Matters arising in Department of Arts and Culture: with Minister; BRRR

Arts and Culture

23 October 2018
Chairperson: Ms X Tom (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Note: The report does not fully reflect the meeting as it is a poor audio recording. Email [email protected] if you have a recording of this meeting

The Director General of the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) presented a number of documents on matters arising pertinent to the department.

The Chairperson asserted that the Committee has been receiving emails constantly from people who are concerned about a variety of issues in their organisations or institutions. The DAC should be dealing with these matters. Our constitutional mandate is to oversee DAC. It is important that when DAC receive these matters that they act according. At the end of the day, the Committee ends up having to do what the officials should have done if so many concerns are frequently brought to the Committee for consideration. When following up on these matters, DAC should do what the law says.

The Committee began with PACOFS. The Department had two responses from the two affected. They have put their responses in writing. The Committee can hear the recordings if they would like to. The audio was played but was poor quality. The two Committee Members who faced these allegations, responded that they were confused about what exactly it was that was being alleged and that they wished to hear the recordings themselves. The matter was left to be resolved at a later date.

There was an update on the National Arts Council (NAC). Two key challenges face the NAC. On one hand, NAC has drawn negative publicity from media and members of the public. On the other, in some cases there is a lack of efficient communication strategies between management and the labour formations which contributes to the instability at NAC. Members commented that there was a lack of willpower to deal with inefficiency and corruption, and that practices in entities led to problematic organisational structures that further decreased competency and wasted money. Members asked what could be done to re-position entities on more positive trajectories where the workplace could be improved and the public could receive better quality services through the tax money given to these entities.

There were cost breakdowns for DAC travel, budget and litigation. On litigation, in particular, Members said that a lot of money was wasted unnecessarily and that DAC ought to ensure that money was being spent properly. Members also asked about the types of projects being funded and the lack of funding for certain others, theatres in particular. Members pointed out that the DAC report on litigation contained some notable omissions and ought to be redrafted.

On the training of archivists, Members responded to DAC’s insistence of a lack of budget with the assertion that it is important to have people with this skill set and to have archives in general. On the lack of records of government owned artworks, DAC insisted that extra security would be required if an inventory was published but Members insisted that the public still be able to view them. Finally, there were comments about the importance of the library project.

Members were given a presentation on the draft Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report of the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture, dated 17th October 2018. Members felt that the results of departmental audits ought to be made clearer, and that a lack of leadership had resulted in staff not taking issues apropos of art and culture particularly seriously.

Meeting report

The Chairperson stated that she wished to register the concern raised in the previous meeting about the lack of information that had been asked for from the Department which meant the Committee could not conclude its work. This should not have happened. The Committee said last week that it is not going to pass the budget as there are perpetual challenges with the Department and its entities and complaints from communities . In her whole life she has never experienced the frustrations that she has experienced with the Department of Arts and Culture. It is not good feeling this frustrated at the incompetency of Department of Arts and Culture. This weekend a proposal was approved at the last minute, it is unacceptable. Why does DAC have to make poor people suffer who rely on them? You, the staff at DAC, are here to serve the ordinary people.

The Chairperson noted that the Deputy Minister was away in Algeria.

The Chairperson continued that the Committee was constantly receiving emails from staff who are concerned about a variety of challenges in their institutions within DAC. The Committee had received a lot of complaints about DAC. She listed a litany of these matters which include complaints included a CEO abusing her power for personal use, the theft of a projector, litigation, unfairly dismissal, intimidation of staff, and the Robben Island Museum refusing to employ political prisoners.

The Chairperson remarked that DAC should be dealing with such matters. The constitutional mandate of the Committee is to oversee DAC. It is important that when they receive notice of these, they should act accordingly. At the end of the day, the Committee ends up having to do what DAC officials should have done. When following up on these matters, DAC should do what the law states. The Department is directionless, so people end up writing to the Portfolio Committee instead. Last year, a meeting asked, “where does the power lie?” A year later, we have had no follow-up response to the matters that were raised. We want satisfactory answers.

Written submissions on PACOFS allegations
Mr Vusi Mkhize, DAC Director General, said that they have two responses from the individuals affected. They have put their responses in writing. We do have the recordings. If the Committee would like to hear the recordings, they can.

The Chairperson replied that they would like to have those recordings. The Committee wants to know what happened, since some Members have been implicated. It is a very serious matter.

Mr T Makondo (ANC) commented that the affair was very disturbing, the way in which these fabrications and allegations continue to change. It was alleged that he had had been driving around in a PACOFS car during the festival. But now the allegations have changed and it cannot be explained why it has changed. He asked if somebody could please tell him what is being alleged. He wanted to listen to the recording himself. He stated that he cannot allow a situation where he is blackmailed for conducting Parliament oversight work. He wanted to listen so that it was not just someone’s word against his.

Ms S Tsoleli (ANC) added that she believed that somebody had said something about her. She wanted to get to the bottom of this. She would act on the matter but after all the processes had been followed accordingly.

Mr Mkhize responded that they are ready to play those clips if that must be done here and now.

The Chairperson asked how long the clips were.

Mr Mkhize replied that the appropriate points had been marked.

Ms N Bilankulu (ANC) said that the Portfolio Committee ought to listen to the recordings.

The recording of the allegations made by a PACOFS manager to DAC at a meeting was played though it was largely inaudible and there was considerable echo.

The Chairperson informed the Committee that they were listening to the recording of the meeting at PACOFS. She had been told that two Members of Parliament were implicated. Accusations about those accused seemed to be regularly changing, so the Committee would listen to the clip to determine what actually happened - although there seemed to be an echo on the clip. She suggested that they step away from this matter now, because there also seems to be a problem with changing allegations. They will send it to DAC for review. The Committee would look at matters arising from several previous meetings.

Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, commented that the allegation against Mr Makondo was that during an oversight visit, a PACOFS manager introduced herself and he said so finally we meet this person who must either "die or resign”. The Minister insisted that nobody is above the law. If circumstances are found to have transpired as has been suggested, then there ought to be serious consequences.

Mr Sibusiso Tsanyane, DAC Deputy Director: Corporate Governance, replied that DAC will have to go back to their original recordings to establish more details.

The Chairperson asked by when this could be done.

Mr Tsanyane responded that they could provide this information within a week.

Approved NAC minutes
Mr Mkhize said that the Department has obtained the NAC minutes about the decision to appoint an external Acting CEO instead of appointing an internal person. The minutes are indeed approved and signed off by the NAC chairperson. The minutes were signed by him alone (inaudible 59m).

Mr Makondo commented that he could not follow the DG since he did not understand what he was talking about. It is not a reflection of what transpired in the meeting. He accused him of correcting the minutes of the meeting that he was not part of. In that meeting, only the chair was not there but the members were there. He insisted that the minutes must be corrected, because they were not representative of what had happened in the meeting.

The Chairperson commented that the Minister had sounded caution from the onset (inaudible).

The Minister stated that it was only fair that he see the minutes since he was there and had called the meeting.

The Chairperson decided that this matter had to go back to that room. If the chairperson signs the minutes, it is a true reflection of what occurred at that meeting. She insisted that the matter be put aside for now and she invited Mr Mkhize to present on other matters.

Mr Mkhize gave an update on the National Arts Council (NAC) (see document). Two key challenges face the NAC. On one hand, NAC has drawn negative publicity from media and members of the public. On the other, in some cases there is a lack of efficient communication strategies between management and the labour formations which contributes to the instability at NAC. Gobodo Forensic Services had been appointed to investigate the funding of the Lalela Flagship Project and the bonus payment of the CEO. The investigation has been completed, a report has been submitted.

The Chairperson pondered on providing guidance to DAC entities. The question asked last November was where does the power lie - that question is still unanswered. Perhaps the Act needs to be amended. At the end of the day, the Department will take the flack when you fail or when artists or institutions are underfunded.

Mr Makondo gestured towards the document containing the NAC minutes. He did not think there was the will from the NAC to deal with this. Whether this will happen or not, nobody can know. It is clear that that NAC board has no interest. Action needs to be taken urgently. The Acting Director should have acted (inaudible). There was the misuse of public funds.

Ms Tsoleli asked what the accounting implications were in having two CEOs.

The Chairperson maintained that it is becoming a norm of the entities that where there is no CEO, they recruit a board member into the position. Is there no succession planning in these entities? The Department has to give guidance to the entities. You cannot let them run amok and do whatever they want to since at the end of the day Parliament gives the funds to the DAC to give money to these entities. There has to be more effective oversight.

Mr Mkhize replied on the matter raised by Mr Makondo, that they have already initiated engagements (inaudible 1.26). To be able to explain the rationale about the financial implications of appointing an external Acting CEO. We need to follow a process before we ask the Minister to apply his powers (inaudible).

Mr Makondo commented that the NAC chair has gone rogue on a number of instances. By the time that intervention comes we will have lost millions. You have two CEOs earning R7 million annually (inaudible 1.30). Minister, please.

Mr Mkhize replied (inaudible 1.34) that there are multiple options that DAC is looking at from which they will deal with the issue accordingly.

The Chairperson said the NAC board needs to develop its integrity.

The Minister insisted that where action is to be taken, he would take action, but it is not his job to micro-manage. He believes in due process (inaudible 1.39).

Mr Makondo commented that when the minutes were presented to the board, the minutes..(inaudible).

The Minister rejoined that he for one had never seen those minutes (inaudible 1.42).

The Chairperson pondered on the question of what the Portfolio Committee should do. They essentially approve a budget that will clearly be misused. A chunk of the Department budget goes towards litigation. The Department pushes people from pillar to post. Our people must know how you operate. One day they are told one thing, the next day they are told another. The manner in which DAC staff does things, it is heartbreaking. She felt sad about it all. Members of this Committee try to take action, yet find their efforts are to avail. The way DAC is run is heartbreaking for the ordinary person. It is not fair at all to the people.

Mr Mkhize spoke about the matter of interventions (inaudible 1.50).

Mr Makondo asked a question about the investigator (inaudible).

Mr Mkhize responded (inaudible).

Ms Matilda Mogotsi, DAC DDG: Corporate Sector, noted that they had met with the National Library of South Africa (NLSA) staff the previous week. The staff wanted to know why DAC was there. DAC responded that they understood there are issues in the library and they wanted to understand what these were. There is apparently abuse there. Some staff members were worried that they might say things that might land them in trouble. There were also issues with the staff structure and salaries. DAC could not respond to all the issues on the day but they will be able to go back and report back.

The Chairperson asked what DAC staff had learned from that. They do not know that you are supposed to be monitoring them. They get the money from you so they need to understand that you must monitor. They must feel your presence.

Ms Mogotsi responded that one thing that came up repeatedly was no routines and communication. Those kinds of structures we can put in place to ensure there are regular meetings.

Mr Makondo commented that all the DDGs must go to these entities. If they do, he could see something good coming out of it.

Break down of international travel 
Mr Mkhize stated that DAC was asked to provide a detailed breakdown of travel in the past year including names of officials who travelled, purpose of travel, cost of travelling. They have not done that yet. We must provide all travel costs against each name. Based on the DAC mandate and the agreements we have with countries, we do have to take along artists to these international visits.

The Chairperson decided that the Committee move on to the next item.

MGE adjudication panel
Mr Mkhize referred to the document listing members of the Mzansi Golden Economy (MGE) adjudication panel.

The Chairperson reminded Members that they are servants of the people. She referred to the information in the documents. One other thing that we have to do is to look at which provinces are benefitting more.

Dr Sakiwo Tyiso, DAC Chief Director: Coordination, Monitoring, Evaluation continued on the Mzansi Golden Economy (inaudible 2.04).

A comment from a Committee member was that one should get references from the communities they are coming from. The most applications are from Gauteng and Western Cape and this was a concern.

The Chairperson asked what the approximate budget was.

Dr Tyiso replied that it was R124 million for cultural events.

Breakdown of projects funded per province
Dr Tyiso presented the spread of provinces (inaudible 2.11).

The Chairperson asked what types of projects were being funded and also said they should move on to the next item.

Mr Mkhize spoke further on the MGE (inaudible 2.18).

Mr G Grootboom (DA) thanked DAC for the information on the MGE. He asked where the Baxter Theatre falls in this programme. It is not an entity as such since it was previously attached to a university.

The Chairperson agreed that theatres were being sidelined.

Mr Tyiso replied that those theatres are independent theatres that do apply to the DAC for projects but DAC does not run specific projects with them, as such.

The Chairperson asked what it took for a theatre to become a playhouse.

Mr Grootboom insisted that the DAC argument holds no water. These institutions were formerly under the universities, but since then they are not part of the universities anymore and have become independent playhouses where plays are staged, they are in need of funding. He thought they advised to apply under the MGE, but that seems not to have worked. What can they do to apply for funding from DAC?

Mr Tyiso replied that they need to look at the whole funding model in terms of playhouses.

Mr Grootboom replied that in doing so you are treading on a minefield. The Committee asked that question in 2014 and there has been little progress since then.

Mr Tyiso commented that MGE has a R2 million threshold, and that threshold would mostly go to programming. We cannot really fund the playhouses with this kind of money.

The Chairperson remarked that all the Committee's energy has been sucked out. We cannot keep saying that we do not have the budget. Those previously disadvantaged institutions need to benefit from this dispensation.

Breakdown of SMS members
Ms Mogotsi presented the item on Senior Management Staff (SMS). At the moment we are recruiting for a Chief Director and DDG (inaudible 2.30).

Calendar of events
Mr Mkhize noted that the next document was the calendar of events.

The Chairperson commented that that information was good to know. She moved to the next agenda item.

Breakdown on investigations done by DAC
Mr Mkhize gave a breakdown of forensic investigations (inaudible 2.34).

Mr Grootboom commented that there was also a forensic investigation conducted into the funds used for the Windybrow Theatre.

Mr Tsanyane replied that the results of that investigation had not been accounted for. That was an omission on the part of DAC.

Mr Grootboom asked if the Windybrow Theatre had ever been followed up.

The Chairperson said that the Committee needs more information on that and other items in the report. What does ‘in progress’ and ‘completed’ mean? She added again that one of your main aims is to guide the entities in such a way that the work is being done and to guide them that only a limited amount of money is wasted on litigation.

Cost of litigation for DAC and all entities
Mr Mkhize spoke to this document (inaudible 2.41).

Mr Grootboom noted that although DAC had drawn up the litigation costs, he knew there was a lot of litigation at PACOFS. The 2017/18 financial year information is missing from the report too.

Mr Tsanyane replied that DAC needed permission to go back and clean up the document.

Mr Grootboom asked if DAC would be able to justify that the money spent on litigation costs over the past few years was money spent properly.

The Chairperson insisted that the Committee ensure that DAC not waste taxpayers’ money. If you are found to have wasted money, you ought to pay out of your own wallet.

Mr Mkhize resumed and drew attention to the summarized key findings (inaudible 2.48).

The Chairperson observed that the documents are quite intense pieces of work that the Committee will have to study. We have to have a look at the impact DAC has on ordinary people. People in the rural areas need to see that the Department is here for them.

Mr Grootboom asked who DAC has to oversee the art pieces in the different departments so that DAC has a complete inventory of government-owned art.

Mr Tyiso replied that DAC does not have a person dedicated to looking into that for the moment.

The Chairperson asked if there was knowledge of the governmental inventory.

Mr Tyiso replied that different institutions have records of their artwork.

The Chairperson asked how one goes about ensuring that heritage assets in a municipality are safe? DAC needs to ensure that these assets are protected. Some of us do not know how precious these items are and we need to be made aware.

Mr Mkhize replied that if DAC publishes information on the value of government assets which tells people a painting is worth R2 million, then buildings have to increase their security (inaudible 2.58).

Mr Tyiso explained that each department has an asset register which lists heritage assets and annually the accounting officer must account for these and needs to have these available for viewing.

The Chairperson said DAC needs to sensitise each department to their heritage assets.

Training of records managers
Mr Mkhize introduced a short report on the training of record managers (inaudible 3.01). National Archives and Records Service of South Africa (NARSSA) plans to provide two accredited Records Management Courses per year over the next three years. The target is twenty people per course which translates to 40 per year. The aim of the course is to train records managers of government bodies as required in the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa Act of 1996. This will ensure proper management and care of public records.

The Chairperson asked how many archivists DAC should be training per year. Is 40 per year sufficient?

Mr Mkhize replied that DAC would like to train more but the challenge is budget. He spoke about intervention training. DAC is pushing for accredited training courses.

The Chairperson informed him it is important for ordinary people who are online to ensure they keep their own records. It is important to make ordinary people aware so they wake up to the responsibility they have to their organisation and the country and to keep their own records. It is only because of the archives that researchers can find death certificates of people that have died. Good archiving is important.

Details of programmes on page 227 of 2017/18 Annual Report
Mr Mkhize spoke briefly on (inaudible 3.06).

The Chairperson said that they had commented on that, the fact that it is unacceptable for projects to run for donkey years. We need to ensure that we plan properly to guarantee that projects meet deadlines.

Mr Mkhize referred to the list of candidates for the National Council on Library and Information Services.

The Chairperson said the Committee needs to consider and adopt the National Council on Library and Information Services. The Minister has given us a list of names we should consider.

The Committee approved the list.

The Chairperson said that it was a pity that there was not much time to consider the candidates. We had hoped to invite people to serve who feel responsible for the entity. We would have loved to hear from them but there is just no time. She noted again that it is heart breaking for department staff to be uncaring and uncommitted to the people.

Ms Bilankulu asked if DAC had a date yet for the handover of the (inaudible 3.12) project.

The Chairperson emphasised that it was necessary to ensure that the project has a time limit.

The Minister asked if the project was a fully-fledged library. The Minister said he would follow that up. He said the Chairperson has raised important issues (inaudible 3.14) and noted that DPME has had a change in approach that you will see as a result of its implementation. The emphasis on outputs and outcomes is what have we done for the people at the lower level and to come up with lasting solutions.  

The Chairperson thanked the Minister and the DAC staff for their attendance and the delegation left.

Arts and Culture Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report
The Committee acting content advisor, Mr Lindumzi Komle, went through the draft Report.

The Chairperson asked if the Members wished to add anything.

Mr Makonda asked about the difference between the internal and external audit. He wanted to know what basis these audits would provide for recommendations.

The Chairperson said that Members had a responsibility to contribute to some of the recommendations.

Mr M Rabotapi (DA) commented that he did not think that people are taking these matters seriously. He regarded the Minister as too nice and it means that his staff undermines him. He needs to put his foot down and say, “This is enough” in a harsh way.

The Chairperson agreed that there seems to be a lack of leadership. Nobody seems to want to do anything without that top-down impetus.

Mr Makonda added that they may need to redo some of the recommendations so they are more specific. They cannot make general recommendations since DAC is so ineffectual at instituting concrete change.

The Chairperson said that DAC needs to strengthen its planning, and it must be done in the previous year.

The Committee content advisor went through the findings on the entities on page 15. He read out the section dealing with the audit outcomes of DAC and its entities. He said the Committee noted that there had been a 27% improvement in the audit outcome of the portfolio, with an increase of clean audits from four in 2016/17 to seven in 2017/18. Encouragingly, qualified audit opinions decreased from eight in 2016/17 to six in 2017/18. The Committee commended entities that received a clean audit for a second year in a row. The Committee is deeply concerned that six received a qualified audit opinion. It is encouraging that DMSA and PACOFS who previously received adverse opinion received a qualified opinion. This is an improvement; however, they need to strengthen their controls to get an unqualified audit opinion.

The Chairperson cautioned that careless litigation needs to be cautioned and come out of people’s own pocket as taxpayers’ money was being dealt with here. She said the Committee would finalise the report.

Arts & Culture BRRR available once published: 2018 Budget Review & Recommendations Reports – BRRR

The meeting was adjourned.


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