The planned presentation by the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) had to be deferred owing to the absence of the entity’s senior management. The PanSALB board chairperson explained that the meeting clashed with a previously arranged training session involving the entity’s provincial staff. The Members agreed that the entity’s executive management had to be present to provide meaningful answers to their wide range of questions.
The Committee Chairperson said that there was a big gap in PanSALB’s management, and there was a need for intervention at a high level in order to understand what the issues and the mandate were. The Department needed to close the gap, and once that was done there would be a better understanding.
Iziko Museums of South Africa was commended on their clean audit, but were warned there were possibilities of a budget cut which would create challenges. They had been instructed by the Auditor General to quantify their assets, the value of which was currently estimated at R2.5 billion. Iziko was concerned with the security risk that would be associated with this information.
Iziko reported that half of a million people had visited the museums, in the course of which they had given out 19 541 concessions. People could not always afford to pay for admission fees, and exceptions were made for schools and old age homes. There was free entry on public holidays, and they had gained access to a wider audience through the use of social media. The Planetarium upgrade had cost R27 million, which was funded by institutions such as the Lotto and universities. They had also made use of mobile museums, which allowed them reach historically disadvantaged communities. Iziko had also partnered with a bus service, which had helped to assist schools to come and visit the museums free of charge.
Pan South African Language Board
The Chairperson asked why the Executive of the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) was not present at the meeting.
Dr Tebogo Maahlamela, Chairperson, PanSALB, responded that before the invitation to attend Parliament had come to the Board’s attention, the entity had already planned a training session for all the provinces. The provinces had met on Monday, and the event had ended only on the day of this meeting. The training had been directed at cleaning up the mess made in the past. All of the preparations for this event had already been made.
The Chairperson responded that the Committee should have been made aware of this, as it was only etiquette to inform those attending the meeting. The Executive was the authority, and there were questions that only the Executive could answer. There was no point to the meeting if none of the Committee’s questions could be answered.
He stressed the fact that the Minister, Deputy Minister and Director General were also not present at the meeting. The Committee had set this time aside to speak about PanSALB’s fruitless expenditure, which included questions that could be answered only by the executive management. The Committee needed to arrange another meeting.
Mr M Bara (DA, Gauteng) said the Deputy Minister and the Minister had not been present when reports were dealt with, and that this should be noted. These meetings needed to be attended, and officials should raise this with the Deputy Minister. He said the lack of attendance should be recorded and reported accordingly.
The Chairperson said it was important to make people aware if one was not available to attend meetings. It was etiquette and good manners.
Dr Maahlamela said that PanSALB had been without a Board for two years, and the two previous Boards that were appointed in previous years had been dissolved. It currently had no professors, nor an advocate. This was an indication that people were running away from PanSALB in order to protect their careers.
He said the entity faced a legal status crisis, as they were trapped between two shareholders -- the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC), and Parliament. Many of its challenges emanated from the Speaker’s Office. Only when it suited management did they become a part of the institutional democracy. There was less accountability for management when they went straight to the Speaker’s Office, as opposed to the DSAC, because the Department already had other entities and a model in place to do monitoring and evaluation. PanSALB was suffering because of the way it was being governed by the Constitution, and not by Departmental policies, which was problematic. The Board was being shoved from one side to the next, and it was causing many challenges. A forensic report had been conducted on the involvement of the dissolved Boards, and once the management had become aware that they were implicated, they had tried to sabotage the moves of the currently appointed Board. The Department had offered the Board assistance.
The Chairperson said that there was a big gap in PanSALB’s management, and there was a need for intervention at a high level in order to understand what the issues and the mandate were. The Department needed to close the gap, and once that was done there would be a better understanding. The Committee had to be made aware of the necessary channels to follow when it came to responsibility and the need for corrections. The management and Executive needed to take responsibility.
Ms D Christians (DA, Northern Cape) said that the Committee understood what the issues were, and were concerned. However, this was not the correct audience, nor the ideal time, to discuss the matter presented by Dr Maahlamela. She would wait for the necessary platform to ask her questions.
Ms S Luthuli (EFF, KwaZulu-Natal) said the longer the Committee waited, the more PanSALB’s problems would pile up. The meeting needed everyone to be present, including the Ministers, the Director General (DG) and the Deputy Director General (DDG).
Mr Bara said that the overview given by the Board indicated that serious intervention was required. In order to make a meaningful contribution and to meet the entity’s mandate, having a non-operating Board for two years was problematic. The governing structures had to be operating efficiently in order for functionality, and this was the root of all the challenges. This needed to happen with urgency, and a presentation needed to happen as soon as possible. The Committee needed to support those who were still willing to participate, and willing to serve on this Board. The issues surrounding accountability were important, and the Committee needed to play their part. Once the governing structure was dealt with, everything would fall into place.
Ms N Ndongeni (ANC, Eastern Cape) said that it was important for the Board to understand that the Committee was not undermining the Board, but the Board could not answer her questions.
The Chairperson said this was a very big problem. The Committee was dealing with matters that should have been dealt with during the era of Mr Mandela, and this was unfortunate. The Portfolio Committee should meet and do some homework so that they could gain a better understanding of the legislation and information regarding the challenges being experienced by PanSALB. This would also help them to engage better with the Board, the Chairperson and the Deputy Chairperson. The problem was bigger than everyone thought it was. The Committee would send written questions with all the problems and the interventions that could be put into place, and would expect lengthy responses in return, answering the relevant questions.
Dr Maahlamela advised the Committee on the processes that needed to be followed in order to run an investigation. Where there were contradictions, the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) may supersede any other piece of legislation, and people used this as an argument, but it caused many other challenges.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would keep the Board updated and support them, and that questions in writing would follow. He excused PanSALB from continuing their presentation.
Iziko Museums of South Africa
The Committee was told that museums provide an important social compass -- vital platforms that serve as vessels to promote human rights, social inclusion and innovative thought. The Iziko Museums continued to fulfil their mandate. Their focus was to address issues of decolonisation, and they seek to include the public in these narratives. It allowed for the recognition of the inequalities of the past. It promoted creative and new thinking. The Iziko Museums seek to build collections which represent and speak about the collective past. They aim to build towards the future and to be proud of the South African heritage and to do it through museums.
Half of a million people had visited the museums, in the course of which they had given out 19 541 concessions. People could not always afford to pay for admission fees, and exceptions were made for schools and old age homes. There was free entry on public holidays, and they had gained access to a wider audience through the use of social media. They connected with local citizens and people all over the world.
The Planetarium upgrade had cost R27 million, which was funded by institutions such as the Lotto and universities. They had also made a use out of mobile museums, which allowed them reach historically disadvantaged communities. It was an ongoing education project. Iziko had also partnered with Hosken Consolidated Investments, which owns the Golden Arrow bus service, and they had helped to assist schools to come and visit the museums free of charge.
Social cohesion and community development programmes included campaigns allowing the public to enter the museums at half price or for free, depending on the circumstances or occasions. The public could enter for free during Heritage Week and International Museums Day. There had been an increase in visitors during the Heritage Week last year. The media had allowed Iziko to reach national audiences across print, broadcasting and online platforms.
Iziko engaged with the public, and there were discussions on the importance of revitalising indigenous languages through language activism. They aimed to create inclusive spaces around Iziko museums so that people could feel free to benefit from these spaces. They had inclusive exhibitions that celebrated diverse cultures and histories. They had opened a centenary commemoration which featured a Madiba exhibition. They celebrated International Mother Tongue Day to promote the use of indigenous languages. Iziko also promoted staff upliftment, and the staff shared their knowledge and experiences with school learners, while informing them of the possible careers they could apply for at the museums. The Iziko ran a Brazil-Russia-India-China-SA (BRICS) initiative exhibition and an exhibition on slavery.
Iziko was at the forefront of cultural and national heritage in South Africa. They were currently running 78 research projects in which their staff was involved. There was a peer review publication, and this curated over 15 000 digitised artefacts. They had hosted 33 interns in various programmes that were available at Iziko. There were training opportunities for all staff, including tertiary training. Iziko was involved in 67 long term partnerships, and this helped them to deliver their mandate.
Iziko said income for 2018/19 was about R187 million, and this had been increased by an allocation from the Department of Arts and Culture. Donors and conditional funding constituted 16% of the income. The expenditure was R173 million, which was a 5% increase. Salary expenditure had risen by 1%. Iziko was sitting on R2.5 billion of net assets in terms of museum’s collections. There were experts who were currently evaluating the worth of the museum collections. There were only certain collections that had been insured, as insurance was costly.
Adv Rod Solomons, Chairperson: Iziko, said that the Council needed to thank the management team and staff at Iziko for the audit report from the Auditor-General. It had received R10 million in donations from corporates and foundations for the financial year. However, it would face budget cuts which would result in more challenges. However, the staff remained committed, their Board was energetic, and their management was stable.
The Chairperson thanked the team and said that ultimately they would achieve their goals going forward. If the entity used its money allocations correctly, what more did the Committee want? They were achieving their goals, with minimal stress.
Ms Ronell Pedro, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Iziko, said that in the 2018/19 financial year, the Auditor-General (AG) had found that Iziko was occupying spaces “free of charge,” and said they needed to quantify it. This had caused arguments, as the Department had felt there was no need to quantify it. Iziko had been instructed by the AG what the market value of the buildings was, and they had to report on it.
Iziko had a diverse and large collection. They had been instructed to value the collections, and were still in the process of doing this. They were currently doing renovations, and the figures for the evaluation of the spaces and collections would need to be re-stated.
Adv Solomons said that Iziko would like to make the Committee aware of their maintenance issue regarding the upkeep of their buildings. Iziko had some unique buildings, and the Department of Public Works (DPW) was responsible for them. There had been a slow withdrawal by the DPW from performing this role, and they were moving the responsibility over to Iziko. The Council would like to flag this issue as a problem that needed assistance. The Department of Arts and Culture, as well as other entities, were flagging this challenge.
An official of the Department said that there were currently 25 public entities, and Iziko was one of the best performing. They were coming from a history of clean audits, which impacted several entities. The museum was filled with millions of collections which were being valued and accounted for, and therefore the balance sheet was being seen only now. There were many assets, so the figure of R2.5 billion worth of collections could be deceiving. There were infrastructure programmes in place, as these collections formed a part of South Africa’s heritage.
Adv Solomons said that the Robben Island Museum had its own Council, and was separate from Iziko.
The Department confirmed that Robben Island was governed by a separate authority and had separate governing functions. Iziko was comprised of several museums, including the Slave Lodge.
The Chairperson said that when the Committee and the Council engaged, it was enriching. There was oversight of the database, and if the Council had no information, they could not blame it on this. Oversight was important so that the Committee and the Council could move together.
The Council needed to ensure that there was an interest among young people about knowing the history of South Africa. It was important for them to appreciate its history. He asked how it expected to attract young people.
Ms Ndongeni asked the Council how many vacancies they had, and whether they had an employment equity plan.
Ms Luthuli asked how people were informed when the museums had free entry.
Ms Ndongeni asked whether the Council could consider helping with the drought in the Eastern Cape, because she had seen a promotion on dealing with the water crisis by Iziko.
The Chairperson asked the Council about their 12 disciplinary hearings and the dismissals. What were the reasons for the dismissals? How much money was being raised, and what percentage was being used? Were some institutions giving conditional funding that came with responsibilities?
Adv Solomons said that Iziko’s staff was unionised, and they did have an employment equity plan that they would make available to the Committee.
People were aware of the free entry into museums. They raised awareness through their various social media platforms, and they interacted with schools and through the education department. Media coverage also helped to raise awareness.
Iziko wanted to create a mobile planetarium -- just like the mobile museums -- which would incur costs, but budget cuts it would affect this programme. Fundraising was a challenge, as they were having challenges in appointing a new director, and fundraising was usually a part of the director’s job. Issues within the economy were affecting visitor numbers at the museums. Iziko had great initiatives they would love to follow through with, but they would not be able to continue if budget cuts occurred. However, management was already planning for such an eventuality, and they would work through it.
Ms Rooksana Omar, Chief Executive Officer (CEO): Iziko, said budget cuts would have an effect on the staff. Operations would have to be scaled down quite a bit, and the state of the economy was creating challenges. The money they depended on was derived through admissions. The museum constantly had new exhibitions, and this was what brought visitors through. They had raised R7 million of their own funding, but the staff did not get any percentage of what was being raised by the museum. They did not employ a company to raise money for them -- the staff help to do it and they suggest proposals.
The Chairperson asked if there were some people who had been charged with issues of unethical collection.
Ms Omar said that they did have instances of unethical collections, and it was one of the many issues they had at their museums.
Mr Bongani Ndhlovu, Executive Director: Iziko, said as a contribution to the protection of indigenous languages, they had exhibitions in which songs were sung and the languages were spoken. There were archives available to researchers and to the public on these languages. They had various interactions where the narrative of the language was documented. The languages were spoken in the various spaces provided by the museums, and this allowed some of their staff to use and learn them.
Ms Denise Crouse, Executive Director of Operations, Iziko, said that out of the disciplinary hearings, there had been two dismissals. On had been due to absence without leave, and the other was due to dishonesty. The dishonesty dismissal had been a middle level manager, while the other dismissal had been at a lower level.
Adv Solomons said there was an unintended potential threat to museums through having to quantify assets and establish values, as it increased the security risk in respect of people breaking into museums. He asked the Committee to advise how they should handle the security risk.
The Chairperson said that museums consisted of priceless works of art, and that this challenge needed to be taken seriously.
The meeting was adjourned.
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