Robben Island Museum 2020/21 Annual Report; Robben Island Museum Ex-Political Party Association on complaints against Museum & other matters; with Deputy Minister

Sports, Arts and Culture

25 January 2022
Chairperson: Ms B Dlulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

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Robben Island Museum

The Committee heard briefings by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture and the Robben Island Museum (RIM) on its annual performance for 2020/21, and from the Ex- Political Prisoners Association of SA which considered itself a key stake holder in the RIM's affairs.

The Department addressed the RIM's performance and its alignment with the Department’s outcomes; its non-financial performance; the financial allocation to the museum and its audit outcomes; governance matters and the composition of the RIM Council; the Department’s oversight activities and governance engagements; the composition of the executive management and staff; and the challenges facing the RIM. These challenges included a protracted investigation into mismanagement by the former chief executive officer and chief financial officer which had led to management instability, poor maintenance of infrastructure, and the loss of revenue from tours to the island due to the Covid restrictions. There had been complaints by the Ex-Political Prisoners Association (EPPA) against the RIM, and relationship problems between the EPPA and the RIM Council and Executive.

The RIM described its strategic objectives and budget programme structure; the 2020/21 performance highlights; progress on the 2021/22 annual performance plan and annual report; programmes focusing on designated groups; stakeholder engagements; and the challenges it faced. These challenges included funding constraints in respect of mandates which were either never considered for baseline, were new, or which no longer received funding; the interpretation and memorialisation of the island through exhibitions; the management of the Mayibuye archives/collections and public accessibility; public heritage education; inadequate investment in the asset base, as the current boat capacity was not sufficient; and tourism and its impact on revenue generation

Members queried the high price of tariffs, as they would exclude large sections of the population from visiting the island, and asked for a review. They raised questions on the completion and maintenance of infrastructure projects. What other revenue streams was the entity considering to increase the RIM's revenue base? When would it develop a new business model? They welcomed the ‘green’ projects, and asked why the island could not be fully powered by solar and wind power. They wanted the full history of Robben Island before apartheid to be included in the memorialisation projects. Members said resolving the differences between the RIM and EPPA seemed to be the responsibility of other departments. The RIM should facilitate identifying the departments responsible for ex-political prisoners so this could be concluded. Members asked about the outcome of the mismanagement investigation, and why no further action was taken. Which capital investments were impacted through the use of capital funding for operational purposes, such as the payment of salaries?

The EPPA said it considered itself a key stake holder in the RIM's affairs, and its history was threatened with being wiped away by the way it was being handled by the Department, and the museum in particular. One of the key issues was the "Mandelarisation" of the RIM, which overshadowed the experiences of other political prisoners, particularly the unsung heroes of Robben Island. The presentation suggested a solution framework to address the issues, as the island's heritage had not received justice in the heritage development and practice of the RIM in particular, and South Africa in general. A memorialisation project and memorial wall, and a reunion of former political prisoners, should be a priority. It commented on the marginalisation of the Namibian section of the RIM , the reduction of the museum to a tourist attraction, and referred to issues such as a review of the funeral benefits of EPPA members, an intellectual property rights review and the RIM’s commercialising of these rights, the permanent employment of ex-political prisoners in all departments, and a reduction of ticket pricing for students and locals.
Due to time pressure, the EPPA was not able to complete the full presentation and requested that a follow-up meeting be arranged for the presentation to be completed, as this was the first time the EPPA had presented to Parliament.

Members wanted to know how many people had been incarcerated on Robben Island and where they were buried. Was any research being conducted on the many people who were arrested and imprisoned during the apartheid era? Why were students not taught about this history? Why was there no researcher? Members said affordable tariffs could be offered for the off-season. They supported the proposal to have a follow-up Committee meeting with the RIM and EPPA to create more stability. 

Meeting report

Robben Island Museum

Overview
 
Ms Mandisa Tshikwatamba, Deputy Director- General (DDG): Corporate Services, Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC), described how the Robben Island Museum (RIM) was aligned with the Department’s outcomes. Key outputs and targets for 2021/22 were:
To protect and conserve the cultural (movable and immovable) and natural values of Robben Island.
To maintain the outstanding universal value of the island.
To undertake continuous research in order to enhance interpretation.
To provide a visitor experience through an integrated and holistic narrative of the Island.
To provide access to academic scholarship, research and training through post- graduate programme.
To provide inclusive access to information through outreach programmes.
To recruit and retain top talent.
To ensure an efficient and effective performance management system.
To develop skills.
To ensure effective and efficient human resources (HR) management

On the non-financial performance over the last three years, RIM had attained achievement rates of 81%, 80% and 88% up to 2020/21. The financial allocations over the same period were R84m, R122.5m and R96m respectively. The audit outcomes for the three years were unqualified with findings, qualified, and a clean audit.

On governance matters, the term of the RIM Council would end in June 2022. There had been a protracted investigation into mismanagement by the former chief executive officer (CEO) and chief financial officer (CFO) which had led to instability. The Department had facilitated the appointment of a legal firm to conduct an investigation, and the RIM Council had initiated a disciplinary process as per the recommendations of the investigation report. Due to further information made available by the implicated officials, the Council was advised, after seeking legal advice, to drop the charges as there were no prospects of success. 

On the poor maintenance of infrastructure, the Department and RIM had been in constant liaison with the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) on the matter. The DPWI had finally agreed to devolve some of the maintenance work on the Island to the RIM.

There had been financial challenges due to the loss of revenue from tours to the island, and RIM requested the use of capital budget funds to cover operational funding, including the payment of salaries. The Department had facilitated the request to use an amount of R38m from the capital works budget to cover operations, including compensation. In addition, an advance payment was given to RIM in 2020 to avoid non- payment of salaries. RIM had submitted its financial needs to the Department, and the Department had submitted a request for further funding for the Museum. These requests had not yielded positive outcomes.

There had been complaints from the Ex-Political Prisoners Association (EPPA) against the RIM, and on the relationship between the EPPA, the RIM Council and the Executive. The Department had facilitated a meeting in November 2021attended by the Department, the EPPA, the RIM Council and Executive Management. Follow up meetings would be held in an effort to improve relations with the EPPA.

On inactive commercial assets on the island, she said the business model review by the RIM was to facilitate commercial partnerships for revenue-generating projects.

RIM Briefing on 2020/21 Annual Report
 
Mr Khensani Maluleke, Chairperson: RIM Council, gave an overview of organisation. He said new executives -- Ms Maphootla Makhoalibe, Mr Tshimangadzo Nemahemi and Ms Abigail Thulare, were appointed in 2021. Ms Thulare, the RIM CEO, was the first female CEO in the organisation.

The strategic thrust of the RIM was on innovation and invention, and the goals were to find solutions to challenges with regard to ex- political prisoners. All parties had agreed to the use of a facilitator in the efforts to heal the rift with the EPPA and to meet regularly to address common issues. The facilitator would regulate the interaction with EPPA through a memorandum.

Issues to be addressed were that the RIM should develop a business model which identified revenue-generating streams and align it so that it could be sustainable, and be based on the local market. There would be a workshop in February around the development of a new business model. The RIM had introduced a new product -- walking tours -- which lasted four hours and covered eight sites over a distance of 10km.

He said the investigation into the former CEO and CFO had been concluded and the RIM had received legal advice that the prospects for success were not in their favour, so a disciplinary process did not take place. The RIM was notified by the EPPA to review the outcomes of the investigation so it could respond to the outcomes from this review.

On the auction of the Mandela prison cell key, the RIM was in communication with the Department and a task team was looking into the issue, as the auction would have been a transgression of the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) Act.

Ms Thulare reported on the 2020/21 performance, which had been tough because of Covid and had resulted in a 95% fall in revenue. In reviewing the strategic objectives and budget programme structure, she questioned whether the RIM was properly funded to implement all the mandates. She said 88% of the annual performance plan (APP) performance targets were achieved. Due to the passing of an ex-warder, Mr. Dirk Smith, during the year, there was no researcher available to assist with ex-warder interviews. In addition, the ex-political prisoner interviews, which formed part of the same target, might not be achieved due to cancellations and delays in the finalisation of the memorialisation project with the EPPA.

Mr Blayne Crocker, Chief Financial Officer: RIM, addressed the financial performance. He said there had been a delay in the finalisation of the 2020/21 annual report because of a delay in the finalisation of the audit. The delay was caused by an issue in the 2019/20 audit over the procurement of the MV Krotoa, and the RIM had raised a dispute with the AG. The matter had since been finalised.

He said COVID-19 had had an adverse impact on revenue generation, as the entity had not operated tours for six months, resulting in the use of the majority of the RIM’s savings to make good on contractual commitments, including staff salaries. Revenue from tour operations had decreased by R134m (95%) in 2021 compared to 2020, while total expenses had decreased by R67m (56%). The RIM had a deficit of R55 million for the 2020/2021 financial year compared to the R10.4m surplus the previous year.

Ms Thulare said the strategic projects of the RIM were:

A new waste water treatment works.
The Bluestone Quarry wall.
A solar photovoltaic array and battery system: This project was the RIM’s first step in a phased
        approach to reduce the island’s reliance on fossil fuel sources and its environmental impacts.
A new reverse osmosis desalination plant
The restoration of the maximum-security prison sections (eight sections).  
The restoration of 60 houses.     

On heritage projects, she referred to the memorialisation project, which honours all the people who suffered for freedom and justice, landmarks on the island, and also to the Mayibuye archives project, which was about the digitization of the Mayibuye archives collection. This was a R10m project funded by the French Development Agency/ Agence Française de Dévelopment (AFD).

On stakeholder engagements, she said the socio- economic interest of former prisoners was a contentious issue which was beyond the mandate of the RIM. She added that there was conflict in the approach for the EPPA Advisory Committee with the EPPA. There were also partnerships with other political foundations such as the Ahmed Kathrada and Robert Sobukwe Foundations.

Ms Thulare outlined the challenges the RIM faced and the recommendations it had made to address them. She said Robben Island Museum was a World Heritage Site and since 2019, a marine protected site. However, these additional requirements had never been considered as part of the baseline allocation, which impacted the entity’s ability to finance and achieve the requirements of Robben Island Museum’s integrated conservation management plan.

Robben Island Museum had funding constraints in respect of the following mandates, which were either never considered for baseline, were new or no longer received funding:

Funding for diesel for electricity generation on the island.
Increased responsibilities for the maintenance and infrastructure capital projects on the island
Funding for horticultural services to ensure the aesthetics of the island resembles its outstanding
   universal value.
The implications of generally recognised accounting principles (GRAP) 103 meant heritage assets had to be funded from the operational budget going forward.
The socio-economic benefit and expectation of universal access was never considered as part
   of the entities’ baseline funding.

Other challenges were:

The interpretation and memorialisation of the island through exhibitions.
The management of the Mayibuye Archives/collections and public accessibility.
Public heritage education
Inadequate investment in the asset base, as the current boat capacity was not sufficient.
Sustainability: Tourism and its impact on revenue generation.
The high number of critical vacancies

The RIM’s recommendations were:

The review and development of the RIM’s business model.
The development of a recovery plan in the short term and research on the new funding model to
Ensure sustainability of RIM in the medium term.
To develop a business case for additional funding/critical projects, clearly articulating the impact of
investment or non-investment.
To strengthen the relationship with the DPWI to ensure infrastructure and capital works were
implemented efficiently and effectively.
Funding for a mainland museum to provide access to Mayibuye archives and alternative tour
offerings to ameliorate the effect of adverse weather on visitor numbers.
The strengthening of stakeholder relationships and stakeholder initiatives to open up alternative
funding or opportunities.
To provide opportunities to the public for investments which are mutually beneficial.
To unlock funding for boat capacity which was critical to unlocking revenue potential.

Discussion

Ms R Adams (ANC) asked what considerations the RIM took into account in increasing the tour prices in a manner that did not exclude those who could not afford the prices. What were the hindrances for completion of infrastructure projects and what was the RIM doing to address the delays? What other revenue streams was the entity considering to increase the revenue base? When would it develop the new business model?

Mr B Mamabolo (ANC) said that for the RIM to increase tariffs to R1 000 was a problem for youth and students to learn about their history. Why could prices not be reduced for them?

Mr T Mhlongo (DA) welcomed the business model review, and asked when this would start and end. Did the RIM prioritise all stakeholders? How many times per annum had it met with the EPPA, and when was the last meeting? Why was the annual report not received timeously? Why did the RIM not attend the last meeting? What had happened to previous CEO? He said the pricing excluded locals -- which museum charged R1 000? What action had been taken regarding the late submission of the Auditor General's (AG's) report on finances?

Mr D Joseph (DA) acknowledged the clean audit of the RIM. He asked the Department to comment on the instability of management, as it appeared the RIM created the instability themselves. On the agreement between the RIM and the DPWI, he asked if the latter had shifted money for the RIM to do the maintenance. He wanted a list of the inactive commercial assets. What were the cash reserves before Covid? He welcomed the ‘green’ projects. He wanted the history before apartheid to be included in the memorialisation projects. He said the differences between the RIM and the EPPA seemed to be the responsibility of other departments. Had the RIM identified the departments responsible for ex-political prisoners? It should facilitate this matter so that it could be concluded.

Ms V Van Dyk (DA) referred to the oversight report, and asked what the outcome of the investigation and the recommendations of the legal firm had been. Could the Committee get a progress report on the investigation and be advised of the total amount of money spent on the investigation? Could the RIM give information on disciplinary action taken against one employee suspended without pay, and what the transgression was? How many of the new walking tours had been conducted? She said that in 2017/18 and 2018/19 there had been fewer visitors but a financial surplus, while in 2019/20 and 2020/21 there were more visitors but a financial deficit. Could this be explained? Was any of the RIM information digitised? Could existing buildings be used for the Mayibuye archive collection? Why could the island not be fully powered by solar and wind power?

Mr M Zondi (ANC) asked his colleagues to give Ms Thulare an opportunity, as she had just been appointed. He welcomed the clean audit and hoped that it would be coupled with the body meeting its mandate. He asked if the targeted groups were going to assist in the revenue generation. The new business model needed to be reviewed and developed. Would it be a new one or based on the old model? Were there other revenue streams in the pipeline? He said the high pricing of tariffs would hit the poor of this country. How would the RIM address vacancies, as there were big job losses because of Covid? Could they unlock funding elsewhere, other than from the budget? He noted the use of capex funding on operations and compensation, and asked which capital investments had been impacted. What would the Department do to ensure the RIM implemented its projects?

Mr B Madlingozi (EFF) asked how far the progress in infrastructure development and maintenance was. What was the cause of the dilapidation? What were the cause of the EPPA and RIM not ironing out their differences? Had the RIM done any research to determine any effects a visit to the museum had on the youth of the black townships? What were the other revenue generation streams? Did the RIM know what the cause of the rise in the visitor numbers in 2017 had been?

The Chairperson wanted clarification on the dropping of the investigation and why the EPPA wanted a review of that decision, and supported the questions raised by Mr Joseph. She asked if public hearings could not be held regarding the RIM and the EPPA in order to access the voice of the youth and the unemployed.

Department's response

Ms Nocawe Mafu, Deputy Minister, DSAC, said she hoped the Department and the RIM had taken notes, because some of the inputs on the business model and the restructuring were helpful on what needed to be done. The issue of the tour prices needed to be reviewed, particularly different prices for different groups, to allow for access for all groups. There was a need for the RIM to not just depend on tourists only, and to include more locals.

The memorialisation project was an issue which had been raised before, and should be dealt with on the basis of inclusivity of the whole history of Robben Island.

On the relationship between the EPPA and the RIM management, she said the appointment of a facilitator was helpful. The Committee must look at timeframes for the resolution of the matter, as there could not be a dispute resolution process forever -- it impacted on the stability of how the RIM functioned.

The review of the business model should include what the role and responsibilities and contributions of the identified different stakeholders were in the running of the RIM, which was important for the people of South Africa. When the RIM returned to give a progress report to the Committee, some of the issues raised should be part of that report.

Mr Vusumuzi Mkhize, Director-General, DSAC, said there had been no retrenchments due to Covid as the Department had provided funds to keep all staff and not cut their salaries.

On the steps taken against the RIM for the delay in the submission of the AG's report, he said no steps were taken as there was a process to be followed, and this had been undertaken.

On the issue of instability, he said that the Department at this stage did not see any instability. The Council had worked hard to give direction and new executives had been appointed. The focus was now on getting the job done.

The Department agreed on the issue of the full history of Robben Island being memorialised.

He said the DDG, Ms Tshikwatamba, would expand on working with other departments, but the CEO had been clear that the RIM had looked at the needs of the EPPA, and the Department was working closely with the Department of Military Veterans (DMV) on the matter.

He agreed with Mr Mhlongo on the business model, and the RIM could explain the roadmap and its implementation, as the question had been raised. He also acknowledged the question on the increase in tariffs which might result in the exclusion of South Africans and previously disadvantaged individuals in particular, and the Department would engage with the RIM on how the business model could deal with this matter. The concerns that had been expressed could not be ignored.  

Ms Tshikwatamba referred to the relationship with other departments, and said the central relationship was with the DPWI. There was an agreement that a forum might need to set up to include all the other departments concerned with the affairs of the RIM. This was being put in place, led by the DPWI. The DPWI had made funding of R130m available for infrastructure and maintenance-related activities. The mechanism for the spending of these funds still needed to be finalised.

On the business model, she said the Department had approached the Treasury to allow it to grant the RIM some money to enable the review of the business model, and approval had been received.

There had been three engagements between the EPPA and the RIM since November 2021, and there had been agreement that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) would be put in place. This was almost finalised.   

Ex-Political Prisoners’ Association (EPPA) presentation

Mr Mpho Masemola, Deputy Secretary-General, EPPA, said that Association considered itself a key stake holder in RIM affairs, and its history was threatened with being wiped away by the way it was handled by the Department, and the RIM in particular.

The presentation raised a number of issues. One of the key issues was the "Mandelarisation" of the RIM, which overshadowed the experiences of other political prisoners, particularly the unsung heroes of Robben Island. He suggested a solution framework to address the issues, as the Robben Island heritage had not received justice in the heritage development and practice of the RIM in particular, and South Africa in general. A memorialisation project and memorial wall, and a reunion of former political prisoners, should be a priority. He referred to the marginalisation of the Namibian section of the RIM, and the reduction of the museum to a tourist attraction.

He then addressed some of the points in the presentation, which included:

The review of the funeral benefits of EPPA members, and asked what the social responsibility of
business entities doing business with the RIM was.  
An Intellectual property (IP) rights review, and the RIM’s commercialising of IP rights. There should be a protection of IP rights on sites and some of these should not be commercialised -- for example, the quarries; early prison structures; Kramats; and prison boats.
Interviews should be protected and non-disclosure agreements should be signed to protect the IP rights of prisoners.
He said EPPA had made presentations on walking paths since 2013.
The permanent employment of ex-political prisoners in all departments.
A reduction of ticket pricing for students and locals.

Due to time pressure, Mr Masemola was not able to complete the full presentation and requested that a follow-up meeting be arranged for the presentation to be completed, as this was the first time the EPPA had presented to Parliament.

Discussion

Ms M Khawula (EFF) said she was not against what was happening at Robben Island, but wanted to know how many people had been incarcerated on Robben Island and where were they buried. Was any research being conducted on the many people who were arrested and imprisoned during the apartheid era? There was no research being done on King Shaka -- why were students not taught about this history? Black people’s history was being hidden, and it hurt her very much.

Mr Joseph said Mandela Day should be used to bring ex- prisoners together. Why was there no researcher? Was there a database? He liked the proposal to use revamped boats at the Robben Island harbour, as well as the school, as historical items confirming the evidence of the history. Affordable tariffs could be offered for the off- season. The current management at Robben Island had opened the opportunity to go forward on the issues raised by the EPPA in order to find solutions. He supported the proposal to have a follow-up Committee meeting with the RIM and EPPA to create more stability.  

Ms Van Dyk asked what the size of the EPPA's membership was. How many of them were currently employed by or for the RIM, and how many for other heritage institutions?

Mr Madlingosi asked why the RIM was not answering his questions. He repeated his questions -- how far was the progress in infrastructure development and maintenance; what was the cause of the dilapidation; what were the causes of the EPPA and RIM not ironing out their differences and for how long would they go back and forth; had the RIM done any research to determine any effects a visit to the RIM had on the youth of the black township; what were the other revenue generation streams; did the RIM know what the cause of the rise in visitor numbers in 2017? Was Robben Island interested in making money from tourism or educating South Africans on how they were treated under the apartheid government, and could they substantiate their answers? It appeared there was a lot of disrespect taking place in the RIM.

Mr Zondi proposed that the RIM and EPPA create a conducive platform for discussion.

The Chairperson said there was a new board, and it should be given a chance to find solutions to all the complaints raised in the meeting. The Committee was unsure why the investigations had been cancelled and wanted clarification on the cancellation. The Department would play a big role in monitoring whether implementation happened. The RIM was not the only entity responsible -- there were other sister departments also. She asked that the RIM open their scope to include the EPPA in their deliberations so that the follow-up meeting would hear evidence of collaborative efforts.

RIM's response

Ms Thulare, responding to Mr Madlingosi’s questions, said that a critical issue was the need to re-invent the RIM, hence the business model review process.

She said research capability for their research programmes was one issue that kept cropping up in the questions, so there was a need to relook and reconfigure how research was being done.

On the RIM’s impact on township youth, she said it still operated in a traditional form or model, while the role of the museum had evolved over the years. This had forced the RIM into introspection on whether they were still relevant. Covid had taught it to be agile enough to change on how it delivered on its mandate. There was a dedicated heritage research unit lead by a Chief Heritage Research Officer. It was seeking a balance between the dual role of being a socio-cultural institution with social objectives, and the majority of questions raised by Members were about whether the RIM was able to deliver on its social responsibilities. The feedback from this meeting would be used in informing the planning of research going forward.
 
On when EPPA and RIM would iron out their differences, she said there was a further level, or layer of engagement, that was still missing at the policy and programme level, as there were interactions at other levels and the last such meeting had been in the current week. This new level would be for the continuous building up of relationships with partners and stakeholders.

She said other revenue streams these were accrued interest and accommodation fees.

Referring to progress on infrastructure maintenance and the cause of dilapidation, she said the nature of the environment was such that the focus was on maintenance. The DPWI was responsible for the upkeep of the island, and the RIM was given one part of the responsibility. The other part was given to a total facilities management company, and the DPWI was in the process of appointing another total facilities management company.

On the business model, she said that to reinvent their mandate, they needed to secure funding and to have a workshop in February on the revamped business model. The intention was to have the development of the model and a phased implementation of the outcomes.

Mr Maluleke said a curio shop was a possibility for providing another stream of income, and conferencing through the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) industry was very important. Resource mobilisation and fund raising were other things the RIM was not doing enough about. The RIM needed a robust fund- raising mobilisation policy and strategy.

Implementation of the business model would be a challenge, as would the cost of its implementation.

On tariffs, he said the Members' inputs had been heard, and there was a need to reconfigure the tariffs. As the current programme was a pilot programme, there would be no issue with reviewing the matter.

The possibility of moving the archive back to Robben Island was an interesting question. Just before Covid struck, the RIM had undertaken a feasibility study on having a mainland museum to accommodate instances where inclement weather meant there were no visitors to the island, so moving the archives to that mainland centre was a possibility the council was looking at.

On the relationship with the EPPA, he said there would be differences, but it was a question of finding a way to manage the differences. The RIM was happy with the progress made and was focusing on the ten-point plan that had been agreed. It also felt that there needed to be a schedule of meetings at the level of the facilitator and of the committees, so that issues of an operational and a strategic nature could be differentiated. With the finalisation of the MoU, a lot of the strategic issues on how the working relationship would be regulated would be resolved so that the roles and responsibilities would be identified.

Lastly, he said the outcome of the consultations would guide the final tariffs that were set.

Mr Mkhize said the DSAC was committed to work through the task team that had been established, and that all matters that were raised had a place where they would be attended to.

Mr Shaka Radebe, a member of the EPPA Action Committee, responded on how many people had been incarcerated on the island, and said the EPPA had a database of long -term prisoners which it could provide.  

On how many of them were currently employed by or for the RIM, and how many for other heritage institutions, he said he did not have a specific number, but that it was less than 15 as far as Robben Island was concerned.

On the Battle of Isandlwana which had been referred to by Ms Khawula, he said that the previous week there had been a walk form Ulundi to Isandlwana organised and arranged by the Department.

He said the issue of the EPPA Advisory Council had come up as if it was an active and effective structure, but it had last met in 2018 and had not been working, and he applauded the ministry for doing an intervention. Financial issues had been raised with the RIM before. The RIM had two boats, while a third boat was collecting dust, and the EPPA had said that the third boat should be fixed at a cost of R5m instead of buying a boat for R90m.   

Other boats that had been used to ferry prisoners to Robben Island were collecting dust, and the EPPA was asking who was paying for these boats locked at the Waterfront.

He said that issues that fell outside of the RIM, like burial schemes, had to be addressed at a broader forum.

The meeting the previous week with the RIM had been about the new walking tour. The RIM had claimed that it was not stealing the walking tour idea from the EPPA, but the walking tour was an idea the EPPA had proposed to Prof Andre Odendaal, former head of the RIM, a long time ago. The EPPA had asked if the RIM was ready for the walking tours. Had they trained people for the walks? Planning needed to done. The EPPA also wanted to do an annual walk on the island.  

The Chairperson said there was a need for follow-up Committee meetings with the EPPA and RIM.

Mr Masemola said it was the first time in ten years that the voice of political prisoners was being expressed. He requested that the remaining points of the presentation be presented at another meeting where all the points could be covered.

Ms Khawula said the challenge was for the Chairperson to give a timeframe for when the matters would be further discussed. The issue was that the history of the people who died in the fight against apartheid was not being taught. The history was being hidden, and the heroes were not known. 

Ms Tshikwatamba corrected the Chairperson, and said there was a new executive, not a new board, which had been there since 2019. The term of the board ended in June 2022.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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