The Gauteng Heritage Action Group (GHAG) was formed in 2017 to serve as platform for Gauteng-based heritage conservation bodies to discuss matters of common interest – in particular concerns regarding the Provincial Heritage Resources Authority Gauteng (PHRAG). In May last year, the GHAG wrote to the chairperson of the PHRAG to request a meeting to discuss their grievances which have been detailed in a memorandum. Among others, the memorandum cites weaknesses in policy, organisational structure and performance.
According to the GHAG, the group has yet to receive a response to their request for a meeting with PHRAG council members. As a result the GHAG has now written to the Gauteng MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture & Recreation, Faith Mazibuko, requesting a meeting to discuss the lack of response as well as the contents of the memorandum.
The Action Group is made up of representatives from Alberton Heritage, Cullinan Heritage Society, Egoli Heritage Foundation, Greater Alexandra Tourism & Heritage Association, James Mpanza Legacy Foundation, Johannesburg Heritage Foundation, Old Pretoria East Residents’ & Ratepayers’ Alliance, Modderfontein Conservation Society, Pretoria Institute of Architects, Sandton Heritage Association and Tshwane Building Heritage Association. The aim of the Action Group is to work constructively towards advancing the capacity of PHRAG to fully meet its obligations in terms of national legislation.
For years now, heritage bodies have expressed the concern that Gauteng is failing in the implementation of the National Heritage Resources Act in several ways. As early as 2008 a report prepared by the Underpressure Agency (UA) for the Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture & Recreation identified a number of policy, institutional and organisational weaknesses hampering provincial heritage management. According to the Action Group, ten years have passed since the report was completed with no visible progress taken by PHRAG to address the bleak findings in this report.