The Department of Arts and Culture reported on the current status of affairs of entities under the Department. These entities, the National Arts Council (NAC), the National Library of South Africa (NLSA), the Performing Arts Council of the Free State (PACOFS) and the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF). The discussion focused mainly on the irregularities of appointment of CEOs, irregularities in board processes and decision making, disgruntled employees, etc.
The appointment of the NFVF CEO has not been finalised due to internal conflict within the board. The Committee was worried about the competence if the board at this point and would like the Depart to view all their entities with a microscopic eye, so as to find the problems and mitigate them before it is too late.
The issues surrounding an accusation against one of the Committee Members was a highly contentious topic in the meeting that emanated from the Committee’s oversight visit to PACOFS. Members wanted the recording of the meeting, as well as the minutes and some Members even suggested that if there is no evidence, the accuser will need to withdraw her statement and apologise to the Member.
National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF)
Mr Vusi Mkhize, Director-General, Department of Arts and Culture (DAC), presented on the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) discussing in detail the appointment of the NFVF CEO which have been concluded. A special council meeting was scheduled for 12 November 2018 for confirmation of appointment. DAC has received a media enquiry on the appointment of the CEO and other staff issues and the NFVF has been requested to submit a report of the issues raised by 12 November 2018. The appointment of the CEO also involved a premature leakage of the candidate recommendations. This leak is believed to have been the work of one of the board members. There will be a meeting with the Minister with regards to this matter. The NFVF thus remains with an acting CEO. Due to the leak, the board meeting has been postponed.
The Chairperson starts off the question and answer session by remarking on the lack of response from the entities that are attached to the Department. There are laws that govern this. Public entities cannot hide and when requested to respond to any queries, they are obliged to do so. People have the right to ask questions and the entities must answer. The work of appointing the CEO and conducting meetings around that matter should continue, regardless of the leaks. The board meeting does not have to be postponed because of this leak.
Dr G Grootboom (DA) asked if the forensic report has been given to the Committee. If not, he would like to know when this report will be made available to the Committee
Mr Mkhize said the report has been given to the Committee. With regards to the appointment of the CEO, internal issues within the board are being shown; hence the meeting had to be postponed. There are two members of the board causing havoc, with one member refusing to return the candidate recommendations pack. He agreed that it would have been wise to have the meeting and come up with recommendations and solutions for the Minister (when he meets with the board).
Dr Grootboom said there are guideline and rules governing board meetings which stipulate confidentiality. The board just needs to apply their own rules and go ahead with the meeting. Any information leaked must be dealt with in accordance with the rule.
Mr T Makondo (ANC) wants to understand the process followed by entities when appointing CEOs.
The Chairperson asked if the two board members mentioned by the DG are the same members that complained to the Minister about the chair of the board.
Mr Mkhize responded and said that one of the mentioned board members was involved in the complaint to the Minister.
Ms Thembi Mabo, the Director in charge of Entities Management lays out the process of appointing a CEO. The process is prescribed in terms of their (the entities) legislation. An advert for the position will be open allowing time for candidates to apply and a shortlist is created. With regards to the appointment of the NFVF CEO, an advertisement was put out and an independent panel to look at the applications. The independent panel, together with two committee members went through the short listing process. The recommended candidates would then be sent to the Council for approval, which is the meeting that has now been postponed.
The Chairperson asked if it is still an independent panel if there are board members present.
Ms Mabo responded and stated that indeed it cannot be considered an independent panel if there are board members present, therefore the panel was both independent and internal.
Mr Makondo said it is wrong for board members to be in the position of Acting CEO, especially if they have applied for this position. This is due to the influence they have on the selection committee. The board member/acting CEO cannot sit in on other candidates interviews and then turn around and be interviewed by the same panel in which he was a part of.
The Chairperson states that the Department needs to look with a microscopic eye when it comes to the entities. Not doing so has resulted in striking and disgruntlement amongst the staff. The problem needs to be solved before it blows up. The Department could find problems sooner if they just applied a microscopic eye on the entities.
Mr Mkhize agrees that indeed rules that govern board meetings should be followed, thus eliminating the need to postpone meetings every time an issue arises. What they will do as the Department is work on prevention.
National Library of South Africa (NLSA)
Mr Mkhize reported on Mr Matyumza, the Director for the Centre for Book. He was charged with seven counts of misconduct, and a disciplinary hearing commence on 20 June 2018 and was finalised on 7 August 2018. The ruling by the chairperson, Advocate Adams, dated 24 August 2018, found Mr Matyumza guilty on four of the seven charges and recommended a sanction of dismissal. This was effected on 7 September 2018. On the 11 October 2018 the CEO of the National Library of South Africa (NLSA) learnt that an appeal ruling recommended a sanction of a final warning instead of a dismissal. The entity further discovered that the appeal was chaired by the HR Consultant and not an attorney or an advocate, and therefore his ruling lacked merit and reasoning. The advice from the legal firm appointed by the entity is that the appeal process is therefore irregular and subject to investigation. According to the report from the CEO, the entity considered to afford Mr Matyumza another appeal hearing in compliance with the Act and regulations, which he has rejected. Despite being told not to appear at work, he nevertheless came to the office on 22 October 2018. The CEO sought legal advice which recommended dismissal. Mr Matyumza was thus dismissed on 22 October 2018. The following day, Mr Matyumza instructed his lawyers to demand he be reinstated with immediate effect. On the 25 October 2018, the lawyers representing the NLSA responded to Mr Matyumza’s lawyers withdrawing letter of dismissal and that My Matyumza will be informed of the date of appeal. He however refused to participate in the new appeal process and took matter to Labour Court. Based on the legal advice given to the NLSA, it was decided to let him come back to work rather than spend money on litigation. In the meantime, new allegations of sexual harassment and victimisation (which were not part of the case) surfaced. Based on these allegations and advice from the DAC HR and legal professionals, a decision was taken to serve Mr Matyumza with notice of intention to suspend.
The Chairperson asked if everything that happened, happened within the framework of the law.
Ms S Tsoleli (ANC) asked if the sexual harassment happened in the workplace.
Mr Makondo said he would like the timeline of events to be explained again.
Mr Mkhize explained that an appeal was lodged after the dismissal notice. The appeal was done by the HR person (who is currently on suspension for not following the correct appeal process and subverting due process). The appeal was thus declared null and void and that is when Mr Matyumza took the matter to the Labour Court. Attorneys for the entity then advised that the case is not winnable because of the Act which says that an appeal outcome is final. This is when the workers started to be disgruntled. The staff did not want Mr Matyumza to come back.
Ms V Mogotsi (ANC) commented on the timing of the sexual harassment claim stating that the complaint was submitted last year with HR supposedly doing nothing about the matter. Now that the HR consultant has been suspended, and cannot answer for himself, the complaint is lodged again.
The Chairperson wanted to know if the complainant followed up with their complaint from the first time they lodged.
Ms Tsoleli said the complainant should have gone above the HR consultant if they felt like their matter was not being dealt with. Staff cannot dictate who can be a part of the entity and who cannot, based on who they like and who they do not like. She would also like to know the demographics of the Cape Town branch of the NLSA.
Mr Mkhize stated that many of the issues are HR matters and they will zoom in on this area. The CEO must submit HR policies so that the Department can be proactive and deal with the challenges. The DG will discuss with the staff the process that need to be followed, especially in a state of unrest and unease amongst the staff and management. The report on the sexual harassment claim has been finalised and has been sent to the DG and the Minister. The report will be considered and engaged with.
Mr Mkhize goes on to discuss Mr Mavhungu’s, (Director: Corporate Affairs) suspension. This suspension is due to a pending investigation into the role he allegedly played in shielding Mr Matyumza from the reported case of sexual harassment and his involvement in the appeal process. He also failed to involve the NLSA’s legal representative in the appeal process as required. Mr Brian Mabasa, Director: Human Resources was charged with irregular appointments of staff and interns, failure to conduct performance evaluations and delays in implementing disciplinary processes against Mr Matyumza and Mr Mulaudzi. He entered into a separation agreement with NLSA on 321 May 2018. Mr Mabasa was paid 2 months’ salary and the matter is finalised.
The Chairperson did not understand why someone who was charged with wrongdoing is receiving two months’ pay while not working.
Mr Mkhize said they would rather pay those two months’ salary rather than go through the appeal process.
Performing Arts Centre of the Free State (PACOFS)
There was an issue with collusion at the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State (PACOFS) by the CFO and SCM manager on scandalous operational matter. There were also irregularities reported on procurement of council members for gospel show. There were allegations levelled against Portfolio Committee Members who were seen using PACOFS’s car during the MACUFE Festival.
Mr Grootboom would like clarity on the issue of procurement by council members.
Ms Mabo said the council member is also an artist and was using PACOFS resources for their own agenda.
Ms Tsoleli says that this is an eye opener for the Department. What does the law say about having an artist on the board? She would also like to know where the recordings are for the oversight on PACOFS by the Portfolio Committee.
Mr Mkhize said those recording are not available as that oversight was not recorded.
Ms Tsoleli said for all other meetings there are recordings, but with the oversight there was no recording. The recording is needed because it needs to prove whether the allegations against Mr Makondo are true or not. These allegations are dangerous as they make MR Makondo look like a bad person and the Department needs to follow up on what was said about Mr Makondo.
Ms Molotsi states that as Members of Parliament they cannot have this and Parliament will send a legal team if need be, if she (the women who accused Mr Makondo of saying something harmful at the oversight meeting) does not come with evidence of what Mr Makondo said or withdraw her statement and apologise.
Mr M Rabotapi (ANC) said if she cannot get the recording she must appear and say where she got the information from.
Ms N Bilankulu (ANC), is not quite understanding the recording issue and would like clarification on which recording is missing, because there was a recording that was played recently with regards to this matter.
The Committee Secretary then explained that the recording that the Committee Member heard was the recording in which the woman accused Mr Makondo. The recording that is missing is the recording that is supposed to prove that Mr Makondo indeed said what he was accused of saying.
The Chairperson wanted the minutes of the oversight meeting and assured everyone that this matter will not be left hanging.
Mr Mkhize states that in the meeting of PACOFS the oversight was not discussed. There was an alleged sinister intention to blackmail Portfolio Committee Members, of which he was unaware of. Proceedings that day were recorded and he cannot respond on the oversight meeting as he was not present.
Mr Makondo wanted to know what his recourse was. Allegations against him have been made and until dispelled, he cannot attend any PACOFS meetings with the rest of the Committee.
National Arts Council (NAC)
The interim CEO was appointed on the 25 September 2018 on a month-to-month basis by the National Arts Council (NAC). The interim CEO salary is the same as the current CEO who is on special leave. This arrangement has shocked the Minister and the Portfolio Committee. The Portfolio Committee has rejected and questioned the decision taken by the Council to appoint a Council member as an interim CEO. The Committee has further instructed the DAC to rectify this arrangement and especially that the entity is paying two CEO salaries under such budget constraints.
Mr Makondo wants to know why the CFO is not the acting CEO.
Mr Mkhize states that the CFO was also implicated in the misconduct and is currently in the disciplinary process. Cannot put those who have done wrong in the executive positions they did wrong in the first place.
Mr Makondo said the CFO is still at work and asked why can she not be the Acting CEO? She has not been suspended so why not?
The chairperson said there is an issue with the board and they are clearly not doing their jobs.
The meeting was adjourned.
- DAC - Report on Deliberations with the Staff of NLSA
- DAC - Forensic Investigations Conducted From April 2017 to 30 September 2018 (Break Down Of Costs)
- DAC - Litigation Costs from DAC Public Entities
- DAC - Current Status of Affairs at NAC, NLSA, PACOFS & PANSALB
- DAC- Legal Costs Incurred By the Department in the Last and the Current Financial Year
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