Msunduzi Museum 2021/22 Annual Report, with Deputy Minister

Sports, Arts and Culture

07 March 2023
Chairperson: Ms B Dlulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


Msunduzi Museum 2021/22 Annual Report

The Chairperson shared her satisfaction with the Cabinet reshuffle and said that change was inevitable and she welcomed the new Sports, Arts and Culture Minister.

The uMsunduzi and Ncome Museums board and the Department presented the performance of Umsunduzi Museum in 2020/21 and they reported on a number of challenges it faced and noted its clean audit, with no pending court cases against staff. uMsunduzi Museum was still in the process of conducting research to ensure its information was up-to-date and inclusive of parts of history that were distorted.

Members raised concerns about the delays in appointing a Director General for the Department of Sports, Arts And Culture (DSAC) which had been vacant for nine months. DSAC had promised this would be completed by March 2023 but it was only in its first stage.

Other questions raised were about vacancies at the museums, the unutilised accommodation at the Ncome Museum; the museums’ social media presence; financial standing; infrastructure repair after a 2021 hailstorm and the transformation of these museums.

Meeting report

Announcement of new Minister
The Chairperson wished the former Minister, Nathi Mthethwa, well in his future endeavours and welcomed the new Sports Minister, Mr Zizi Kodwa. She shared her satisfaction with the Cabinet reshuffle and reminded attendees that change was inevitable and should be positively received. She congratulated all incoming ministers, noting that the gender issue had been finally addressed and commendable developments had been made in rural schools. There was a new Acting Director General, Dr Cynthia Khumalo. She hoped that all the Deputy Directors General were in attendance. It was noted that other DDGs would join the meeting and were struggling with their connection. Following the 6 March announcement of the new Sports Minister's appointment, he was not expected to attend the meeting at such short notice. The only apology was from the uMsunduzi and Ncome Board Chairperson who had an emergency to attend to.

Department Overview of uMsunduzi Museum
Dr Cynthia Khumalo, DSAC Acting Director General, indicated that the names of the board members and management of uMsunduzi Museum had been forwarded, as previously requested. The board members and management were expected to be present in this meeting. She noted the performance targets achieved over the past three years (which appeared to have typos in the presentation). However, it had received clean audits over the past two years. Also covered was the budget allocation, staff composition and governance matters.

• Infrastructure challenges emanating from the hailstorm that affected the area in 2021
• Security challenges including the theft of air conditioning units at the museum
• Fencing challenges are a major concern
• Utilisation of Ncome Museum with the accommodation not being fully utilised
Interventions were noted for each challenge (see presentation).

uMsunduzi Annual Report 2021/2022
Dr Mlungisi Ngubane, uMsunduzi and Ncome Museums Director, presented on the clean audit for 2020/21 and 2021/22; the uMsunduzi Museum's activities and highlights; its governance; target performance; budget and expenditure.

Challenges included the high audit fees; sporadic maintenance by the Department of Public Works; and lack of financial and human resources.

Dr Ngubane noted the typos in the presentation for which he apologised.

Mr T Mhlongo (DA) congratulated Dr Khumalo on her appointment as Acting DG but asked when the permanent DG would be appointed. It was previously communicated that the process would be finalised in March. The position had been advertised and had been sent to an external service provider. What is the status of the DG appointment?

The Department presentation slide showed that the number of Council committee meetings held in 2021/22 was blank. Does this suggest that no meetings were held or is it an error? What is the cost of an internal audit – is R184 000 the standard fee? Why was the financial status not presented? The presentation indicates the clean audit and the audit fees but there are no actual details about its financial status. He proposed that the Committee should visit the museums to examine if the presented challenges are true.

Mr B Madlingozi (EFF) was concerned that the presenters were reading from their slides and seemed unprepared. Given that the presenters said that the information in the museum dates back to 1912, what corrective measures have they taken to conduct research and update the information? What notable changes are the museums bringing to society? He also questioned the blank number of meetings.

Mr D Joseph (DA) congratulated the Museum for the clean audits. He requested an organogram of the 80 staff members and their positions to get an idea of the operations in the museums. Is there any litigation or court matters that it is dealing with or financial matters that still have to be reported to the Department or any financial historical incidents?

Ms R Adams (ANC) asked what the financial strategy and plan for the museum are to support its infrastructure development needs? Noting that the Ncome museum accommodation is not fully utilised, what are the plans and what causes the decline? Does the accommodation component of the museum have a history of high visitation? What is the online strategy of the museum as the digital space can assist in promoting brand awareness for it? What specific human resources are lacking and what value would it derive from an increased capacity? What international promotion does the museum do? Why is the administration programme performing poorly at 29%?

Ms V Malomane (ANC) was concerned about the Department' standing towards women empowerment as the board had only two women and only one woman in top management. As requested by Mr Joseph, could the organogram be made available?

Mr M Zondi (ANC) noted that the report indicated three vacancies and asked that it specify what those vacancies are. It is concerning that the grant funding was not fully utilised by the end of the financial year. A clean audit should mean that the entire budget is be utilised. What is the plan for fully utilising the grant funding in the upcoming financial year? The Department had previously advised the entity to draft a proposal that would enable them to fully use the establishment. When will this proposal be put forward? If the proposal is approved, will this increase their revenue? On the reported 2021 hailstorm, should this not have been dealt with in the previous year? If they have not done so, when do they plan to and is the budget enough to deal with the hailstorm damage to the infrastructure?

The Chairperson asked what the entity meant by 42 approved posts and when these posts will be advertised and filled.

Museum response
Ms Zama Dlamini, Museum Board Member, replied that the Museum had successfully hosted all its Council committee meetings and the blank space in the report was a typo. She apologised for seeming unprepared for the presentation and pointed out that the delivery of the presentation was affected by the network connection interruptions. The Museum has met most of its targets and would welcome the Committee to visit the museums, as suggested by Mr Mhlongo. The organogram and financial records would be submitted to the Committee. There are no pending court matters for fraudulent activities. On its financial strategy, the Council has come to a resolution to start sourcing funding through their newly established fundraising committee. The 29% shown in the presentation was a typo – that should have been 80% for targets achieved in the Administration programme.

Dr Ngubane commented that internal audit is a standard practice that has to be completed, despite the costs being exorbitant. The internal auditors are outsourced as the Museum does not have the relevant component to carry out this task internally. The Museum has made strides in changing the museum from a singular-themed museum to a multi cultural-themed museum and there are noticeable changes. The Museum organises skills workshops for the community which assist society. The organogram will be forwarded. There has been a number of vacancies in the Museum and most of those positions have been filled. There are no investigations against staff members on financial issues. Numbers have begun to peak in the accommodation, following the opening of a coffee shop. The upcoming financial year will likely have good news about accommodation at Ncome museum. As part of its online strategy, Facebook is currently used and a website is under construction to vigorously advertise the brand and reach international audiences. The Museum has been working on repairing the damage caused by the hailstorm and the exhibition spaces have been reopened to the public.

Mr Phumlani Mvubu, Museum Finance Manager, explained that the surplus from the grant would be utilised in the upcoming financial year. The internal audit is outsourced because the Museum is small.

Department response
Ms Mandisa Tshikwatamba, DSAC DDG: Institutional Governance and Corporate Services, replied that the Department is still at the first step of the process to appoint a DG. The administrative part that government has to do to prepare the submission that will be given to the Presidency has been completed. The new Minister will be brought up to speed about the process to fast track the response from the Presidency.

Follow up questions
Mr Mhlongo said that the Committee knows the appointment process. However, there are no indicators that this process had been followed, as it was previously promised that the DG would be appointed by March 2023. The Department cannot have people in acting positions who are not performing. How is the new Minister expected to be responsible for this task when this has been outstanding for more than nine months?

What does the Museum mean by outsourcing an internal audit? R187 000 has been used for an internal audit, yet these services are being outsourced, what is the meaning of this? What is the second audit shown in the presentation mean? Why does the Museum not have a website and social media platforms when they are a museum? How do they communicate their success and failures?

Mr Madlingozi reiterated that the history of black people has been distorted; what research has the Museum done to ensure that the information the museums provide is accurate and how was that information obtained?

The Chairperson was concerned by Ms Tshikwatamba's response. The process for appointing a new DG was only in the first stage and the question of when the permanent DG would be appointed was left unanswered. Has the advertisement been put out? What does it mean that the process is with the Presidency because there have been numerous DDGs rotating and acting as DG for short periods of time. How does this rotation help with the appointment of a DG?

Department response
Dr Khumalo replied that the Acting DG position is rotational with the rotation lasting for a six-month period. The appointment process that has commenced will allow for the filling of the position.

Ms Tshikwatamba explained that the submission had been prepared but had not yet been delivered to the Presidency, which means the process is yet to be restarted with the new Minister.

Museum response
Ms Dlamini explained that normal institutions with full capacity are able to have their internal audit but Umsunduzi does not have the capacity so the service is outsourced. In time, Umsunduzi will have an internal auditor. The Museum does have social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and the website is under construction.

Dr Ngubane shared that the museums were once a Voortrekker museum started in 1912. In 1994 the museums were handed over to the democratic government. Umsunduzi was allocated a transformational budget and research was conducted to turn the museum into a multi-cultural institution, everything displayed and published displays the museum's history. The association between Umsunduzi and Ncome was a result of the battle in 1838 when the Voortrekkers made a vow to erect Church of the Vow in Pietermaritzbrug. The museum is on the right path in transforming the museum to encompass erased histories. There are researchers in the museum working on this project.

Dr Adams asked why the vacancies were being handed over to the incoming Minister. Why was the process not finalised with Minister Mthethwa? Was there a timeframe coupled to it?

Ms D Sibiya (ANC) requested that Members remain respectful when raising their questions and concerns, following Mr Mhongo’s comment about the department’s incompetence.

Deputy Minister comments
Deputy Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nocawe Mafu, assured the Portfolio Committee that the Department would attend the next Committee meeting with a detailed report on the DG appointment process to ensure everyone thoroughly understands its progress. The Department and uMsunduzi Museum seemed unprepared and the typos in the presentations confirm that there was a lack of preparedness.

Mr Madlingozi suggested that future meetings be in person as there are numerous disturbances caused by loadshedding and poor network connections.

The Chairperson reminded Members that they had attempted to have the meeting in person, but there are limited venues. There are measures being taken to ensure that future meetings are held in person.

Dr Khumalo, with instructions from the Deputy Minister, endorsed the idea of the site visit so Members can view the museum and perform their oversight role having been informed by their findings. The emphasis on the multi-cultural theme that has been adopted by the museum needs to be followed up, as it expands the museum’s mandate. The Deputy Minister has been communicating with the newly appointed Minister who shared that he would have loved to have been present in this meeting. However, he has not been sworn in yet. He would be sworn in on 7 March 2023 at 6pm.

Committee minutes
The minutes from the meeting on 28 February 2023 were considered and adopted.

In matters arising, Mr Mhlongo asked about the documents requested by the Committee during that meeting. How would these outstanding documents be requested?

The Chairperson said that she would speak to the secretariat to request all outstanding documents and information from the matters arising.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

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