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NACSA STATEMENT ON MINISTER’S DEPARTURE (article first published : 2004-02-9)

The Network for Arts and Culture South Africa (NACSA) notes the sudden departure of the Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, Dr Ben Ngubane, to become South Africa's ambassador to Japan.

The report from NACSA reads as follows: “This comes at a time when the National Arts Council of South Africa (NAC), the premier funding body for the arts in the country, has been plunged into a governance crisis under a new chairperson appointed by the Minister. We view this as a serous threat to the future of the arts in South Africa.

“NACSA has petitioned the parliamentary portfolio and has written to Dr Ngubane, asking for swift action to address the problems besetting the NAC. To date, no communication has been received from the Minister or his officials. With his departure, the resolution of these and other problems are left dangling, to be resolved by his successor.

“It remains the hope of NACSA that the newly established Department of Arts and Culture will turn the founding visions of this sector (as encapsulated in the Report of the Arts and Culture Task Team appointed by Dr Ngubane when the first democratically elected government was formed) into reality by pursuing the best policies and insisting on the highest levels of professionalism and efficiency for the arts. That this has not been the case over the last few years is evident by the litany of problems, which came to mark Dr Ngubane's last days in office. This has unfortunately been detrimental to arts and culture in South Africa.

“A hallmark of Ngubane's style of leadership was a preference for bureaucratic control and a reliance on questionable advice. This was exacerbated by the intolerance and open contempt he displayed on many occasions for democratically elected institutions and respected leaders in the arts. It undermined democratic governance and accountability, leading to a series of crises in the performing arts and now in the NAC.

“Dr Ngubane makes his exit as South Africa, after a decade of democracy, approaches new elections. It is hoped that his successor will reinvigorate the arts. NACSA hopes to develop a constructive relationship built on mutual trust and respect with Ms Phumzile Malambo-Ngcuka, who will head the department in the interim.”

More information from NACSA from chairperson Prof Andries Oliphant on 012 429 6810.




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