The Committee convened to consider the Annual Reports of the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport and three of its entities – the Western Cape Language Committee, the Western Cape Cultural Commission and Heritage Western Cape.
Members questioned the Department about the uncertainty surrounding the budget envelope, the inadequate physical space to store archival historical records, limited bidding as a form of special procurement, the identification of its minor assets, the condoning or irregular expenditure, a long-running legal case, the filling of vacancies, the destruction of property during protest action, and the insurance for heritage sites. They highlighted the severe implications of a cyber attack, and asked the Department to ensure its systems provided adequate protection. The transfer of Division of Revenue Act (DORA) funds to municipalities was also discussed at length.
The Western Cape Language Committee was asked questions about its remuneration structure, its maximum pay rate, the meaning of “other allowances,” and what it entailed. Members expressed confusion over “service in kind” in the report, and raised concerns over the board members’ competence. Discussion on the Western Cape language policy led to a suggestion, with the current migration of Sotho-speakers into the province, that Sotho be considered as a subject to be taught at school.
Members asked about the competence of the Western Cape Cultural Commission’s board, and the process and criteria for board members’ appointment. The Committee agreed that the ad hoc appointment procedure needed to be formalised and legislated.
Heritage Western Cape was asked how it was dealing with the risk of unauthorised alterations being made to heritage resources. A Member suggested that in most instances, providing security would greatly improve the preservation of heritage sites. The Department responded that the issue was about alterations being made without a permit. With a permit, Heritage Western Cape would ensure that appropriate materials would be used. The big increase in the entity’s consulting services expenditure was also highlighted in the discussion.
Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport: Annual Report
The Chairperson suggested Members should start with questions for the Department before directing questions to the entities. Questions would deal with Parts C and E of the presented reports.
Ms D Baartman (DA) asked if there had been any apologies from Department officials. In its Annual Report, she wanted to know more details about the uncertainty regarding the budget envelope and whether there had been a percentage guideline from National Treasury. Since the Auditor-General (AG) had briefed the Committee on the implications of cyber attacks, she wanted to know about the inability to access the information technology (IT) system. She asked about the vehicle had caught alight in the Department’s building on 12 March 2019.
Mr Deon Burger, Head of Department, Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, responded on the Department officials’ absence. The management team met three times a month on Mondays, and the Department took full accountability for the absence of officials. He assured SCOPA that the officials were adequately represented.
On the alight vehicle, he explained that an employee’s car had caught alight. Only three people were affected because the person had arrived at work early. They had subsequently alerted the management. It had been an electrical fault, and there was nothing untoward about it.
Ms Brenda Rutgers, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, explained that the IT risk was related to uncertainty emanating from the 2015/16 financial year. At the time the Department had to give up R25 million rand for the filling of quite a few vacant positions. So the risk was around National Treasury’s budget cut which would make refilling vacancies even worse.
The Department said that the risk for access to the IT system had been identified three years ago. Since then, the Centre for e-Innovation (CEI) had rolled out broadband advertisements, and all sites were prioritised now and were functioning on a good track.
Ms Baartman wanted to find out the impact of cyber attacks on the Department. Given the magnitude of the cyber threat, she asked if there had been an actual attack on the Department’s IT system which had resulted in any loss of the classified information. If so, where did the attack come from, who did it, what were they looking for, had the case been reported, and what was outcome of the case?
Mr Burger said that there had not been any attacks yet. The Department’s security team assessed risks and looks out for any outside hackers on a daily basis. When there a case was detected, there was a standard follow-up process to track Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.
Ms Baartman referred to a loss of financial information by the Committee, and asked if the loss included only the Department. or its entities as well. She reiterated that it was a transversal issue.
Mr Burger said that he was not aware of the loss, but would instruct his team to provide him with feedback and he would report to the Committee when he was better informed. He said the Department’s definition of attack was when an outsider hacks the system and successfully gets in and uses the classified information. The attacks described by Ms Baartman were not classified as attacks, because in those cases the hackers have attempted to get in but had not succeeded in breaching the system.
Ms M Maseko (DA) said the Committee had been informed of the potential cyber risks by the Auditor-General (AG). She noted the Department’s IT 45-day system, which she commented was too outdated. She wanted to know what had happened to quantify the statement from internal audit.
Mr Burger responded that what Ms Maseko had described was an issue that arose from previous employees. The accounts that belonged to previous employees who had left the employment of the Department remained open. The Department could not close their accounts because their positions still had dealings with clients from the public. What Department usually did was to find suitable candidates to take over this work as soon as candidates became available. For instance, two email accounts that were currently left open had belonged to two previous employees, and the accounts were open due to the need for normal correspondence. However, he assured the Committee that the Department was taking measures to close accounts immediately upon employees’ termination of employment.
Ms Maseko commented on the fast speed of internet and asked if emails belonging to ex-employees could be redirected within 24 hours. A 45-day period did not make sense. She referred to the views of the AG and the internal audit, and expressed her confusion as to why the Department had a nonchalant attitude and was not taking immediate action.
The Chairperson pointed out the different standards applied to politicians and Departmental officials. Usually, when politicians left their office, they lost their email address immediately. He asked why the same standard could not be applied to Department employees.
Ms N Nkondlo (ANC) asked what had been done to address the three risks identified -- inadequate physical space to archive records received from government institutions, uncertainty regarding the budget envelope, and the inability to access IT systems or information.
Ms Rutgers explained the Department’s mitigation strategy process. The Department first identifies the risks raised in the risk register, and then reviews them on a quarterly basis. It develops action plans, and takes a quarterly review to look at any emerging risks at a programme level, and whether action plans had been honoured. Overall, when a risk was raised, there must be a strategy to address the risk, and action plans were always implemented.
Ms Baartman said since cyber attack was a transversal issue, did the Office of the Premier direct it to deal with the issue, or did each provincial department deal individually. She suggested asking the Premier to brief the Committee, given that so many departments had identified this as a risk and that the budget for this had been decreased.
The Department said that the ICT centralising service was provided by the Office of the Premier, so it was a transversal matter. Each Department was bearing the brunt, but these issues would be raised at Monday meetings.
Ms Maseko wanted clarity on the destruction and damage to property and the libraries. Considering the inadequate budget, what systems were currently in place to prevent such incidents from happening again? She asked if the Department had made an inventory of what had been damaged, and how repairs to the many damaged properties had been paid from the budget.
Ms Rutgers said that the destruction and damage to properties and libraries had to do mainly with civil unrest, such as during election time.
Ms Maseko asked if the libraries were recorded as assets of the Department or the municipalities.
The Department said that the contents of the libraries, such as books and computers, were the Department’s assets. The library buildings belonged to municipalities.
Ms Baartman said that she knew of two incidents in which books had been removed from the libraries before the buildings were destroyed.
Ms Nkondlo asked what the cost of the damaged property was, and whether the Department would be affected by the loss of the building.
Ms Rutgers responded that the Department had not lost any books, so it had not lost anything. She could not answer about the loss of the building.
Ms Nkondlo asked how this risk was being mitigated, since there was another election in 2021. She asked the Department to provide more information on the case related to fraud, theft and corruption on page 138. Under health, safety and environmental issues, she asked for the causes and cost implications of the seven disablement injuries on duty.
Mr Burger responded to the question about the case. It was related to an alleged procurement irregularity in July last year, following a whistle-blower’s alert. At the end of the 2018/19 financial year, it was work in progress. The case had been closed on 30 September this year, as no findings of irregularity had been found during the investigation.
The health and safety issues referred to injury on duty. None of the incidents was linked to damage to property.
Ms Nkondlo asked about the cost of these injuries to the Department. If there were injuries, they should raise health and safety concerns in the workplace.
The Department responded that these incidents were not directly related to occupational health. It assured the Committee that the occupational health audit was being done annually. There were costs, but the medical cost was covered by the Department.
Mr D Mitchell (DA) asked if the Department could confirm that there would be no future claims for these injuries on duty.
Mr Burger said these cases had been closed at the moment, but they had been registered so there was always a way to follow up. However, it was always hard to predict whether or not these claimants would make new claims in future, as it was subjected to the levels of their injuries.
Mr R Allen (DA) congratulated the Department on the compilation of the report. He commented on the risks being referred back by the Enterprise Risk Management and Ethics Committee (ERMECO) for additional mitigation strategies, and asked what the Department had done about this.
Mr Burger said that there was an extensive amount of additional risks and the Department would not be able to give direct answers, but would give a list that contained all the discussion content to the Committee. The intention of the sentence which the Member had quoted was meant to indicate that staff had to discuss and articulate risks at the operational level.
Mr Mitchell asked what the Department did to monitor emerging risks to ensure that they would not become a risk in the next financial year
Ms Rutgers explained that emerging risk meant the risks were in the process of being identified and had not resulted in any negative impact yet. For the emerging risks that were included in the report, the Department had already deliberated on action plans to mitigate these risks. Regarding AG’s comment on limited bidding, she said that limited bidding was a form of procurement and the grounds on which this form of procurement was justified.
Mr Mitchell said he had raised the point because it was picked up as an audit flounder. He needed the officials to assure the Committee that it would be monitored.
Ms Rutgers explained that the Department had a detailed plan to articulate and assess risks and come up with a solution to mitigate risks.
Ms Nkondlo wanted to know under what special conditions the Department would choose limited procurement, rather than normal procurement.
Ms Rutgers used an example from the findings in the report to answer the Member’s question. The Department had recently used Stellenbosch University to provide training for after-school practitioners because there was collaboration between Stellenbosch and a university in America that specialised in the training of after-school practitioners. No other university in the country could provide this training programme. She further assured Members that this route would not be used unless there was justification.
Ms Nkondlo accepted the Department’s explanation. She suggested that more information around the nature of limited bidding could be obtained from the AG, so she suggested inviting the AG to brief Members on the conditions under which the Department may use limited bidding as a form of procurement.
Ms Maseko referred to SCOPA’s resolutions in the report, and asked about the progress of the resolutions. She asked why the asset inventory list was not included in the report. How did the Department register their assets, such as libraries and museums? She suggested a working relationship with universities to help the Department develop such a register.
Mr Dustin Davids, Procedural Secretary, responded that completing the asset register was still under progress, because some assets had not been adequately included in the register. He confirmed that issues in the resolutions had been resolved.
Mr M Xego (EFF) asked whether the books or the library were the Department’s assets. He wanted to understand the basis for the condoning of the irregular expenditure. What was the progress of the investigation into the assets which amounted to R708 000 that were not found during compiling the asset register. For the minor assets under investigation, he asked about the R497 153 of machinery and equipment lost, and if this had become a trend.
Ms Rutgers explained that the accrued amount that was written off was related to the loss of library books. The Department had a specific process of tracking loss items. A period of 12 months was given to track lost books. After the lapse of the time period, the Department would write them off. It was the Department, not the municipality, which paid for the loss of the books.
On irregular expenditure, R140 000 had been condoned out of an amount of R259 000. The balance was still under investigation. The amount being condoned related to issues such as not following proper regulations and procedures in looking for service providers, etc.
For asset verification, internal policy required an investigation, and the timing was planned for the end of this financial year, so the conclusion of the investigation could not be provided in this report.
Mr Mitchell commented the Division of Revenue Act (DoRA) transfers to municipalities, and asked why only 55% of the R5.55 million transferred had been spent. On what project had the 55% of the fund been spent?
The Department said library services transferred funds to municipalities for staff operational and small operational costs. Since the municipal financial year ends in June, this amount could not be fully spent by the end of the provincial financial year.
Mr Mitchell asked to which project the transfer for the infrastructure was being declared in the report.
Ms Rutgers responded that it was on page 255.
Mr Mitchell said that it was exactly the same as the page on equitable share.
Mr Burger responded that the exact projects and figures for these transfers could be found on page 126, under sports facilities. The review did not make any indication about a transfer to Beaufort West.
Mr Mitchell asked in what year the transfer was made.
Mr Burger responded that his Department had never made a transfer. The transfer that Mr Mitchell made reference to must have been a direct transfer from national government about two financial years ago.
Mr Mitchell expressed his dissatisfaction. The condition was bad two financial years ago, and the condition still remained the same after the transfer, whether it was from his Department or the national department, or not. He asked whether the grant money had been fully spent. If not, he wanted to know if the money had been returned. If so, he wanted the Department’s confirmation on the money that had been spent on the project.
The Department said that since the project had not taken place, the money had been returned two weeks ago.
Mr Mitchell noted that a tennis court had been completed two months ago.
Ms Maseko asked Mr Mitchell to clarify the situation so that the content included in resolution would be correct.
Mr Mitchell asked to include in the resolution when the money had been transferred from the municipality back to the Department.
The Chairperson commented that the Department had not lost anything and had even got interest accrued from the fund. He was therefore not sure if the matter was for SCOPA or for the municipality, and agreed to include this issue in the resolution for clarity.
Ms R Windvogel (ANC) enquired about the damage related to accidents, which amounted to R95 000 in the 2018/19 financial year, and asked for more details.
Ms Rutgers explained that the damage was related to losses caused by accidents, and had been written off.
Ms A Bans (ANC) raised concern over the uncertainty related to the future outcome of litigation indicated in the report. She wanted more detail on Midnight Storm Investments 170 (Pty) Ltd v Minister of Arts and Culture and Others, case 46055/15.
The Department responded that it was a matter in which Heritage Western Cape had tried to protect a cave and got sued by the land owner years later, because the owner wanted to develop the area around the cave. The Heritage Western Cape committee had not approved of the development due to its heritage nature. The owner took the matter to court, citing the argument that by virtue of protection, the HWC was appropriating their land. The case had been ongoing for years and currently was waiting for a decision on the trial date. Both the HWC and the Department were defendants in the case.
Mr Burger said that the questions raised around the cancellation of transfers for sports organisations would have to be answered in detail in writing.
Ms Rutgers said that the other liability could be found on page 266 in the report on the claims against the Department.
Ms Bans wanted to know the value of the land.
Ms Rutgers responded that the land had been assessed and calculated at R8.2 million.
Ms Nkondlo asked about the slow filling of posts, and how many were vacant. What were the reasons for the vacancies and the delay in filling them? She needed more information on the under-spending on the mass participation sports development programme. She asked about the increase in uniforms and clothing for Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) officials, and asked what projects were involved. She asked the Department to explain the increase in the payables not recognised in the cultural affairs programme, which had seen an increase from R11 000 in 2017/18 to R122 000 in the 2018/19 financial year. She asked for reasons for the under-spending on the conditional grants transferred to municipalities.
Mr Burger reminded Members that the conditional grants indicated in the report were for library resources. He informed Members that there was a difference in the cut off dates of financial years between that of the Department and that of municipalities. Municipalities’ cut off date fell on 30 June, while the Department’s was on 31 March.
Mr Rutgers said that only three of the municipalities in the Western Cape had not spent their full amount. Oudtshoorn Municipality had spent 75% of its transfer, and the delay had been caused by a building project -- the money would be spent shortly. The City of Cape Town had underspent due to its filling of vacant posts. The third one was Witzenberg Municipality, where the delay was caused by its library project. However, 88% of its budget had already been spent by the end of June.
The Department said referred to the filling of posts, and said six had been filled now, and the last ones were in the final stage being filled.
Workers in the library services were need of EPWP uniforms. 58 EPWP workers had already started their work.
Ms Maseko enquired about workers being booked off work, and under what conditions the cases were approved. She asked the Department to send a detailed report to the Committee. She wanted to know the difference between the heritage assets of the current versus the past financial year, and the methods that were used to assess heritage assets. She wanted the Department to explain how to quantify the assets that could not been found in the verification.
Mr Burger said that all the cases of workers being booked off had been referred to doctors before approval could be granted.
Ms Maseko asked what the cost implications would be, and how the Department assessed an employee’s health risk.
The Department said it had norms and standards on the assessment of an employee’s health risk, and assured Members that the system was robust.
Mr Xego asked what would happen in the case where an employee resigned.
Ms Rutgers said that a form would be sent to the Department clear up all debt for employees, and the Department then would deduct the debt amount from the employee’s pension. There was a debt procedure in the Department even for contract workers who did not have a pension fund.
Ms Baartman enquired about the different rules on amortisation for entities and the Department. There had been no indication of a depreciation of these assets in the report.
Ms Rutgers said that the Department used a modified cash basis of accounting, whilst entities used a public accrual basis of accounting. The latter type of accounting had deprecation included if there were assets to be depreciated. Because of the accounting model employed in the Department, there would not be depreciation indicated in the annual report.
Ms Baartman asked why the Department and its entities had a different depreciation amortisation policy, as this was rare in other provincial government departments.
Ms Rutgers responded that the Department cannot speak for other departments, but it was guided by its standards and norms. It disclosed the cost, but not the depreciated value.
Ms Baartman asked why the Department applied the model to the Department only, and not to its entities.
The Department replied that it was following the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), since the funds came from National Treasury with conditions on the monitoring of funds and transfers.
The Auditor-General had explained that the Department did not require depreciation. The accounting model for public entities were on an accrual basis, and the Department had to be on a cash basis.
Ms Baartman asked why there was inconsistency in the policy, since it was all public funds. Which accounting model was better?
The Chairperson suggested that perhaps the Committee needed to take this up with National Treasury.
Ms Rutgers said that if she could choose, she would choose the accrual accounting model. Modified accounting on a cash basis sometimes did not make sense. The reason that her Department was following the model was because they were following National Treasury’s instructions. However, the Department was in the process of migrating its model to the accrual accounting model. National Treasury had established an integrated financial system that would allow her Department to do accrual accounting. The notes included in the annual report were based on the accrual accounting model, except that it did not include the depreciation part. Public entities were subjected Section 19(1) of the PFMA, and they had to adhere to that accounting model.
Ms Baartman raised the issue of insurance. In the absence of insurance in the report, she wanted to understand why heritage assets were not insured and which insurance model the Department would prefer. She asked if the Department would value the asset up -- what was the best international practice?
Ms Rutgers said the Department owned only one heritage asset. Secondly, according to National Treasury regulations, the government was self-insured, meaning that her Department did not need to take out insurance. As for the latter part of the Member’s question, should it come to insurance, it would have to be determined by the type of asset. The Department clarified on the different types of assets. For instance, different museums employed different strategies. Depending on the items, the priceless items in some museums, such as rhino horns etc that could not be replaced, should rather invest in means of preservation against fire damage etc. Art galleries did insure for artwork.
Mr Baartman said that she understood the mechanisms used for priceless items, and asked if there were priceless items in the Department. She asked how the Department insured artwork.
The Department explained that self-insurance meant its cost was covered by the Department from its own budget. As previously stated, all items under the priceless category employed a different type of mechanism, which was investing money to ensure the item was preserved by all possible means.
The Chairperson said that the Committee understood what the Department had explained, but asked if there was any way to insure these items to their monetary value.
Ms Baartman asked where in the notes the fund for preservation of those items would be reflected. How did the Department use those items to bring extra economic benefits to the Western Cape?
Ms Rutgers said that preservation costs depended on what was entailed. If they had external service providers, that would be disclosed under contractors. With the current accounting model, it could not indicate clearly, as it could be sitting under any other group. As for the economic benefit, the Bartolomeu Dias Museum was what everyone came to see. All the contents in the museum were original items, and this was the centre of the province. Small towns were dependent on those items to generate revenue.
Western Cape Language Committee
Ms Maseko wanted to know the remuneration structure of committee members, and about the other allowances on page 229 of the report.
Ms Rutgers explained that the other remuneration meant transport and accommodation costs which the committee paid for its members.
Ms Maseko noted that R461 was the maximum rate for the chairperson of the committee. She asked what the conditions were for the Committee paying its members at the maximum rate.
Ms Rutgers said that the committee had a policy which made provision for reading time, which was time meant for members to be prepared for meetings. However, amongst the Department’s three public entities, this was applicable only to Heritage Western Cape, as its members needed time to read and understand statistics. The amount of hours had been capped at a maximum of five hours.
Mr Xego sought clarity on Page 20, which stated that the Western Cape’s language policy had not been implemented by certain provincial departments. He asked if a list of those departments could be provided, and what mitigation strategies the Department had adopted to address the issue.
Ms Rutgers said the Department had practitioners to attend to language services. In other departments, some have communications personnel, but did not necessarily have language personnel that focused on language services. The Department was in the process of circulating surveys around all departments to assess the situation in order to make action plans.
Mr Xego suggested that the Committee be informed of the survey outcomes as well.
Ms Maseko enquired what event had prompted the survey, and how the Department would involve all departments to work collaboratively. She gave an example of Sotho-speaking children living in the Western Cape, and asked what the Department intended to do about their schooling.
The Department responded that the survey was a routine periodic survey which took place every three years. This was part of the responsibility of the language service, where there was a project that surveyed children living in the Western Cape to ensure that they had an opportunity to be taught in their mother tongue.
Ms Maseko commented that the population in the province was skyrocketing, and the old language system could not keep up with the current in-migration from other provinces. The language issue was one of the emerging consequences of this in-migration.
Ms Baartman referred to the explanation that the reading policy applied only to members serving at Heritage Western Cape, and asked what policy the Department employed at the other two entities. What was the difference?
The Department responded that different committees had different agendas. Some committees would require members to read over 1 000 pages for meeting preparation, so the policy depended on the complexity of the meetings involved.
Ms Nkondlo commented on the language policy not being fully implemented by certain provincial departments. She had not received a direct response. She enquired about the importance of the Committee Charte,r and asked if it was a necessity.
The Department replied that what it had emphasised was that there was a risk, and the risk had been identified by the language committee. It did not mean that this risk had materialised. The purpose of the survey was to help and improve. The Department was taking preventative measures to prevent such risk from materialising.
Ms Nkondlo asked if there was a reporting mechanism to a formalised structure, to indicate the implementation of the policy.
Western Cape Language Committee’s response
The Western Cape Language Committee said that Western Cape Languages Forum was the formalised structure. They meet quarterly and bring up the new terminologies developed. People come and present in workshops at those forums as well. For instance, the Forum recently included some new Xhosa terminologies.
The Chairperson commented on the composition of the board, and asked what the requirements were for people to serve. He observed that only three members had studied languages -- others happened to work there, but did not possess relevant academic qualifications.
The Committee responded that language went beyond the confines of professionals and linguists -- it was also about the people who used languages as well. The recruitment and appointment procedures were that first there was a public advertisement stating the criteria, then the Standing Committee would make and recommend a short list of candidates to the Minister, and Minister would make the appointments.
The Chairperson asked about the Khoi language.
The Committee said it had started only at the beginning of this year, but it had put a lot of emphasis on the legislative review. It would help to inform the Committee on a review and amendment to the existing act, should it come to that. The Committee also had a focus on sign language, marginalised indigenous languages, isiXhosa, Afrikaans and English. Some members were doctoral candidates who were linguists. The process that led to the formation of the committee was satisfactory in terms of its representativity.
Ms Maseko asked if there was a need to add a fourth language -- Sotho -- in the Western Cape language policy.
The Language Committee said it had its aim and purpose for the surveys. With this survey, the Department might not achieve the outcome Ms Maseko had anticipated. Its role was to monitor the implementation of language policy in the Western Cape and advise accordingly. The Language Committee agreed to do what Members suggested, because that was part of the mandate.
Ms Nkondlo emphasised the impact of in-migration from other provinces on the languages used in the province.
Ms Nkondlo asked the CFO about the under-expenditure of the Language Committee.
Ms Rutgers explained that this was a technical question. Some officials in the Department served both entities, and the Department had to measure their services in kind and disclose the amount as such. The Department was unable to quantify time which they spent on Department matters or the entity, but it could quantify the salaries of dual workers. The over-expenditure was merely a technical adjustment because of this dual worker situation.
Ms Nkondlo said she could not understand Ms Rutger’s explanation, but it remained her view that quantifying time was possible.
Ms Baartman said she understood dividing a salary into three parts, but did not understand why it was listed as “service in kind.” Would it not result in an increase in the final budget? Where did the additional funds come from?
Ms Rutgers explained that the expenditure incurred and the revenue received were the two elements in the process, and the net effect was zero. It showed in expenditure and revenue, but did not reflect in the surplus. The salary came from the Department because the transaction was a non-cash adjustment.
Mr Burger added that these three entities were not run like the others in the Western Cape. Department staff were working at the Language Committee to save cost.
Ms Nkondlo said that technically the Language Committee was not an entity. She suggested this was something that could be resolved by the Standing Committee.
Western Cape Cultural Commission
Mr Xego asked why two members had received higher other allowances than the rest. What measures were in place to ensure the competence of the newly elected committee? What was being done to ensure the safety of cultural infrastructure?
The Department responded that the two members had higher travelling costs, because one had to come from Eden and the other flew in from the Mossel Bay area.
To mitigate risk, the Commission said that it executes tight control and also provides full support for public entity.
At cultural facilities, fences had been erected fencing, with lighting and full security around the clock at those facilities.
Mr Xego enquired how an incompetent Commission had been appointed and formed in the first place.
Mr Burger said the Commission did not control the appointment of members, so it was always at this risk. What its report had indicated was that there was a risk that the Commission might potentially face, and the team had explained the various measures in place to prevent the materialisation of such risks.
Ms Nkondlo asked who appointed the Commission members
The Commission responded that the appointment of members was the same as the other two entities -- a public advert, a long list of criteria, shortlisting and recommendations, and then the Minister makes the appointments.
Ms Nkondlo asked whether the people that selected those members should take competency into consideration, to avoid the scenarios like this incompetent Commission.
Ms Baartman said that general training was sufficient for all members to know their roles and responsibilities. She said a number of boards did not list the specific qualifications that these jobs required. The names that the Standing Committee recommended should be people who were already qualified. She asked what the legislation said on the issue.
Mr Burger said that it was a public process. The advertisement was published by the Standing Committee with a list of criteria. The names of applicants then would go to the Standing Committee and it would go through all applicants. The Minister gets a shortlisted recommendation to choose from for least 20 people, and appoints up to a maximum of 13 members. There was no process in the legislation that says that the accounting officer must shortlist the candidates.
Ms Nkondlo recommended this information should go into a resolution. She wanted to know exactly was the cause of the incompetency of the board was, and suggested the criteria should be tightened.
Mr Mitchell said that the Act required competency as a consideration when appointing members. He suggested amending the Ac,t because it dated back to 1998.
The Chairperson commented to the composition of the board. He said “culture” should go under “anthropology,” and only one person on the board had a degree in the discipline. It does not necessarily require an academic qualification, and a practitioner of anthropology should also suffice.
Ms Nkondlo enquired about the commitments, and wanted to know what types of projects there were. She wanted to understand the difference between approved and contracted, and approved but non-contracted. What constituted the bad debts as indicated under note 13 of page 76 of the report?
The Department explained that approved and contracted referred to awarded tenders, which were currently providing a service. The latter referred to a tender that had been awarded, but services had not begun as of 31 March 2019.
The bad debts were related to customers who were using the Department’s facilities, but had indicated their incapacity to pay. What the Department usually did was to follow due process and write the submitted amount off.
Ms Baartman asked for an explanation of the difference between bad debts and allowance for doubtful debt.
Ms Rutgers explained that “allowance” referred to the Department identifying the part of the potential budget to be written off, which normally happened in the next financial year.
Ms Baartman observed that no assets had been transferred to the Department during the 2018/19 financial year, and asked if that meant that depreciation would be irrelevant. She expressed her confusion on fees from facilities in the report, which spoke about rental income. She asked what the rental income was for, because she thought the Department of Public Works owned all the buildings.
Ms Rutgers said that during the year the Commission purchases equipment, and the Department writes them off within the Commission. It was thus the Department that managed the assets, and the entities that pay for the equipment.
On rental income, she explained that tariffs were charged for communities to use cultural facilities. Generally this revenue went back to Department of Public Works. However, the Department had had a discussion with the DPW, and it had agreed that the Department could use the revenue to maintain the facilities.
Ms Baartman said that according to the report, there were no purchases and disposals during 2018/19. Did that mean there were no assets?
Ms Rutgers said that technically, it did.
Heritage Western Cape
Mr Xego asked for clarity on the unauthorised alteration of the heritage resources, which was listed as a key risk in the report. What was the Department’s solution to prevent that? He observed that in most instances, providing security would greatly improve the preservation of heritage sites.
The Department responded that the risk here was not about heritage resources being altered, because they would be altered. The issue was about alteration without a permit. With a permit, Heritage Western Cape (HWC) would ensure that appropriate materials would be used in the alteration.
Ms Nkondlo enquired the remuneration of members. According to the report, there were only 11 members, but the report also shows that HWC was paying 43 members. She wanted to know what the payments to those 32 non-existent members were for.
The Department responded that pages 37-40 of the report contained a list of committees, with officials serving in positions under the law. The evaluation of the remuneration also depended on the number of meetings members had attended, which positions they served and where they stayed.
Ms Baartman reminded the Department of the incorrect formatting of the report on some of its pages. She asked why the consulting services amount had been doubled, compared to that of the last financial year. She asked if the consulting fee came out of the money for the World Heritage Project, which was funded by the Department’s budget. She also noted the big increase in printing and stationery expenses. Why did printing need to be increased?
Ms Rutgers explained the Department had spent part of the conditional grant on consulting and outsourcing services, while the balance was from the Department’s own budget.
The increase in stationery was due to printing the annual report, the purchase of customised receipt books, stamps and stationery, which had not been included in the previous financial year. The travel and subsistence increase was due to additional travelling compared to the previous financial year, and fuel cost increases. The increased in entertainment expenditure was because there were more meetings taking longer than expected, so sometimes they had to provide dinner for the committees.
Ms Baartman asked why there were more, and longer, meetings.
The Department responded that it was because the applications being received now were more complex and detailed, and required more time to be processed.
The meeting was adjourned.