Natal Museum & Voortrekker and Ncome Musuem: Annual Report

Arts and Culture

02 November 2007
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

02 November 2007


Acting Chairperson: Mr H Maluleka (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Presentation by the Voortrekker and Ncome Museum to PC on Arts and Culture
Presentation to the Portfolio Committee of Arts and Culture-Natal Museum
Natal Museum Annual Report [available shortly at]

Audio recording of meeting

The Voortrekker and Ncome Museum set out the core function of the Museum since 2006. The successes and challenges faced were tabled, and the Museum outlined the outreach programme, skills workshops and programmes, increased visitor numbers, research, and an examination of performance management systems. It was noted that the Museum had increased the number of its visitors through diversification.  The Chief Financial Officer tabled and explained the financial statements, indicating that in the past year the Museum had not received a grant from the Department of Arts and Culture. Members raised questions around the representativity of the presenting group, the number of visitors, how this had been achieved, the link between the two museums, diversity of exhibits, the relationship with youth, the decrease in income. Members were concerned about the lack of infrastructure for disabled people, and questioned the relationship with the Department of Public Works. This was an area in which the Committee could intervene if necessary.

The Natal Museum then described its activities and focus areas. There had been a redesigned organogram that was clearer and more meaningful. Achievements included the growing revenue and improvement of the Museums resource centre. Computers were enhancing the information retrieval for both students and staff. Other aspects that the presentation looked at were skills development as well as educating through exhibitions.  The Transformation perspective examined a way in which human resources could be improved upon, by empowering staff members and promoting development. Members were concerned about the lack of funds for research, as this was the most important aspect in the Museum, the source of the funding, the lack of qualified staff , and the discrepancy between public servants and museum staff funding. The Portfolio Committee also wanted to find out what the Museum did in order to promote skills development, and questioned whether it was able to give bursaries.
Voortrekker and Ncome Museums Briefing

Prof Z Khumalo, Chairperson: Voortrekker Museum, noted the Museum’s core functions, and said that the Museums  had continued to safeguard South Africa’s tangible and intangible national heritage, and that a number of activities were undertaken, including the focus on research, exhibition, education, outreach and collection management.  The outreach programme paid attention to nation building and social cohesion.  The research examined South Africa’s past and the various contributions played by different population groups in economics, political, social and religious development of the country.  Other research done was for the Voortrekker Complex, which looked at the Boer-Zulu war, as well as 16 Days of activism, Human Rights and Women and Heritage days.

The museums had conducted skills enhancing workshops, whereby local craft practitioners were advised and skilled on products most preferred by the museum visitors.  Education programmes were also given to certain schools, groups and educators.  Prof Khumalo stated that during the year under review the Museums were visited by 49 425 persons, as opposed to 2003 when they were visited by only 15 115 persons.  There was also continued interaction between the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) and the Department of Public Works (DPW) to finalise Capital Works projects planned for the Ncome and Voortrekker Museums.

The new Council was addressing the issue of performance management and the system was about to be finalised.  The new Council understood the importance of a sound performance management system and sound corporate governance.  However, he noted that the Museum was not able to match the salaries paid in the public sector.

The financial statements of the museums were tabled and explained (see attached presentation).

Mr C Gololo (ANC) asked if the museum received donations form the national lottery.  He also said that he noticed money coming in from ‘parking’ under the financial statement, and enquired whether there was a fee levied for the parking for cars.

Mr P Mvubu, Chief Financial Officer, Voortrekker and Ncome Museums, said that the Museum  had applied to the National Lottery for funding, but had been unsuccessful in receiving a grant.  The term ‘parking income’ referred to the money the museum made in hiring out their extra land space for the parking of vehicles.

Mr R Nogumla (ANC) wanted to know why there were men only presenting today, although the complement of staff included women and white people.  He also wanted to know which nationalities were prominent in visiting the museum.

Mr Bongani Ndhlovu, Director, Voortrekker Museum, replied that there had been a programme organised at the museum, so some of the delegates had to stay behind and others had come to this meeting.  In terms of the visitors, he said 80% were South Africans, a majority being school children, and the remainder were generally from overseas.

Mr E Opperman (DA) wanted to know the link between the Voorktrekker Museum and the Ncome Museum

Mr Ndhlovu stated that the link between the two museums was that they fell under the same Council.

Mr Opperman also wanted to know how the Museums managed to improve the number of people who came to visit.

Mr Ndhlovu said that the museum tried to diversify, as the exhibitions did not belong to one group.  He said when the museum received feedback on its exhibits, it would try to address the situation.

Mr Opperman wanted to know why there was a decrease in cash generated from operations.

Mr Mvubu said that there was a decrease because it related to the grant received from the Department of Arts and Culture. The previous grant of R1 million in previous years had not been given in this year

Mr Opperman said he had been confused by the word operations.

Ms P Tshwete (ANC) wanted to know who was responsible for the maintenance of the building -  the museum itself, or the Department of Public Works (DPW)

Mr Mvubu said that if the maintenance cost more than R20 000 then it would be done by DPW, but if it was less than this amount, then it was the responsibility of the museum

Ms Tshwete asked if there were any strategies to address the problem of not having infrastructure for people with disabilities.

Mr Ndhlovu said that the museum had raised this issue with DPW, by way of speaking to them, writing a proposal, and having a one-on-one meeting with the DAC

The Chairperson asked what number of young people were involved in their skills development

Mr Ndhlovu said the museum would meet with the youth on a monthly basis

The Chairperson wanted to know when the museum had made its application to the DAC around disabilities and suggested that maybe the Committee could intervene.

Mr Nogumla said the issue of gender equality and non-racialism were very important, and whilst the composition of the Voortrekker Museum showed that they met the requirements, he was disappointed by the lack of better representativity at the meeting.

Ms Tshwete wanted to know more about the staff payment issues. 

Prof Khumalo said the civil servants had received an increase of 7.5% but the Museum staff were only able to have 6%. There was an imbalance.

The Natal Museum Briefing
Mr Luthando Maphasa, Director: Natal Museum, presented on the museum’s main focus areas. He noted that the financial perspective concerned itself with examination of the growing revenue, containing cost, optimisation of subsidy utilisation, sound financial management and adopting special projects to raise income.

The Customer and Stakeholder Perspective looked at building and maintaining a relationship with the Council, improving customer satisfaction, ensuring compliance with the legislation, growing the customer base, and ensuring that the collection and curatorship of heritage objects should comply with national standards, as well as growing Public Private Partnerships (PPP’s).  Included in this perspective was the building of new galleries and improving on the learners’ resources centre.

The Internal Business Perspective examined the improvement of productivity and efficiency, improving the use of Information Technology (IT) applications, performance management, improving business processes, and improving employee satisfaction. 

Mr Maphasa explained that the old organogram was confusing and antiquated, as compared to the new one recently drawn. He highlighted that there were new job descriptions for all positions, a  job grading exercise, and staff development.

The Innovation and Learning Perspective promoted entrepreneurial thinking, staff development, developing knowledge management, and improving multi-skilling. It had programmes that addressed socio-economic aspects of the people, employment equity, improved research output and aligned it to national needs, as well as having education and exhibitions projects highlighting the museum’s research outputs.

The Transformation Perspectives included organisational restructuring, human resources development, affirmative action, training and development, management diversity training, succession planning, and staff empowerment.

The museum had a summary of requests, which included air conditioning, a lift and ramp for the disabled, upgrading of the storage area, water pipe upgrading, a back up generator and a new museum building.

The Chairperson stated that there no one had ever reported on the wellness of staff, and he felt that this should be addressed.

Mr Maphasa said that the museum wanted to develop a support system for staff, especially in connection with HIV/AIDS.  He said that the staff were healthy and fit

The Chairperson said that he noted from the transformation perspective that there were 6 lower level positions, and, similar to other institutions, these had been allocated to Africans only. He asked for an explanation of this.

Mr Maphasa replied that the issue of lower positions being filled by Africans was an inherited problem from the past. The museum did, however, allow for people placed in these positions to move up in the ranks, by opening new posts or promoting them.

The Chairperson wanted to know if there were any funds from the DAC for research.
Mr Maphasa stated that the issue of research funds was problematic, as the museum did not receive funds that were designed specifically for research or researchers. That was one of the problems that led to people leaving.

Mr Nogumla asked why there was a lack of qualified staff, and questioned if the inability to retain staff was linked to non-competitive salaries.  He also asked when the museum had last discussed their challenges with the DAC and the DPW.

Mr Maphasa replied that the lack of qualified staff was due to both lack of funds and lack of staff, and the former had an impact on the latter.  He said that the museum was trying to interact with tertiary institutions, but there was no formal qualification in museology.

Mr Opperman asked if the museum had proper inventories and if everything was catalogued.  He also said he was worried about the lack of funds for their research, and wondered if this did not go against the museum’s mission statement

Mr Maphasa said that there were proper inventories, and that the collections were properly documented

Ms Tshwete asked why was it that the air-conditioning was quoted as costing more than the new museum building. She asked if the summary had been submitted to DAC or to DPW.

Mr Maphasa stated that there were zeroes missing from the price for a new building, and apologised for this error

Ms Tshwete wanted to know if students paid or entrance to the museum, and if they did what was being done to allow disadvantaged schools also to benefit from the museum

Mr Maphasa said that each child was charged R1, but schools could request a waiver if they could not afford the fee.  The charges have not stopped schools from coming.

Ms Tshwete asked why the museum did not align their bursaries with a job description, so that the problem of lack of skills could be solved

Mr Maphasa said that the museum was not an institution that was allowed to give bursaries to the public; they could only be given to existing staff.

Ms Tshwete asked if the museum paid rent to the DPW.

Mr Maphasa said that they did not pay rent, but the building was utilised by the museum, as they were a public entity

The meeting was adjourned.



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