PanSALB crisis; Committee Oversight Visit Report

Arts and Culture

06 September 2011
Chairperson: Ms T Sunduza (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The PanSALB crisis was again discussed and the Acting CEO’s resignation this week was noted. The Chairperson alerted Members to the fact that PanSALB board members had flown to Cape Town to attend the 31 August committee meeting but the Portfolio Committee was not made aware of this information. The board was made to wait in the Director General’s office kitchen. When the Chairperson requested a meeting with the board, neither the Acting CEO nor his deputies nor the board chairperson informed the Committee that the board was waiting in the building next door.

The Committee adopted the Committee Report on Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga oversight visit without amendments. A concern was raised about the high rate of absenteeism at committee meetings. The Members agreed to raise the matter at a later date when all Members were present.

Finally the Chairperson requested Members read over the documents about the proposed overseas visit to learn about national libraries in foreign countries and to make recommendations to improve the National Library of South Africa. At least one African nation would be included in the trip.

Meeting report

The Chairperson announced that September was Heritage Month in South Africa and requested members to suggest debate topics to commemorate the occasion.

On the Chairperson noting apologies from members unable to attend the meeting, Mr P Ntshiqela (COPE) asked if the apologies were in writing and whether there were any reasons given.

The Chairperson replied that the absent members could not attend because there were bi-elections being held in their constituency.

Mr Ntshiqela commented that if members were unable to attend then they should submit convincing reasons explaining their absence. He wanted the Committee to discuss the matter of member absenteeism at a later date when all members were present.

The Chairperson stated that it was disappointing to have absentees without legitimate reasons.

Mr L Khoarai (ANC) stated that a meeting should be organised to discuss the matter of member absenteeism and to propose a way forward.

Committee Reports and Minutes: adoption
The Committee Minutes of 29 June 2011 meeting (where the Committee was briefed by the Department of Arts and Culture on their Human Resources landscape and suspensions in the Department) was adopted without amendments.

The Committee Report on the Oversight visit to Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga from 29 to 31 March 2011 was adopted without amendments.

The Chairperson noted the four submissions submitted by Prof Nxalati Golele dated 18 June 2009 on defining the meaning of independence of some statutory bodies, configuring some establishments involved with language matters and about adding a representative of the Xitsonga Language onto the Pan South African Language Board.

The Chairperson and Dr Lotriet (DA) recommended that these be sent to the Ministry for further review as the content of Prof Golele submissions was beyond the scope of the Committee.

Advisory panel for selection of National Library Service Council
The Committee approved the list of names for the advisory panel for the selection of the National Library Service Council. The list was submitted by the Department of Arts and Culture at the 31 August 2011 meeting.

Discussion on PanSALB
The Chairperson stated that an email was sent to her stating that the Acting PanSALB CEO, Mr Chris Swepu, had resigned from his post. However the Chairperson noted that he was still accountable to the Committee and Parliament on the ongoing allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

The Chairperson stated that it had been brought to her attention that for the 31 August 2011 meeting, the board of PanSALB had flown to Cape Town to attend the Portfolio Committee meeting. However the Committee was not made aware of the board’s arrival. The board members were made to wait on the Director General’s office. Moreover, when the Members had expressed a desire to meet with the board, neither Mr Chris Swepu (Acting CEO) nor Dr Elias Malete (board chairperson) had mentioned that the board members were waiting at the DAC office [in the parliamentary precinct]. The Chairperson wanted to state on record that none of the members of the Committee knew that the board members were in town on the day of the meeting.

The Chairperson expressed frustration which was echoed by the members of the Committee that PanSALB was trying to undermine the Portfolio Committee and Parliament in general.

Mr L Khoarai (ANC) recommended that the board of PanSALB be invited for a meeting. He wanted the matter of PanSALB to be taken seriously and if possible legal matters should be pursued.

Mr Ntshiqela said that it was important to inform the Minister as soon as possible about the actions of the PanSALB executive in the previous meeting.

Dr Lotriet expressed her concerns that the Acting PanSALB board chairperson misled the Committee on the whereabouts of the board despite being repeatedly asked by the Chairperson. She recommended that this matter should be discussed with the Minister as soon as possible.

The Chairperson stated that all PanSALB board members along with the Minister and the Deputy Minister should attend the 21 September 2011 meeting and brief the Portfolio Committee.

The Chairperson and the members then agreed to meet with the Minister and Deputy Minister during the week of 12 September 2011 so they could have a briefing before the meeting with PanSALB and the Ministry on 21 September 2011.

The Chairperson commented that the Portfolio Committee was running out of ways to resolve the crisis and suggested that the only solution may be to dissolve the board and appoint a new one along with a new CEO.

Proposed Study Tour exploring cultural heritage
The Chairperson requested members read through the Proposed Study Tour Document and make recommendations on the countries the Portfolio Committee should visit to learn about the library services of foreign countries and look for ways to improve the National Library of South Africa.

The Chairperson recommended that the Committee should visit at least one African country.

Mr Khoarai requested that the Committee should invite only one entity per meeting for a briefing so that members could have an ample question and answer time.

The Chairperson along with other members felt that if there were only a few entities left to meet, then the Committee could agree to invite only one entity at a time. However, this matter needed further investigation regarding how many entities were left.

Meeting adjourned.

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