The National Museum was invited to present on its 2009/10 annual report. The presentation covered the vision, mission, finances and the performance of the Museum. The mission of the museum was to provide heritage information and an enjoyable experience to all people through quality research, conservation, education and exhibitions. The National Museum performed its conservation, research and educational functions in a broad spectrum of disciplines in the Natural Sciences, Human Sciences and Visual Arts. The presenter listed the concerns in the unqualified report and laid plans to address the concerns. The main area of concern was the high liability cost caused by medical insurance of the retired employees. To address this concern the museum appointed that employees hired after 1 January 2008 do not qualify for health care benefits after retirement. Thus as employees appointed before 1 January 2008 resign or otherwise leave the service of the Museum, vacancies are filled by employees with no after-retirement health care benefits.
Members asked how the Museum planned to achieve its goal of becoming the best heritage Museum in Africa, o how the museum going to meet the capacity challenges as stated in the presentation, about the vacant posts and about the compliance issues being faced by the Museum.
The South African Library for the Blind presented its 2009/2010 annual report. The presenters outlined the organisation's mandate, functions, Board overview 2009, Administration and Finance and an over all Performance overview. The presenters also outlined the make of the staff in terms of Race and positions. They also stated that currently they have a surplus in their budget which they would use to improve service and fill vacant positions.
During the discussion it was stated by the Chairperson that the members of the committee had recently visited the organisation and were familiar with the issues and concerns it faced. Also they had held a questions answer period during their visit which quelled many of the concern from the Members. However the Member mainly wanted to know more about the relationship between other departments and the SALB and what other means had been employed by the Library.
Presentation by the National Museum
Mr Rick Nuttall, Director; National Museum (Bloemfontein), outlined the overview of the institution. The Museum was declared Cultural Institution in terms of section 3 of the Cultural Institutions Acts. The Museum’s mission was to provide heritage information and enjoyable experience to all people through quality research, conservation, education and exhibitions. The presentation also outlined the governance and the operational structure of the Museum.
Mr Nuttal mentioned that there were also satellites museums that came under the National Museum umbrella, these included Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Freshford House Museum, Florisbad Research Station and First Raadsaal and Wagon Museum. The satellites were important resource to the national museum as they contained artefacts that were relevant to the area they were located. Each Satellite museum had its own indicudual character. While some have carousels to attract young children to the museum, the other were dedicated to collected South African artefacts.
The National Museum performed its conservation, research, and educational functions in a broad spectrum of disciplines. These included Natural sciences, Human Sciences, and Visual Arts. There were 9 departments within the Natural sciences divisions: Acarology, Arachnology, Botany, Entomology, Herpetology, Mammalogy, ornithology, Karoo Palaeontology and Florisbad Quaternary Research. Within the Human Sciences and Visual Arts there were 5 departments: Anthropology, Archaeology, History, Rock Art.
Mr Nuttall stated that part of the Strategic objectives of the museum was firstly to curate and conserve the collections. It was the responsibility of the museum to ensure that the art was well maintained and more importantly relevant to the Museum’s departments. Space was also an issue, as such, only art that had significance to the stated themes were collected for the museum. There were members within the staff whose sole responsibility was to maintain the collections. Investing in research was also an important objective for the Museum. It was important for the museum to research and find new artefacts for display and keep the museum growing. It was also important to showcase art from previously marginalised communities in South Africa.
Education and public programmes were equally as important because they were essential for promoting the museum and its specific events and also to get people interested in South African art and History. The museum aimed to maintain its support services to ensure that the museum was run efficiently and effectively and to ensure that the Museum was able to achieve its primary objectives.
Ms Erika Smit, CFO, National Museum, elaborated on the Annual Report for the year 2009/2010. She stated that the internal controls were important for the operation of the Museum.
She added that the most important items within internal controls 1 were (a) to regularly monitor the budget and expenditure; (b) ensure that the asset register was complete and loss control procedure in place; (c) Risk Management strategy was put in place along with a Fraud prevention plan; and (d) ensured that the Internal Audit Function was fully functional.
Within the Internal Control 2 there was a fully functional audit committee, a disaster recovery plan and business continuity plan so that that the museum could run efficiently and finally the financial policies were regularly reviewed and aligned with legislative imperatives.
The budget for the year to 2009/2010 was R 23,401,000 and the main source of funding was Subsidy from the Government (DAC), while the National Research Foundation (NRF) and donations and sponsorships also contributed to the museum’s budget.
The staff accounted for 78% of the operating costs. The staff, especially the research staff were considered as assets to the museum and its important to remunerate for their work, research and collection management.
According to the Museum’s financial statement the non-current liabilities amounted to R 15,274,000, these included medical aid and the retirement packages. This was also one of the reasons for the R 4.5 million deficits for the 2009/2010 financial year.
There was also an unqualified report that was produced for the 2009/2010 financial year. There were two matters of emphasis in the report
1. The restatement of corresponding figures where in the numbers for the fixed assets and the corresponding figures for the 31 March 2009 had to be restated as a result of the museum’s policy to only capitalise assets with a cost price above R 2000. Items with a cost price below R2000 had been written off as expenses in previous financial years. This resulted in an increase of fixed assets amounting to R 382,000 and a decrease in accumulated deficit of R 382,000.
2. A Going concern was that due to the recognition of the National Museum’s defined benefit obligations for retirement benefits of employees, as required by International Accounting Standard (IAS) 19, the Museum did not have a favourable financial position.
In order to rectify the problems identified in the audit report the Museum created and action plan. Within the action plan all new employees as of January 2008 would not be eligible for the medical aid benefit. As the previous staff resign the medical liability would continue to decrease, however this is a long term plan and it would take few years before the savings would reflect on the financial statements.
Mr Nuttall stated that there were a number of programmes that were put in place within the institution for skills development. These relate to both formal and informal training. The institution had a system in place to assess performance within the institution, occupational health and safety policies and procedures were also in place. Policies were regularly reviews and aligned with legislative imperatives.
There were 119 staff members employed at the museum and they represented a healthy mix of races- including 29 Africans, 25 White males, 26 African Females.
Mr Tobogo Mohcakane, Head of Department: Education, National Museum, stated that the museum had more than 217,300 visitor (including the satellites). The organisation reached 68 000 school groups and this was achieved because of the close relationship with the school board. The museums also had 21 temporary art exhibitions. There was an educator’s workshop that was held and during the workshop it was determined what interested the children, this way the museum could create a specialised product to be marketed. The Mobile museum was also used to plan trips to schools that could not afford to come to the main museum or afford the entrance fees. The Museum had also worked with local municipalities on making the museum more disabled and blind friendly; for example they have places in information in Braille for the blind.
Mr Nuttall stated that the Museum hosted several temporary exhibitions that showcased new South African Artists and also international exhibits. For example, few years ago the museum hosted exhibitions commemorating the works of Charles Darwin. In 2010 there was a exhibition that celebrated bio diversity on the planet.
In terms of research there had been significant additions made to museum as a result of discoveries made by the museum’s scientists such as the fossil of an extinct Zebra species. These were done in collaboration with local universities so that the museum could become a median for education and research in the country. Also, it aided training university studies in history and other fields. The museum also encouraged the staff to train further and gain post-graduate degrees so that they could use the training to improve the museums.
The challenges that were faced by the museum were the lack of proper storage facilities for heritage collection. This had become critical as space was extremely limited for collections. There were also capacity issues as finding qualified people in specified disciplines were hard to find and employ. Moreover, capacity issues had to be addressed as well wherein it was important to address ever increasing demands, i.e. compliance, performance reporting. Mr Nuttall complained that the audit fees were very high and the cost was increasing every year and it was placing additional burden on the Museum’s financial system. As such limited resources were also an issue. The Museum was finding it difficult to pay competitive salaries to their technical staff, and was also finding it difficult to retain the staff they currently had. The museum also needed resources to replace old assets such as the vehicles used by the staff for the transporting exhibit items.
In order to enter a value for the assets in the books the Museum had to hire expertise to evaluate the heritage collections/ assets. These values would then be added to assets in the financial statements. However, the museum would require resources to undertake this exercise and only up procuring the funds would the museum be able to determine the actual value of its assets.
The Chairperson invited anyone from the Museum who had not spoken to make any comments.
Mr Bruce Rubidge, Council Chairperson, National Museum, commended the presentations and reiterated that there was too much time being spent on addressing compliance issues. This was draining the Museum’s resources and hurting its long term growth plans. It also means that the museum was not doing what it was supposed to such as collecting and maintaining artefacts. This was harming the international standing of the Museum.
Ms L Moss (ANC) asked several questions. Firstly, she wanted to know how the Museum planned to achieve its goal of becoming the best heritage Museum in Africa. Secondly, she asked why the vacancy rate was high and did that high rate also include the positions that were frozen. Thirdly, she asked whether the Museum was applying the Employment Equity Act, in her opinion the Act was not being applied. Fourthly, she asked about the skills development plans and what the museum was doing to ensure that people who were right at the bottom were getting access to the skills development plan. Finally she wanted more information about the deficits and the causes for the deficit thereof.
Dr Lotriet (DA) wanted to know whether the freezing of the positions and the high vacancy rate had a direct impact on what the Museum could or could not do. Also how was the museum going to meet the capacity challenges as stated in the presentation? Would the museum need to make additions to the new building?
Mr Ntshiqela (COPE) asked how the Museum was going to inform the mass public about South African Heritage. In addition, he asked about the size of the council and the relationship between the council and the management. Lastly, he asked about service output and all that were entailed within it.
Another member wanted to know about the vacant posts and what were those positions titled. Also the member wanted to know about the sick leaves and why there were many sick leaves taken by lower level staff. Finally, did the Museum include and plan to include the department of water in their outreach.
Mr Mavunda (ANC) wanted information about the Museum subsidy policy. He also wanted to know about the fossil discovery that was made. And finally he wanted about the use of indigenous languages when the message to the community was being related.
The Chairperson enquired about the relations with the National Heritage Council. Secondly how much local artefact does the museum collect? Thirdly, what was the relationship of the Museum with the Provincial and municipal governments and whether the museum had approached the different levels of government for funding. Moreover what was the Museum doing to address the issues of transformation and employing more women? Also, what skills were the museums transferring to the employees?
Ms M Morutoa (ANC) queried about the compliance issues being faced by the Museum.
Mr Nuttall replied that the organisation's vision may need to be revisited. The vision to be known was very important to Museum. It was important that people knew what the museum was doing to become known for it. The inclusion of Heritage Center in the vision was to promote the museum as a one stop centre for heritage learning. Moreover there was a lot of consultation and discussion within the organisation about including the phase “best Heritage centre in all of Africa”. This was done to suggest that South Africa had an important role to play in the development and promotion of heritage in Africa.
Mr Nuttall clarified that the vacancy rate included the frozen positions. He added that for several years they have not been able to achieve the desired employment rate due to limited funding.
The museum did submit its employment equity records to the Department of Labour. The Department of Labour had visited the museum to examine the matter of equitable employment. While all attempts were made to ensure that employment was equitable, there might be perceptions that the museum was not doing enough. Several of the specialised positions have very low employee turnover rate and the museum would have to wait until they retired before those positions would become available. Also the positions in recent years that had become available had been filled with people from previously disadvantaged communities or women.
The museum had recently advertised some of its research position in the main media in order to attract people of colour, but they did not get any single application. He stated that they have had in the past employed people of colour in research positions; however those people then left the Museum in order to gain employment with higher wages. He also added that it had been difficult to attract people to move to Bloemfontein.
The main concern in skills development had been the lack of an HR department. Development of skills required a full functioning HR department and the Museum did not have the funds to finance skills development.
Ms Smit stated that liability had increased from the previous financial year because some staff had conditions stated in their contract that they would get medical aid until the time of death if they retired at the museum. Since the museum had an aging population as staff and the employment turnover remained low the liability amount was rather high. However, the new employees did not have such clauses in their contract and as a result the liability would decrease over time.
The money that was supplied through public works was not reflected in the financial statements because it was done separately. Also the other income that was generated by the museum came from the rents that were generated from the restaurants/ shops and the event facilities owned by the museum. Also income was generated when the museum researchers were hired by the private companies.
Ms Moss wanted clarity on what national lottery funding was used for?
Ms Smit stated that National Lottery funding was used to upgrade some of the exhibition that were outdate.
Mr Mohcakane responded that the Museum had a memorandum of understanding with the University of Free State and other institutes. Moreover, the Museum was often invited to exhibitions organised by the institutes.
Mr Nuttall stated that despite being understaffed the Museum had been able to function effectively however, the high vacancy rate was still an issue as the museum was not able to do everything in its mandate.
The council and the management had a strong relationship and the council had supported the management on several of its endeavours.
The Museum did train tour guides and also assisted in the training of tourism student in their training from the local university.
Mr Nuttall stated that the National Museum had received praise from the art community from all over the world on the exhibitions that has held over the recent years.
The Chairperson thanked the team from the National museum and stated that they would be invited again to go over matters in further details.
The Chairperson invited the South African Library for the Blind (SALB)
Presentation by the South African Library for the Blind (SALB)
Mr Zak Yacoob (Judge, Chair of the Board; SALB) thanked the members for visiting the SALB. He said the the board was there to support the SALB and help market and promote the Library. Also the board worked with the management to ensure that the management would be able to achieve it goals.
Mr Francois Hendrikz (Director: SALB) stated that the object of the Library for the Blind is to provide a national library and information service to serve blind and print-handicapped readers in South Africa.
The SALB functions were then outlined [see document attached]
Bev Gornall (CFO; SALB) outlined the administration of SALB and the make up of the staff in terms of race, skills and positions. [See document attached]
The SALB had been audited and according to the unqualified report there were no findings on predetermined objectives and the matters of emphasis was to reduce wasteful expenditure of R 12,746 and introduce a fraud prevention plan.
The Gross income amounted to R 15,100,564 and at the year end the library had a net surplus of R 4,469,250. The transfer and subsidies that were received from the DAC was R 11,545,000 and the Gifts, Sponsorships and Donations amounted to 1,617,000. [See document attached]
The goal for the fiscal year was to have the application to accumulate and retain surplus funds which was approved by National Treasury on 16 August 2010.The idea was to use of surplus funds to National awareness radio advertising campaign, Production of audio and braille newspapers and magazines and Fill vacant posts
Donations received and earmarked for specific projects, namely collection development
There were vacancies in the senior management that needed to be filled and there were fund available to fill the post. However, no suitable candidate was found and the management felt that it was better to leave the post vacant rather than fill it with someone who was not qualified.
In terms of performance the SALB added 699 audio and 261 Braille titles, 2 new Minilibs in Gauteng and Free State, 150 members’ registered (5,783 members), User survey, Tele-book reading club initiated.
Additionally 1 new braille magazine was launched, Indigenous languages braille collection was added and the Pilot braille newspaper project was initiated.
In terms of Audio Production Audio production- 264 Daisy books were produced, 576 titles converted from Analogue to Digital and 7 new audio magazine titles were added. [See Document Attached]
The SALB had also launched Production Support Services wherein the management researched various production improvement options, coordinated the production of Braille and Audio material received from 70 narrators and 91 transcribers and proofread Braille scholarship proposals
Moreover, Technical and IT Services were also enhanced where there were significant improvement made for disability access, albeit more had to be done, IT audit and management plan was completed and a SALB website was developed and launched.
The Chairperson applauded the brief and concise presentation. The Chairperson also stated that the member had recently visited the SALB and were aware of the programmes and the issues faced by the SALB as such the discussion period would be cut short.
Dr Lotriet wanted to clarity on the matter where provincial coordinated projects funding had increased and the same amount was listed in the expenses. She wanted to know who provided the funding and what was the purpose of the funds?
Mr Hendriks responded that the provincial coordinated project was not and SALB project instead the SALB was hosting a coordinator who was hired by the DAC. The fund provided was separate from the SALB and was used in its entirety to facilitate the coordinator (in respect to the person’s travel, accommodation, salary, etc.). This would come to an end within the next two years.
Ms Gornall added that the project was to last over a two year period and the funds were to facilitate that particular programme.
Mr Mavunda enquired about the relationship between the partners and the SALB and what was being done to refurbish the buildings, and was the Department of Public works assisting them in the projects.
The Chairperson wanted to know the mandate in terms of marketing and expanding the client base. What other partnerships that the SALB was trying to engage in and whether there any new initiative being taken with local municipalities and communities to expand the base of SALB. The Chairperson stated that the committee was happy that many of their questions and concerns were addressed in their recent visit to the library.
Mr Yacoob responded that the library gets a large sum of money from private donations and requested the members to donate as well.
Mr Hendriks stated that the SALB had an excellent relationship with the Department of Public Works and DAC. Once the funding had been secured from DAC the money would be transferred to Public Works and would reach immediately to whatever matter that needed attention. The SALB had also implanted a fingerprinting system for its employees, which meant that it would be recorded who checked in at what time. This way lateness would be eliminated.
The SALB used the DAC and other departments to raise funds. The SALB would approach any department that had a mandate close to that of the SALB. The SALB had yet to approach private enterprises however they had received donations from business but it was not substantial or overwhelming, but this would change in the future as the SALB becomes more popular.
Ms Morutoa wanted to know about the disabled persons working at the SALB.
Mr Hendriks responded that that there were two disabled person employed by the Library as per the labour requirements and to promote employment with the disabled community. He also added that this number would increase in the coming years.
The Chairperson stated that since the members had already been to the library most of their concerns had been answered, but thanked the SALB.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.
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