The South African Heritage Resources and Agency (SAHRA) and the Iziko Museums briefed the Committee on their mandates, performance, strategic goals, management structures, revenues and expenditures, challenges and successes.
Prior to November 2012, the SAHRA had been facing some difficulties. A turnaround strategy had been commissioned to address the historic negative audit outcomes and performance. The strategy included a financial management improvement plan, a property strategy, organisational development, and a forensic audit. At the time of presentation, the turnaround strategy was in progress. For the 15 targets set for the quarter that was under review, 53% of the targets had been achieved, 27% had been partially achieved, and 20% not achieved. The SAHRA was challenged by limited resources. There was also low staff morale due mainly to inadequate office space, limited human resources, and a lack of incentives.
Members were concerned that the SAHRA lacked effective management and that it needed a Chief Executive Officer to be appointed as soon as possible. Members sought clarity on the securing or registration of the SAHRA properties, on the overspending of budgets or financial mismanagement, allegations of nepotism and corruption, the usage of old site names, and the resignation of the former CEO.
Iziko Museums described the extensive range of its social and natural history collections, and said these had a great and positive influence on young people. There were various programmes targeting them. Through education, it had promoted indigenous knowledge, ensured children and youth were equipped with knowledge, prepared worksheets for learners, and offered internships. Research projects were very important to the museum.
The challenges which Iziko Museums were facing included increasing post-retirement medical liability, implementation of GRAP 103 (accounting for heritage assets), unethically collected human remains, an ageing mobile bus to do outreach programmes, a planetarium upgrade, security -- because of highly sophisticated international thieves, and conservation and digitisation of Iziko collections. Other challenges involved facilities management, operating budgets, skilled staff, institutional capacity for fund-raising, audience development and diversification, developing the Iziko website as a knowledge resource, developing the thematic plan for Iziko exhibitions, and repatriation of human remains.
Members expressed appreciation for the work of the management team, and noted that the organisation was under-funded. They sought clarity on positions that were vacant, and the level of expenditure on compensation of employees. Iziko was also asked what needed to be done on the policy regarding the repatriation of human remains, and about security matters related to incidents of stealing. How could the state protect the artists and their work?
The Chairperson said she was chairing a new Committee that needed to understand the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA), which the Committee regarded as a vital institution that ought to be taken seriously by the Members, and by the Agency itself. The Committee was mandated by the Constitution to conduct oversights and it was engaging with the SAHRA for this reason. SAHRA should enlighten the Committee as to how far it had gone in achieving its objectives, and how the Committee could assist. The Committee would assess whether SAHRA’s employees were carrying out their duties to the best of their abilities.
Mr Fanie Makhanyi, Chairperson of the SAHRA Council, said that the purpose of the presentation was to introduce the SAHRA to the Portfolio Committee and provide an update on its progress. He provided an introductory overview of the SAHRA, its mandate, its organisational structure and its programmes, its performance in 2014/15 financial year, and its challenges.
Mr Makhanyi said that the SAHRA was established in terms of the National Heritage Resources Act 25 of 1995, which outlined an integrated interactive system for the management of the national heritage resources. The SAHRA played a critical role in the identification, conservation, protection and promotion of our heritage resources for the present and future generations.
The SAHRA had an accounting authority – the Council – made up of at least nine, but more than 15, members appointed by the Minister, of which nine members must respectively represent each of the provinces of South Africa. The chief executive officer (CEO) was the head of the Council. At the time of the presentation, the office of the CEO was unoccupied. It had a workforce of 82 employees, of whom 57 were permanent, 16 temporary, and nine interns.
The SAHRA had five strategic goals to achieve its mandate. These were heritage resources management, research and education; marketing and promotion; stakeholders and partnership; sustainable development; and corporate governance and organisational design.
Mr Makyanyi described the projects that had been completed and were in progress related to declarations, exhumations and burials, rehabilitation and conservation, historic women’s graves, sites of national significance, and policy formulation. He provided an update on the status of the Provincial Heritage Resources Agencies (PHRA).
The SAHRA had 36 properties, consisting of three burial sites, three open sites, 14 monuments and 15 buildings scattered around the country.
Prior to November 2012, the SAHRA was facing some difficulties. A turnaround strategy had been commissioned to address the historic negative audit outcomes and performance. The strategy included a financial management improvement plan, a property strategy, organisational development, and a forensic audit. At the time of presentation, the turnaround strategy was in progress. For the 15 targets set for the quarter that was under review, 53% of the targets had been achieved, 27% had been partially achieved, and 20% not achieved.
The budget for the 2014/2015 financial year was R52 853 000, and expenditure for the year to date stood at R17 447 008 (30%). The budget had been overspent in the goods and services category (48%), largely due to the audit related costs, insurance and travel. The budget was extremely inadequate, and stringent austerity measures had been implemented in a number of areas, such as travel, catering and attendance of conferences.
The SAHRA was challenged by limited resources. There was also low staff morale due mainly to inadequate office space, limited human resources, and a lack of incentives. This situation was also hindering its support for the PHRAs.
The Chairperson sought further clarification on the overspending on goods and services, and the inadequacy of the budget.
Ms V Mogotsi (ANC) sought clarification on why the CEO position was vacant, whether the SAHRA was creating jobs and whether the properties were registered in the name of the SAHRA.
Mr G Grootboom (DA) asked about the agency’s turnaround strategies, the securing of property in circumstances where they were privately-owned, and what the SAHRA were intending to do in relation to some places that were rich in heritage, situated in Limpopo. He wanted to know why the expenditure was not aligned with the achievements, and how the issues of understaffing would be addressed.
Mr J Mahlangu (ANC) said that the CEO was the accountable officer, and the position was vacant. Who could be held accountable in the absence of the CEO? He sought clarifications on overspending under goods and services and why the SAHRA was being dragged into the media. He asked about its involvement in the Public Protector’s report, financial mismanagement, whether the SAHRA was suffering from nepotism and corruption, the issue of the provinces that were not represented, declaring District Six as a heritage place, and why the changed old names were used in the presentation. Were the old names retained for heritage purposes? He added that the Auditor General’s report had indicated there was a problem of overspending on travelling and hotel expenses, and referred to the missing of R10 million.
Dr P Mulder (FF+) seconded Mr Mahlangu on the issue of using old names, and said that the names were confusing. He sought further clarity on the projects in progress, as well as the deferred project revenue of R4 504 708. He asked whether the properties were hired or leased, and raised the issue of the CEO that had been featured in the media.
With reference to the CEO, Mr Makhanyi explained in detail how the problem had started, up until the CEO resigned. The recruitment of Mr K P Mokwena initially started in December 2013, through advertisements. He was among the short-listed candidates and was appointed in March. He subsequently took office in April 2014. It transpired that he had no ability to carry out his duties as the CEO. He was asked to provide a report on how he would take the SAHRA forward, and how the objectives of the SAHRA could be achieved. The report should have been submitted to the Chairperson of the Council by 13 April, but this was later extended to 8 May 2014. However, nothing had even been delivered by June 2014. The Council arranged for the Chairperson to attend a workshop on cooperative governance in July. The CEO did not attend it. A meeting was arranged for the Council to sit with the CEO on 1 August 2014 and discuss how the issue of the CEO’s performance could be resolved. However, the CEO had submitted a letter of resignation and stated that the SAHRA’s vision and objectives were difficult for him to achieve.
With reference to an absence of an accountable officer, Mr Makhanyi responded that the Chief Financial Officer was acting in the capacity of the CEO for the next three months, or until a suitable candidate had been found.
On the issue of overspending, Mr Makhanyi said that the goods and services budget was overspent because of insurances, travel and hotels, and the appointment of a qualified accountant. The SAHRA, for example, had paid R2 million on auditing fees. A qualified accountant was needed because the previous budget had been incorrect and was not aligned with programmes. Due to the inadequate budget, the SAHRA had had to reduce its workforce. The travel budget was high because of trips made to the SAHRA satellite office, based in Pretoria.
All the problems highlighted by Members of the Committee were being addressed in terms of turnaround strategy. The SAHRA was resolved to limit travelling and had opted to use conference calls in order to minimise costs. It was also minimising the budget on infrastructure-related activities and cutting down on other expenses. More budget was needed in order to deliver, however.
With reference to the property management, he indicated that the SAHRA needed property developers, because the current team had no property-related skills or expertise. Properties were registered under the name of the SAHRA, and the buildings were not in a habitable condition. Most of the SAHRA projects were about to begin.
With reference to the job creation, Mr Makhanyi accepted that the SAHRA had failed to come with programmes that could create jobs because it was collaborating with companies, instead of collaborating with communities.
With reference to the challenge of supporting the PHRA, Mr Makhanyi said that the problem was that the PHRA were provincial structures, controlled by the MEC and mostly funded by the provincial government.
With reference to District Six, Mr Dumisani Sibayi, Executive, Heritage Resources Management, said that District Six covered a vast area and if it were declared as a heritage place, some of the buildings could be affected. It had not yet been decided which area could be declared as District Six.
With regards to the R10 million, the Auditor General’s report indicated that the money was missing, but it was not missing in real terms. The person who could have provided clear information on how it had been spent had been sick at the time of auditing. This “irregular expenditure” had been resolved in the subsequent audit, because some of the projects were still running.
The Chairperson said that the Auditor General had his own code of ethics. If the Auditor General came to do his work, he should find all the information ready. If it was not, he would charge extra money for the extra and unnecessary work.
On the issue of the media, Mr Makhanyi responded that the SAHRA had written an article to explain what had happened, to clear the SAHRA’ s name in relation to the allegations made by the CEO. He rejected the accusations of nepotism and corruption, saying he could provide an affidavit of historical employment. He commented that there would indeed be both happy and disgruntled employees. The question was how to deal with the disgruntled.
Chairperson thanked Mr Makhanyi for information provided, and indicated that the Committee had a keen interest in the forensic investigation.
Iziko Museums Presentation
The Members of the Committee were welcomed to the museum by Mr Dikgang Moopeloa, Chairperson of the Iziko Museums Council. After an introductory note, he handed over to the Chairperson of the Committee, who thanked him for his welcome and said that the purpose of the visit was to carry out the constitutional mandate of oversight.
Ms Rooksana Omar, CEO: Iziko Museums of South Africa, said that the purpose of her presentation was to assess the programme performance of the organisation. The presentation focussed on an introductory overview, Iziko’s guiding documents, legislative and other mandates, leadership and governance; vision, mandate and strategic objectives, its scope, collections and impacts; sustainability, partnerships, challenges, and achievements.
Iziko Museums had both constitutional and legislative mandates. They employed 246 dedicated staff and had 50 interns, postgraduate researchers, volunteers, associates and “friends” organisations. The mandates of Iziko Museums were:
- To enable growth and research to generate a new knowledge;
- Enrich and enable education and public programmes;
- Develop and execute exhibitions;
- Preservation and conservation of the national estate.
Iziko Museums were in a process of transformation in respect of landscape. It was moving from a one-way monologue or museum as a teacher approach, to dialogue and visitor empowerment.
Ms Omar said that the Iziko Museums had social history collections, including pre-colonial and colonial archaeology, indigenous knowledge/ethnology, oral history, ancient and classical culture, ceramics, textiles, furniture, glass, woodworking tools, numismatics and philately, silver, toys, transport collections, weaponry and the William Fehr collection. Art collections included modern and historical paintings and sculptures, contemporary art, prints and drawings, photography and new media.
The Iziko Museums had natural history collections related to marine biology, marine vertebrates, marine mammals, palaeontology, and rocks and minerals.
The Iziko Museums had a great and positive influence on young people. There were various programmes targeting them. Through education, it had promoted indigenous knowledge, ensured children and youth were equipped with knowledge, prepared worksheets for learners, and offered internships. Research projects were very important to the museum.
There had been a total of 528 008 visitors in 2012/2013, whereas in 2013/2014 the number of visitors had decreased to 486 590.
The Iziko Museums revenue was R74.9 million in the 2012/13 financial year and R80 million in the 2013/14 financial year. In 2012/13, expenditure was R71.7 million, whereas in 2013/14, it was R86.1 million. The revenue breakdown was provided. The Iziko Museums were heavily dependent on the government grant (74%). Among the partners, Ms Omar noted that the National Research Foundation (NRF) was generous in supporting scientific research projects and pointed out that the Iziko Museums had developed a postgraduate course with the University of Cape Town (UCT). She remarked that no museum in the world ever made a profit, however, unless it engaged in fundraising support its income.
The challenges the Iziko Museums were facing included increasing post-retirement medical liability, implementation of GRAP 103, unethically collected human remains, an ageing mobile bus to do outreach programmes, a planetarium upgrade, security -- because of highly sophisticated international thieves, and conservation and digitisation of Iziko collections. Other challenges involved facilities management, operating budgets, skilled staff, institutional capacity for fund-raising, audience development and diversification, developing the Iziko website as a knowledge resource, developing the thematic plan for Iziko exhibitions, and repatriation of human remains.
Ms Omar said that irrespective of these challenges, the Iziko Museums could claim the following achievements: It had professional and committed staff; unqualified audits for seven years; strong schools’ programmes; interesting and attractive public programmes; a number of awards for their museums and work; highly profiled scientists; 21 research publications in a year; and 13 temporary exhibitions.
Chairperson said that the presentation was interesting and heart-warming. Iziko Museums was a place where people gathered to tell their stories, and share their pains. She sought clarity on the positions that were vacant and why the figures of visitors were dropping, and commented that the Iziko Museums had a strong leadership to be proud of.
Dr Mulder appreciated the Iziko Museums’ unqualified audit for seven years, and remarked that his dream was that all museums should be free. He sought clarification on the expenditure under the compensation of employees, and asked whether it was possible to cut down on the figures.
Ms Mogotsi gave credit for the leadership of Iziko Museums, and ask for clarity on the exact role of the Council in achieving the Iziko Museums’ objectives.
The Chairperson asked what intervention should take place in relation to the national policy on human remains.
Mr M Robatapi (DA) also sought clarity on the policy regarding the repatriation of human remains and on security matters related to the incidents of stealing. He asked how the state could protect the artists and their work.
Ms Denise Crous, Executive Director, Operations: Iziko, with reference to the salaries of personnel, said that they were in accordance with the core budget. She said that Iziko Museums had staff shortages because they had sacrificed the higher-level posts to save money, in order to cover the salaries in the lower positions. Iziko had five doctoral programmes that were being funded. Since the Iziko had an inadequate budget, the management had to be creative in cutting costs and finding ways to use the resources it had.
With reference to fewer visitors, Ms Crous said that when there was good weather, people liked to go out of town, to such places as Table Mountain or Robben Island. The Iziko was full when it was a windy day. Another measure used to attract visitors was to collaborate with Metrorail for the provision of free rides. People from disadvantaged areas would then be able to visit the Museum.
With reference to the human remains policy, Mr Moopolea said that there were some issues that needed contextualisation, such as post-mortems, which had to go through a number of stages. An issue was the problematic legislation that was adopted in 1996, which defined human remains as an object, but did not refer to a dead person as human remains. This ambiguity in the law needed to be revised. Human remains, as objects, were difficult to be handed over. There was also a need for legislation that regulated the repatriation of human remains from outside South Africa.
The museums were working in the context of old customs and practices, which was to preserve and conserve the national estate. The museum was a custodian of international symbols. The culture did not present the norms and customs. The norms, customs and cultures ought to be regulated under a policy to avoid conflict.
He said that research projects were vital to the work of the museum, and the partnership would be extended to include Wits University and an American-based university.
For the museum to be able to keep its precious objects, there ought to be effective securitisation. He concluded by saying that even though the museums did not have much resources, they were achieving much.
The Chairperson said she had hoped to find the Director General: Department of Arts and Culture, with them. The Department needed to look into the matter of the budget. The Committee was just an oversight body, which did not have money. It would, however, communicate the museum’s challenges to the concerned bodies. She thanked the Iziko Museums’ delegation.
Tour and closure
Mr Moopeloa invited the Committee to take a short tour of museum, after which the site meeting was adjourned.
- PC Arts: Site meetings with SAHRA & Iziko Musueums on their mandates, performance, strategic goals, and successes 1
- PC Arts: Site meeting at South African Heritage Resources Agency and assessment of programme performance 1
- PC Arts: Site meeting at South African Heritage Resources Agency and assessment of programme performance 2
- PC Arts: Site meetings with SAHRA & Iziko Musueums on their mandates, performance, strategic goals, and successes 2
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