Freedom Park on its organizational structure
Arts and Culture
30 August 2011
Chairperson: Ms T Sunduza (ANC)
As Freedom Park’s structure was designed to support its strategy, it was important to outline the institution’s strategic objectives so that its structure could be seen in context. These objectives were to position the Park as a symbol of national identity by 2011 among 70% of the target groups; to establish a mechanism to promote, protect and preserve indigenous knowledge systems by 2011; to create a conducive environment in order to attract, engage and retain effective, knowledgeable talent; to manage the Park as a financially sustainable and customer focused cultural institution; and to mobilise institutions through active partnerships with continental and international institutions, to emancipate the “African Voice.”
Unlike other museums, which dealt with the past, Freedom Park was involved with the present and the future. When the Park considered its mission, which was to promote reconciliation, social cohesion and foster better understanding, the question was how it used its heritage resources to achieve them. Its resources were the result of wide consultation across the nation, and everything in the Park reflected this, rather than the ideas of a single entity or individual. As the process of reconciliation involved admission of past wrongdoing, redress, acceptance and moving on, so the Park had identified the historical wrongdoings and used heritage resources to achieve closure. Another example of achieving the Park’s mission was the access road to the Voortrekker Monument, with the objective of cementing relationships in this area.
While it was a challenge to attract and retain researchers and specialised staff, attention was now focussed on the Universities of Venda and North-West, which were the only two institutions to offer a degree in indigenous knowledge systems.
The Chairperson, supported by members of the Committee, expressed strong criticism of the presentation – both in its format and its lack of detail – and the institution was advised that it would be recalled for a further presentation so that all the information sought by the Committee could be provided.
He presented a detailed business process map, in which the organisation was divided into four functional areas from these objectives – Heritage and Knowledge, Park Operations, Public Participation and Incubation and Innovation. These were supported by four other departments – Human Resources, Finance, Corporate Governance and Information and Communications Technology – and they all reported through the Deputy Chief Executive Officer to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The Park employed a total of 108 people, with annual salary packages ranging from R522 685 at the bottom of the Peromnes scale, to R1 115 878 at the top. Total annual compensation expenses amounted to R38 293 162.
With the opening of the access road link to the Voortrekker Monument by June next year, and the opening of //hapo to the public, there would be a need for additional personnel to handle security and man the ticket offices, as well as more tour guides, shuttle drivers, and cleaning and maintenance staff.
Ms M Morutoa (ANC) criticised the presentation for being illegible in parts, and for not providing sufficient information for the Committee to fully understand all the human resource issues at the Park.
She was supported by other members, including the Chairperson, who declared she was not impressed with the presentation, with slides and pages being unnumbered, and urged entities to submit their presentations seven days in advance so that they could be critiqued beforehand and additional information requested, if necessary.
Ms Peggy Photolo, Acting CEO, apologised for the shortcomings in the presentation, saying the slides had originally been numbered, and she could not explain what had happened. However, the presentation had been requested for submission by August 29, and its receipt by that date had been confirmed.
Ms Morutoa asked when the vacant position of CEO would be filled.
Ms Photolo said Dr Serote, the previous CEO, had retired in March, and a successor had been selected from three candidates, and would take up the position on October 1.
Dr A Lotriet (DA) said that when institutions such as museums appeared before the Committee, they indicated that they struggled to find researchers and specialists within curatorships and archives, and yet the Park’s positions in these areas were filled. She wanted to know how the Park had achieved this situation.
Mr Ramzie Abrahams, Head of the Park’s Heritage and Knowledge Department, agreed that this area was a challenge, but mainly because it employed the key principle of emancipating the “African Voice.” This meant that unlike other museums, which dealt with the past, Freedom Park was involved with the present and the future. This was part of its mandate for reconciliation and social cohesion. While people with traditional research qualifications were employed, the Park was now focussing on graduates from the University of Venda and the University of North-West, which were the only two institutions to offer degrees in indigenous knowledge systems.
Mr P Ntshiqela (COPE) said the Park’s mission included the phrase, “to reflect upon our past, improving our present and building our future as a nation,” and asked if organisation felt it was achieving this.
Mr Abrahams said that when the museum considered reconciliation, social cohesion and fostering better understanding, the question was how it used its heritage resources to achieve them. These resources were the result of wide consultation across the nation, and everything in the Park reflected this, rather than the ideas of a single entity or individual. As the process of reconciliation involved admission of past wrongdoing, redress, acceptance and moving on, so the Park had identified the historical wrongdoings and used heritage resources to achieve closure. Another example of achieving the Park’s mission was the access road to the Voortrekker Monument, with the objective of cementing relationships in this area.
Mr Ntshiqela wanted to know what sort of work was done by the 17 employees in the Park’s Public Participation department.
Mr Mkwana said the department performed a core function, with its staff involved in promotion and public relations, fund-raising, as well as frontline activities such as tour guides and outreach officers.
Ms F Mushwana (ANC) and Ms L Moss (ANC) asked the Park to provide a gender breakdown of its organisation structure, while Mr D Mavunda (ANC) also wanted a breakdown of women, young people and persons with disabilities.
Mr Mkwana said slides had been prepared in anticipation of possible questions, and apologised for not including them in the original presentation. The Park was aware of its obligations regarding people with disabilities, and had even adapted its buildings to make them user-friendly, but only two employees in this category had been employed, and they had since left.
Ms Moss said she noticed a few positions in the organisation were vacant, and asked whether this was because no funds had been budgeted for them.
Ms Photolo said all the positions were supported by budgets, and all the vacancies – most of them junior positions – were being filled within three months.
Mr S Ntapane (UDM) pointed out that the CEO was graded Peromnes 2 and his deputy, Peromnes 3, and yet their annual packages were the same.
Mr Mkwana explained that the top of the salary scale for notch 3 was the same as the bottom of notch 2. In this instance, the CEO was at the bottom of the grade, but had the potential to move higher.
The Chairperson said the presentation bore the logo of the National Lottery Board, but not that of the Department of Arts and Culture.
Ms Photolo said this was a condition of the Board’s sponsorship. However, after the Chairperson insisted that the Department should not be excluded, she said she would seek guidance from the Director-General on the matter.
As there had been numerous comments and criticisms from Members about inadequate information on numerous issues of interest, the Chairperson advised the Freedom Park delegation that they would be asked to appear again before the Committee, and the topics to be covered would be specified.
The meeting was closed.
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