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|Interview with Dr. Ivan Meyer - Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport in the Western Cape on the occasion of his visit to Munich|
MK: Minister, what are the main objectives of your current visit to Munich?
IM: There are four reasons: The evaluation of the implementation of our agreement, the identification of future projects, the discussion of our projects in renewable energies, and the preparation of the upcoming visit of Premier Helen Zille in September.
MK: At the press conference on last year’s ‘Bavaria meets Western Cape Expo’ you said that the partnership with Bavaria is not about piles of paper but about results. After exactly twelve months what are these results?
IM: In May 2012, there will be a Cheese Festival with Bavarian producers. Moreover, we have invited various cheese producers to participate in the Agricultural Expo which will take place in September.
Film making as a mirror
Lately, an amateur film maker from Bavaria came to stay in Khayelitsha, where he produced a movie showing a shack from four different angles, and children discussing what they saw from their individual ‘point of view’. This interactive project will be presented at our next joint festival in Cape Town. Moreover, it will be part of the documentation of our partnership.
We have lots of international movies from all over the world, but none from Bavaria. Therefore, we want to boost Bavarian films, and of course, we want the film makers to use our studios and infrastructure. Furthermore, we have started to show Bavarian films in our townships in order to teach film making. We believe that a film can become a mirror.
MK: According to the ‘Hope Cape Town Association & Trust’, 60 - 80 per cent of the big companies in South Africa’s various industries have already implemented AIDS/HIV awareness or wellness programmes, whereas small and medium business seem to ignore this as an aspect of their leadership. Are there any initiatives on your side to work on this situation?
Any taboo and prejudice concerning HIV/AIDS must be removed
IM: I personally doubt that the SMBs will be able to implement far-reaching initiatives, due to their restricted financial and human resources. Two other critical aspects are confidentiality and potential stigmatisation. If a businessman has ten or twenty people working for him, how can he possibly ensure anonymity and discretion at his premises? I think the solution for SMBs will be to cooperate with external service providers, who offer HIV/AIDS testing and consulting. We will have to debate in which ways we can support them in respect to these potential collaborations.
As what regards our achievements when it comes to fighting AIDS/HIV, there are two significant actions we have taken: We initiated a PR-campaign. Its goal is to remove all taboos and prejudice.
This campaign comprises visual and auditory tools and activities, such as a DVD which is shown in taxis and at taxi ranks. Since the radio is the most popular media in our country, we have initiated a co-operation with the radio stations talk to and with drivers and travellers about HIV/AIDS.
Moreover, together with ‘Clicks - Pharmacy, Health, Home and Beauty Stores’ we have implemented a service called ‘Voluntary Testing and Counselling’ in their shopping mall outlets. An accompanying part of this project is an advert campaign with various big companies.
HIV/AIDS campaigns need role models
Helen Zille and I went to have ourselves tested in Belleville. The moment people became aware of us, they started queuing for the VTC. This incident proves that we need ‘role models’. That’s why we now want to activate politicians all over the country to go to this test. However, they need to enjoy public confidence and credibility. Mr. Jacob Zuma, for example, would not be suitable, since everybody knows about his affairs and his four wives.
I would like to take this opportunity and mention that the Western Cape received money from the Global Aids Fund for the best role-out on a regional scale. In fact, we are the first province which ever got money from this institution.
MK: Are there any significant achievements in the field of Green Technology?
IM: After the World Cup we founded and funded the ‘Green Cape Initiative’. We set up a White Paper and intensified the cooperation with the University of Stellenbosch. On a large scale, they are now doing a research on effectiveness and efficiency of the solar installations we implemented in various areas. The main objectives are to number the cost reduction for our citizens, and to develop attractive business models which attract investors by because of sustainable ROIs.
Fukushima – no topic for our churches
MK: Has Fukushima had an impact on Green Politics in your country?
IM: On a political level, Fukushima has definitely become a no.1 topic, however not in the broad public. One reason for this phenomenon is that there were no talks in the churches; they did not use their power as a communication platform.
Another reason is that the inhabitants of our townships are hardly aware of the costs for coal and nuclear energy, as they tend to use energy by illegally tapping the electricity wires. As for South Africa in general, there were a considerable number of volunteers who went to Japan for help.
Ethno-Centricity cannabalises any WE-feeling
MK: Inspired by the World Cup there was definitely a WE-spirit in your country which could be felt everywhere, as Premier Helen Zille remarked. Has this WE-feeling had an impact on your vision of becoming a ‘rainbow nation’? And what are your activities in the field of integration?
IM: I am afraid that our WE-feeling disappeared after the World Cup, due to wrong politics. Statements like: “We are going to take all land away from the Whites” are not apt to inspire or enhance a WE-feeling. To achieve inclusion instead of exclusion, we need to respect and celebrate our diversity and different cultures. Ethnocentricity, as practised by the ANC, cannibalises any WE-spirit.
Moreover, we need more multi-purpose complexes like the Seapoint Urban Park. Thanks to its sport and leisure facilities this venue has actually become a public space for intercultural social integration of the Cape Town community.
We also need more media presence for this topic with TV formats like ‘Rainbow Champions’. This show presents normal people, who are doing good deeds, every day; policemen or nurses, for example.
Arts contribute to integration
MK: Marlene Le Roux, (the Director Audience Education & Development at the Art-scape Theatre), asserted that arts can bridge over the gap between white and black children. Are there any projects interfacing with her activities?
IM: Marlene “takes the theatre to the townships”, as she puts it herself. Her aim is to improve the integration and self-esteem of these kids. We support her concept of youth development with a ballet dancing project. Moreover, we have an ‘art and culture’ project running in Caledon. The idea is to make rural and urban youngsters create a joint production.
Sports can support the change of paradigms
MK: Against the background of the present FIFA Women’s World Cup, I would like to ask you a question which is not directly related to the partnership between Western Cape and Bavaria. Do you think that ‘female soccer’ or sports in general could have a noticeable impact on women’s social situation in your country?
IM: Soccer has always been our national sport. Therefore, our National Team definitely represents role models who are highly admired and respected by both genders. However, they can’t be compared to your team. I doubt that they would be able to attract some 70 or 80 thousand spectators.
When it comes to sports in general, I am convinced that it can change paradigms; even in our society. One example: Only lately a male sport commentator was laid off, and a woman got his job. It turned out that her Rugby competence convinced the audience; also the men listen to her.
The partnership between Western Cape and Bavaria pays off in many ways
MK: Is there an issue we haven’t touched, but you would like to comment on?
IM: Yes, I would like to state that - once again - our Agreement with Bavaria is paying off, since our Premier Helen Zille will receive the Abraham Geiger Award for effective role leadership, good governance and for running a corrupt-free administration.
MK: Minister, thank you very much for this interview.