Natal Museum, Northern Flagship Institution, Free State Performing Arts Centre; (Closed Session: PAN SA Language Board candidate

Arts and Culture

15 May 2007
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

15 May 2007

Acting Chairperson:
Ms P Tshwete (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Natal Museum. Summary of presentation
Natal Museum. Strategic plan 2007/8 - 2009/10
Natal Museum. Presentation. 'A never ending journey of discovery presentation
Northern Flagship Institution. Strategic plan 01 April 2007 - 31 March 2010 [not presented]
Performing Arts Centre of the Free State (PACOFS). Annual report and strategic plan [copies available for Members only]

Audio Recording of the Meeting Part1 & Part2

The Natal Museum briefed the Committee on its strategic plan for 2006/07. It was presently  restructuring,staff training would develop capacity, and the structural plan aimed to address the deficiencies identified during the restructuring process. Emphasis was being placed on sound corporate governance. The new structure aimed to lay the foundation for the Museum to develop and maintain effective staff for core functions, improve its marketing, develop income-generation, and meet changing needs while offering a relevant and educational service. The collections and focus areas were described. The Museum was proud of its research excellence. The next three years would be crucial. Lack of adequate funding was a major challenge, and if this was not addressed there would be loss of staff and a negative impact on ability to meet the requirements of the Public Finance Management Act. There was a deficit shown in the forthcoming budget.

Members raised questions on outreach programmes, the main sources of funding, the staffing, the disability profile of staff, disability access, and the premises. Several members raised concerns that the financial statements had not been presented. The Auditor General had commented adversely on control weaknesses, and to compound the situation many of the matters had also been raised in previous years and clearly had not been properly addressed. The presenters had misunderstood what should have been included in the presentation. The Chairperson made it clear that full financial information was required, as well as details of how funding had been used. The Committee would visit the Museum. It urged that serious attention be given to correcting the mistakes.

The Northern Flagship Institution explained it history and administrative profile. Its mandate was to collect, conserve and safely manage the national heritage collections, to carry out research, to publish findings, to hold exhibitions and undertake education of learners and the public to meet economic development and socio-economic objectives. It was aiming for sustainable and responsible management of heritage assets. A new corporate image and branding was to be launched in 2007. The strategic plan was intended to set the road for the future and move away from the instability plaguing the organisation from 1999 to 2003. The monitoring plans and strategic plan were set out. It was submitted that the baseline allocation from government was inadequate to meet all objectives and that the Institution would have to aggressively market to augment these allocations. It requested an increase to the baseline allocation, since the budget had grown by 28% over the past four years.

Members noted that the financial reporting presented to them was not complete. No comparative figures were given for 2006/07.They felt it was impossible for this Committee to properly carry out its responsibilities without this information. There had perhaps been a misunderstanding as to exactly what was expected of the Institution when reporting. The Chairperson outlined what was required, and ruled that there was no point in discussing even the Strategic Plan. The Institution was requested to appear again on another date to complete the presentation.

The Performing Arts Council of the Free State noted that although it had prepared a briefing the financial statements were not included, since the Council was not aware that these were required. The Chairperson again repeated what was required of entities and suggested that a brief outline be given of the aims and activities of PACOFS but that it too should return to the Committee with complete documentation. PACOFS indicated that it acted as the major culturing and coordinating community resource in the area, was committed to nurturing new works and artists and contributed widely to the arts scene by touring productions. It had had problems in governance and accountability. It agreed that it would return to give a further presentation.

The Committee held a closed session to deliberate on the possible candidates to serve the Pan South African Language Board.

Budget Vote: Department of Arts & Culture (DAC): Briefing by Natal Museum
Professor Philda Nzimande, Chairperson, Natal Museum Council, explained that a new Council had been appointed in 2005. In the financial year 2006/2007 the Museum had started to implement its restructuring process to ensure that available skills were properly matched with the institution's need to deliver effectively a heritage service to the community. Furthermore, the need for staff training had been identified in order to develop capacity.

The Strategic Plan for 2007/8 to 2009/10 therefore aimed to address all the deficiencies that had been identified during the restructuring process. Great emphasis was to be placed on issues of corporate governance. Through its oversight role, the Council would continue to support management programmes aimed at ensuring compliance with legislation and undertaking the heritage mandate of the Museum. The process of transformation had been difficult, but was being facilitated by the new organisational structure.

With the new structure in place, it was now possible for the Museum to develop and maintain an effective staff for its core functions while at the same time improving its marketing efforts and developing income-generating projects. It relied upon major financial support from the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC). The improved funding in the previous financial year had enabled the Museum to address many of its needs and resulted in great improvements in the Museum's work.

Mr Luthando Maphasa, Director, Natal Museum, said that the Museum was founded in 1878 by the Natal Society to cater for the literary and scientific interests of the community, and taken over by the government of the then Natal Colony in 1903. Today, the Museum had collections that contained more than 16 million specimens and objects worth more than R86 million; the research library had more than 28 000 books, 2 400 journal sets of which approximately 900 were current subscriptions, 12 000 monographs, 78 000 pamphlets and reprints, and 8 000 photographs covering KwaZulu-Natal history, including the Zulu War of 1879 and the South African War of 1899-1902.

The Museum had a staff complement of 45, to be increased to 55 the following year. Many positions had not yet been filled.

The Museum aimed to serve the people of South Africa by interpreting material evidence of the cultural and natural world, to increase knowledge, understanding and appreciation. It wished to be a leading heritage institution in South Africa. Core functions were collections, research, exhibitions, education and outreach. The various directions of the research were outlined fully in the presentation. The objectives included diversity of collections, research development, transformation of exhibitions, educational outreach, marketing and branding, fund-raising, addressing national imperatives, collaboration with other institutions, and positioning the Museum for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. It was proud of its archaeology division, which was unique in Kwazulu Natal, and one of the largest in South Africa, with five researchers. Educational outreach was important, and 35 500 learners and teachers had visited the Museum in 2006. Weekly sessions were held for learners on natural and cultural heritage and weekly biology classes were conducted after hours for 35 matriculation pupils. Priority projects were directed to moral regeneration, literacy and accelerated and shared growth initiatives.

Examples of the Museum’s research excellence included five staff members reading for their Ph.D. degrees, in some cases under the supervision of retired full-time researchers, and a number of publications in internationally renowned journals. The Museum's collaborative efforts were fully outlined. The Museum aimed to position itself as a gateway to the entire KZN heritage in preparation for visitors in 2010.

Mr Maphasa emphasised that, after the major restructuring challenges, the next three financial years would be crucial. Lack of adequate funding remained a major problem. If not addressed, this would result in loss of professional staff, and impact negatively on the Museum's ability to comply with the Public Finance Management Act and apply sound corporate governance. The budget for 2007/2008 showed a significant deficit. This was occasioned by costs for internal audit and the hiring of a finance officer that had been initially funded through once-off transformation funds. Further funding was needed for training and development of capacity to address the transformation, diversify the exhibits and extend the focus of research. The Museum's educational programmes would be enhanced and aimed at developing skills that would empower young people to contribute to social and economic transformation.

Mr H Maluleka (ANC) asked about the Museum’s outreach programmes and how many visited the Museum every year.

Mr Maphasa said that the outreach programmes were directed towards the townships and rural areas, and aimed to develop skills.  The number of visitors had increased by 18% per annum over the past two years. Last year 24 500 had visited the Museum.

The Acting Chairperson asked who was the main source of funds.

Mr Maphasa said that the National Research Fund, the National Lottery, and the municipalities were the main sponsors.

Mr M Matlala (ANC) asked about the disposition of the Museum’s ‘old’ staff.

Professor Nzimande asked for a definition of ‘old’, and whether the word ‘old’ implied elderly. The Museum’s older staff, prior to restructuring, had tended to concentrate only on their own specific research interests. Currently, through the transformation process, retired staff were imparting their skills to the younger staff and advising them in their research efforts.

Mr M Sonto (ANC) said that financial matters were crucial to any discussion. He asked for clarity on how the Museum interpreted transformation, on its staff equity table and on the parties responsible for constituting the Museum.

Ms D Van der Walt (DA) said that she had questions on financial aspects, and wanted to ask about the Museum’s building.

Mr Maphasa said that the building belonged to the Department of Public Works.

Professor Nzimande said that the Museum would remain in the existing building but that the Department of Public Works was in the process of modifying the building in response to the Museum’s needs. Moreover, additional buildings were likely to become available to the Museum.

The Acting Chairperson said that the Committee should visit the Museum in order to see its situation.

Ms D Ramodibe (ANC) asked about representation of African women in the equity table, and whether zero values indicated that those people lacked the required skills.

The Acting Chairperson asked for elaboration on the lower and middle levels.

Mr Maphasa said that one had to understand the equity table in the light of historical factors. There was poor representation of coloured staff.

Mr Matlala asked if the Museum had a disability profile, and if it had a realisable programme for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

Professor Nzimande said that the Museum sought to accommodate the disabled, and was improving access for those in wheelchairs.

Mr Maphasa added that the Museum did not exclude any member of the community on account of disability. A lift had been installed for disabled staff and visitors, and every issue of disability had been addressed.

The Acting Chairperson requested responses to financial concerns.

Professor Nzimande noted that she had been told that the Committee had received the Museum's financial statements from the DAC. She was informed only on 08 May 2007 that she must attend the Committee meeting today.

The Acting Chairperson said that finance was the core issue for discussion. Therefore it was essential to have full financial information as to how each entity had used the monies provided. Any presentation must include details of all financial matters.

Ms Van der Walt expressed serious concerns about the adverse comments made by the Auditor-General (AG), particularly control weaknesses. These comments repeated the situation that existed in the previous year. This was unacceptable. A qualified audit report was a very serious matter that had to be addressed. It should not be neglected so that the same matters arose the following years, and the lack of corrective action which led to the same qualifications in the next year was utterly unacceptable. She asked for explanation of the library materials that had been written off in the same year as their purchase.

The Acting Chairperson noted that the Museum had not prepared its financial report. 

Mr Maphasa said that he could give some answers. A shortage of manpower and insufficient numbers of qualified staff were partially to blame. One staff member did indeed open mail and record receipts, but this was done in the presence of another staff member as a control witness. There were insufficient funds to hire more staff. He undertook to send the previous year's annual reports by the following week.

Mr Sonto asked when the Museum would appoint a Chief Financial Officer.

Mr Maphasa said that such an appointment was under consideration.

Ms Van der Walt criticised the lack of an inventory or records with regards to fixed assets and asked if that deficiency would be corrected.

Mr Maphasa said that the deficiency had been corrected, but that it was not apparent in the documentation.

The Acting Chairperson said that the Committee would visit the Museum. It was concerned about the lack of proper financial management, and urged the Museum to correct those mistakes as quickly as possible.

Professor Nzimande apologised profusely and emphasised that she and her colleagues would have been better prepared if they had known what was expected of them.

The Acting Chairperson said that it was expected of all entities that they should at all times be ready to answer detailed questions about their financial status. At the same time she expressed regret that Professor Nzimande and her colleagues had apparently not received timely and full information about what was required of them.

Budget Vote: Northern Flagship Institution (NFI) Briefing
The Acting Chairperson welcomed Mr M Makgolo, Chief Executive Officer of the Northern Flagship Institution (NFI) and his delegation, and introduced the Members of the Committee. She explained that the Committee had aimed to see all 27 entities. Nine entities had been given priority, since they had not had the opportunity to visit with the Committee previously.

Mr Makgolo Makgolo (sic) Chief Executive Officer, Northern Flagship Institution, noted that in presenting NFI’s 2007/8 budget, he would focus on the key strategic areas in which NFI was involved. He would also give a brief background to the Institution. The NFI was established in terms of the Cultural Institutions Act 119 of 1998, by amalgamating three national museums - the Transvaal Museum (Pretoria), the South African National Museum of Military History (Johannesburg) and the National Cultural History Museum (Pretoria). In addition, there were five satellite museums, which were set out in the presentation. These were previously administered by the National Cultural History Museum, but had now become site museums with independent managers and budgets. The Head Office was located at the Transvaal Museum. The total staff complement was approximately 282, including fixed term contracts and vacancies.

The mandate of the NFI under the Act was to collect conserve and safely manage national heritage collections,  carry out research on conservation, publish such information for local and international use, design and launch exhibitions and public programmes with a view to supporting the national educational curriculum, economic development and other socio-economic objectives and to render a heritage service to other museums, individuals and tertiary institutions. The NFI therefore aimed to respect and appreciate the unique heritage and to ensure transformation and sustainable management of museums and sites.

The NFI had developed, managed and administered some of the largest and most significant southern African collections in the fields of fauna, palaeontology, military history, anthropology and archaeology. It was aiming to ensure sustainable and responsible management of national heritage assets, and to ensure wider access to them.

In an effort to improve the corporate image of the institution, increase access to the museums and raise funds to augment government subsidy, the NFI was establishing a new corporate identity. The new corporate identity and branding would commence in the next financial year. The Council had set high goals and the strategic plan was intended to be the roadmap for the future, to move away from the instability from 1999 to 2003 caused by lack of leadership.

Mr Makgolo explained that the NFI was a schedule 3A public entity accountable to Parliament. The Council had fiduciary responsibilities, and must ensure development of focused strategic and business plans in line with annual budgets. Projections and outcomes were set, and adherence to the strategic plan was monitored though quarterly reports submitted to the DAC and to Council.

The strategic plan focused on the positioning of the NFI in the heritage sector, conservation, and promotion of the national heritage, promoting the national imperatives of the government, including, among others, programmes on women, children, disability and youth, and nation building.
Mr Makgolo stated that the baseline allocation received from government was inadequate to enable NFI to achieve the strategic objectives outlined in the plan. NFI would have to embark on an aggressive marketing strategy to raise funds to augment governmental allocations. In the meantime, it was anticipated that the government would give consideration to increasing its baseline allocation. The additional R3.5 million had been a once-off grant to boost operations. The budget had grown by R7.4 million from 2003 to 2006, which represented a percentage of 28% over four years.


Ms D Van der Walt (DA) objected that incomplete financial reporting was contained in the documentation, in particular noting that the figures for 2006/07, that were necessary for comparison, had been omitted.

Ms D Ramodibe (ANC) and Mr M Sonto (ANC) concurred.

The Acting Chairperson agreed that the basis for comparison was not there, but suggested that the Committee hear the remainder of the presentation.

Ms Van der Walt insisted that all the relevant figures must be provided if this Committee were to carry out its responsibility to Parliament in this regard.

Mr C Gololo (ANC) proposed a compromise, suggesting that if no additional funds were being requested, then NFI could continue with its briefing. If it was asking for additional funding then the additional figures must be provided.

Mr Sonto believed this suggestion set a bad oversight precedent. Since the Members needed to interact with the delegation they must have the complete documentation in front of them.

The Acting Chairperson apologised that perhaps the letters sent to the entities had not been absolutely clear in setting out the requirements. The Committee must assist entities such as NFI but in order to do do so it must be able to compare the 2006 and 2007 figures, as part of checking that entities could properly account for expenditure of all allocated monies. She asked if the NFI was able to send the documentation by email, or if it would be preferable for the delegation to return soon to the Committee and resubmit their presentation.

Ms Van der Walt wondered if at least the Members could discuss the Strategic Plan.

The Acting Chairperson believed that this could not be discussed without the full financial documentation.

Mr Makgolo apologised and noted the objections. He undertook to return to another meeting to account fully for the previous year as requested, and the new figures would indicate precisely how the NFI had spent the monies given to it, and how it proposed to spend the monies requested for this financial year.

The Acting Chairperson thanked the NFI for its understanding of the situation, and remarked that if in doubt the institutions should have sought clarity as to what was required of them. A new date would be arranged

Ms Van der Walt noted that entities must be able to view the Committee as supportive of their aims and efforts but must realise at the same time that the Committee had to have full information in order to carry out its duties.

Mr Makgolo confirmed  that NFI would present the three-year budget cycle in order to assist the Committee to understand the context of its requests.

Performing Arts Centre of the Free State (PACOFS): Briefing
Mr Barry Swanepoel, Acting CEO, PACOFS, said that he was ready to give a presentation on PACOFS’ strategic plan and budget, but noted at the outset that he had not brought the figures for 2006/07.

The Acting Chairperson asked Mr Swanepoel if this was PACOFS' first visit to the Committee.

Mr Swanepoel said that it was indeed the first visit.

The Acting Chairperson repeated to Mr Swanepoel that all entities were expected to account to the Committee for expenditure, as well as present budgets, and therefore must bring complete financial figures for comparison in order to provide a sound basis for the Committee’s deliberations. She suggested to the Committee that PACOFS should give a brief outline of its aims and activities but return to the Committee with complete documentation. The Committee agreed.

Mr Swanepoel explained that PACOFS was the major co-ordinating community and cultural resource for people in the central parts of South Africa and Lesotho. PACOFS was committed to the nurturing of new works and artists through its arts development programme, while contributing to the wider southern African theatre scene by contributing touring productions and providing employment and career opportunities. PACOFS had, in theory, some co-operation with the University of the Free State. He admitted that it had had a troubled history in regard to governance and accountability.

No questions were forthcoming from Members at this stage.

The Acting Chairperson regretted the misunderstanding and expressed thanks to PACOFS for its attendance. It would be necessary for PACOFS to return to the Committee with full documentation to give a presentation on the financial statements within seven days.

The public part of the meeting was adjourned.

Pan South African Language Board (Pansalb) appointments
The Committee held a closed session on the possible candidates to serve the Pan South African Language Board.



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