National Heritage Council, SA State Theatre, National Museum Bloemfontein on 2015 Annual and Strategic Plan

Arts and Culture

28 April 2015
Chairperson: Ms X Tom (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee was briefed by the National Heritage Council (NHC), National Museum (NM), and South Africa State Theatre (SAST) on their respective 2015/16 Annual Performance Plans (APP) and Strategic Plans.

The NHC noted that the South African definition of heritage had been tweaked slightly from the UNESCO definition, to suit South African circumstances, and emphasised the living collective memory of people, to inform the present about the past and equip successive generations to fashion their future, to create a sense of identity and assure continuity resulting from conscious choices. The programmes were based on three pillars of heritage, co-production and project alignment. The NHC had received an unqualified audit. The six strategic goals of the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) were carried over. Some of the goals included creating an internally recognised heritage organisation on the African content, increasing knowledge and awareness about South Africa’s heritage by South Africa’s citizens, and promoting social cohesion and tolerance. Most of the targets had been achieved. The financial figures from 2012 were tabled and it was noted that quite a large portion of the funding went to personnel. Members were appreciative of the work being done, but asked about the overspending in the last year, the large increases in compensation of employees, and more detail on certain aspects of the presentation. Members asked why some information was repeated and wanted more proof of training activities. One Member repeated his concerns about destruction and defacing of statues and said that some of the current debates were very one-sided and were not taking the history of the Afrikaaner people into consideration. He made the point that without people understanding history, and the differentiation between history and politics, it would be difficult to reconcile people. Members also asked how the NHC would fill vacancies, who was dealing with repatriation of remains, and questions of funding and provincial spread. They also asked for more detail and explanations on King Dinuzulu, and what social dialogue meant.

The National Museum of Bloemfontein used the definitions of the International Council of Museums to define its functions, but again with a refinement to cater for the specific South African situation. The Museum had nine departments, whose work was described and its strategic goals, activities and programmes were detailed. Internal controls were in place in regard to monitoring of budget and expenditure and internal audit functions, and it was noted that 88% of the budget came from the Department and 78% was spent on compensation of employees. Challenges included lack of appropriate storage facilities for heritage collections, the high expertise required to evaluate the collections and funding that was needed to undertake the exercise. The National Art Bank was a new initiative, under the Mzansi Golden Economy, and the pilot had started in April 2015. It was intended to support South African artists through purchase of South African artworks. Members asked why the NM was outsourcing, and whether it had a succession plan in place, as many of its employees were nearing retirement age. Many Members commended its oral history initiatives. They asked about visitor numbers, and why there seemed to be slow progress in gender transformation in the Council, as also the policy for recruiting those with disabilities. Members also wanted to know about the role of the provincial government, and how valuations of collections wee done, and also whether the new Council was likely to be appointed by the time the previous one's term ended, and what would be done in the meantime if it was not.

The SAST was working from a 34-year old complex, and had 94 internal productions, with 574 performances. It held three Annual Festivals for Youth, Women, and South African Performing Arts. It had an operational budget of R89 million. Its key priorities were described as facilitation of social cohesion, stimulating economic development through performing arts, supporting the performing arts curriculum in Basic Education, and ensuring transformation of artists, new audiences and providing a collaborative platform for the performing arts, reinforcing cultural diversity and identity. Its main challenges related to funding. 29% of its revenue was self-generated, the remainder coming by way of a Departmental grant. On average, it attracted about 150 000 to its productions. Its main focus was on local content, themes and topics affecting South Africans. Full descriptions were given of the programmes, budgets and outcome indicators. Most of its targets had been achieved. Its challenges included dwindling audiences coupled with changing audience entertainment needs, the geographic spread of target communities, an unrealistic budget that did not take account of increased expenses since 2001, the fact that annual inflation superceded funding increments, and lean staff components. The building also had high maintenance costs. Achievements from 2012 to 2015 included 20 plays for 20 years of freedom. In 2013/14, the SAST achieved an unqualified audit. Members commented that the common theme was lack of funding and the need to find new audiences and questioned how leadership was trying to find solutions. They asked why the targets were not increasing, year on year, and asked for more detail on the surveys. They were concerned that although mention was made of an amount of R99 million promised, it was not yet in the SAST coffers. 

Meeting report

National Heritage Council: 2015 Annual Performance Plan and Strategic Plan presentation

Adv Sonwabile Mancotywa, Chief Executive Officer, National Heritage Council, defined heritage as “what is preserved from the past, as the living collective memory of a people, not only to inform the present about the past but also equip successive generations to fashion their future. It is what creates a sense of identity and assures rootedness and continuity, so that what is brought out by dynamism of culture is not changed for its own sake, but is a result of the people’s conscious choice to create a better life”.

He said that the definition was different from that provided by UNESCO and represented the South Africa understanding of what heritage meant.

Adv Mancotywa noted that the National Heritage Council (NHC or the Council) programmes were centred on three pillars: namely, heritage, co-production of projects, and NHC projects alignment. He noted the legislative mandate which derived from section 4 of the National Heritage Council Act 11 of 1999.

Adv Mancotywa noted that the NHC received an unqualified audit for the last period. He also noted that the six strategic goals of the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) informed and were linked to the NHC’s strategic goals, and thus highlighted expected outputs in the next three years. Strategic outcomes-orientated goals included:
(i) an internally recognised heritage organisation on the African content
(ii) increased knowledge and awareness about South Africa’s heritage by South Africa’s citizens
(iii) social cohesion and tolerance.

With regard to the 2015/16 annual targets, the indicators demonstrated that most of the expected performance levels for 2015/16 were achieved. He tabled the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) estimates, with total expenses and surplus/deficit, from 2011/12 to 2017/18. Total expenses in 2014/15 were R55 719  000. The budget was allocated to personnel costs (administration and core business), administrative costs, compliance costs, heritage projects, and funded projects.

In conclusion, Adv Mancotywa stated that the strategy was driving the NHC towards continued relevance, responsiveness and impact on the sector. It recognised the resource limitations and sought to optimise their application. The Council, CEO and management would oversee its full implementation and regularly account to Parliament on the implementation of the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) and the Annual Performance Plan (APP).


Mr J Mahlangu (ANC) appreciated the presentation and said that the NHC was doing well. Targets that were expected to be aligned to the SMART principles, as emphasised by the Auditor-General (AG) were done correctly. He sought clarity on some matters arising from the submitted report, but which were not mentioned in the presentation. Referring to page 12, he sought clarity on expenditure for the last financial year, for it appeared there was overspending of R17 million, and even with the NHC’s revised estimate R2.2 million was over spent, and he questioned why and how this had come about. He noted that for compensation of employees, growth was noticeable as from 2011, and in 2014, there was a huge increase in the amounts for compensation of personnel. He sought clarity on these developments.

Referring to page 14, he said that the data was not easily readable for Members. With reference to page 15, he sought clarity on the human resources strategic objective, and asked what were the "five days" incidents. On slide 16, he sought clarity on expected performance levels of the 2012/13 financial year, and asked what "prescribed times" meant, and wanted more detail on the remark about payment of credit within 30 days. In respect of page 21, he remarked that information provided on that page was provided also somewhere else. The same was true also of pages 22 and 27, where the same information was repeated.

He referred also to page 28 (quarterly performance), and sought clarity on the second activities in respect of a number of training objectives, asking what evidence the NHC could provide to show that those activities or training activities actually took place. These uncertainties made it difficult to understand, engage upon and evaluate the performance of the NHC.

Dr P Mulder (FF+), referred to comments on defacing and destroying statues, and commented that they formed part and parcel of memorabilia and history. There were campaigns to encourage the bringing down of statues, only to replace them with the icons of liberation struggle. However, he asked what this meant about respect for the Afrikaaner history? He briefly narrated the history of the Afrikaaner people in relation to others in South Africa, and concluded that the statues were important in understanding the South African history holistically. Nothing could change history. Black and white should not be divided on the basis of emotions. That would be dangerous and instead, it was imperative to teach all South Africans about their shared history. It was difficult to argue in support of the statue matter if people did not understand history, and also did not understand the differentiation between history and politics. He asked how could the country be reconciled if people were mobilised against each other?

The Chairperson sought clarity on challenges, demographics, and policies. Citing the instances where the large bulk of money went to personnel, she asked what this had meant for the other programmes. She also asked how the NHC intended to address the 23 vacancies.

Mr Mahlangu sought clarity on the issue of repatriation of remains and asked whether the NHC would be repatriating the remains of many South Africans, currently buried all over the world. He also wanted more information on the issue of receiving funding from Lotto. He also sought clarity on the role of the entity at provincial level.

Adv Mancotywa answered the questions in reverse order. On the demographic spread, he noted that all projects were advertised in all provinces. There were certain prescribed requirements that had to be met for approval of applications for funding, and it might be that many people from one province did not meet the requirements. This was often due to a lack of knowledge. To ensure all provinces were represented, the NHC would conduct a study to determine why applicants from a certain province could not meet requirements. Principles of representivity and equity were strictly applied.

Adv Mancotywa said that repatriation of remains was one of the issues that was dealt with by the DAC and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. The role of the NHC was restricted to crafting a policy on how heritage resources, including remains, documents, and audio-visuals, could be repatriated. Once a policy was formulated, the implementation was a matter for the DAC.

On the issue of history and defacing of statues, Adv Mancotywa acknowledged that Dr Mulder had made a good point. People had not been educated about memorials and their importance to South Africa’s history for future generations. History usually talked about a particular epoch and its evolution. Failing to educate all people on all aspects of the rich history of South Africa would result in compromising the reconciliation achieved. He regarded destroying of statues as being aggressive against history, for indeed the facts of history would never change.

Adv Mancotywa agreed, with hindsight, that the report was confusing and not readable to an ordinary person and would ensure that the manner of reporting was improved. In regard to the evidence, he replied that evidence was available but in some instances was classified.

On the issue of surplus/deficit that was recorded in 2012/13, Adv Mancotywa replied that the figures that were provided were average figures, but not actual figures. Referring to page 10, he stated that the institution faced a challenge with regard to internal controls that led to over-expenditure. In response to this, the CEO and Council came up with a turn-around strategy, to ensure that over expenditure would not occur again. The NHC had been working on negative finances. The office space and equipment also contributed to aggravation of the deficit. In 2011/2012 financial year, R51 million was transferred, but the budget had been increasing since, for instance, an increase in compensation of personnel was inevitable; in an organisation that relied so heavily on intensity of labour, the increases in salary would be sharply felt. In relation to trying to mobilise resources, the NHC included fundraising in its mandate. It did so by attracting people from outside the entity, especially from the private sector. However, many private sector bodies were withdrawing from funding the NHC, once it was discovered that it was a government entity.

Adv Mancotywa stated that the NHC had a panel of experts who came with proposals for national days, because the heritage importance of such days was not always well appreciated. South Africa did not use a participatory approach that encouraged people to adopt a particular day as a national day so that they could, from the outset, understand the meaning of that national day. National days should therefore go hand in hand with education. I, it was very difficult to maintain them because they did not speak to the majority of the people, who could not interpret their meaning. A new approach that "speaks to the people" should be adopted – so that the living memorials should have a potential to connect with the majority of the people. He added that the issues around statues and monuments could be resolved by the DAC, and not NHC, as statues did not fall within its mandate. Transformation on the basis of constitutional values was a huge problem that South Africa was facing. He reminded Dr Mulder that former President Thabo Mbeki’s definition of the term "Africa" included "Afrikaaners".

Mr Mahlangu sought clarity on whether the NHC knew that the tomb of King Dinuzulu, who died and was apparently buried in Mpumalanga, was empty, and that his children remained there until today.

The Chairperson agreed with Mr Mahlangu and reiterated that this document was very confusing and difficult to follow. Some points were neither certain nor specific. She referred to page 28 of the report, and sought clarity on issues arising from number of initiatives undertaken by the NHC which lacked measurable indicators asking how then the NHC would know how they were achieved.

Mr Sakiwo Tyiso, Chief Director: Governance: DAC responded that the report was prepared in accordance with the template provided by the Auditor-General and National Treasury, which required that certain facts be repeated, but they were repeated for that purpose.

Adv Mancotywa replied that he knew little about King Dinuzulu and he would need some time to research the matter and come back to the Committee. He said that there was also reference to another King who had told his followers that he should not be buried after death, and it was not clear what happened to his remains.

The Chairperson sought clarity on what "social dialogue" meant and whether that was dialogue between or within communities. She also asked who should come to the table of dialogue? These were matters that were not given sufficient attention, to determine who should engage in social dialogue and she asked that NHC should find answers to these questions and submit a report to the Committee.

National Museum (NM), Bloemfontein Annual and Strategic Plan briefing

Mr Rick Nuttall, Chief Executive Officer, National Museum of Bloemfontein, took the Committee through the presentation. He noted that the National Museum (NM) used the definition of ICOM

He noted that the NM used the definition of International Council of Museums (ICOM) as a guide to its activities and functions. He defined a museum as "a non-profit making, permanent institution in the service of society and of its development, and open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits, for purpose of study, education and enjoyment, material evidence of people and their environment." This definition would be redefined in line with African ethos. Against this background, the NM performed its conservation, research and educational functions in a broad spectrum of disciplines in the Natural Sciences, Human Sciences and Fine Arts.

The Natural Sciences division had nine departments, namely, Acarology (mites and ticks), Arachnology (spiders), Botany, Entomology, Herpetology, Mammalogy, Karoo palaeontology, and Florisbad Quaternary Research. The Human Science and Visual Arts division had six departments including Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural History, Rock Arts, Collections Management: Humanities and Oliewenhuis Art Museum.

Mr Nuttall noted the NHC’s strategic goals and objectives as well as activities, crafted in terms of three programmes, namely Administration, Business development and Public engagement, which were all linked to and aligned with government priorities.

In relation to the financial statements, Mr Nuttall stated that there were internal controls in place in regard to monitoring of budget and expenditure, registering assets, evaluating risks management strategy and fraud prevention, and conducting internal audit functions. With regards to budget and trends, he noted that the NM budget was R24.4 million for 2010/11 financial year, R36.3 for 2014/15 financial year, and was expected to increase to R47.9 for 2017/18 financial year. 88% of the Museum's budget came from the DAC and 78% of the budget was spent on the compensation of personnel.

The challenges that were noted included lack of appropriate storage facilities for heritage collections. That challenge had become critical given that space was extremely limited for most collections. Heritage assets needed high expertise to be evaluated. Funding was needed to undertake the exercise.

Speaking to the National Art Bank, he noted that this was an initiative of the Mzansi Golden Economy (MGE) initiative which was in a pilot phase as from April 2015. It was created to support South African artists through purchase of South African artworks.


The Chairperson sought clarity on why NM was outsourcing and on whether it had a succession plan in place as it seemed that many people would soon be retiring. She appreciated the initiative of oral history which was included in the NM activities.

Mr T Makondo (ANC) sought clarity on the issue of visitors’ turnaround, and asked about employment equity in the management with regard to gender equity transformation, and wondered why this seemed to be moving at such a slow pace. He asked what had been the contribution of visitors to the NM’s resources.

Mr M Rabotapi (DA) sought clarity on whether people with disabilities were being recruited.

Dr Mulder sought clarity on the role of the provincial government and how it assisted the NM in its operations.

Ms V Mogotsi (ANC) welcomed the presentation and appreciated the oral history initiative. She remarked that the NM should focus more on its governance. She too sought clarity on the recruitment of people with disability, women representivity in the Council, how much the outsourcing company was being paid, and on whether outsourcing was due to the issue of lack of human capacity.

Mr Mahlangu appreciated the flow of the presentation. Referring to page 15 of main report and on the APP for 2012/13, he sought clarity on the deficit of R6 million.  He further asked what the term "Batho" in the phrase “Batho residents” meant. He asked how value was ascribed to individual items in a collection, particularly when it was something like a fly.

The Chairperson sought clarity on whether the NM would have new council by May 2015 or what would happen when its mandate came to an end. She said the question was put to the DAC.

Ms N Bilankulu (ANC) sought clarity on the NM structure, particularly on why there was no black person in the top management, also asking about any contingency measures that were put in place to replace those people who would be retiring soon, and on how many women were sitting on the Council.

Mr Nuttall replied that there was a succession plan in place: Young recruits were being trained by older staff so that those young people could gain the required expertise and experience, and thus take over when the old staff departed. The challenges were embedded in recruiting young people with skills in the museum field.

On the issue of transformation and gender equity, he invited the Committee to visit the NM and see how the NM was transformed. He acknowledged that there was a slow pace in the transformation because people were passionate with their work and were not leaving so very few vacancies arose. The majority of his staff had been working for the company for more than 30 years. Young black people lacked interest in museum work – mainly because the rate of compensation was rather low. He cited an example of a young black Master's graduate in Museum Studies who left the NM to join another company, despite the fact that he was being offered a position unrelated to his area of expertise. It seemed that the NM was wasting its time and resources to educate these people  because they did not contribute to the NM development once they had graduated. Another challenge in recruiting people could have something to do with the geographical location of Bloemfontein. Generally, a major challenge faced by NM with respect to recruiting young graduates was that it could not pay a competitive salary.

Mr Nuttall explained that the idea behind oral history was promotion of inclusivity and, at its initial stage; the focus was on the births and their significance.

On the issue of linkage between NM and people with disabilities, Mr Nuttall responded that the NM was collaborating with blind institutions to ensure that people with disability could also access the NM. The NM had developed a good relationship with two schools with learners with disabilities.

Mr Nuttall confirmed that the term of the Council would be expiring in May 2015. There was a process in motion, but it was slow. It was highly likely that the new Council could be appointed in June 2015.

On the issue of discrepancy, Mr Nuttall stated that it was very difficult to determine the number of items that could be collected. The NM tried to look at historical data. The discrepancies derived from levels of its targets and other various factors that were looked at to determine the validity of the data.

In relation to the question on the term "Batho", Mr Nuttall explained that Batho was a residential area with a historical value, and people in that area had a long story to tell which went back to colonial times. The NM was interested in conducting further research in Batho.

Mr Nuttall admitted that it was not an easy task to attach a value to collected items.

Mr Mahlangu advised Mr Nuttall to approach the National Treasury and the Auditor General to get their guidance on value.

Dr Leon Jacobson: Deputy Chair: NM Council, stated that there three out of nine members of the Council were women. He said that it was not going to be easy to appoint a new Council by May 2015 and that there would be a problem in the management, because a new council with new people would be appointed.

Mr Tyiso added that the representation of women in the Council depended on or was determined by how many women showed interest in sitting in the Council. For the appointment of the new Council, the process for application started in February 2015. In three weeks the advertisement would be placed in the newspapers. The implication of the slow process in appointing a new council was that there would be a vacuum in the leadership. To avoid this vacuum, the Minister was contemplating either extending the current Council’s time in office, or temporarily appointing an accounting officer until a new Council was appointed.

The Chairperson stated that the DAC should report to the Committee how it would proceed, but the conduct of the DAC on the issue of a new Council was unacceptable.

Briefing by the South African State Theatre

Ms Barbara Masekele, Chairperson of Council of the South African State Theatre, said that the State Theatre (SAST) was still young, but had huge responsibilities. It was working in a 34-year old complex. It had 94 internal productions, with 574 performances. It held three Annual Festivals for Youth, Women, and South African Performing Arts. It had an operational budget of R89  367  000 and R99  537  000 CAPEX.

The key priorities included facilitation of social cohesion through performing arts, stimulating economic development in performing arts, supporting performing arts curriculum in Basic Education, ensuring transformation of the performing arts, introduction of new audiences to performing arts, providing collaborative platform for the performing arts and reinforcing cultural diversity and identify through performing arts. The main challenges were related to funding.

Mr A Sekhabi, Acting Chief Executive Officer. SAST. noted that 29% of the revenue of R89  367  000 for 2014/15 financial year budget was self-generated revenue and the remaining was the DAC grant funding. An average annual audience was 152 764. The main focus was on local content, themes and topics affecting South Africans.

Mr Sekhabi touched on the SAST mandate, mission, vision and values. He stated that the SAST had six strategic goals and objectives which were developed further in terms of five-year strategic plan (2015-2020). In terms of 2015-2020 plans, he highlighted the key outcome or goals, the programme measurable objectives, and outcome indicators (see attached presentation for full details). The strategic objectives were developed in terms of the key programmes of Administration, Business Development, and Public Engagement. The allocation of budget per programme was also highlighted.

Mr Sekhabi noted the key risks of the operation of SAST, including budget allocation, skills capacity and capability, attraction and retention of audiences, legal and regulatory compliance, theatre rentals, competition and theatre infrastructure.

For the 2014/15 APP, he provided performance indicators and targets. Most of the targets were achieved.

Mr Sekhabi identified the key factors that were the main challenges to the operations of SAST, including:

  • Global challenge of dwindling audiences
  • Economic landscape combined with changing audience entertainment needs;
  • Geographic spread of target communities
  • Unrealistic budget, based on expenses calculated in 2001
  • Annual inflation supercedes funding increments
  • Inflation driven expenses (salaries, supplier costs) require the bulk of the funding budget
  • Insufficient budget for core functions and mandate
  • Lean operation staff complement
  • Ageing building demands high maintenance costs

Mr Sekhabi noted significant achievements made as from 2012 to 2015. Among the achievements were 20 plays for 20 years of freedom. In 2013/14, the SAST achieved an unqualified audit. 


The Chairperson remarked that the issue that was recurring through all presentations was the need for more funding, coupled with the need to attract new audiences. She sought clarity on whether leadership tried to find solutions to highlighted challenges.

Mr Mahlangu welcomed the information and commented that it was very detailed. However, looking at the five-year terms, there were no projected increases in targets and he asked how, with the same targets repeated, the SAST would show an improvement. He asked what the surveys had revealed. He also commented that the acronyms had not been explained. How would problems that were mentioned in the presentation be resolved, if this had not happened already. He remarked that it was very dangerous to leave out certain important information. For example, the document did not clearly state that R99 million was promised but was not yet in the SAST’s account.

Mr G Grootboom (DA), referring to the question of meeting financial targets, stated that most of the money presently went to salaries. He sought clarity on whether Mr Sekhabi was being paid as Acting CEO and as Artistic Director. He wanted to know what measures were put in place to increase audiences.

In relation to issues of improvement, Ms Masekele replied that cultural products were different. There should be consistency in the productions.  On top of this, the SAST was an agency of government but not a commercial-oriented private entity. On the issue of deficit, she said that it was not something that could be open to negotiation, and the fact that this was not happening affected the operation of the SAST. The deficit was growing every year irrespective of all attempts to reduce it to zero.

Ms Natasha Soopal, Chief Financial Officer, explained that R6 million of deficit came from APEX. In its effort to reduce it to zero, R2.5 million was raised and this was deposited on the APEX account. It was expected that, by 2016, the deficit might be cleared completely.

She added that in relation to the question raised on disclosure, R99 million was approved but not yet received. What this meant was that the SAST could not enter into a business contract, unless money was in the entity’s account. The SAST had an internal auditor, but that was a person who was outsourced. The Internal Audit position was still vacant at the moment. On the issue of acronyms, she replied that in the next presentation, the SAST would ensure that acronyms were explained beforehand.

Mr Sekhabi stated, in relation to the targets, that the existing budget could not allow any increase in activities. Instead of increasing activities, the SAST was focussing on increasing the quality of production. The business of the restaurant was abandoned because the management felt that such business could complicate operations or divert the leadership attention away from the core functions.

The Chairperson commented that the SAST, in the next meeting, should explain how budget had been moved to something it was not intended for, and she wanted an explanation of the implications and consequences. She further remarked that the SAST documents should be user friendly, readable, and logical.

The meeting was adjourned.

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