The Portfolio Committee met with the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State (PACOFS), the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) and the Robben Island Museum, who presented their annual performance reports.
PACOFS said it had presented a total of 56 performances, of which 21 were local productions, 18 were partnerships and seven were outreach programmes. It had failed to achieve 60% of its targets. It had an income of R49 million and had ended with a surplus of R 2.7 million. It had received an adverse audit outcome. Its current challenges and instability were a direct result of the leadership vacuum that had existed for almost three years. A full forensic investigation into the capital expenditure of PACOFS was being conducted by the National Treasury. The Committee asked what the status of the forensic report was, and why the entity had achieved only 40% of its target. What had been the reason for the CEO’s resignation at 24-hours’ notice? The Committee had warned PACOFS that the continuous litigations would put a strain on the budget, yet it had continued with litigation processes, costing the Department over R900 000.
PanSALB said critical senior vacancies had been filled. This had created stability and boosted the organisational performance achievement for the year to 81%. It had received an unqualified audit opinion. Lack of funding meant that other critical vacant positions would not be filled, staff development opportunities would be unattainable and the cross-border multilingual enterprise may be hampered. Outstanding labour disputes relating to dismissed employees had been a cause of great concern. PanSALB had settled with some and was negotiating with others to finalise the matter. An amount of R4.4 million had been spent on settlements with the former employees dismissed in December 2014.
Robben Island Museum reported that the annual visitor numbers had increased by 2% to 370 152. There had been an 11% increase in revenue generated, from R124.2 million to R137.3 million, due to the increase in the price and number of standard tickets, and increased revenue from other goods and services. The challenges which Robben Island Museum currently faced were the funding for diesel for power generation on the island, the ferry operation vessels, the procurement of a new ferry under way, and the inappropriate organisational structure to execute targets successfully. The Committee was also updated on the circumstances surrounding the recent ferry boat disaster, which had resulted in visitors to the island having to be rescued when the ferry took on water.
The Committee Chairperson commented that the Robben Island Museum had received a clean audit, despite the fact that the island was not as clean as it should be, and maintenance left much to be desired.
Performing Arts Centre of the Free State (PACOFS): Annual Report
Mr Zolani Mkiva, Interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO): PACOFS, reported that the entity had presented a total of 56 performances, of which 21 performances were local productions, 18 were partnerships and seven were outreach programmes. These programmes reached a total of 24 104 people. Some of these events included the SA National Sports Awards, and the Free State Fashion Week.
He said the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) had made an initial deposit of R11 million to PACOFS on May 31 2014. However, an unauthorised withdrawal of R2 million had been made on 23 June 2014, which had been identified only during September 2017. This matter was still being investigated.
During the 2016/17 financial year, PACOFS had failed to achieve 60% of their targets. It had held eight council meetings, and the attendance rate of the members had been 80%. The Council had an income of R48 974 000, and had ended with a surplus of R 2 629 000. Current total assets were standing at R85 917 000, total liabilities at R74 807 000, which resulted in the net asset value to being R11 110 000. Net working capital amounted to over R44 million.
PACOFS had received an adverse audit outcome due to property, plant and equipment not being recognised in accordance with the generally recognised accounting practice (GRAP) standards; it did not have appropriate audit evidence for repairs, and maintenance. Capital works were still in progress and this was not recognised in accordance with GRAP standards. In addition, no appropriate audit evidence for general expenses was found.
PACOFS current challenges and instability were a direct result of the leadership vacuum that had existed for almost three years. An acting CEO had been appointed while the recent resignation of the CEO was being attended to. Certain labour and disciplinary cases were taking longer to conclude, and as a result had financial implications which included litigation costs and settlement pay-outs.
Oversight visits by the DAC had been utilised to attend to the issues of poor relations in the organisation. A full forensic investigation into the capital expenditure of PACOFS was being conducted by the National Treasury, and a separate presentation with full findings and recommendations on this matter would be presented.
The challenges included the CEO’s resignation at 24 hours notice, and the lack of funds to implement arts promotion and arts development projects and programmes. There were also some successes:
The Council had managed to appoint an interim CEO who had been a member of the Council for some time;
Salary increase negotiations had gone well, without a strike;
A supply chain management (SCM) and irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure policy had been developed;
A platform to engage with unions had been established, and it was yielding success;
The 2017 financial year ended up with a surplus of R2.6 million.
Mr G Grootboom (DA) asked whether an investigation had been launched because the money had disappeared, or if there was a need for the forensic investigation, despite the unauthorised withdrawal. He also explained that the request for more money had to be accompanied by adequate reasons, and added that PACOFS achievements had not measured up to their expenditure.
Ms V Mogotsi (ANC) explained that the entity was not functioning if they managed to achieve only 40% of their target. She asked what the role of the Council was, if they were failing to reach their targets. She asked if the Department evaluated its entities from a monetary point of view, and requested a report on what it had done to eliminate unauthorised expenditure.
Dr P Mulder (FF+) said that during the Committee’s last visit to PACOFS, most staff members had been on leave. As a result, it would be impossible for the turnaround strategy to succeed, as the festive season should be the peak season for PACOFS. This meant that most staff members should be at work, and theatre productions should be taking place. He also enquired what the Department’s plans were regarding employing a new and permanent CEO.
Mr T Makondo (ANC) enquired whether the forensic investigation really existed, or if it was still in the pipeline. He requested reasons for the CEO’s resignation. He also reminded PACOFS of the litigation warnings given by the Portfolio Committee. It had informed PACOFS that the continuous litigations would put a strain on the budget, yet PACOFS had continued with litigation processes, costing the Department over R900 000.
Ms Mogotsi addressed the Council regarding HR matters. She asked whether they had a HR committee, an organisational structure, and if the structure was costed. She also requested the status of the gender and disability provisions, as the Committee had been informed that the current infrastructure did not cater for disabled people. She re-emphasised that the current organisational structure was not functioning.
Ms S Tsoleli (ANC) requested a report on the litigation, as it was costing the department a great deal of money.
Mr J Mahlangu (ANC) recommended that further litigation costs should be paid by PACOFS management, as they seemed to be the party prolonging the matter. He also cautioned the interim CEO from making foolish remarks, such as “the Auditor General had woken up from its slumber.” PACOFS had been pleased with an adverse finding, and were happy with a positive surplus when they had failed to achieve targets. He asked why PACOFS set unreachable targets, why they failed to keep a physically clean area, and commented that the entire presentation had been senseless.
The Deputy Director General responded that the entity had generated about R4 million to date. The forensic investigation was under way, and the findings would be presented to the Committee once they received the final report. He reassured the Committee that four oversight visits were conducted per annum, and that the theatre was closed over the festive period because people were fighting among themselves.
Both the Chairperson and Ms Mogotsi requested material solutions, or some sort of action plan, as the Committee could not measure or oversee “hope,” as suggested by the Department.
Dr N Dlamini-Zuma (ANC) said that they could not monitor or evaluate if there was no plan to monitor or evaluate. She asked why the Department had the same issues year after year.
Mr Mkiva responded that PACOFS did have HR policies in place, as well as an organisational structure. Regarding the litigation progress, one employee had been reinstated, and they would work on concluding the other litigation matters.
Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB): Annual Report
Dr Mpho Monareng, CEO: PanSALB, said that the entity’s vision was to be the pre-eminent promoter, facilitator and enabler of multilingualism and language equality and rights in South Africa.
PanSALB;s main strategic goals were:
Creation of conditions for the development and use of the South African languages;
Advancement of the equitable use of all South African languages;
Establishment of a linguistic human rights ethos;
Establishment of research capacity;
Promotion of PanSALB’s mandated deliverables;
Creation of the organisation’s sustainable institutional ability to deliver on the core business and comply with legislation, regulations and prescripts.
The year under review had witnessed some form of stability at the operational, management and performance level. Critical vacancies had been filled, like the appointment of the executives. This had created stability and had managed to boost the organisational performance achievement for the year under review to 81%, while partially achieving 8%, and failing to achieve only 11%. 72% of these achievements had come from the core business (language use, development and equitability), partially achieving 13% and failing to achieve 15% of its planned targets. Administration and support stood at 96% achievement.
PanSALB had received an unqualified audit opinion for 2016/17 financial year, which was an appreciable breakaway from the line of unsavoury audits that had been the norm for the past three years. Lack of funding had determined that other critical vacant positions would not be filled, staff development opportunities would be unattainable and the cross border multilingual enterprise may be hampered. The outstanding labour dispute relating to the dismissed employees had been a cause of great concern. PanSALB had settled with some and were negotiating with others to finalise the matter. The accumulated costs since 2001 of funding the National Lexicography Units (NLUs) was yet another financial strain. The deficit accumulated since then had rendered PanSALB financially insecure.
PanSALB had been unsuccessful in revising the norms and rules for the National Language Bodies (NLBs) and Provincial Language Committees (PLCs) during the financial year due to budget constraints and insufficient inputs from PanSALB structures. The revised norms and rules would be finalised in the next financial year.
Consultations with private institutions on language policy construction were not implemented this financial year, as the focus was on public institutions. Consultations with the private sector would take place in the next financial year. No language research staff were appointed due to pending legacy litigation. No dictionary-related research reports were done due to a shortage of staff and budget constraints.
PanSALB had achieved funding for the production of the following dictionaries:
Setswana Maths and Science Bilingual
Sesotho sa Leboa Monolingual
Tshivenda Monolingual and Bilingual
isiNdebele Mono and Trilingual
New Editions: Setswana Monolingual and Sesotho sa Leboa Bilingual
Other achievements included launching the Khoekhoegowab Glossaruim to support the development and use of Khoi and San languages, while the IsiNdebele NLB had verified the agricultural terminology. PanSALB had engaged in deliberations about language use in two schools within the provinces and advised on the review of their language policies. It had made contributions to the review of the University of Pretoria language policy to further the development of the official South African languages, and to promote the use of official languages. It had collaborated with the South African Human Rights Commission to conduct public hearings on discrimination against Khoi and San languages in the Northern Cape, and in collaboration with the National Department of Public Works, had hosted workshops on the implementation of an approved language policy within the Department
All staff qualifications had been audited and finalised, and the personal files were updated as required in terms of prescripts. Human resources policies and conditions of service were reviewed, and leave management had improved significantly. The current total vacancy rate stood at 21%.
An amount of R4.4 million had been spent on settlements of former employees dismissed in December 2014. The institution was, however, at an advanced stage of negotiations with the legal representatives of the litigants with a view to reaching out-of-court settlements in order to curtail lengthy and expensive legal processes.
The Chairperson commended the PanSALB for their good work, and said it was important for them to ensure children spoke indigenous languages. She asked who the perpetrators of the wasteful and fruitless expenditure had been, and how it would be rectified.
Mr Mahlangu mentioned that two languages -- Ndebele and SiSwati -- were suffering.
Dr Mulder (FF+) pointed out the entity lacked languages practitioners in all the languages, and that most people in positions were administrators and not practitioners. He asked how this could balanced, and how this matter could be resolved.
PanSALB responded that they visited the University of Mpumalanga to work with them on language preservation and implementation. A siSwati dictionary had been launched six weeks ago. They would also like increase the amount of language practitioners so that they could create space for languages in the province. The idea was to have at least two practitioners per language per province. Those that were currently in administrative positions were not qualified for what they were doing.
Robben Island Museum: Annual Report.
Robben Island reported that the number of visitors for 2016/17 was 370 152, showing a 2% increase against last year’s 364 021. There had been:
A 21% increase in the cash and cash equivalents from the prior year, from R179.6 million in 2016, to R217.9 million in 2017, due to a large amount of conditional grants which had remained unspent at the end of the current year.
An 8% decrease in the value of property, plant and equipment, from R47.2 million in 2016 to R43.6 million in 2017.
A 23% increase in trade and other payables, from R19.7 million in 2016, to R24.1 million due to improved creditor management, in conjunction with a decline in the spending of conditional grants.
A 16% increase in the accumulated surplus, from R145 million in 2016, to R166.6 million in 2017.
An 11% increase in the revenue generated, from R124.2 million to R137.3 million, due to the increase in the price and number of standard tickets, and increased revenue from other goods and services.
A 3% decrease in grants received, from R81.5 milllion, to R78.9 million, due to the decline in deferred revenue released against conditional grants.
A 12% increase in employee costs, from R78 million in 2016 to R 87.6 million, due to the annual salary increases.
A decrease in total expenditure, from R193.9 million, to R193.5 million due to a decrease in boat and boat hire expenses.
And an increase in the surplus from R11.8 million, to R22.6 million due to the significant increase in revenue for the current financial year.
Robben Island Museum had achieved 50% of their targets, with 25% partially achieved and 25% not achieved.
The challenges which Robben Island Museum currently faced were the funding for diesel for power generation on the Island, the ferry operation vessels, the procurement of a new ferry under way, and the inappropriate organisational structure to execute targets successfully.
The audit outcome for 2016/17 had been unqualified. No material findings on the usefulness and reliability of the reported performance information for selected programmes were found. No instances of material non-compliance to applicable legislation were identified, and no significant deficiencies were identified in internal control.
The Committee was provided with an update on the recent ferry boat incident. The master of the Thandi, one of Robben Island Museum’s chartered passenger ferries, had gone out beforehand and had conducted a trial with crew only and determined that the weather conditions were fine for the vessel to take his passengers. The vessel had departed Cape Town at approximately 11:00 and had departed the island at approximately 13:45 to return to Cape Town. About 25 minutes later, the vessel had experienced some trouble. A crew member had found that the engine room was taking on water and the bilge pump could not cope. He went up to the bridge to report it to the Master, who sent out a distress call to Port Control for assistance. The forward windows broke during this time, and more water flooded into the vessel. Passengers on board were asked to don their lifejackets and wait for sea rescue. Once Port Control received the distress call, it had immediately notified the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and emergency services to initiate a rescue operation. The Madiba 1, which had left Robben Island shortly after the Thandi, received the distress call and immediately went to standby close to the Thandi to provide assistance. NSRI and emergency services went out to the vessel and started transferring the passengers from the Thandi to the Madiba 1. All people were brought safely to shore, where medical personnel were on standby to assess them and make sure they were all right. They were given blankets and warm drinks. Trauma counsellors were in attendance. The investigation was still ongoing, and the museum would provide further details into what exactly transpired on that day.
Robben Island had requested assistance with obtaining a new boat. The idea was to build a new boat. A great deal of money was spent maintaining old boats. Over R37 million had been spent on hiring boats from other people.
Mr Mahlangu (ANC) reminded the Robben Island team that the role of the Committee was to monitor and oversee, and they could not assist at ground level. He asked how Robben Island had managed to increase sales while the economy had decreased.
Dr Mulder (FF+) asked if the boat had taken on water because of the rough sea, or because there was a leak in the boat.
The Chairperson asked how it was possible for Robben Island to come out with a clean audit, while the state of the island regarding cleanliness and maintenance was not what it should be.
The board responded that performance issues were being looked into, and they had requested a quarterly report. The report they had received indicated a huge improvement. They had received a certificate a week prior the incident, saying the boat was good for use. The skipper had the responsibility to look at the weather, the condition of the boat and determine whether the boat could sail or not. The findings would determine why the boat sank and the report would be shared with everyone.
It had been the improved scheduling of the boat which had allowed for an increase in sales. Ticket prices had been increased to a level to ensure the entity did not price itself out of the market. Robben Island had taken initiative and had decided to clean their own island with the minimum resources at hand, and had requested resources to clean and maintain the Island themselves. The island was currently cleaned and maintained by Public Works, who seemed to neglect the island due to an excessive work load. They were still awaiting feedback on this request.
Ms Tsoleli (ANC) pointed out that she was extremely disappointed at not seeing female representation in Robben Island management positions.
The meeting was adjourned.
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