The Committee was briefed on the Annual Reports for 2009/10 of Robben Island Museum and the South African Heritage Resources Agency. The CEO of the RIM who had taken up his appointment as recently as the 1 November 2010, alluded to the leadership turbulence which had impeded the optimal functioning of the Museum for a number of years. Features of this period were the fallout from the legal contestations involving the past CEO, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Operational Officer. One of the effects of these challenges was the decimation of the senior management structure to manage the operations of the RIM and many functions were conducted by consultants and persons serving in acting positions. A new Council had been appointed in March 2010 and an Action Plan had been put into place to implement remedial action but the leadership vacuum had continued till the appointment of the current CEO. At present there was an interim CFO who had been contracted from a private company and the contract expired in January 2011. The process of making appointments at senior management level was underway and a new strategic plan was being finalised. The CEO acknowledged the many challenges he would be facing and singled out the investigation into the ferry operations where there was suspicion of criminal activity as a matter receiving urgent attention. The RIM had received a qualified audit opinion from the Auditor-General and the qualification related to one matter - which had been an improvement in comparison to previous years.
Members noted the negative elements in the Annual Report and conceded that the CEO could not be expected to account for the entity given his recent appointment and were cautiously optimistic about the prospects of a turnaround in his term of office. The forensic report that had been conducted in 2007/8 was raised and also the Auditor-General's finding that a fraud prevention plan or policy had not been implemented and it was felt that a risk management strategy should be a priority. Members were concerned about the costs of litigation and unfair labour practices which were reflected in the Annual Report. Further queries were raised on the substantial amounts incurred under irregular expenditure, the problems with the ferry operations, the use of consultants, employment equity and revenue matters.
The South African Heritage Resources Agency reported positively on their activities in 2009/10. They had received an unqualified audit report for the fifth consecutive year and while they were seriously under-funded they had raised their public profile due to the significance of their contribution in ensuring South Africa's heritage resources were effectively managed and preserved for future generations. Notable achievements were their intervention in the auction of the Freedom Charter and their oversight role in the breakthrough discovery of the 2 million year old hominid fossil Australopithecus sediba by Dr Lee Burger.
It was noted that in terms of its mandate, the allocation that SAHRA received from the Department of Arts and Culture was meant for the management of national heritage resources. SAHRA was currently performing functions in the provinces which should be performed by Provincial Heritage Resources Authorities and this placed enormous strain on the operational and financial resources of the organisation. A process of devolution to the provinces was receiving serious consideration.
Members raised their concerns about the under-funding of the agency and its consequences such as the lack of qualified staff with the necessary expertise to fulfil SAHRA's extensive mandate. They questioned the exorbitant cost of insurance in respect of Lands & Buildings which was being paid by the Agency while other Government departments were not similarly insured. Questions were raised about the CEO's statement that SAHRA's funding module was incorrect and that the National Heritage Resources Act of 1999 on which their mandate was based, had not been costed only at the time of its promulgation.
Mr Sibongiseni Mkhize, CEO, tendered an apology from Ms Thandi Modise, chairperson of the RIM Council who was unable to attend the meeting. As he had been in his position for less than a month, he said his team would assist with matters he might not be able to address at that stage. He commenced his presentation with background information on the diversity and scope of the RIM accompanied by slides (see presentation). This was followed by a brief history of the events leading to the establishment of the island as a World Heritage Site in 1999 and the tabling of the Integrated Conservation Management Plan (ICMP) in July 2007. He then dealt with the successive administrative and managerial arrangements since the resignation of the first Director in 2002. He alluded to the leadership turbulence and organisational instability. This included the suspension and consequent resignation of the CEO, the dismissal of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and the dispute with the Chief Operations Officer (COO) which was settled after a lengthy process with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). Consequent events were the appointment of an interim CEO in July 2008 and his resignation along with the entire Council in May 2009. Prof Bredekamp, CEO of Iziko Museums, was appointed as interim CEO in June 2009 and his term of office ended in March 2010 and thus he was the accounting officer for nine months of the reporting year under review.
Mr Mkhize, reported that a new Council under the Chair of Ms Thandi Modise was inaugurated in March 2010 and an action plan had been adopted to begin dealing with the challenges faced by the RIM. This process included the establishment of a working committee and subcommittees tasked with the operational management of the RIM such as Finance; Governance and Risk; Estates and Tourism; Training and Media; Marketing and Fundraising and Heritage. The Council provided hands-on leadership during this interim period which culminated in the appointment of the new CEO in November 2010.
He referred to the challenges faced by the RIM in terms of financial sustainability, commercialisation and unfunded mandates within the context of the implementation of the ICMP and its budgetary implications. Conservation of the natural environment included the control of problem-causing animals such as rabbits, deer and feral cats which he reported, had since been brought under control. Growing visitor numbers and demands, the pressure on facilities and the maintenance of service standards were further concerns. He singled out the challenges with the ferry operations and the negative publicity caused by the mechanical breakdowns and no-boat days. Council had initiated an investigation into the ferry-related challenges and investigations were at a sensitive stage.
Achievements noted by Mr Mkhize were the approximately 300 000 people who had visited the island including schools and educators, the 80 events and conferences hosted and the number of successful exhibitions notably 'Truth and Lies'. The RIM participated in celebrations and marketing campaigns before and during the World Cup and he noted that visitors had been adequately catered for throughout the World Cup. Major restoration and upgrade of facilities were undertaken including the female asylum, Guest House and Murray Harbour.
Briefly reporting on the RIM financial statements, he noted that the entity had received a qualified audit report due to one matter which was an improved audit opinion compared to previous years. In the previous financial year (2008/09) it had received qualifications on six matters and in the 2007/08 financial year it had received a disclaimer. The basis of the qualification for 2009/10 was about the restatement of corresponding figures for the previous year for Property, Plant and Equipment, which made the qualified audit unavoidable. The RIM had conducted an extensive exercise to count, verify and evaluate all assets as at March 2010. He noted the irregular expenditure incurred by the RIM of R713 880 paid to the Interim CEO as constructive dismissal in terms of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) which had been approved by the Minister. Unforeseen expenditure of R504,913 and R748,126 was incurred for legal fees and reinstatement costs. There was also irregular expenditure of R28,502 for interest and penalties and R8,259 for relocation costs which had not been arranged with the Council. Mr Mkhize assured the Committee of his commitment to ensuring an unqualified audit report for the present financial year.
Indicating the way forward, Mr Mkhize stated that he was reviewing the Strategic Plan for 2011-2014 and that he would be meeting with the Minister's team shortly on the finalization of this. Current interventions underway were the appointment of a permanent CFO and other senior management positions, some of whom were currently in acting positions. Appointments would include the critical area of supply chain management. There would also be a review of the organizational structure and vacancies.
Dr A Lotriet (DA) congratulated Mr Mkhize on his appointment and wished him well in turning the management of this important heritage site. She enquired whether he was aware of the forensic report which had been conducted in 2007/8 which she said had apparently been made public in 2008 but copies had only been received by the Committee in 2010. There were a number of matters that impacted seriously on the activities of RIM. She asked if Mr Mkhize had a copy as it would be quite informative for the strategic planning he would be conducting. She referred to this forensic report and the Auditor-General's finding that a fraud prevention plan to mitigate against the risk of fraud had not been designed and implemented. She asked what his plans were to counter the findings in these reports in terms of risk management strategy as there were serious problems in this area. She also wanted information on the status of the dismissed COO after the CCMA process. In terms of the irregular expenditure noted by the Auditor-General, she requested that he elaborate on the R713,880 paid as constructive dismissal of the interim CEO.
Mr S Ntapane (UDM) noted that the CEO had only taken up his appointment from 1 November 2010 and that it would be unfair for the Committee to expect him to account for matters that happened before his time. He agreed with the concerns raised by Dr Lotriet and commented that it had been a bad Annual Report. A matter which should be attended to urgently was the use of consultants which had been a long standing practice at the RIM. He was also concerned about the costs of legal action for unfair labour practices which were an unnecessary waste of money. He had many further questions but they were irrelevant to the CEO as he had not been the accounting officer for the period under review.
Ms T Nwamitwa-Shilubana (ANC) noted that the CEO had just been appointed and it might be unfair to expect answers from him. As a follow up on the matter of consultants raised by Mr Ntapane, she asked what the scope of the consultants’ work was as there were question marks about that. She referred to a report of unofficial meetings held at the RIM and asked what was meant by this reference to “unofficial” meetings.
Mr P Ntshiqela (UDM) expressed his concerns.
A member addressed employment equity and asked how many disabled persons were employed by RIM.
Dr Lotriet referred to the investigations which the CEO had reported were to be initiated by Council and asked who would be conducting the investigations and whether they would be funded from the present budget and if there were specific costs involved. She asked if the investigation would look at the cost effective running of the ferry. She raised her concerns about the financial sustainability of the ferry operations and whether the costs of the tickets correlated to maintenance costs.
The Chairperson agreed that there was not much that could be raised with the CEO given his newly appointed status. He noted the CEO's plan for the review of the Strategic Plan and stated that when that had been completed, the Committee would take interact with him further. He suggested that the Committee visit the RIM for this purpose.
Mr Mkhize said his colleagues would assist in responding to the questions. He was aware of the forensic report and the corporate governance issues it raised. He commented that he had been attracted to the position of CEO as he had worked in institutions that had the same kind of weaknesses and he had the skills and experience to address the issues one by one. Fraud prevention plans and risk management policies were standard and should be the basis of any organisation and state institution. He would not be starting from scratch as Council had already implemented strategies and progress had been made since the reports had been disclosed. He hoped to eliminate problems hindering progress in 2011. He noted that there was an internal audit function done by Ernst & Young and they would be assisting in addressing a number of issues raised in the Annual Report. He was unable to comment on the irregular expenditure and the unofficial meetings as this had been before his time.
Ms Ronel Visagie, the interim CFO, responded on the question of irregular expenditure and stated that it related to the appointment of the previous Council chairperson and CEO. The amount paid to the CEO was in terms of his contract which ended in March 2010 and which had to be honoured despite the termination of his services prior to that date.
On the questions raised about the use of consultants, Mr Mkhize said that the RIM had gone through a period in which there had been no proper executive leadership and most of the functions had to be outsourced and done by consultants. Now that RIM was stabilising their use would be curtailed. The appointment process of the CFO was being finalised and the end of the current financial year was the target for the appointment of other senior management. He observed that there were areas where the expertise of consultants might still be necessary. Thus experts had been engaged for the preliminary investigations into the ferry operations and this had been handed to the Organised Crime unit. There was a suspicion that criminal elements had infiltrated the ferry operations of not only the RIM ferry but the whole Waterfront area and if this was true then the law had to take its course.
On the unfair labour practice of the termination of the interim CEO's contract, Mr Mkhize alluded to the strained and poor working relationship the interim CEO had with the Council which had made it impossible for him to continue as CEO.
Returning to the consultancy issue and the scope of their work, he noted that the interim CFO had been contracted from a private company to assist in the financial function of the RIM and that her contract expired in January 2011. The scope of their contract was defined for all consultants. When the new Council had taken over in March 2010, they had reviewed all the contracts that had been signed to see that everything was in order.
Mr Mkhize referred the question on employment equity and the number of disabled persons employed to Mr Shoni Khangala, Marketing Manager, who said that the Annual Report reflected the current status quo as there had been no new appointments in the current financial year.
Mr J Smalle (DA) referred to the notes on the annual financial statements in the Annual Report, and remarked on an increase of 55% reflected under revenue (note 11). He asked why there was such a big jump from the previous financial year. He also wanted clarity on the co-ordination fees and conference room fees. Referring to the deferred revenue reflected in the notes to the financial statements (note 8), he presumed that it related to programmes and action plans that had not been completed in the previous financial year that had been rolled over to the following year. He asked whether that was due to capacity constraints in the RIM or whether there were other factors outside their control.
Mr Mkhize said that the issue of the COO had been resolved in the CCMA process and that the person was no longer in the employ of the RIM.
Ms Visagie said that the revenue for co-ordination fees and conference fees reflected income. In previous years, events on the island were recorded as a single entry but it was now split into that received for accommodation and for conference facilities. The deferred revenue was money received from the Department of Arts and Culture and it had been earmarked for specific projects and funds. With the instability in the organisation during the 2009/10 financial year a lot of the major projects came to a standstill and these funds were reflected under deferred revenue. There would be a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) event at RIM in January/February 2011 and a lot of the money would be spent in the next few months.
Mr Smalle was not satisfied with the vague reference to organisational instability and sought further clarity.
Ms Visagie replied that there was no permanency for a very long time and the senior management had all been in acting positions because there was a moratorium on all new appointments. There had been no leadership to take control of the projects.
Mr Ntshiqela said he had enquired about the investigations. He referred to the 'Truth and Lies' exhibition and asked whether it could be explained further for the benefit of the meeting.
Dr Lotriet stated that her question on who would conduct the investigations on the ferry operations had not been answered.
Mr Mkhize replied that there had been a consultant who had presented initial findings and he was working with the Organised Crime unit until January 2011. Questions of financial feasibility were not within the scope of the present investigation.
The Chairperson congratulated Mr Mkhize on his appointment and said that Robben Island was not any other museum as it represented an important part of the country's history. It was of great significance not only to South Africans but also to the world in terms of its status as a World Heritage Site and it was important to ensure that it did not lose that status. He hoped that Mr Mkhize would turn the past around during his term of office. He encouraged him to go through all the documents and locate where the problems were. The Committee would give him all the support as long as he moved in the right direction as everyone wanted Robben Island to be a museum they could be proud of. It held a special place in the lives of Tata Mandela and the other veterans and they would be failing them if the RIM failed. RIM should have a follow up meeting with the Committee. He asked Mr Mkhize when he would complete the Strategic Plan.
Mr Mkhize said it would be completed in the following week and they would be meeting with the Council on 3 and 4 December. They would be ready to meet with the Committee early in 2011.
The Chairperson thanked the CEO for the presentation.
South African Heritage Resources Agency briefing
Ms Sibongile Van Damme, SAHRA CEO, thanked the Committee for the opportunity to present the Annual Report. She also thanked the ancestors and God and all religious affiliations represented. She emphasised that the kind of work that SAHRA did took the wisdom of those who had departed and took cognisance of the contribution they had made and acknowledged that the heritage sector was about practices of the past but also about foresight into the present. SAHRA's brief was taken from the National Heritage Resources Act of 1999 and all of its operations were based on that mandate. They were the mandated institution for the management of national heritage resources and were tasked with empowering civil society to nurture and conserve South Africa's heritage resources as a legacy for future generations. SAHRA together with its Council coordinated and promoted the management of resources at national level and laid down general principles governing heritage resources management throughout the country. They were also mandated to protect the export of nationally significant heritage objects and the import of cultural property illegally exported from foreign countries. Their brief included enabling provinces in their establishment of heritage authorities which would have the power to protect and manage certain categories of heritage resources and the protection and management of conservation-worthy places by local authorities.
SAHRA had divided the institution into a number of units for the operationalisation of some of its mandate. The units included the Built Environment; Archaeology, Palaeontology and Meteorites; Heritage Objects; Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage; Burial Grounds and Graves; the National Inventory and the Grading and Declaration of Heritage Sites. Provincial offices raised public awareness of heritage resource management and had to perform other functions which had proved a challenge in most provinces. SAHRA was responsible for Grade one and national sites and the provinces for Grade two and municipalities for Grade three sites. The devolution of power to the provinces was a process that SAHRA was embarking on and this would include the transfer of assets, rights, liabilities and obligations. Provincial Heritage Resources Authorities had to be set up where they did not exist and had to be allocated the necessary funds by the MECs in the respective provinces. The capacity challenges in the provinces were to be addressed by the establishment of the Centre for Heritage Research and Education as proposed in the Memorandum of Understanding that had been signed with Rhodes University. She concluded by stating that SAHRA had a broad mandate and the budgetary allocation was very small. The Act had not been costed at the time of its promulgation but they had tried to meet their mandate despite these constraints.
Audit outcomes 2009/2010
Ms Busiswe Khumalo, Chief Financial Officer, briefed the Committee on the audit outcomes for 2009/10 and gave an overview of the remedial action which SAHRA had undertaken in response to the Auditor-General's report. SAHRA's budgetary allocation from the National Treasury via DAC had been R36,2 million and total income had been R37,4 million. Expenditure had amounted to R36,4 million. SAHRA had received an unqualified audit opinion with emphasis of matters on Land & Buildings and a disclaimer on Legal & Regulatory requirements. The emphasis of matter for Land & Buildings was in respect of the old Fort in Durban where the valuation of the property had increased from R3,5 million in the preceding financial year to R17,3 million in 2009/10. The Auditor-General had established that SAHRA's property, plant and equipment were not adequately covered by insurance.
On the pre-determined objectives for which they had received a disclaimer, she said the findings were that there was a lack of overall formal policies and procedures for the administration of Performance Information and the objectives had also not been determined using SMART principles. A further finding was that there was no audit evidence for specific set objectives or audit evidence did not relate to the specific set measurement criteria. As the Auditor-General had expressed this opinion in previous Annual Reports as well, management had decided to obtain expert guidance from auditing companies on performance information and measurement.
Dr Somadoda Fikeni, newly appointed Chairperson of the SAHRA Council, assured the Committee that they had noted the opinion of the Auditor-General and they would work with the CEO, management and the Audit Committee to ensure that these matters would receive priority. However, he emphasised that cognisance had been taken of the limitations of the resources allocated to SAHRA for its mandate and they were going to engage with the Department and would be requesting assistance from Members of Parliament on a broader level, to address this challenge. He noted that Arts and Culture received very little in terms of the national fiscus. Accessing funds from the National Lottery could also be an option.
Dr Lotriet expressed her concerns about the issues emanating from the Annual Report and the lack of funding which had been highlighted by the Chairperson. There was a lack of qualified specialists as it was clear from the presentation that they needed specialists, for example in the fields of archaeology and palaeontology. She asked what the present status was in respect of expertise and whether they had sufficient staff with the requisite expertise. What was the status of the provincial heritage resource authorities as the Annual Report indicated that this was a major stumbling block in promoting heritage in the provinces?
Mr Ntapane commended SAHRA in achieving an unqualified audit report. Most of his questions had been addressed in the remedial strategies adopted by SAHRA. He asked whether a workshop on Supply Chain Management (SCM) and procurement policies which had been advocated in terms of remedial action, had been conducted already and also whether the other remedial actions had been undertaken.
Mr Smalle stated that the CFO had referred to an incorrect funding module that had been used. He asked what the correct funding module was that had to be used. Their organogram would probably have to be revisited in looking at a correct funding module and he need to understand the steps used to arrive at this funding module. He referred to the insurance costs and said he was aware that other departments were not paying insurance on properties as it was too expensive. He wished to know why this was different in their case. He commented that the entity would not improve their situation unless they strengthened their financial department and the problems would recur in the next Annual Report if this was not done. Reference had been made to an auditing firm that would assist in addressing some of the issues and he asked if they were looking at external resources or a partnership with the DAC. The new Council had to be accountable as there were major issues to be addressed. That 21% of SAHRA's Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) had not been met which implied that 20% of the activities had not been done in accordance with their Strategic Plan. He asked how this affected their approach to the Strategic Plan in the new financial year and whether they could address the shortage on those commitments in relation to their staff component. He noted that there had been a dramatic reduction in the allocation of permits. There had been a focus on one that had been exceptionally high but he was looking at the others and the trends over the years. Did this reflect a lack of human resource capacity to deal with permits and was there a backlog in issuing of permits?
Mr Ntshiqela referred to the Memorandum of Understanding signed with Rhodes University for the establishment of a Centre for Heritage Research and Education and the CEO's statement that it would focus on the skills development plan developed by DAC. He asked if the development of skills would be of personnel or outside groupings like stakeholders. On the National Inventory which the CEO had elaborated on, he noted the two workshops which had been hosted to obtain stakeholder inputs into the management of heritage resources information. Were there identified stakeholders that SAHRA worked with or was it open to interested civil society stakeholders in general? He referred to the information supplied by the CEO on Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage (MUCH) and asked what the criteria had been for the selection of the countries represented by the 20 participants involved in regional planning.
Ms Nwamitwa-Shilubane referred to the challenge identified by the CEO about inadequate financial resources allocated to SAHRA to fulfil its mandate in terms of the National Heritage Resources Act of 1999 which had not been costed at the time of its promulgation. She asked if the new Council had considered sitting down and costing it. She noted the Chairperson's commitment to approaching DAC and his appeal for the Committee's support in seeking an increase in the budget allocation. She also queried the extension of their mandate to the provinces and asked how strongly managed the provincial offices were. She had approached a provincial office through the Department of Agriculture for assistance in getting a place declared a heritage site and she had not even received an acknowledgment of her letter or any other response. What was happening in the provinces?
The CEO responded to the questions on the lack of funding and qualified staff and the status of expertise levels. SAHRA currently had 82 staff members to carry out its extensive mandate and they therefore were seriously under-funded by the Department. SAHRA had engaged in an exercise which they called 'combing the Act' and developed a document to understand its implications. In this extensive internal process, each unit had reviewed what had been done since 1999 to the present to establish to what extent the mandate had been implemented. In some areas the mandate had been unrealised and in some instances 90% had been achieved. Recognition had been given to the standards and policies that had to be revised and that this mitigated against achieving 100%. The exercise of 'combing the act' gave a clear understanding of their capacity and financial challenges and also the areas that had not been dealt with. The document fulfilled three objectives. Firstly, it gave a status analysis of the institution since the Act was promulgated. Secondly it clarified what had to be addressed in terms of skills development for SAHRA’s national mandate and objectives which were of great significance to the country. Thirdly, it served as a base document for costing the Act as it began to analyse what the institution had gone through and what had not been covered. It highlighted the challenges that the institution had in terms of capacity and suggested a format or organogram of what kinds of people were needed and at what levels in order for SAHRA to meet its mandate. They had done the document without the use of consultants and presented it to DAC to begin to engage with National Treasury on the financial status of SAHRA.
On the status of heritage authorities in the provinces, she indicated that her predecessors had opened offices in the provinces to support the provincial heritage resources authorities (PHRAs) to develop capacity. Unfortunately the provinces had not taken up the challenges and the winding up of those offices was now being considered. They were analysing their situation in the provinces as the MECs needed to take over the mandates of Grade two and three sites. SAHRA's mandate as articulated and analysed in the document they had produced was for national level implementation and the money allocated by Treasury was for that purpose.
The CEO said they were dealing with the issues of the incorrect funding module and the revision of the organogram was in progress and there was a draft organogram which they were deliberating on. They had also explored funding through external resources. Many funding proposals had been done and funding had been received from the Dutch. They had also made use of the capital works budget to rehabilitate one of their buildings in Grahamstown. Funding proposals had been written for some of the archaeological sites which had been in desperate need of support.
The CEO said she had addressed the KPIs and staff challenges in the provinces and she reiterated that SAHRA's mandate was not provincial but they supported the provinces in getting the capacity to meet their mandates.
The reduction in the allocation of permits was another challenge. When it came to permits for archaeological sites, the provinces were supposed to assist with the impact assessments. SAHRA was inundated with requests for permits because of a lack of capacity in the provinces which resulted in high levels of stress by the staff dealing with those permits.
For the skills development plan, DAC had begun to look at the whole skills sector involved in heritage and SAHRA had looked at operationalising its mandate on the ground in terms of staff. It was necessary to see that PHRAs were in place as SAHRA should not be supporting the provincial Councils but the staff in the heritage sector in those provinces. The rationale for the development of the Centre for Heritage Research and Education was to address the gaps in competencies identified in the 'combing of the Act' exercise and to capacitate the current SAHRA staff and the staff in the provinces. It would also begin to work with teachers on curriculum issues relating to heritage as it was not well presented in the curriculum.
The CEO stated that the workshops that had been conducted were for the inventorisation of heritage assets and the provinces had to be doing the same. They also had to be on board on the format that SAHRA used for reconciliation purposes to establish an accurate status of the heritage assets.
Responding to the query on the participants in the maritime programme at Robben Island, the CEO stated that this reflected the regional cooperation established by the former Minister, Dr Pallo Jordan, in order to deal with maritime heritage. Cognisance had been taken of the expense in terms of boats and equipment and the extensive coastline that had to be covered and also the expertise and capacity required. There were only two persons in this unit currently. A strategic partnership with Robben Island had been set up and they were working with National Parks to see that there were divers. There had to be cooperation in every region to begin to deal with looting and this was why they were working with the countries who had attended the programme. As a result, a State to State Agreement had been signed whereby these countries would assist each other on maritime matters.
She had alluded to the query about the offices in the provinces and said that Grade two and three sites were the responsibility of the provinces and municipalities and SAHRA was responsible for National Sites. There were problems in dealing with provincial offices that were too far away and that was why they were revising
their strategies in order to have a greater impact. The CFO would address the financial issues.
The CFO said the supply chain management workshop would be conducted on 3 and 4 December 2010.
On the appointment of an audit company to address the pre-determined objectives, she said they were currently evaluating three proposals and an appointment would be made soon.
Responding to the query on what the proper funding module should be, she stated that this would be for SAHRA to be funded according to its mandate and according to what the Act required them to perform. From the process they had undertaken, they had developed a new organogram as part of the process of restructuring. Those two documents had been approved and presented to Council and they would strategise together to take them forward to enable SAHRA to be funded accordingly.
On the issue of why SAHRA was paying for insurance for land and buildings, she stated that initially they had not paid insurance until they had received audit findings from the Auditor-General saying they had not fully insured their assets. The recommendations had been land and buildings had to be insured at their replacement value and they had complied. The chairperson of the Audit Committee had highlighted that even the Department of Public Works did not insure their buildings. Hence there was currently a dispute on this matter between the Audit Committee and the Auditor-General.
The CFO responded to the suggestion of a partnership with DAC to address the lack of capacity and expertise in the financial department of SAHRA. She referred to the new organogram where this had been taken into account. Approval of the organogram and the availability of funding would remedy the situation.
On the query about what would be done to address the matters raised in the audit report, she said that there had already been about two workshops with all the unit heads and provincial managers to capacitate them on the roles they had to play in terms of the pre-determined objectives. It became apparent during those workshops that there was a lack of understanding by staff members of the commitment they had to make to deliver on what they had promised to achieve. It was also realised that they were biting off more than they could chew and in the new strategic plan they had been more realistic about what could be accomplished.
Dr Fikeni re-emphasised the structural problem of the funding of the Arts and Culture sector which he said, became more acute when looking at the funding of SAHRA. From his previous experience in the heritage sector, the National Museum's budget had doubled within five years. In contrast SAHRA's budget had barely moved despite its extensive mandate where permits were issued and sites declared and where they could face litigation if they did not do some of the things they had to do. In municipalities they had social cluster budgets which were sometimes no more than R50,000. Everything else was taken care of but when it came to Arts and Culture, residual funding of R60,000 was allocated. He felt that the funding of the entire sector should be re-examined by the Portfolio Committee and the relevant stakeholders. Tourism was what benefited most but what was being consumed by tourists i.e. heritage items, were funded the least.
Mr Smalle asked two follow up questions which he felt had not been adequately answered. Firstly he asked if there were any backlogs in the issuing permits as no definite answer had been given in terms of logistics. of huge concern to him at that moment was that the staff component at present was 82 and that they should have a staff of 200.
The CEO corrected him by stating that 200 referred to the staff component needed in one unit.
Mr Smalle continued and asked if SAHRA had the staff to fulfil its mandate. They were only partially fulfilling their mandate and that was apparent in the maritime heritage sector where there were only two officials.
This was a serious concern which the DAC and the government had to address.
Mr Smalle also enquired about the exhumation of remains, reburial and grave relocation from border countries which he understood was a costly undertaking. Who took responsibility for such undertakings? He was not only referring to the costs but the entire process such as the legal arrangements which itself had cost implications.
He asked if the Committee was going to make any recommendations about the payment of insurance. SAHRA and the DAC should seek clarity on the matter of insurance with the Auditor-General and there should be a timeframe attached to this.
The Chairperson said Committee members were free to make recommendations.
A member asked what amount had been spent on bookings and catering for activities indicated in the Annual Report.
Ms E Nyalungu (ANC) asked how much was spent on the reburial of the human remains of miners at Paardekraal.
Dr Lotriet said she was concerned by what she had heard and proposed that the Committee be given access to the document that the CEO had referred to in order for the Committee to get a sense of SAHRA's real needs. This would assist the Committee when budget time came and enable them to make informed recommendations.
The Chairperson agreed with Dr Lotriet had said that the Committee wanted to know what SAHRA's challenges were in order to assist them. The Committee did not want to change whatever dynamics there were in their relationship with the Department. He agreed that DAC was one department that was under resourced but he was hopeful that with all the changes being made in terms of budgeting that the Committee might have some influence in what was allocated to SAHRA. Once the Committee had a clear picture of SAHRA's needs they could respond and even engage with the Minister to see that they fulfilled their mandate. Members were clearly concerned and not happy with the situation but SAHRA was one entity amongst many with which the Committee dealt. It was commendable that SAHRA did not have problems as a collective and that their issues were just about money. The Committee could not promise that the funds would be forthcoming but they would try their best to influence the budget.
The CEO said that in respect of permits, staff had worked themselves to the ground so there were no backlogs but there were delays due to capacity constraints as there was only a staff complement of two to deal with this function. There were backlogs in requests for declaration of sites at a national level, however.
Exhumations and burial sites was a highly political one. She cited the example of Rhodes' grave in Zimbabwe which was a money earner and Zimbabwe would never accede to its relocation. The same potential challenges were faced in other instances due to the phenomenon of grave tourism and this was happening in South Africa with the graves of Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Josephs and others. Political will had to be exerted in negotiations with Tanzania, Ghana and Uganda for the exhumation and relocation of graves.
The CFO said that the total costs for the Paardekraal reburial which had included indentured Chinese labour, was R497,606. This money was paid by DAC and did not come from SAHRA's operational budget.
The Chairperson noted that there were other departments involved in the whole process.
The CEO added that there had been lots of problems with developers who tricked people into paying for the relocation of graves. The exercise of the reburial also raised awareness of the rights of people and this was protected by the Act. Reburial brought about closure for many families. A workshop had been conducted in Soweto to raise awareness as many people had lost family and their graves were unknown.
The CFO noted that amounts were not indicated for bookings and catering and said that the executive would be informed to include the costs in future.
Ms P Mvulane, Chairperson of the Audit Committee, commented on the matters raised by the management and acknowledged that during 2009/10, they had not had a Council that had been effective in terms of leadership. This had made it difficult for the Audit Committee to do the necessary oversight and to ensure that what had been agreed upon was implemented. With the new Council she believed that there would be changes and this would make the Audit Committee more effective. Further, the analysis the CEO had mentioned was going to assist them to look at proper reporting from the input process to output. With this analysis it would be possible to measure performance. They had not had that before and it had been difficult to set up the objectives in terms of the SMART principles and to measure them on a regular basis. The agency itself operated in an environment that was very unpredictable as it had to be responsive to community needs. While they complied with strategic plans and objectives, they also had to be flexible in being responsive to applications from communities which they could not prevent from coming. They could however control their responses and with the analysis they would be able to assist in developing proper performance information. It might mean they would still receive a qualification on performance management as the report that the CEO had referred to was still to be implemented in terms of the new Strategic Plan.
The Chairperson said he was sure that the CEO had experience of planning ahead and the constraints of limited staff. While he agreed that some things could not be predicted, projections could be made in terms of strategic planning. He acknowledged Dr Lotriet's request for the document which had been produced by SAHRA and asked for it to be supplied to the Committee.
Dr Fikeni thanked the Committee for their guidance and input and he hoped when they met again they would be on another page. The under resourcing of SAHRA was a serious matter that would be taken up with the Department.
The meeting was adjourned.
- South African Heritage Resources Agency Annual Report for year ended 31 March 2010
- Robben Island Museum: Annual Report 2009 - 10
- Robben Island Museum: Annual Report 2009 - 10
- South African Heritage Resources Agency Annual Report 2009/2010 presentation
- South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) Audit Outcomes 2009/2010 presentation
- Robben Island Museum (RIM) update
- We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting
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