Pan South African Language Board Oversight Visit: Reflections & Recommendations

Arts and Culture

09 September 2014
Chairperson: Ms X Tom (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Committee reflected on its oversight visit to the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB). The Committee had met with staff to hear and address their numerous complaints about the entity. Members decribed the engagement as a painful experience as there was tension between the lower staff and the management. That anger was caused by the irregular firing and hiring of employees. New recruits did not know what to do in the absence of fired experienced workers. Workers might have been fired for the CEO to appoint friends and relatives. All of this had brought the entity into disrepute.

The Committee agreed that all those responsible had to account to send a clear message to the Department of Arts and Culture and other entities. The Committee would schedule an urgent meeting with the Minister but it would closely monitor how the entity was operating until the matters are resolved.

The Committee also considered and adopted the minutes of 19, 26 August 2014 and 02 September 2014. However, the latter minute was later retracted when it came to light that it combined both the minutes of the meeting of the Committee with the South African Heritage Revenue Agency and the Iziko Museums as if they were the same entity. A time was given to the Committee Secretary to separate the minutes into two drafts minutes for consideration and adoption. Considering that the meeting of 26 August 2014 was a joint meeting, the minute was partially adopted. The full adoption was subjected to approval by the other entities that participated in the meeting.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks
The Chairperson welcomed the Members asked whether they wished to add anything to the agenda.

Mr J Mahlangu (ANC) sought clarity about why the Committee was holding a meeting instead of conducting a site visit at Robben Island as was initially planned and when this will happen.

The Chairperson replied that she was aware that Robben Island, among other institutions, had been were earmarked for an oversight could be condby the Committee. However, it was important to consider and adopt the Committee minutes before the recess break; otherwise the Committee would be in trouble. An alternative day would be arranged for the Committee to visit the Robben Island.

Mr Mahlangu said that he had some issues he wanted to raise arising from the previous meetings.

The Chairperson replied that those issues would be should be raised under the reflections of the minutes for those meetings.

Adoption of Outstanding Minutes
Committee Minutes dated 8 July 2014
The Chairperson tabled the document for consideration.

The minute was adopted without any change.

Committee Minutes dated 19 August 2014
The Chairperson tabled the document for consideration.

The minute was adopted without any further change.

Committee Minutes dated 26 August 2014
The Chairperson tabled the document for consideration.

The Chairperson noted that it was a joint meeting, which she had co-chaired. While the meeting was tricky, she was happy that it had gone well and the participants appeared to have engaged with the topic.
Members made minor changes to the document and approved it.

Committee Minutes dated 02 September 2014
The Chairperson tabled the document for consideration.

Dr P Mulder (FF+) notified the Chairperson that his name did not appear in the minute.

The Chairperson noted this. She added that the issues that the South African Heritage Revenue Agency (SAHRA) was facing needed the Committee’s attention and a further discussion.

The minute was adopted with minor changes.

Matters arising from minutes
Mr Mhalangu referred to the minutes dated 26 August 2014, sought clarity on whether the Committee could adopt a minute of joint meeting. What should happen if the Committee adopted it and the participated entities made further change?   

The Chairperson replied that the Committee would look at the issues that were raised by the Members of the Committee to see if they were all included in the minutes or if some points were incorrectly recorded.

Mr Mhalangu objected to the adoption of the minute. He raised the issue of chapter 9 entities and entities established in terms of chapter 3. These entities were entrusted with certain mandates, which differed from one another. Their mandates were confusing and clarity was needed.

Dr Mulder commented that, in politics, policies were taken serious. The Committee should craft a policy on how thise confusion should be resolved and such policy be handed to the concerned department.

The Chairperson agreed.

Mr Mhalangu referred to the meeting with SAHRA. It had transpired that all provinces (eg Mpumalanga and Eastern Cape) did not have a local hertiage agency. Despite this, all provinces were represented at national level. Who voted or appointed those representatives to present provinces where there was no structure at provincial level? The legitimacy of the leadership of the SAHRA was questionable and the Committee should look into that matter.

Mr G Grootboom (DA) sought clarity on the two meetings held on 2 September 2014. There was a meeting with the SAHRA and the Iziko Museums. Was Iziko Museums under the SAHRA? Why was SAHRA disorganised whereas the Iziko Museums was running smoothly?

Mr Mxolisi Dlamuka, Content Advisor, explained that the two entities were different as they were created by two different acts of Parliament.

Mr Grootboom said that if they were two entities, there should be two separate minutes.

Mr Dlamuka replied that he had considered this but did not have enough time to prepare two draft of the minutes. He therefore asked whether it was possible to retract the minutes for these two minutes to be adopted in subsequent meeting.

Ms V Mogotsi (ANC) said that the issue of the appointment of the CEO should be taken seriously. The Chief Financial Officer was acting as the CEO and it had transpired that there were problems with the finances. In her view, it would be a mess if she officially took over as CEO to add to her existing challenges. She suggested that the Committee should investigate and find out who had the power to appoint the CEO.  

Mr Grootboom seconded the retraction of the adoption of the minute of 02 September 2014 to allow the Committee secretary to prepare two drafts.
Dr Mulder requested the Chairperson to excuse him because he had to attend a meeting with the Speaker of Parliament.

Mr Dlamuka, with reference to the appointment of the CEO, said that the power to appoint was in the hands of the Council. Actually, the Chairperson of the Council could do so. That was no more. The member of the Council had to decide on who should head the SAHRA. He suggested that the Committee should request the minutes of the SAHRA Council to ascertain how the CEO was appointed.

The Chairperson agreed with the suggestions forwarded by Mr Dlamuka and Mr Mahlangu.

Reflection on the PanSALB Visit
The Chairperson said that the oversight to PanSALB was a painful experience. She felt pity for the two groups who were at each others throats. There was a tension between the new recruits and old recruits and the workforce was suffering from irregular appointments that turned the entity into a battle field. She was able to ease the tension between two groups because the low, middle and top workers all opened up. One worker had commented that the entity would be reduced to ashes. One thing that came up quite often was that the entity did not know its mandate. It did not know who to account to or even that it can be held to account.

Mr Grootboom said that he could feel the anger of lower staff against the management. That anger was caused by the irregular firing and hiring of employees. That irregularity was in itself sabotage. New recruits did not know what to do in the absence of fired experienced workers. Workers might have been fired for the CEO to appoint friends and relatives. The issue of nepotism should be investigated. That might be an ill-conduct that was bringing the entity to its knees.

Mr Mahlangu seconded both Mr Grootboom and the Charperson. He appreciated the method utilised by the Chairperson, which was to have the junior staff brief the Committee on their concerns. During the interactions, the staff had said that the acting CEO or Caretaker, Ms Karabo Mbhele, was the main problem. Who appointed the acting CEO? Who disbanded the old recruits? Who should be responsible for bringing the organisation into disrupte? At the meeting, Mahlangu, he had learned that the caretaker CEO was pregnant and that she would soon be taking maternity leave. A follow up was needed to find out when she would have her baby and when she would be returning. Once returned she ought to be called and account to the Committee. Finally, he asked if the Committee could be expected to wait months whilst entity was bleeding.

Mr Mahlangu said that Mr Mbilini’s resignation was an interesting one. He might have resigned because he did not agree with the caretaker’s directives. The Committee should summon him about the cause of his resignation.

Mr M Rabotapi (DA) said that he was not part of the delegation that visited the PanSALB. Drawing on what he learned from members, it was apparent that there was a lack of leadership and that was a source of friction.

Ms Mogotsi pointed out that the lack financial management was the underlying problem. There was no audit report. Money was spent according to the wish of the CEO. How could it be said that a staff complement of 160 people was so big to manage? Did the National Treasury know about this? What did the Department of Arts and Culture do about this chaos? Why were there two labour unions representing workers? The Committee should thoroughly look into these issues, especially how the issue of labour unrest should be resolved. The Committee should note that when two unions fought, blood was shed because unions were aligned to political parties.  Therefore, the Committee should call all the concerned stakeholders and address them and tell them what the Committee wanted to see them doing.  First and foremost, the Department should be held accountable every time the Committee uncovered that an entity was not performing. The Department had the power to oversee an entity.

Mr T Makondo (ANC) said that the site visit was a painful experience. It was disappointing to see the government officials do as they pleased. The Committee’s visit was of necessary and did help. Mr Zwane and those who were in the leadership of the entity should be called to account. He blamed the Minister for allowing the entity to be run in the manner it was found. He agreed that the resignation of Mr Mbilini meant something and he should be called to brief the Committee. How could an organisation fire 50% of workforce without a justifiable explanation? He did not support the restructuring of the entity. A new team was needed.

Ms N Bilankulu (ANC) said that the visit of the Committee was well received and served a good purpose. The people were happy to see the presence of the Committee and to lodge their complaints with it. The Committee should scrutinise the recruitment and selection of employees. Based on the flow of the discussions, allegations, and complaints, she came to the conclusion that the entity was fully-structured managers. All were managers. Manager managed managers. The lower workforce was missing in the picture. No union seemed to care about workers because these two unions were representing managers. One union was said to represent the old recruits whereas the other one was representing the new recruits. Both were doing nothing. She suggested that the Committee should visit at least three other provinces to see how they were operating. She seconded the idea of calling the former CEO, acting CEO and Mr Mbilini to brief the Committee and be held to account if it woul transpired that they are source of disruption.

Ms A Mastebi (EFF) seconded the comments made by the previous Members.

Mr Mhalangu said that the Committee could not wait for the acting CEO to come back from maternity leave. Rather, it should seek a solution to these problems as soon as possible. There were workers who were appointed with Mr Zwane and others who were appoint by the caretaker. If they were appointed or recruited informally, Mr Zwane and Ms Mbhele must be held accountable. All people who brought the entity into disrupte should pay money back if such disruption had caused any financial loss. Another concern was the flouting of the law or ruling of the courts. One could not defy a court decision. This would result in contempt of court. The Committee should hold all those responsible to account to send a clear message to the Department and other entities. The budget should be scrutinised and the Committee should not leave any stone unturned.

The Chairperson agreed that the Committee should use its power vested in it to to stop the problem. It would come up with concrete and comprehensive recommendations to be submitted to the Minister. The entity was spending a lot of money on legal fees at such an extent it could not afford to pay transport fees. The Committee would hear out the staff that were dismissed, suspended or hired. The Committee was supposed to meet with the Minister in the following term but an arrangement should be made to meet with him as soon as possible. The Committee would closely monitor how the entity was operating until the matters are resolved.

The meeting was adjourned.


No related documents

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: