CPRG on the National White Paper process (5 November)

AFAI has been closely following the development (or stagnation thereof) of the National White Paper process. In March 2015, we were happily informed by the DAC DG Vuyo Jack that due to a number of criticism leveled at the draft White Paper (published in 2013), the whole process would begin anew. Excited at the possibility of real engagement in the new drafting process, we waited (very) patiently for signs of new life. None emerged. In the meanwhile, we decided to host another CPRG on the White Paper with the Cultural Accelerator learning partners (LPs). The discussion was once again fruitful, but more so than usual in that it led to the initiation of a meeting by one of the LPs with National representatives from the DAC that agreed to meet with us about the White Paper process!

In brief, two AFAI representatives and five LPs were received by Mrs Lynette Zwane (NCOP arts and culture, Higher Education, Basic Education and Sports chairperson) and Mr Sthenja Ngcobo who is the new project lead on the White Paper and the Chief Director of Strategy and Policy Co-ordination at the Department of Arts and Culture. He is primarily responsible for the new drafting of a Green and then White paper and he shared with us a detailed overview of the process thus far, his recent engagement in it and a detailed timeline of events that should unfold in the coming months.

The newly-drafted White Paper will be made available by Sthenja on the following blog (created because DAC website is down)- www.artsculturesa.wordpress.com. This should be released before 26/ 27 November when the new draft will be discussed at the DAC White Paper Indaba in Johannesburg. After this consultation, a draft will be made available in the first or second week of December, this will be open for public comment and the submission deadline will be 31 December 2016.  In March/ April 2016 the revised paper will be presented to the Portfolio Committee in Parliament, after which the Portfolio Committee and the Select Committees are to begin conducting their public consultations. Only once this has been done, the draft can be debated and adopted in parliament.

The gathered group was very honoured to be addressed and responded to in such an open and comprehensive way by members of the state service. While there are issues with the rushed timelines, and the lack of wide consultation by the DAC in the last months, we are obviously pleased to at least know something about where the process stands.  Making use of, enjoying and sharing connections between civil society, communities and the state is integral to AFAI’s work, and we are very grateful to the engagement of the Cultural Accelerator LPs for being motivated enough to accelerate their intellectual and practical engagement in policy together with AFAI.