Robben Island Museum; South African Heritage Resources Agency: Annual Reports

Arts and Culture

18 October 2005
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

18 October 2005


Ms L Jacobus (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Robben Island Museum Annual Report 2004/2005

Robben Island Museum Annual Report Presentation
South African Heritage Resources Agency Annual Report.
[documents available here shortly]

The Committee reviewed the annual reports of the Robben Island Museum and the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA). Members raised questions about the number of South Africans that visited the Museum; entrance fees; fraud prevention; assets registers; honouring the heroes of the apartheid struggle and the role of Provincial Heritage Resource Agencies.

Robben Island Museum presentation

The World Heritage Committee identified four main areas that needed to be worked on after their visit to the Island last year. A new CEO had been appointed. A senior manager for finance had been appointed and other important portfolios filled. Different site plans were finalized, including the conservation of the stone and lime quarry and the prison. The island currently received 1500 visitors but can accommodate 3500. Tourism numbers to South Africa had grown and the Western Cape, in particular Robben Island, had benefited from this. The Island as a public institution needed to be accessible to the public, not physically but financially. A R5 million project funded by the Department of Public Works for the restoration of vessels such as the Penguin ferry was underway. R66 million over a period of two years was used to build a floating jetty that had been completed. Memorabilia stores and the conferencing and banqueting facilities were operational. A long-term business plan had been finalised for the operation of the ferries to and from Robben Island.

During 2003, the Island experienced a loss of R8 million; in 2004 a loss of R4.9 million was recorded and in 2005 a surplus of R7.3 million was recorded. While the revenue had significantly increased, the subsidy received from government had in the mean time moderately changed. Qualified audit opinions had been addressed through effective internal financial control systems. An audit committee had been established. Financial statements were not handed in on time due to the CFO resigning and had to be submitted later.

The Chairperson raised the issue of financial access to the island. She asked how many of the ordinary people in the Western Cape could access the World Heritage Site. She said it would also be interesting to know the amount of local people that visited the island. She asked if the Island had an assets register.

Ms Van der Walt (DA) congratulated the delegation for moving away from the deficit. She said that the commission paid to the ferries was very high and asked if they could not address that. She also asked about the safety on Robben Island.

Mr Malukela (ANC) asked in what sense the government subsidy had changed.

Mr Bhoola (Minority Front) asked if reasons could be given why they could not implement the anti-fraud plan and why prices were so high.

Mr Sonto (ANC) asked how affordable the prices were for local clubs and associations. He also asked how the island was marketed.

Mr Moonsamy (ANC) asked if there was any plan to attract school children to the site and if more people from outside or inside the country had been attracted to the island?

Mr Lekgetho asked who the local councilor for Robben Island was.

The CEO of the Museum, Mr Paul Langa, said that visitor management was one of the key challenges they faced. Most people who visited the island were from overseas. Very few locals visited the island. He said that to keep the island running there were certain costs involved and that pensioners and school children were charged a reduce rate. Government did not subsidise these reduced rates.

The island suffered from congestion. They started the elimination of cats but later this became a problem. Four years ago there was a rape on the island. Different systems had been put in place as there were no by-laws for the island.

Mr Tungwana, Chief Operating Officer, said the island had an assets register. A fraud prevention plan had been instituted. A business plan had been compiled and they had a clear vision of how to implement the plan and handle differential pricing.

Ms Morudu, Communications Manager, said that on a daily basis they received up to 3200 school children. She said that there was a poster exhibition currently in KZN .The Robben Island play had been travelling around the country. She said that this was part of the marketing strategy of the island. Currently, the conference facility could only accommodate one-day conferences but this was going very well. The island did not require much marketing.

Mr Langa said that the island’s councilor is Mr JP Smith (DA).

South African Heritage Resources Agency presentation
The agency was in the process of identifying burial grounds and graves of people who were freedom fighters. This was done so that the graves and burial grounds could be restored. Currently, they were conducting an inventory of all movable and immovable assets at a cost of R12 million over three years. They were working towards implementing a fraud prevention plan. They had employed two senior bookkeepers and had appointed a new Chief Financial Officer.

DiscussionMr Maluleka (ANC) asked if anything could be done about the provinces that did not have any structures in place.

Ms Van der Walt (DA) asked how much of R12 million had been used for planning the inventory. What were the criteria for fallen heroes? What was the agency’s racial composition?

Mr Gololo (ANC) asked what progress had been made with regards to the fallen heroes buried in Tanzania.

Mr Sonto (ANC) asked how the operation in KZN was overseen since they did not have an office there. What had been done about staff transformation?

Mr Buthelezi replied that heritage management was a partnership between government and SAHRA. He said that each member of Provincial Heritage Resource Agencies (PHRAs) became a member of the national council. He said that at times there was no appreciation in terms of changing socioeconomic heritage. PHRAs were the responsibility of the provincial minister but there was not enough staff. They had to move away from racial classification to non-racial classification.

The names of fallen heroes had to be linked to a grave in order to restore them. The Minister had initiated the formation of a multidisciplinary task team. This process had started and they would in future be able to identify who were victims of conflict. They would create a database of names starting from 1910.

None of the R12 million had been spent as yet, but there will be a continuous review process to ensure that they complied with the criteria. The project would be completed on time. The adjudication process would take place on 15 November 2005.

He said that if would be a challenge to assess KZN. They were working together with the KZN heritage authority and encouraged all provinces to establish a PHRA.

He said that transformation ran across the sector. They needed to embrace changes and challenges, but race was not such a big issue.

The Chairperson asked that all other questions be submitted to the presenters in writing as there was not enough time to answer any follow up questions.

The meeting was adjourned.



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