enemies of the Department or not.
In order to make this failed federation work for the Creative Industries we need brains, not just a rented crowd. Among the few that attended, there are practitioners who have brains and can engage on policies, regulations and governance, but the truth is they are few. Some, if not most, have their own agenda in the whole thing. But I guess; only time will tell.

How did we find ourselves in all this mess?

1. PRESIDENT CYRIL RAMAPHOSA NEW DAWN

Prior to the 2019 Cabinet announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa, a group of prominent arts, culture and heritage practitioners said, enough is enough.

In an open letter and petition to President Cyril Ramaphosa, we (as I also signed the petition) were asking for the first post-election Cabinet reshuffle to include “a credible new Arts & Culture Minister from civil society who is respected by the arts community”.

“We are all very concerned about the marginalizing of [the Department of] Arts & Culture in the political arena,” Mellet said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa did not hear the cries of that group of prominent arts, culture and heritage practitioners. He re-appointed Minister Nathi Mthethwa as the Minister of Sport, Arts & Culture. Once again, the appointment of the Minister was political. The Creative Industries was once again the losers in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s New Dawn.

2. FORMER PRESIDENT ZUMA INTERACTION WITH THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES

Former President Jacob Zuma on 17 November 2009 met with around 500 representatives of the South African cultural industry in Sandton, Johannesburg.

The former President was joined by a number of ministers from relevant departments, including Minister of Arts and Culture Lulu Xingwana, Ministers in the Presidency Collins Chabane and Trevor Manuel, Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Communications Siphiwe Nyanda, Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa, Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande, Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture Paul Mashatile, and Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Andries Nel.

Credit must be given to the former President Jacob Zuma for having so many Ministers in one room with the Creative Industries.

The meeting followed interactions in November 2008 and April 2009, where artists and cultural workers raised issues of concern with the former President.

The meeting provided an opportunity for government leaders to give feedback on these issues, and for artists to raise further suggestions on how this industry can be further developed and promoted.

Issues previously rose included:
• Inadequate local content in the country’s broadcast products,
• Copyright issues,
• Defining artists as workers,
• Social security,
• Tax problems
• The need to fight piracy. A call for the police to establish a special unit to deal specifically with piracy.
• The working conditions of artists.
• Concerns that existing tax laws do not take account of the irregular nature of cultural work.
• The financial stability of artists was undermined because, in many instances, artists do not have ownership of their intellectual property.
• Complaints of exploitation of artists by producers and 'middle men'.

Government funding of arts came under scrutiny. Some participants complained that public funding structures and programs have not changed sufficiently to reflect the realities of a democratic South Africa.

There was also uncertainty about the criteria that provincial departments of arts and culture used to disburse funds. Nepotism and cronyism in some of these departments were also mentioned as serious problems. Government was not providing sufficient support to disabled artists, nor investing in cultural infrastructure.

The development of arts and culture was another matter under discussion. Among the issues that hampered progress were the unwillingness of some education departments and principals to implement arts and culture curricula in schools.

"The cultural industry sector is a very important partner in our drive to build a social and cultural identity for our nation,” former President Zuma said. He encouraged artists to unite to advance their interests: "It makes it difficult to work with the sector as there is no single structure that government should work with. Unity will also enable artists to engage the industry, especially recording company to discuss desired transformation."

3. FORMER PRESIDENT ZUMA PROMISES TO THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES

In some of the report back on how government was addressing the challenges artists had raised in an earlier meeting the former President Zuma raised the following:

First on the former President's list of measures taken to address their concerns included a study conducted by the Department of Labour to determine if workers in the industry received the labour benefits and protection they were entitled to.

"Representations we have received from musicians, actors and other artists are that if they were to be defined as workers, it would open the way for them to access basic benefits such as employer subsidized medical aid and pension,” said the former President.

Working with the Creative Workers Union of South Africa, government is also working to finalize an affordable social security product such as a pension for the entertainment industry as a whole.

Zuma said the Department of Communications was working on a Local Content Development Strategy, with the intention of increasing local content quotas for broadcasting stations. This would mean that artists would receive more airplay or broadcast.

Calling it a "thorny issue" for many artists, Zuma said that artists were being denied much-needed exposure and that the platform to develop and promote local talent and culture was closed at the moment.

However, he said that while government wanted to expand their exposure, artists should not misrepresent South Africa's culture for commercial gain, describing it as harmful and unacceptable.

He urged the industry to form "collecting societies" to strengthen the artists' bargaining power in controlling the usage of their copyright.

Currently, the only collecting societies that were regulated locally were the ones that collect only for "needle-time" royalty, that is whenever a broadcaster plays the song of a musician, royalties would be paid.

The Department of Trade and Industry is also conducting studies on intellectual property, which Zuma said will take them a step further in dealing with the challenges. The Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill, which is expected to be placed before Parliament soon, will also assist in resolving these concerns.

Zuma said government was working to stamp out the incidence of piracy in the industry, with an increasing number of operations across the country, arrests and convictions. To date, South African Revenue Service (SARS) has seized illicit goods over the value of R13 million.

SARS is also working to combat counterfeiting within the entertainment industry to detect and stop the importation, manufacture and distribution as well as the sale of counterfeit and pirate music and film products.

"It makes it difficult to work with the sector as there is no single structure that government should work with. Unity will also enable artists to engage the industry, especially recording company to discuss desired transformation.

"We know that this sector is very individualistic, but working as individuals will not improve your bargaining power." Zuma said.

4. MINISTER PAUL MATSHATILE APPOINTS CCIFSA INTERIM COMMITTEE

To address the challenge of fragmentation in 2014 then Minister Paul Mashatile assembled a task team known as the Interim Committee (IC). In appointing the interim committee, the Ministry of Arts and Culture (Ministry) stated,

“We are embarking on this approach in order to assist in the formalization of the cultural and creative sectors, a role player in the economy, and to create an enabling environment for the growth of the sectors and to make them easier to fund.”

CCIFSA is therefore set up to be the voice of the cultural and creative industries and will focus on areas where there are barriers to growth facing the sectors, such as access to finance, skills, export markets, regulations, intellectual property and infrastructure. Action will be taken forward in these areas through the work of a small number of “task and complete” working groups.

CCIFSA FUNDING

The Department concluded a 3-year agreement and allocated funding to CCIFSA to the value of R15 784 000, as follows;

R5 784 000 in 2014-15, R5 000 000 in 2015-16 and R5 000 000 in 2016-17:

The 2014-15 funding was to facilitate the establishment of the organization including sectoral and provincial consultation and the inaugural conference.

The 2015 allocation was directed to fund CCIFSA 2015/2016 action plan which was developed based on the recommendations made prior to and during the elective conference in March 2015 where many participants raised the need for further engagement with stakeholders.

The 2016-17 allocation was for the organization to broaden the scope on consultation with the sector and to prepare for its AGM.

5. WHAT DID THE CURRENT CCIFSA LEADERSHIP DO ON THEIR TERM OF OFFICE?

The Creative Industries practitioners do not know but will repeat the reports that CCIFSA NEC was tabling reports at Parliament. They will see logos of CCIFSA in certain events. When they seek information and look at CCIFSA website or social media. There was nothing solid. The CCIFSA General Council, who was meant to be the highest decision-making body, was kept in dark all these years. There was never any meeting or communication from CCIFSA NEC to them. No Annual General Meeting has been held ever since the existence of CCIFSA.

Why would the Department continue to fund such a failed structure? Was the report submitted to the Department legit and true reflection of the work done by CCIFSA?

So many questions with no answers.

WHERE TO?

a.) Going into another dis-organized CCIFSA National Conference?

We know how our government works. They will force their way for this CCIFSA National Conference to take place. Regardless that the CCIFSA District Consultations & Provincial Summits were badly organized and attended. It will go on. It has to go on for Report purposes. It was a mandate from the Minister so it has to happen, regardless of whatever. We know our black government does not listen to the voice of reason from even the major role players in the Creative Industries.

To all the Creative Industries practitioners that will attend this dis-organized CCIFSA National Conference - let history remember you for CLEANING UP THE MESS our black government have made us to be in as the Creative Industries. As mentioned above, we are clear on what kind of CCIFSA we don’t want. Let us not fall into the same trap. Forget politics and put the interests of the Creative Industries first.

This dis-organized CCIFSA can be very unhealthy to the Creative Industries if we are not correcting the wrongs done by the Department of Sport, Arts & Culture and also current CCIFSA Leadership.

b.) Challenge to the President Cyril Ramaphosa

We are allowed to agree to disagree, Mr. President. Protocol does not need to be observed when there are so many wrong things and when there is a lack of leadership.

The Creative Industries in South Africa lack leadership. South Africa lacks leadership.

That is a discussion for another day.

Former President Jacob Zuma did a great job by bringing different Ministers & creatives under one roof.

As a lover and a believer of “Summits”, please let’s get the Ministers and creatives under one roof again. We can start by getting a progress report on the promises made by former President Jacob Zuma to the Creative Industries:

• Department of Labour: Labour benefits & protection. Subsidized medical aid & pension.
• Department of Communications: Local content Development Strategy.
• Department of Trade & Industry: The Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill. Copyright.
• Department of Police: Establishment of Special Unit (Piracy)

Maybe there is no need to go into the CCIFSA Elective National Conference but there is a need to go to the CCIFSA AGM whereby this current leadership must account and after the AGM, CCIFSA structure must be disbanded. The whole process to start afresh.

Maybe we need to go to these proposed Summits with Ministers & the President so that we can properly engage on issues of Creative Industries.

c.) There is a need of CCIFSA Commission of Enquiry

• Let the CCIFSA Interim Committee members answer to all unanswered questions.
• Let the current CCIFSA Leadership be accountable & be transparent to the Creative Industries. We deserve to know the truth about every cent spent on this Federation.
• Let Paul Matshatile & Minister Nathi Mthethwa be accountable to the Creative Industries & the people of South Africa.

In closing, CCIFSA needs a proper cleansing before we can proudly say the Creative Industries in South Africa are speaking in one voice.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

This is coming from a young man, originally from a neglected area of Mbekweni, Paarl, which gave birth to the late (neglected & forgotten) Solomzi Bisholo of Mbongeni Ngema’s Asinamali & Channel 48.

I got the opportunity to be in that chaotic 2015 CCIFSA National Conference. I was one of the neglected 100 members General Council that was disrespected by the current CCIFSA Leadership.

I was later appointed by CCIFSA President Tony Kgoroge as the Western Cape Provincial Coordinator.

I was one of those appointed by Minister Nathi Mthethwa to serve in the National Dance and Advisory Task Team that have never had a single meeting with Minister Nathi Mthethwa. The Task Team that never received any support from the DAC up until its term finished. Today, the entire members of that Task Team are seen as failures in their sectors. So it's not the first time and the last time we are going to see the Department failing such initiatives because our government is good at making empty promises.

It is safe to say I was and still part of this CCIFSA mess. As I have said in my Artslink.co.za article (02/17/2016) - CCIFSA: A dream or nightmare, that we had 3 choices:

1. Clean the mess
2. Be part of the mess,
3. Destroy the mess and start afresh

Here is a link to the article: https://www.artlink.co.za/news_article.htm?contentID=39548

Since I was part of this whole mess. I want to be there when we destroy the evilness in it and start afresh. And I want to be there when we clean it to be something the next generations would be proud of.

By writing this letters, articles and speaking my mind, it’s my contribution in cleaning up the mess. I have played my part internally (within CCIFSA structures) and also with the Department but no one seems to care. Hence the best way is always to write these open letters.

Feel free to crucify me on the cross for speaking my mind. I am more than ready.

We won't be silenced up until we see the REAL FREEDOM IN OUR LIFETIME.

Yours truly
Thami aka Mbongo


Artslink.co.za Account:
Thami akaMbongo
akambongo@gmail.com