The Committee Report on the Department Budget Vote was approved after discussion.
The Minister said the Department is ready to implement the budget objectives. Entities tied to the department must be pushed to operate well. The National Heritage Council (NHC) is one such entity where things were not happening the way they should and it had needed to be overhauled. The NHC is now on the path that it should be.
The Department gave an overview of the NHC. In 2020, NHC faced corruption and mismanagement allegations. Its council was dissolved and several staff members were suspended. A forensic investigation into these matters was conducted and disciplinary hearings are happening. The NHC is now under new management and focusing on good governance and its turnaround.
In its presentation on its 2022/23 Annual Performance Plan, NHC said that there were many challenges to deal with but they had appointed new staff members and were focused on regaining good governance, reliability and promoting living heritage projects. The internal environment of NHC is improving and becoming more stable. It had received an unqualified audit for the previous financial year. Budget cuts and a harsh economic climate have presented challenges, but heritage projects can help promote economic development.
Proceedings became heated when some MPs accused the NHC of appointing the CEO against the recommendations of an external recruitment agency, and requested the document proving this. The NHC chairperson said that to release this information would be a violation of the CEO’s privacy. NHC cannot let service providers take on a leadership role in their organisation. Some MPs insisted that the NHC chairperson was not answering their questions, and although he said he had already done so in writing, he would submit the outstanding information to the Chairperson’s office.
Some Committee members took issue with the Department funding the R22 million Monumental Flag. The Minister responded that this project was meant to symbolise national unity and cohesion and was representative of the Department’s commitment to transforming the heritage landscape.
The Chairperson noted that all sport codes are on the ground again, doing well and winning. The girls in all sport codes are also doing well; even Athletics South Africa is succeeding. Every day Committee members watch and feel happy when they see the athletes doing well, even though Kaiser Chiefs does sometimes let them down. Masandawana (Mamelodi Sundowns) has been making everyone proud.
The Chairperson said that this is Africa Month and the clothes she is wearing represents her culture. We must all be proud of our cultures. The traditional leaders have been asking for and promoting Ancestors Day and she can support this idea. She recognises that God is there but that the ancestors are always with her too.
Covid-19 numbers are rising and, as leaders of the country, they are aware that in winter the cases are likely to rise. She implored Members to take care and to do what was right for their health. They must remind their communities to wear a mask to protect others and prevent the spread of the virus, and to wash, sanitise and social distance. Everyone is a culprit, including those in the Committee, for acting like the pandemic no longer exists.
Mr T Mhlongo (DA) said that the adoption of the Committee Report should not be done in front of everyone else. Why are they starting with that item? He suggested that they begin with the briefing by the National Heritage Council (NHC) and then discuss the adoption of the report.
Ms V Malomane (ANC) agreed that the consideration and adoption of the budget report are for Committee Members only. She suggested that the guests join the meeting once the discussion of the budget report is finished.
Ms R Adams (ANC) agreed with Ms Malomane.
The Chairperson said that the Department and other guests would temporarily leave the meeting.
Committee Report on Department Budget Vote
Ms Fiona Clayton, Parliamentary Researcher, presented the report. Key points were:
• The Department has temporarily deprioritised some programmes and projects that do not directly support relief measures.
• The total budget allocation for 2022/23 is R6.29 billion. Expenditure for the four programmes:
Administration (R453.2 million)
Recreation Development and Sport Promotion (R1.46 billion)
Arts and Culture Promotion and Development (R1.75 billion)
Heritage Promotion and Preservation (R2.63 billion)
• The budget is expected to increase to R6.34 billion in 2023/24 and R6.14 billion in 2024/25. When the projected inflation rates are taken into consideration, the cumulative growth rate between 2021/22 and 2024/25 is -2.1%.
The Committee requested that the Minister considers its recommendations and report back by no later than the end of 2022/23. Key recommendations include:
• ensure the South African Language Practitioners’ Council is established to advance the promotion and protection of language practice in the country
• ensure that content creation at SABC is addressed
• submit an overview of how it plans to implement its legislative and policy review
• provide insight into the implications of the SARA court order
• continue to support cultural and creative workers and athletes.
The Chairperson asked the Members if they wanted to adopt the report.
Mr M Zondi (ANC) liked the 2020-2025 strategy plan. He appreciated the assurance by the Director-General that they will investigate the questionable expenditure and the Covid-19 programme that was not carried out because of the incapacity of the department. Its primary objective should be the transformation agenda. The budget is well balanced and he would not support a budget that did not focus on this agenda. Vote 37 covers all entities, particularly those who are poor and the previously disadvantaged. He proposed to adopt Vote 37.
Mr Mhlongo requested an amendment to the report. It does not include a recommendation about the R19 million irregular expenditure. It is not right that the irregular expenditure is so high every year. There is an increase every year. They need to ensure that this figure decreases. Also, the Minister makes it difficult for the Members to do their work. They cannot send him an email, and when they do send him formal questions, he responds saying he is still gathering information. It is difficult for the Committee to do oversight work when 11 of Mr Mhlongo’s questions have gone unanswered, even though some of them are about entities from 2017 and 2019. The report should be amended to address this.
Mr B Madlingozi (EFF) said that the budget looks good on paper but that there is not anything which has made a difference for creatives on the ground. He does not support it until serious changes are made.
Ms D Sibiya (ANC) said that the report should be adopted as is.
Mr Mhlongo questioned whether his amendment suggestions will be made.
Ms Malomane said that Mr Mhlongo’s concerns about the Minister should not be included in the report because it was a private concern of Mr Mhlongo, not of the whole Committee. She supports the report as presented.
Mr Mhlongo asked if the Committee is saying that the Department should always have irregular expenditure. Are they saying that this concern should not go into the report?
The Chairperson said that Ms Malomane addressed his concerns already and that she was not in the position to answer his questions. If there are Members who take issue with the report as it has been presented, they have the right to put strong arguments forward.
Ms Adams said that they already adopted and seconded the report. She agrees with Malomane that if Mhlongo wants to add anything else, he must bring it up in their next meeting.
Mr Mhlongo said that when a Committee Report is presented, the amendment suggestions must first be decided on and thereafter it is approved. This is a Committee document, not an ANC document.
The Chairperson said that Mr Mhlongo was out of order. No one said this was a party matter.
Mr Mhlongo said that this is not an individual’s document, it is a Committee document. His view about irregular expenditure must be noted in the report.
Mr D Joseph (DA) said that even if the report is accepted in principle, it is important that some of the points be noted on behalf of the opposition party. This does not mean that the report is no longer accepted. The amendments are proposals to be added and it is fine if the Committee turns it down, but the view of the opposition must still be noted.
The Chairperson said that they have adopted this report, but they noted Mr Mhlongo and Mr Joseph’s views.
Mr Mhlongo said that when they are planning to vote on a report in the future, the Members should receive the report early, not two days before. This culture of doing things must change. The Members should have seven days to read through the report.
The Chairperson welcomed the Minister and repeated that this month is Africa Month. She brought up the topic of Ancestors Day and said that she waits for a presentation on this from the Department in the future.
Opening remarks by Minister
Mr Nathi Mthethwa, Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, said the eighth edition of Africa Month was launched yesterday where African leaders from across the continent were represented through their official representatives. The theme for this year focuses on food security and strategies to avoid malnutrition. There are disturbing trends about children dying because of hunger. As public representatives, they need to reflect on this matter and see what can be done to stop this. The South African Government is humbled to have gotten a boost from the African Union when they started this project in 2015. The creation of Africa Month was done for African people and governments to better understand the continent and its culture. It was also created for progress, ubuntu and for democracy and to ensure that people and their culture, as espoused in the Constitution, can prosper. Culture is not static and changes with the times, and the celebration of Africa Month is an acknowledgement of this.
The Minister noted the alignment of the Department and the Committee when it came to the budget report. There is a real possibility of leaving the pandemic behind, but it is still a current threat, and this is reflected by the Department’s focus on the MTSF and the MTEF in the report. The Department is ready to follow through and implement the objectives outlined, some of which have been implemented already. If its entities are not active and are not doing their job well, they are pushed to be active and to contribute to the broader architecture of development and production of sport and the arts. The National Heritage Council (NHC) is one such entity. Things were not happening the way they should and it had needed to be overhauled. The NHC is now on the path that it should be.
National Heritage Council overview by Department
Mandisa Tshikwatamba, DSAC Deputy Director-General: Corporate Governance, said that NHC received a clean audit report in both 2018/19 and 2020/21, with a qualified report in 2019/20. In 2020/21. The Council was made up of 19 council members with an 85% council meeting attendance rate. In total there are 36 NHC staff members.
In 2020, after corruption and money laundering allegations against the CEO and other management members were brought to the attention of the Minister, the former council was dissolved and the former CEO resigned. This posed a threat to the operational stability of NHC. The Minister, in consultation with the Minister of Finance, appointed a team of administrators to take care of the institution until a new Council was appointed. The new Council was appointed with effect from 1 December 2020 and the administrators handed over to Council.
A forensic investigation was conducted on the allegations of money laundering, misappropriation of funds and other irregularities by NHC officials. The Chief Financial Officer has been on suspension since June 2021 and the disciplinary hearing was to start in April 2022. The initial charges brought against him were not related to the forensic investigation report. After Council decided to implement the report, the charges had to be revised to include the forensic report findings. The Acting Supply Chain Manager has been on suspension since November 2021 on charges related to the report findings. That disciplinary hearing commenced in February 2022 and is still ongoing. An affidavit with annexures of evidence of wrongdoing by the previous CEO was submitted to SAPS in November 2021. SAPS is still investigating the matter further and some of the report findings have been sent to the SIU for further probing.
See presentation for details
National Heritage Council 2022/23 Annual Performance Plan
Mr Edgar Neluvhalani, NHC Board Chairperson, said after the corruption allegations and suspensions they have had to hit the ground running and dealt with challenges. NHC is in a much more comfortable space now, even though the suspensions were disruptive. Measures have been put into place so that NHC is stable and management is running smoothly. He appreciates the Minister for the strong council that he has put together; the council members have been very useful and it is an honour to lead them.
Dr Ndivhoniswani Lukhwareni, NHC Chief Executive Officer, said the decrease in the DSAC grant presents a challenge for NHC, given the limited funding opportunities, and the disproportionately high demand for funding and support from the heritage sector and public.
National Treasury allocations are decreasing across many sectors and there is a poor economic climate and high unemployment. These budget limitations and economic conditions prevent NHC from being visible in small communities and from taking on many projects. However, there are employment creation opportunities in heritage and tourism and so the sector has a lot of potential to assist in economic development.
Digital platforms are offering an opportunity to reach wider audiences, particularly the youth, and there are opportunities to empower communities and to reach wider audiences by offering online education on heritage.
The internal environment of NHC is improving. There has been the appointment of key personnel such as the CEO, the CS and a Research Specialist. There is post-transition stabilisation and the improvement of internal controls is underway. They received a clean audit report for the previous financial year.
Its desired outcomes included becoming an effective and accountable organisation with good governance and a sound culture and track record of delivery. Another outcome is to enhance social cohesion and transformation through the coordination of heritage, with an emphasis on living heritage. The NHC has put measures into place to help achieve this (see document for details).
Mr Neluvhalani said that in 2020, the NHC HR Manager, a whistleblower, became the target of a number of attacks. She received two life-threatening phone calls and the NHC encouraged her to go for counselling. Some of these were about gender-based violence and she has been the target of those who are dodging the law and internal disciplinary proceedings. She needs much encouragement, support and protection. Although at one point she wanted to quit her position, she understands her crucial role in fighting against corruption and she is soldiering on.
When it came to appointing the CEO, they had to be very careful and thorough in light of the recent corruption allegations. They could not have been more thorough. The new CEO had to issue suspensions and there has been pushback and personal attacks because of this. The Council had received threats saying they would be reported to Parliament and there has been a lot of resistance. They do not want to subject anyone to a witch hunt or unfair treatment and they have no reason to do so. They want to assist the Minister in ensuring that NHC moves forward well. The content of the letters and emails has no bearing on what policy requires for appointing a CEO.
Mr Mhlongo asked why there has been a decrease in the funding allocation by the Department to the NHC. Which Council members have been appointed to the NHC as per Section 5(1) of the NHC Act? Are there any resignations since appointment? What was the Auditor-General's audit opinion?
Mr Zondi said that Ms Tshikwatamba covered the stability of NHC and the CEO appointment well. How will NHC promote the African liberation enrichment programme to be sustainable and to ensure national awareness? Preservation of South Africa’s living heritage and creating awareness of tangible and intangible cultural heritage is important. The NHC calls for funding of heritage projects is made by an independent panel. Why does NHC use an independent panel? What internal deficiencies does NHC have in adjudicating a project? What is NHC doing to transform the heritage landscape to promote heritage that focuses on women?
Ms V van Dyk (DA) said that the NHC used a recruitment agency in appointing the CEO. Why did they use this agency if the Council's recommendations were not implemented? They clearly stated that they would not recommend the new CEO that was appointed. What was the cost involved? Who appointed the new CEO and on whose recommendation was it done?
The NHC said they planned to establish, through tourism partnerships, one partnership per financial year over the medium-term period. How is that adequate and will it ensure that the heritage sector contributes to economic development? Can the Committee be given the potential partners? She has received news of train stations and historic buildings that have been vandalised such as Graaf Reinet and Swellendam Stations and the Beaufort West Museum. What is the NHC’s role, in terms of legislation, to see that these sites are taken care of? The Old Town House, an eighteenth century building, holds valuable artwork. Does NHC do oversight; what is its role in preserving heritage like this?
She has received complaints from whistleblowers. Could the NHC provide the Committee with the forensic investigation report into NHC and the company that was appointed? What is the role of "Mr Charles" in the forensic investigation? Is it true that there were over R400 000 illegal fees under the forensic report invoice? Who is the lawyer used for the disciplinary process? Is there proof that the procurement process was followed in paying him R150 000?
The Estimates of National Expenditure includes a budget allocation of R12.8 million for the Resistance and Liberation Heritage Route. It is not reflected how these funds will be used. Can the NHC provide an overview of where these funds will be allocated, especially since the infrastructure projects are drivers of job creation? The presentation notes a pending merger with South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA). Can the Committee receive further information on this?
Ms Sibiya said that NHC defines one of its weaknesses as a lack of follow up on good initiatives. What are these initiatives and what mechanisms is NHC putting in place to ensure it strengthens its partnerships on good initiatives? What activities does the NHC do to promote indigenous knowledge as a critical component of heritage conservation and promotion?
Mr Joseph said that the Minister alluded to addressing the 2020 challenges such as the changes to the management team changes and the unqualified audit. Are the executive and 36 staff members all in the same building, and what is the cost of this office? A problem had been raised previously about that. Why is the Council member attendance register only showing 85% attendance? Although its target for this is unknown, it appears that the move to online meetings due to Covid-19 has negatively impacted this rate.
NHC must first do an amalgamation within itself before merging with SAHRA. This will be good preparation for the merger. What is the progress so far with the merger? Is there a timeframe? In the SWOT analysis, there is a narrative about anxiety about the amalgamation. The Department now has experience of merging two departments, such as Sports and Arts and Culture. They should share this experience with NHC and guide them on this merger. Amalgamation should not be seen as negative.
What is the list of the 27 Heritage Route projects? What is the budget between Programme One and Programme Two? Is the protection of the current whistleblowers coming from a specialised government unit and how are they being protected so that they can continue their role in NHC?
Ms Adams said that digital technology and innovation have created many avenues in which the NHC can leverage digital platforms to expand its reach to small communities. What are NHC's plans to leverage these platforms to promote our heritage? How does NHC manage its intellectual property and how many incidents has it identified of the unlawful use of intellectual property?
Ms Malomane asked the Department and NHC for more information on the possible merger. There is not enough information about the decrease in funding and the departmental grant that the presentation mentions. Can the NHC explain what they mean by a decrease in the allocation of funds, and if they are doing anything to create revenue to supplement these funds? What are the root causes which have triggered the need for a turnaround strategy? Can they clarify what is the "30 community heritage projects"?
Mr Neluvhalani replied that NHC received a clean audit and that they feel very encouraged about the new qualified executive staff. They are attending to the audit recommendations. The decrease in the NHC funding allocation resulted from the need for funds for Covid-19. This caused constraints. There is some allocation coming through to allow NHC to have more community-based projects. They had flagged it as a risk at the time but they are now seeing a change. In 2021/22 there were not any staff or board resignations.
Mr Neluvhalani said that he will be very clear and blunt. The context in which some of the MP's questions are coming from is that of the pushback mentioned earlier. The NHC has policies, and as the Council, they have oversight over policy. They are very careful in terms of what policy says about the appointment of staff. We should be careful of sentiments that come as gossip and personal attacks that are meant to undermine current processes. This is purely gossip and unfounded, and people come with alleged leaks saying that NHC did not follow the recommendations. There are no such recommendations. The NHC does not operate using service providers that provide recommendations. The service provider was used to receive applications and organise them for selection. The NHC had a selection panel that was appointed according to policy and made up of well-respected people. There is no recommendation that would come from a service provider and be imposed on NHC. The NHC Council applies its mind during the process and makes the decision. The decision came from interviews and the participants’ responses. To allege that NHC Council received a recommendation that it ignored would mean that they are not performing their leadership role well. They cannot outsource that responsibility to an independent entity. The Committee should be assured that they were very thorough in making this decision. Anything to the contrary is gossip and distracts NHC from fighting corruption. The Council is looking forward to improving NHC and getting it to the place it needs to be. The CEO is a very well-rounded and well-respected person who is qualified for the position. He should be given a chance to do the work. Mr Neluvhalani would put his head on the block in saying the right decision has been made. He is confident of this moving forward. He is more sure that NHC has the right CEO now than ever.
The NHC is more focused on working with intangible heritage. There is a difference between what NHC and SAHRA do. Historic buildings, their physical management and the legislative authority behind those management plans, are the responsibility of SAHRA.
The question of memorialising women in heritage is crucial and NHC has done a lot to address this. They have just been through the Year of Charlotte Maxeke where NHC did a number of public engagements in memorialising her leadership role and pioneering work in education.
The involvement of "Charles" is also gossip. These are legal practitioners that were hired for regular business. It is not the case of an individual inappropriately getting involved in the proceedings. The procedures that NHC embarked on have gone through audit processes, both internal and external. They are not acting randomly, there are processes in place.
The building has raised concerns as the cost is a bit high. The NHC is making plans to move to a new heritage building which will not be costly and will be the symbolic home of the NHC.
He replied that 85% is a high attendance percentage. Sometimes there are members who have personal issues and commitments and this is why the rate is not higher.
The merger process has been going on for several years. It has not been rushed and has been carefully spearheaded by the White Paper. Due to time constraints, he will share documents about the Liberation Route with the MPs after the meeting.
The whistleblowers have been well protected and the forensic investigators have been able to engage with them. There has not been an issue with that. The NHC has taken responsibility for that.
The NHC has appointed a research specialist and is getting into partnership with UNISA to ensure that matters such as digital platforms and intellectual property are dealt with. The CEO has reported that its efforts to digitalise certain important documents and information are underway. The NHC is looking to generate revenue from projects and that will supplement the decreased funding. The need for the turnaround came from the situation in which they found NHC. The forensic investigation and the instability within NHC, happening in the context of Covid-19, was a challenge and needed to be turned away from and improved.
Dr Lukhwareni replied that indigenous knowledge was NHC’s playfield. NHC recently promoted the new Language Delegation, which documents the knowledge of the only speakers left of certain languages. A month ago they were in Limpopo province where they were celebrating the art of making and enjoying the first fruits. This was the knowledge they were passing on and documenting. They also celebrated Kwanzaa – a ritual to welcome the first fruits of the harvest – in Kwazulu-Natal and Gauteng. The list of the 27 Heritage Route projects will be given to the Committee. The projects document and commemorate events such as the Bisho massacre and the path that Mr Johnny Makhathini walked. The list is too long to go through in this meeting.
As a heritage practitioner, it would be desirable for NHC to be housed in a heritage building. The current location is not ideal.
When it comes to the cost of the forensic investigation, when there is an allegation, it would be an injustice to sit on it. The State Attorneys have now taken over the responsibilities of the previous service provider. The NHC has declared the funds they used for the investigation to Treasury and the Auditor-General.
A question was raised about NHC missing out on good partnership opportunities. A week ago NHC was approached by the Castle Milk Stout Foundation asking what they can do to promote heritage. The NHC partnerships have been with entities like the South African Traditional Music Achievement (SATMA) as traditional music is an important part of heritage that NHC strongly feels should be promoted. The partnership with the Charlotte Maxeke Institute shows that NHC brought the commemoration of women in heritage to the fore.
Mr Tembile Yako, NHC Head of Strategy Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation, replied that when NHC funds community projects, the knowledge that is produced there has always been a grey area in terms of its ownership. The NHC has been working on getting certainty and has engaged the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) to get more clarity on what would be fair.
The NHC allocates a portion of its budget to fund community heritage projects, individuals and universities and makes a public call to submit proposals for public heritage projects. This is determined by budgetary constraints. In the past financial year, only R7 million was allocated and 32 projects were funded. The demand is much higher than what is available in the budget.
The 27 sites were pre-approved by Cabinet and NHC is busy rolling out that infrastructure. There are about three sites in each province and it has been working with the Department on feasibility studies which have concluded. The next phase is putting up the infrastructure and working on these sites. A communications strategy has been approved for the Resistance and Liberation Heritage Route. There is an inter-ministerial committee under the Minister which looks at the Route and different government agencies and entities monitor its development. They will be rolling out signage and other communication strategies. This has started in Tshwane already. There is a business plan addressing all 27 sites.
Ms Mathabiso Chamane, NHC Chief Financial Officer, replied about "Mr Charles". The correct classification has been achieved and the finance team has ensured that the correct disclosure is being attended to. They have contacted National Treasury and are committed to achieving the correct classification. They have received an unqualified audit report.
Ms Tshikwatamba replied that the NHC budget cuts were a result of the budget reprioritisation that had to take place because of Covid-19. National Treasury directed the Department to reprioritise for the Covid-19 funding that was required. The budget cuts were not meant to be punitive but were a result of disaster planning and provisioning.
The Department was briefed and involved in the CEO appointment.
The merger with SAHRA has been an ongoing process coming from the desire to improve efficiency and consolidate resources. The process is managed by the Department, and they realised that they need to devote focused resources to this. These resources are still being developed but an internal committee has already been established to oversee the merger. There will be consultations with the entities and they will be briefed.
Mr Sibusiso Tsanyane, DSAC Deputy Director: Entity Oversight and Interface, replied that the NHC Act specifies that the chairpersons of six entities are appointed as Council members. These are Iziko Museums of South Africa, National Library, Heraldry Council, National Archives Council, and SAHRA. In addition, there has to be a representative from each of the nine provinces. That is why the Council has such a large number.
Mr Mhlongo asked the NHC chairperson to clarify what he meant by “gossip.” He must respond to questions. Does gossip come from the sky? He needs to tell Members what is happening. The first presentation did not have a CEO appointment, and two days ago it was added as an additional item. Why did the original presentation not include the appointment of the CEO and the HR issue? He asked the NHC chairperson to respond to the question: What was the cost of the service provider that aided in the CEO recruitment; what was the name of the firm and the terms of reference? He needs to tell the Committee what the “gossip” is. What is the NHC’s relationship with SAHRA and what are the outstanding issues? What is its relationship with Boxing South Africa? The NHC had a meeting with Boxing SA and they need to share that information.
Addressing the Minister, Mr Mhlongo said that South Africa has spent around R22 million on a 100 metre flag. That R22 million should be better utilised. The Committee needs a presentation on what this would do to impact and help build national cohesion. Since 2019 they have been asking for more flags, but small ones, not one that is a 100 metres long. What is the reason for this? From which budget allocation will it come? This money could be used in a better way, especially since artists did not get money and support during lockdown.
Mr Zondi said that NHC did not answer his questions. How will NHC promote the African Liberation Heritage Programme to be sustainable and popular, and to ensure national awareness? Why does NHC use an independent panel for adjudicating community projects – what internal deficiencies does NHC have in adjudicating projects?
Ms van Dyk asked if the board can share the outcome of the recruitment agency’s report and if the MPs can receive a copy of the document. She cannot understand why the NHC chairperson would say its gossip, because the recommendations that she saw were not followed. How many NHC staff are suspended at this stage, for how long have they been suspended and is it on full pay? Why is the suspension period so long and are there people acting in those positions? She wants to establish the cost of this process and does not understand why it takes so long for the disciplinary process to be concluded. For the answers that they are not satisfied with, can the questions be sent over email? Some of the answers might be a bit lengthy.
The Chairperson said that she did not understand why Ms van Dyk wanted to re-ask her questions. The answers would not change. They would be the same, whether orally or written. She could only understand this if Members felt that they did not get the information they needed.
Mr Neluvhalani replied that he meant every word that he has said. He is not surprised by these questions because the same people asking them have threatened him before. There have been emails going around and that is why he is calling it gossip. He reminded Members that after the previous meeting, NHC received written questions to which they responded thoroughly. The questions being brought up now have been answered already through official channels. He asked for a focus on policy matters. The NHC cannot focus on hearsay and anonymous emails. They cannot risk confidential personal information being made public. There are laws that protect people’s personal information. The Members should trust that NHC is subjected to internal and external audit processes and they trust those processes.
Mr Mhlongo said that Mr Neluvhalani cannot tell them how to ask questions. Asking for the name of the service provider is not a personal question. He must respond to their questions and he must not tell them how to pose those questions.
The Chairperson said that if Mr Neluvhalani has been asked a question, and Members do not feel as if he has answered the question, then he needs to answer it.
Mr Neluvhalani replied that he does not have the information that Mr Mhlongo is asking for but he can provide it to him. It is not a secret; it has been reported in the NHC audit how much was spent on the HR manager. It is public information. There is no reason for him to hide that information. Their finances are well-managed and clear.
The Chairperson told Mr Neluvhalani to provide the Committee with the information through her office. When answering questions he needs to be direct. If information needs to be given that he does not have, it needs to be sent to her so that she can share it with the Committee.
Mr Neluvhalani agreed to do so.
Mr Neluvhalani replied that NHC has a good working relationship with SAHRA and its chairperson sits on the NHC Council. SAHRA is fully aware of what is happening at NHC. The NHC CEO meets with SAHRA regularly. Mr Zondi’s question about promoting African liberation heritage was covered in the CEO’s presentation. The use of an independent panel allows for objectivity in decision making. These are public funds and an independent panel allows them to be used correctly. The CFO, Acting SCM manager and Core Business Manager are under suspension. Their positions have been filled and NHC is in a much better space now. The figures that Ms van Dyk requested will be submitted through the Chairperson’s office.
Mr Mhlongo said that Mr Neluvhalani did not answer his question about the terms of reference. He is still waiting for this and the name of the service provider. He must respond.
The Chairperson said that this was not a point of order. Once everything has been said, Mr Mhlongo is supposed to say that he has an outstanding question. He is not supposed to preamble as he is doing now. She reminded Members of the time and told them not to interject like this. They should not ask follow-up questions now. They should wait until NHC has finished with its response. She asked the NHC chairperson and delegation to answer the outstanding Committee questions.
Mr Neluvhalani replied that the information that they do not have will be shared with her office. They cannot respond to the outstanding questions now. Terms of reference exist for the service provider, they cannot have a provider without them and that is public knowledge. The information will be made available to Members.
Dr Lukhwareni replied that Boxing SA is responsible for immortalising the lives of old, and late, boxers who were not well equipped with resources, trained in rudimentary gyms and fought for nothing. The NHC thinks it is a story that should be documented. They also met with the National Video and Film Foundation and asked it to assist with the digitalisation of records and important heritage documents.
Dr Lukhwareni said that both NHC and SAHRA have roles to play with regard to the Liesbeek River Club in the Western Cape. When there was a recent attempt to auction off some of Nelson Mandela’s belongings, NHC and SAHRA had to work together as well. The Gallery of Legends is an exciting project. It is a hall of fame for those who have done a lot and are extraordinary. This speaks to its mandate. These are the type of relationships that NHC has with these entities.
On the question of the sustainability of the Heritage Route, everyone is aware that the South African liberation struggle did not end in South Africa but it went to many other countries. They needed to start exploring the economic potential of heritage as it is. Other countries have routes which engender economic activity. The establishment of the routes empowers people and that is what makes it sustainable. They also do programmes with school kids so that they can be taught to care about and have an interest in heritage, which also speaks to sustainability of such heritage projects.
There was a lot of public engagement with the celebration of the Golden Shield National Heritage Awards that happened recently. The SABC was involved. They both did marketing to promote it. When NHC advertises community projects, there are a very large number of application responses. There is more than what NHC can afford to fund. Their efforts for community reach are working.
Using independent panels is the best way to do funding awards because independent panels can adjudicate and deal with the people who may not be happy with the decisions made.
Minister’s closing remarks
The Minister said that he is happy with the work done by NHC, especially if you look at the challenges it had to deal with. There were governance challenges which forced his hand to act on them. He did what he had to do. Right now he can see that the Council has turned the entity around. They need support and this comes from the Committee doing its oversight work. Despite the sentiments of bitter people, the NHC would forge ahead.
If the Committee wants, they can be given a report or presentation on the 100 metre flag. One of the Department’s mandates is to transform the heritage landscape and they are doing that with no apology. The flag was a result of these efforts. Whether it was the mountains, the rivers, or any other spaces, nothing is going to be left untouched in their quest to transform the heritage landscape. The flag is meant to promote the foundational principles of democracy, the Constitution, our nationhood and unity. These educational efforts need to be done continually to inform people, especially the lunatic fringe which still brandishes the apartheid flag. There has to be clarity and public education about what the nation's flag is. The funds have been allocated from the budget so that the social cohesion and national unity project may be achieved.
Actors and artists were given R8m during the pandemic. The Department approaches its work holistically and they provide for artists, actors, our heritage and our archives.
The Chairperson thanked the team and congratulated the CEO on his appointment. She requested a flag presentation and said that it would help them to understand this issue. She thanked the Department and requested them to take care of the NHC on its new journey. She told the CEO to keep up the good work and the Committee is looking forward to the end results of the disciplinary processes. She will be on the lookout for the outstanding information that Members had requested.
The meeting was adjourned.
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