Voortrekker Monument and Nature Reserve; South African Heritage Resources Agency Annual Reports 2010/11

Arts and Culture

01 November 2011
Chairperson: Ms T Sunduza (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Voortrekker Monument and Nature Reserve presented its history and establishment, while noting some of the significant achievements of the last 12 years. One of the major tasks was raising funds for the construction of a heritage centre at the Monument's site and for the establishment of the research trust. The Monument listed the areas under the control of the Heritage Foundation. The focus of the presentation was the undeclared cultural institutions. The challenges faced were very critical and it was to be hoped that funding would be made available. It would be ironic that in the same year that the Monument had been awarded an upgraded status it ran the risk of closing down because of a lack of funds. The bridge between Freedom Park and the Monument was supposed to have been ready in time for the 2010 Soccer World Cup but Freedom Park was had not been ready. The lack of grant funding had serious negative implications. The Monument was also losing staff as a result of the low salaries and retrenchment would have to be considered as reducing salaries would not help as salaries were already at the bare minimum. If some of the sites were made declared institutions, it would ease the financial problems.

The Committee agreed that the history of the country had to be preserved in it totality. Members noted that the Monument had created 73 jobs, called for sensitivity and tolerance to the different sides of history, and noted the need to build bridges.

The African Heritage Resources Agency briefed the Committee on its overall performance during 2010/11 and provided an overview of its legislative mandate - the National Heritage Resources Act 1999 (Act No.26 of 1999 - and functions. information on human resources management (HRM) was given. The Agency explained some of the exciting work that it was doing. The Agency was restructuring and had closed the provincial offices and handed them to the provinces to set up provincial heritage resource agencies. These would create a total of 10 jobs per province giving a total of 90 jobs in total. There had been rumours of retrenchments but the Agency Chairperson said that there would be no retrenchments as per the media report. Consultations had taken place with the trade unions. The Agency had received a qualified audit opinion with matter of emphasis. It explained that the S&Tamount was an extrapolated amount. The absence of a functioning audit committee was also one of the reasons why this problem was raised by the Auditor-General. It was resolved that no monies would be written off and the monies had to be recovered from the staff members. A training session had been arranged for the finance staff as it faced a challenge during the audit as it was unable to retrieve the required age analysis. Steps had been taken to establish the audit committee so as to avoid such problems in the future. Emphasis was made on maintaining employment of the staff. The Agency announced that it would also empower society through the training centre in Grahamstown in association with Rhodes University. The Agency also sought of review and costing of its Act.

The Committee was happy with the Agency's presentation but was not pleased by the fact that it had only sent the Annual report the previous day. It was dissatisfied with the qualified audit opinion as it was the first in the last five years. The Committee was disappointed that the African Heritage Resources Agency Act did not provide for the remuneration of the council members. The Committee hoped that in the following year the issues raised would not be repeated again.

Meeting report

Voortrekker Monument and Nature Reserve Annual Report 2010/11 Presentation
Major-General (Retired) Gert Opperman, Managing Director: Heritage Foundation and Director: Voortrekker Monument (VTM, the Monument) and Nature Reserve, briefed Members firstly on the history of the Monument. It became a Section 21 company in 1993; new management started in March 2000; and the Heritage Foundation was established in 2002. Management of the Voortrekker Monument and the Heritage Foundation was placed under separate managing directors in 1 August 2011. The management philosophy was based on good corporate governance and management, excellent service and aggressive marketing. The aggressive marketing aimed at improving its image and legitimacy, promoting tourism (56-60% of VTM’s revenue) and optimizing commercial use of facilities.

The approach to the situation was that the past was its source of inspiration and not its destination, to use the past to understand the present so that a better future for all South Africans could be built, constructive engagement and support to Government institutions, also to embrace and promote nation building, reconciliation and ‘New’ national symbols, be an agent of positive change and build bridges within the community, and expand without reconstructing or criminalizing history, as total history and heritage was important.

Some of the major achievements in the last 12 years was that image and legitimacy greatly improved, 73 jobs had been created, the operational budget had increased from R2 million to R14 million per annum, and it established the Heritage Foundation and Research Trust in 2002 and managed them till 1 August 2011. It took over several heritage sites together with the Heritage Foundation, and signed a Memorandum of Co-operation with Freedom Park. VTM was ready since 2010 to open an inter-connecting access road between the two sites though Freedom Park was not yet ready.

The Heritage Foundation and Research Trust was established in 2002 to help take care of endangered heritage resources (an inclusive approach). It was a non-profit making organization and did not receive any Government funding. It had three major tasks - to be established on a national basis, raise funds for and construct a heritage centre at VTM heritage site costing R13 million with the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) contributing R4 million and raising funds to establish a research trust.

Major-General Opperman said the areas of control under the VTM included the Voortrekker Monument (Pretoria), Fort Schanskop (Pretoria) which it bought from the city council of Pretoria, Blood River (KwaZulu- Natal (KZN)) and Kerkenberg (Free State). The areas that were under the control of the Heritage Foundation was Bloukrans (KZN), Mafikeng Concentration Camps in the North West (NW), Danie Theron Plinth (NW/Gauteng), Orange River Camp Sites (Northern Cape (NC)), Louis Tregardt Memorial Garden (Maputo) [through the Louis Trichardt Association which was a non-declared institution] and the President Paul Kruger Residence in Boekenhoutfontein (North West (NW)) [through the President Paul Kruger Trust which was a non-declared institution}.

The Chairperson suggested that South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) delegation members be asked to come in as some of the issues related to them and would benefit them as well.

Major-General Opperman
continued to the Voortrekker Museum in Pietermaritzburg where it supplied three members to serve on the board of the Museum; various forms of support had been given to the SeSotho Language Museum.

It had provided training to certain staff members of the Apartheid and Hector Petersen Museums. It had agreed to act as a mentor to the Griqua community in respect of its Lotto fund application.

Major General Opperman referred to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with SAHRA under which the VTM had to take care and maintain all concentration camp cemeteries, Burgher and Prison of War graves and certain South African Anglo-Boer War (ABW) Battlefields, it was funded to do this by DAC through SAHRA and added that it had amicable relations with SAHRA. It was an honour and privilege to work with Government institutions.

The main purpose of the presentation was to give details of institutions not declared in terms of the Cultural Institutions Act. Six institutions had been subsidised by DAC without being declared and these included Voortrekker Monument which expected at least R1.9 million rand in July 2011 but which had still not received it; Vegkop Museum near Heilbron whose grant was R50 000 annually but had been outstanding for the last five years; and Hugenot Monument in Franschhoek which received R110 000 in 2010 but had two other years outstanding. Louis Trichardt Association was up to date in terms of receiving its grant as this could have been as a result of the MOU that was existing. The 1820 Settlers Foundation in Grahamstown expected R2.8 million in 2011 but had not yet been formally informed about the new situation. Bien Donn
é Cultural Centre in the Western Cape had not received anything for the past five years.

The VTM had had an MOU with DAC for the last three years that had expired but the precedent was that VTM had been funded annually by DAC to the extent of R425 000 from 1993 – 2002. It had then been increased to R1 304 000 and thence increased incrementally. In 2010 the grant was R1 853 000 and according to a letter recently received the amount for 2011 would be R1 000 000 - there had been no grant for Blood River.

The effect of the grant decision was that the VTM had to cut back on certain essential functions and activities; stop/suspend essential repair and maintenance projects already long overdue and in a critical state; and place a moratorium on new appointments to replace natural attrition already critical as the VTM was under staffed and the staff under paid. The VTM would consider retrenchments as the last resort and the poorest would be the most affected as it would have to cut back in the non-essential services. It was a problem from a financing and cash-flow point of view.

Major General Opperman then recommended a solution but said that it had not been discussed with DAC. Firstly the full grant to VTM should be re-instated including as far as possible the other non-declared institutions until a more permanent situation was found. The old outstanding amounts should be written off as the institutions had survived till this point, but he emphasised that it was important for those institutions to receive the grant in the current year.

Secondly, he recommended starting negotiating with DAC the possible declaration of the Heritage Foundation as a cultural institution and indicated how other non-declared institutions could be accommodated in the process. He had discussed this with the previous Director-General (DG) who had agreed in principle that there should be a greater role for the Heritage Foundation to assist DAC as far as management and financing of the other non-declared institutions.

Thirdly he recommended submitting negotiated proposals to the Board of Directors of the Heritage Foundation for Consideration. If and as soon as the Heritage Foundation was declared as a cultural institution, he proposed that a new funding structure based on annual grant to the Heritage Foundation must be implemented; and other relevant non-declared institutions should be catered for as part of the Heritage Foundation’s budget.

There should be consideration of other institutions that could possibly be put under control of the declared Heritage Foundation, if the Foundation was empowered to do so.

The Deputy President had recently visited and reacted favourably to what he saw and heard at the Monument and was of the opinion that a solution had to be found so that DAC could help VTM and the Heritage Foundation to reach a stage where it was economically viable.

The Chairperson thanked Major General Opperman for the awareness that he had given the Committee as it did not know what was happening and said the she was aware that the Deputy President was passionate about the N Route between Freedom Park and VTM and constantly asked when the bridge would be built as it symbolised the closing of gaps from history and unity going forward.

Ms P Duncan (DA) was happy that all the stakeholders was present, recommitted herself to looking at the recommendations raised and the solution that had been presented, said the idea of communicating would be supported and supported ensuring that funds were made available. She highlighted that she had been in contact with the Minister and DAC on the importance of tourism as these heritage sites were the destinations for some of the tourists. The Department of Tourism should also be engaged in the discussion to ensure financing so that the sites were well looked after.

Mr P Ntshiqela (COPE) hoped that the VTM would have outlined the major challenges that it faced and the successes during the period mentioned. He asked if funds had been raised for construction of the Heritage Centre. He asked what the motivation would be for selecting staff members for training. He asked why the 1820 Settlers Foundation in Grahamstown was still being referred to in the new South Africa together with the Blood River.

Major General Opperman said Blood River was sensitive to the Afrikaners and that denying it in history would be offensive to some people as it was a part of history. He had suggested that a bridge be built over the river instead of having to drive round through the veld. He said some of the challenges of being an undeclared institution was that it was at the lower end of the priorities and not that important to DAC as compared to the declared institutions. This made it difficult to get interviews, feedback and any forms of action. He added that he did not intend to embarrass DAC but these was some of the unfortunate facts; lack of funds was a challenge, he added that it had already collected the R13 million with R4 million from DAC and the balance of R9 million was raised from the private sector; a target of R2 million was set up for the research trust and that money had already been raised and invested and the revenue from the investment was being used to fund research work. Borrowing money from the bank was a last resort for funding.

He asked for permission from the Chairperson not to comment on the use of the word “Settlers” as he noted that the word could be offensive if used in a certain context though he stated that the 1820 Settlers was part of history. Blood River was an emotional subject. Blood River should have also been a recipient of the grant as well. VTM had been sharing part of its grant with Blood River as a way of support.

Ms F Mushwana (ANC) thanked Major General Opperman for the report, wanted to know why there was no grant for Blood River and the significance of it - was it regarded less important in comparison to others that were receiving grants. She urged that retrenchment should not be an option at all. Other measures should be looked at in trying to protect employment of people. She wanted to know the source of the grants that were received.

Major General Opperman said retrenchment should not be an option and added that before a decision to retrench would be made all other options would have been explored like reviewing salaries, but added that if it was already paying below the breadline a cut in salaries would not help the situation. He emphasized that the VTM would not want to retrench anyone.

He said that all the amounts shown were from DAC. From, 2003 – 2010 the grants used to be 16% of total operational income (TOI) with 55% of TOI from Tourism. Currently 7% was from Government, 6% from Niches in the Garden of Remembrance, 11% came from outsourcing and 4% from profit of sales. The Louis Trichardt Association had nothing to do with Makhado or the Louis Trichardt town, it was a Voortrekker leader who moved with his people and eventually most of them died in Maputo and where its graves had been discovered was where it was being commemorated. He said that this was a lesson because the Late President Samora Machel had ordered his people to never vandalise that graveyard in anyway and to date it was an example of how graveyards should be maintained.

Ms L Moss (ANC) wanted to know what other sources of income it had other than the grants from the DAC, what was the strategic plan for the future to avoid a repeat of what happened in 2011 and avoid retrenchment, how many jobs had been created in relation to the grants received and the total number of people employed, and wanted to know why DAC had reduced the 2011 grant.

Major General Opperman said job creation was important and that is why it was concerned about the availability of the grants and the effect they had on the ordinary people. For the first time there was the threat of a strike incited by the unions. He referred the problem to DAC and told DAC that the VTM was paying its staff below the breadline in some cases, as employees in declared institutions were paid more than three times as much. Some of the staff were resigning to go and take up employment at declared institutions. The VTM had a full strategic planning cycle and had an Audit Committee meeting on 01 November 2011. It would be submitting the Annual strategy to the Board of Directors with all the critical points being addressed and was pleased about the comments made in respect to tourism as it had also discussed it. It realized that an increase in tourism could increase significantly its revenue. The VTM had created 73 jobs spread over 10 areas nation-wide. For 12 years he had been CEO of the VTM, Heritage Trust, Heritage Foundation, Research Trust and several others, yet his salary was less than half that of the CEO of Freedom Park, and that was the situation of all the staff.

Mr D Mavunda (ANC) wanted a highlight of the process of declaration of cultural sites, the funding and whether it would be by financial institutions or by some other entity, and the managing of those sites.

Major-General Opperman encouraged DAC to make a cost analysis to determine what the cost of giving grants to the six non-declared sites would be versus declaring them as cultural sites as some sites did not need to be declared due to the requirements that came along through the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

Major-General Opperman replied that it would be ironic if the VTM would go down financially in the year that it was upgraded as it was the only Afrikaans heritage site that was declared a grade 1 site since 1994

Ms T Nwamitwa-Shilubana (ANC) wanted to know if there was no input from the previous government as there was 44years from inauguration to when it was made a Section 21 company.

Major-General Opperman replied that the VTM had been misused for political purposes during the previous government as it had such a tremendous appeal to the Afrikaner nationalism. That had led to stigmatization. Active marketing was required to breakdown the image of it being the icon of the rich so that there was no threat of its survival. It was important to look at the lessons of the past to see how they impacted on the present and how to use them to prepare for a better future for the country. That was why VTM was a positive change agent. He acknowledged that things had gone wrong during the 44 year period but since then it had been trying to address the perceptions. This was not easy.

The Chairperson asked about the release of funds from the Department as the report had shown that in some cases the funds had not been released in the last five years. There was need for history to be recognized in its totality. The history of the Afrikaners was sensitive as it felt that it was excluded from the history but there must be a balance in the way the issues surrounding the history of the country were handled. She urged for a bi-lateral agreement to be formed with the Department of Tourism. There should be more education on history so that everybody was aware of the different types of history. Both the minority and the majority people of the country needed to be sensitive to it.

Major-General Opperman said that there were many bridges to be built - one being a psychological bridge through co-operation and discussions. The VTM was eager to build the bridge - the one the Deputy President was referring to – and had wanted to have that bridge built in time for the World Cup but there were delays from the Freedom Park side. He supported bi-lateral discussions with the Department of Tourism. The VTM was receiving three times more visitors from China compared with other countries, followed by Germany, France, and the rest of Europe including the Netherlands.

The Chairperson suggested that Major-General Opperman and Mr Vusithemba Ndima, Acting Deputy Director-General: Cultural Heritage and Preservation, DAC, arrange to meet outside the Committee’s meeting as time for SAHRA had been reduced. She agreed with Ms Moss that there was need to visit those sites and also to help in suggesting the way forward and the building of the bridges. She urged Major- General Opperman to make the history open for all cultural groups and not make it only for and accessible to the Afrikaner community. She appreciated the comments about retrenchment as they were honest. She then released Major-General Opperman and asked SAHRA to ready itself for its presentation.

South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) Annual Report 2010/11
Ms Sibongile van Damme, CEO, SAHRA, briefed the Committee on SAHRA’s overall performance during 2010/11 and provided an overview of SAHRA’s legislative mandate - the National Heritage Resources Act 1999 (Act No.26 of 1999 - and functions. (See presentation document.)

Performance information on human resources management (HRM) was given. With reference to underwater and cultural heritage resources, it was noted that there were two permanent staff members, there was participation in the DAC’s Growth Development Path, and development of a concept on a Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage Museum in Kosi Bay. The Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage Policy needed to be revised based on the transformative thinking on underwater cultural heritage issues. There was a State to State agreement between South Africa and The Netherlands on the Underwater Cultural Awareness programme. There was need to ratify the Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention to protect the heritage resources from looters and those interested in salvaging.

Under HRM, SALGA also reported on the Built Environment, Burial Grounds and Graves, Archaeology, Palaeontology and Meteorites (APM), Heritage objects, National Inventory, Grading and Declaration, and Centre for Heritage Research and Education.

As to the Centre for Heritage Research and Education, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) had been signed with Rhodes University on training provincial heritage resource agencies (PHRAs) on competencies critical in the implementation of the Act, curriculum statements and capacitating teachers to deal with heritage content, and research for these areas. The Centre was based in Grahamstown in SAHRA's building which used to be the Old Gaol.

Ms Busisiwe Khumalo, Chief Financial Officer, briefed the Committee on SAHRA's budget and on the Report of the Auditor-General who had expressed a qualified opinion on the basis of fruitless and wasteful expenditure – S & T expenses, trade receivables – age analysis, and cash flow statement – accounting technicality.

There was emphasis of matter on the restatement of corresponding figures.

The report on other legal and regulatory requirements referred to predetermined objectives, compliance with laws and regulations, and internal Control.

Ms Khumalo pointed out that this was the first report of its kind in the past five years.

Ms Van Damme said there was a new AG, hence the change from an unqualified opinion to a qualified one, and added that the auditors had been at SAHRA for two months and as such had performed an intensive and thorough audit.

To address issues related to the financial challenges, SAHRA had undertaken restructuring: SAHRA's Council had approved closing of SAHRA provincial offices so that SAHRA could focus on its national legislative mandate. All SAHRA provincial offices were closed. SAHRA had a new organogram focusing on the fulfilment of SAHRA’s national mandate on heritage resources management. The process of deploying staff to the national structure would be finalised by 15 November 2011. SAHRA’s offices were – Cape Town (head office), Grahamstown (Centre), and Pretoria (satellite of Head Office). SAHRA was reviewing its national mandate. It was also reviewing and costing its Act, and had developed an internal document to analyse SAHRA's national mandate. This document pointed out SAHRA's backlog on delivery, captured what had been done to date and the critical areas that required intervention, captured the challenges that SAHRA had in meeting its obligations, and had been submitted to the Department of Arts and Culture to motivate the Department's intervention to address SAHRA's challenges. SAHRA had also sent funding proposals to the Lotto, to the Department - Expanded Public Works, and to the Dutch Embassy. It was also forming strategic partnerships, including a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Rhodes University to support the training framework and modules for training provincial heritage resource agencies (PHRAs) and other practitioners with accreditation at levels 5, 6 and 7. SAHRA had also developed a turn-around strategy, including capacity, a revised organogram, analyses of skills gaps and training needs, internal controls, and improving the effectiveness of governance structure which promoted key stakeholders' involvement. Policies had been approved.

SAHRA requested the Portfolio Committee to assist SAHRA in lobbying for an improved allocation from Treasury to improve on the implementation of its mandate; lobby the speeding up of the National Heritage Resources Act (NHRA) legislative amendments, i.e. SAHRA's council members did not receive honoraria, and addressing the overlap of SAHRA functions with other agencies; the signing of the Convention on Underwater Cultural Heritage to protect threatened the conservation of underwater cultural heritage resources; the setting up of a fund to retain heritage objects in the country; and the setting up of competent provincial heritage resource agencies (PHRAs) by the provincial Members of the Executive Councils (MECs) for Arts and Culture.
(See presentation document.)

The Chairperson was unhappy that the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) had sent its annual report the previous day whilst the Committee had told SAHRA that the report should reach it at least seven days prior to its presentation to give it time to review it. Since it was coming for the first time SAHRA would be pardoned but in future it would be told to go back upon arrival. She also highlighted that SAHRA had received a qualified audit and expressed concern about the letter from the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (NEHAWU) on the retrenchment of staff.

Prof Somadoda Fikeni, Chairperson, SAHRA, apologised for the late submission of the annual report and as the accounting authority took full responsibility and committed SAHRA to timely submissions in the future. SAHRA in no way took the Committee lightly. SAHRA was in the process of reviewing and repositioning a strategy as a premium heritage organisation. It had taken note of the adverse opinion from the Auditor-General (AG). SAHRA had exciting programmes. The budget, however, had not been reviewed over the years and was insufficient for SAHRA's mandate. The media had not reported accurately. There was no R14 million unaccounted for. He acknowledged wasteful and fruitless expenditure. There was already a plan to address it. In the devolution process there were no massive retrenchments and there had been consultations with the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (NEHAWU) and all affected parties. SAHRA had negotiated with provinces to absorb members who could not be absorbed in the devolved roles and to that extent no jobs were lost. Training programmes were carried out. He suggested that Parliament should look into the Tourism Levy to have it shared with SAHRA.

The Chairperson was concerned as to why there was no form of appreciation for the council members. She suggested that DAC should resolve the matter quickly, wanted a commitment from SAHRA that there would be no retrenchments, and wanted clarity on training and at which level the training was being provided. She wanted to know if there had been a meeting with the unions as reported in the press, about allegations of racism as it had been brought to her attention, in particular in Cape Town. She asked what SAHRA had done in terms skills development especially with the rare skills, wanted an assurance from SAHRA that nobody would be retrenched and also wanted clarity on training as to what kind and at which level.
Dr Fikeni replied that SAHRA had realised that the Act was silent in terms of the non-remuneration of the council members. There was need for a national dialogue on the tourism levy : the Department of Tourism was the marketing department; if Robben Island was to vanish tourism would suffer - as such he suggested that the funding model be reviewed. The attitude of the past where Arts and Culture was always given last preference had to change. An an amicable agreement had been reached with NEHAWU. He understood that all parties was satisfied and any retrenchments were mitigated through absorption into the provinces. Team building was scheduled to deal with racism.

Ms Van Damme was unaware of any racist tendencies within the organisation between staff members and was surprised by such allegations.

Ms Nwamitwa-Shilubana thanked the CEO for the elaborate presentation. It was important to have an internal system and she hoped that next year it would not have a qualified audit opinion. She had spoken to somebody from the National Lottery who had said if one had to go through SAHRA the process would take forever to be resolved as there was many buildings that needed to be declared. She mentioned a dam that was about to be built in her constituency where there was graves and the matter must be processed through SAHRA, but the official concerned want to get started on the project,

Ms P Mvulane, Chairperson, Audit Committee, SAHRA, said that there had been no internal audit committee for the past few years: there was no functioning audit committee at the time of the audit - an internal audit committee had since been established, which would assist in improving the controls.

Ms Van Damme said each provincial heritage resource agency (PHRA) had to employ at least 10 people and there had to be an archaeologist if there was to be the digging of the graves.

Mr L Khoarai (ANC) had hoped that the interventions that had been presented by the CFO in respect of the qualified audit opinion would have been in a written form. He asked what measures had been taken to rectify the issue surrounding the cash-flow and if it was necessary to change the Audit Firm. He was disappointed that the councillors of SAHRA were not being rewarded for the work that they did.

Ms Mvulane said the S & T was mainly a bookkeeping error. She acknowledged that it meant non-compliance with the policy as there was no follow up. The disagreement on the cash-flow was a technicality in terms of compliance with the statement. She reminded Members that public entities, especially Section 3A entities, had recently adopted generally recognised accounting practices (GRAP) and some form of training and updating was necessary. The cash-flow statement showed the movement on the balance sheet and income statement. As to the change of the auditors, this was their second year in doing the audit on SAHRA. There had been no major changes to the finance staff and the audit standards had not changed: the only change was the audit manager, which meant that the manager was thorough and detailed in dealing with the issues.

Mr Ntshiqela also reiterated his disappointment with regards to the non-rewarding of the council members, and asked if there had been a response to the media with regards to the R14 million that was said to have disappeared. He wanted clarity on any general principles that had been laid down in terms of good governance and on the employees and operational costs.

Dr Fikeni replied that SAHRA had a training facility both to empower the civil society and the heritage practitioners at Rhodes University. It was the first time such a training centre had been developed in the country. He responded to the Sunday Times report concerning the R14 million; the AG had not found such a discrepancy.

Ms Van Damme said the training centre was one area where SAHRA would be empowering civil society in terms of providing skills. Management had engaged with the youth and also with traditional leaders in areas like lake Fundudzi and Mapungubwe. The declaration of sites was a lengthy process and she gave the example of Kaditshweni where she had to be involved in the public process as well. The comparison of the operational and employee costs was more evidence that a restructuring was needed. Operational costs were a result of the provincial offices that SAHRA had had. SAHRA was paying very poorly and as such was not able to attract staff of higher skill quality, as other institutions were offering better salaries.

Mr S Ntapane (UDM) said that was a very bad report because it was qualified. He asked would be done to the staff members who had not returned the receipts to reconcile the advances given to them, and if there now was an operational audit committee.

Dr Fikeni said that the SAHRA Council had met and taken a decision that the monies mentioned under fruitless and wasteful expenditure should be recovered from the respective individuals and, if there were bookkeeping errors, there should be steps to rectify them. He promised to present a more comprehensive report as to the turnaround of this situation including the non-existent procurement processes. In the following week the Audit Committee would be in place.

Ms Mvulane said that the last formal meeting of the audit committee was in December 2010. All members attended but subsequently the members had resigned. One of the reasons for the resignations was the lack of remuneration. She was the only independent member as the council could not attract people to take up the posts available. There was an action plan relating to the S&T monies and a follow up had been done and policies adopted on 14 October 2011. There would be no money written off as the majority of the staff was pensioners and still on the payroll so the money would be recouped and the bare minimum would be written off in the event that the particular staff member could not be located. As to the trade receivables, the staff was unable to retrieve the report showing the correct age analysis. There was nothing wrong with the age analysis or the information that was contained in it.

Ms Duncan said that costing an Act it must be funded, as costing was possible but getting the funds had always proved to be a challenge. She emphasised that the report must be in seven days before the day of presentation and that the presentation was not the most important as the focus was placed mainly on the annual report. She asked the cost of printing the annual report as she felt it was a waste of paper and money. She asked how DAC would handle the tourism levy.

Ms Van Damme replied that DAC would be able to deal with the issues related to the costing of the Act. The annual report was also sent to stakeholders and thus it was a marketing tool. It had cost R160 000 to produce the annual report. The tourism levy matter had been covered. SAHRA was looking into how it could begin to put value into the services that it was providing

Ms Mushwana said the unqualified status was nothing to be proud of and hope that there would not be a repeat next year. She wanted to know the time frame for the pending status of the permits (Annual Report, page 43), why nobody was being trained to be an underwater archaeologist as there was only one in the country, and wanted clarity on the transfer of staff.

Ms Van Damme said the transfer of staff did not mean the moving of people from a head office; those staff were former employees of SAHRA who were working in the provinces as the Act stated that those people could be transferred to the PHRA and since those PHRA was not in existence it was the responsibility of SAHRA to ensure that it provided for its staff The permits were meant to be dealt with by the provinces but were currently ending up on SAHRA’s desk and becoming its responsibility. Therefore the staff had been overwhelmed and this was why there was a delay in the issuing of the permits. The PHRAs had to take up that role. Underwater archaeology was a postgraduate programme involving diving. It was an expensive skill and SAHRA wanted to attract the youth. DAC had committed money for bursaries to address scarce skills. One of the staff members who worked in the underwater archaeology department had gone for training in Italy to begin to acquire the skills. The chairpersons of the PHRAs sat on the SAHRA council and had made commitments that in the new financial year they would make commitments to set-up the PHRAs.

Ms M Morutoa (ANC) wanted to know if SAHRA had anything to show and check that the provinces would carry out what they would have said they would do.

Ms Moss said the fruitless and wasteful expenditure was a serious concern. The PFMA was clear as a mechanism in assisting entities and departments and therefore there should be no excuse for any of the irregularities. She wanted an explanation from the CFO about a sum of R344 889. She wanted to see the previous organogram and the new one after the restructuring process for comparison purposes. She asked why was there no proper procurement procedure since the PFMA was clear with such procedures, wanted to know who was handling the procurement before the appointment of the procurement manager, wanted clarity on an issue of governance (page 122, note 31), asked what the trade receivables referred to were, and wanted to know if SAHRA had it own skills plan.

Ms Mvulane acknowledged that the fruitless and wasteful expenditure was unacceptable and the council had approved several policies which would bridge some of the gaps. It was not negligence on the part of management but a matter of the bookkeeping principles in terms of applying the policies and since there was no audit committee such matters were not attended to.

Ms Khumalo said that prior to the appointment of the supply chain management (SCM) manager the function fell under finance and she played an oversight role on it. The tax clearance certificate requirement was standard but in the report the reference was to purchases between R30 000 and R500 000, which according to an old policy which did not require a tax certificate but only requested the certificate if it went to tender - hence the finding. Also as a result of the outdated policy SALGA did not know that it had to go ask the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) to do the work

Ms Van Damme said each unit at SAHRA had two staff members so it would be deploying staff in the different provinces; a study was done by DAC on the scarcity of skills in the sector and the document set out the basis of what skills was required. SAHRA had a researcher who had conducted a study nationally to determine what the skills needed in the country were and the MOU with Rhodes University was in response to that study.

Dr Mbulelo Jokweni, Acting Director-General: Arts, Culture, Promotional Development, DAC, said he took the issues that had been raised seriously like the time lapse between councils, the non-remuneration of the council members. The Treasury Regulations was clear and the Department had to act quickly. There was a need to review the SAHRA Act for SAHRA to function optimally and Committee was in agreement.

Mr Vusithemba Ndima, Acting Deputy Director-General: Cultural Heritage and Preservation, updated the Committee that DAC was already working with National Treasury to correct the remuneration. National Treasury had advised it to develop a motivation for a special dispensation. The DAC had hoped to address this through the amendment bill. The special dispensation was the short term measure and the amendment bill was the long term measure. The funding to SAHRA was not appropriate but the scientific approach had been missing in the approach to National Treasury and the costing of the Act would provide scientific documentation that due diligence had been carried out as to the financial implications. In terms of the tourism levy and the Department was working towards an MOU for a tourism heritage strategy to ensure that the products of heritage and cultures was preserved and promoted.

The Chairperson reiterated that the non-payment of SAHRA council members had to be examined as a matter of urgency. She emphasized skills development and youth development. SAHRA should not retrench anybody as the nation was trying to create jobs.

 The meeting was adjourned.


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