A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
ARTS AND CULTURE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
13 November 2007
WAR MUSEUM OF THE BOER REPUBLIC, ARTSCAPE & ROBBEN ISLAND MUSEUM ANNUAL REPORTS 2006/7: BRIEFINGS
Chairperson: Ms T Tshivhase (ANC)
Documents handed out:
War Museum of the Boer Republics. Notes on the Annual Report
War Museum of the Boer Republics. Annual Report 2006/2007
Artscape Annual Report 2006/2007 [available at www.artscape.co.za]
Robben Island Museum and World Heritage Site. Integrated Conservation Management Plan (ICMP) 2007 Presentation
Audio recording of meeting
The Committee heard presentations from the War Museum of the Boer Republics, Bloemfontein, from Artscape, and from the Robben Island Museum.
The War Museum of the Boer Republics had received an unqualified report from the Auditor-General without any matters of emphasis. Although the Auditor-General had commented on the delay in appointing its council, that deficiency had now been rectified. The Museum had achieved 10 out of 12 of its performance targets. The Museum acknowledged its embarrassing inaccessibility to persons with disabilities, but noted that the Department of Pubic Works was responsible for the building. The Museum was not legally bound by the Employment Equity Act, but sought in its staff complement to reflect the demographic profile of the country. The exhibits sought to promote the concept that war was no solution to conflict and disputes should rather be solved around the conference table. It was noted that The Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) had been a war against colonialism that affected all population groups, and that extensive research had been commissioned into the role played by black people at the time. Members queried the late Dr Kessler’s research on the numbers of Black people who had died in the Anglo-Boer War, but the Museum explained all available documentary evidence had been exhausted and the research should be considered complete. The Museum recommended that Dr Kessler’s thesis be edited and published as a book.
Artscape, formerly a Section 21 company and now a declared cultural institution briefed the Committee on its role as a vehicle for transformation in the performing arts. The various institutions with whom it was allied, and for whom its building and infrastructure was available, were detailed. Artscape had for the second consecutive year received an unqualified audit report and there were no matters of emphasis. It noted that further funding was needed to undertake specific projects and there was much maintenance required on the building. Members commended Artscape on its initiatives in rural areas and indigenous arts, and raised questions of clarity on some of the programmes mentioned in the report.
The Robben Island Museum and World Heritage Site presented on its integrated conservation management plan. Robben Island was a unique symbol, for people all over the world, of the triumph of the human spirit over hardship and injustice. The year under review had been a difficult one. Efforts were being made to improve facilities for visitors while protecting the fragile environment of the island, and to invest in more new boats to convey visitors to and from the island. There had been a deficit of R25 million, largely occasioned through decrease in visitors, because of bad weather and inability of the ferry service to cope. New initiatives for the forthcoming year would hope to attract more visitors. Members asked for clarification about the financial statements, the status of the ferry, the Council, accommodation for visitors who were prevented by bad weather from leaving the island, preparation for 2010, whether the problems with feral cats had been sorted out, and its status as a world heritage site. Security issues and the outsourcing of the ferry management were also raised. Remaining questions would be addressed in writing.
War Museum of the Boer Republics (the Museum): Annual Report Briefing
Colonel Frik Jacobs, Director, War Museum of the Boer Republics, introduced his Deputy Director, Mr Johan du Pisanie. He noted that this was his second meeting before the Committee and he was proud to present an even ‘cleaner’ audit report and Annual Report. He began with an overview of his presentation.
Colonel Jacobs emphasised that the Museum’s scope was the 1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War, ‘the war against colonialism at the turn of the 20th century”and to some extent the 1914 armed rebellion. The Museum possessed no artefacts from subsequent conflicts.
A metamorphosis had occurred in the Museum about five years previously; with the realisation that war was not a solution to any problem but that the solution lay around the conference table. The name of the Museum was to some extent misleading, since it was a cultural history museum reflecting the suffering of Blacks, Whites, Coloureds and Indians in that war. That war had not been exclusive but inclusive.
The Museum had a major stamp collection, a large photographic collection, and a collection of firearms representative of the period. The Museum also had a library with collections of books and documents.
Members already had received copies of the Annual Report, which reflected overall on a very successful year, which had been noted favourably by the Auditor-General. There were no qualifications, nor matters of emphasis. The only negative item was the remark by the Auditor-General on the delay in the appointment of the Museum’s new Council. This, however, was a matter for the Minister, and, by implication, for the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC), and was not the responsibility of the Museum’s management. He reported that the matter had been resolved and a Council had been appointed.
Further highlights of the Report were the Museum’s new performance-based system of staff evaluation.
Colonel Jacobs, however, was very concerned and ashamed that the Museum was not accessible to persons with disabilities. He had raised this matter previously in Annual Reports, in letters to the Department of Public Works, and had reported on it to the Portfolio Committee. The Museum was housed in a very old building on five levels connected by stairs. There was no way for a person in a wheelchair to access that Museum. This was a great pity because such constructive denial of access violated the Constitution; and was an anomaly since the Anglo-Boer War had been a war against oppression.
The Museum had succeeded in achieving all but two of its performance targets. It had increased its numbers of visitors by 10%. The target for income from renting of facilities and sales of publications had not been achieved because the Museum had been constrained to reserve for exhibitions one hall previously available to rent, and had also reduced the price of its publications to widen their availability. The target for investment income had been well achieved with an increase of 49% thanks to the rise in interest rates. The target for staff maintenance costs of 75% had not been achieved, because of negotiated staff salary increases, and had risen to 81%. Since it had been to the benefit of staff, Colonel Jacobs did not feel disturbed by the non-achievement of that target. The Museum had achieved 60% completion of the computerisation of its record keeping system.
The Museum sought to focus on its collection on British forces and Black participants. This was not entirely successful but was not measurable although progress reports were issued. The Museum was proud of its publications; but noted that giving out of books was very expensive. The Museum had shifted its approach to doing editorial work for publishers. It aimed to be associated with two major history books per annum, a target that had been achieved. Since the Anglo-Boer War was no longer part of the curriculum, the Museum gave instruction to schoolchildren who visited the Museum in that topic. Schools from previously disadvantaged communities supported the Museum strongly, and the Museum felt that it had succeeded with its outreach to the wider population. The Museum now had trilingual exhibitions. There were temporary exhibitions in support of government targets like AIDS prevention, and on topics such as children in conflict.
Col Jacobs noted that the Museum had only 25 employees and thus was not subject to the Employment Equity Act. However, the Museum’s Council placed heavy emphasis on the spirit of the Act. The Museum had a low staff turnover, but over the past three or four months it had made six new appointments: one Black male, two Black females, two White females, and one White male. In spirit, if not in law, the Museum was adhering to the Employment Equity Act, and would move further under the guidance of the new Council. One promising Black male was undergoing professional training in order to become head of the Museum’s collections. Another Black male was undergoing professional training in order to become head of the Museum’s staff.
Col Jacobs referred to a previous question by this Committee and noted that the Museum had no artefacts from the war of 1975 between the South African Defence Force (SADF) and the MPLA, It had artefacts only from the 1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War, and nothing from subsequent conflicts.
Col Jacobs confirmed that the Museum’s building, Colonel Jacobs was owned by the State and the building was maintained by the Department of Public Works.
The Committee had previously asked him to focus on the role of all South African people in the Boer War. The Museum, as part of its efforts in nation-building, had, in the mid-1990s, identified the neglected history of the black people in the Anglo-Boer War and appointed a researcher solely to study that topic. For a period of five years the Museum had financially supported his research, and a doctoral thesis was completed on the topic. The researcher unfortunately died early in 2007. However, his research had made it possible to identify some of the aspects of that history. Figures for black deaths had related to refugee camps only. However, there had also been labour camps. The war had been fought to a large extent because of the gold in the Transvaal. The aim had been to get the gold mines working again as soon as possible, and therefore a potential workforce was necessary. This resulted in the establishment of labour camps for mine workers, as well as to support the vast British army in South Africa. There were also camps to contain independent black farmers who were in a position to give support to the Boer forces. The “uncounted” figures related to blacks confined to so-called “white” camps, and those who died in battle. According to the British Blue Books, slightly over 14 000 black people died in the course of the war. Dr Kessler, the researcher, succeeded in proving that 25 000 or more black deaths occurred in black concentration camps. The names were often incomplete, and in many cases non-existent, especially after 31 August 1901. Names of Blacks who died in ‘White’ camps were not included in official British figures. In September 1901 responsibility for ‘Black’ camps was transferred from the British army to the Department of Native Refugees and they no longer reported the names of the deceased and the causes of death. This problem had been recognised and was reflected in the issue of Freedom Park and the inscribing of names on walls. Attempts to determine a comprehensive list of names would be futile. However, it was necessary to commemorate in a meaningful way the many people who had died in the war. Dr Kessler concluded that as many as 25 000 or more Black deaths took place in the Black concentration camps. Several very important factors underlined that estimate. There were no registers or records, for example, for the Transvaal informal camps. The British army also operated army labour depots. There were no death registers or statistics for those depots. The researcher had consulted the Public Records Office in England, the National Archives of South Africa, and the archives of the Chamber of Mines.
Colonel Jacobs said that he could not give the Committee recommendations; he could only offer food for thought. Dr Kessler, he said, had done such extensive research that the University of Cape Town had awarded him a Ph D. He suggested that his widow should be paid a substantial amount to purchase the copyright of his thesis and a responsible editor should be appointed to prepare the thesis for publication as a book or as a report. Dr Kessler’s research had important implications for the debate on the names at Freedom Park.
The Chairperson said that, since so many Blacks had been involved in the war, its name should perhaps be changed to the South African War.
Colonel Jacobs said that he supported the Chairperson, but he believed that the name of the aggressor should be included in the name, so that the name should be the Anglo-South African War. The British had been the aggressors.
Mr M Bhengu (IFP) commended the presentation as precise. The idea that the matter could be “put to rest” depended on the viewpoint. Blacks had not been recognised as making a contribution to the war, which had been part and parcel of colonialism. The truth was that the war was between those who were scrambling for the gold of a country that was not theirs; and it was important to reflect that in the teaching function of the museum.
Mr M Sonto (ANC) said that the Anglo-Boer War had sought racially to divide South Africa. Colonel Jacobs had claimed that this war was against an aggressor and had sought to address that matter by changing names. He asked what Colonel Jacobs thought about the two histories of Blood River vis-à-vis the Anglo-Boer War, and how the Museum would depict those. He asked about the thesis of Dr Kessler, which he would contest, since it was a one-sided history. He asked if the projected book would not be better written by South Africans who represented the victims of that war, for the book to be a credible record of South Africa’s history.
Colonel Jacobs said that Dr Kessler had not “put the matter to rest” but had noted that one should try to do so. He had raised some very important issues such as black inputs into the war and black contributions to history. Although the war had been fought by two White governments, or three White governments if the Free State were included, the black people were involved in the war firstly as logistical support. The Boers took black farm people with them to give them logistical support. The British used black people and Coloured people to move their vast armies across the country. The war could never have been so extensive had it not been for the forced input of the black people. Indeed, it was a white man’s war, but it affected everybody. If a war was fought within the borders of a country, it affected everybody in that country.
Mr C Gololo (ANC) asked who should be responsible for paying the money to Dr Kessler’s widow in order to purchase the copyright.
Mr S Opperman (DA) said that in 1488 at Mossel Bay an arrow from the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias had pierced the heart of a South African. There were wars in the 17th century also on South African soil in which many people had died. He asked if those deaths had been recorded. It was important to include all the wars. He had only one question, and that was to ask whether the war was in fact over.
Mr Bhengu also said that affirmative action required that the staff complement of an organisation must reflect the demographic profile of the country.
Mr M H Matlala (ANC) said that only Col Jacobs had been present on 22 May 2007. At that meeting it had been agreed that Colonel Jacobs should come in future with his whole staff and he asked why this was not possible. He asked which communities the Museum was targeting in its efforts to increase the numbers of visitors.
Mr Lekgetho said that Colonel Jacobs should consider how many Committee Members were present and from which provinces, and that it was important that he should come with a sizeable delegation, including women.
Col Jacobs said that the Museum strove to correct imbalances in its staff complement, since it recognised its duty to reflect the demographic profile of the country. Whenever there was a vacancy, efforts were made to recruit in accordance with the demographic profile. In the past two years, as reflected in the statistics that Colonel Jacobs had presented, only one white male had been appointed. For his next visit, Colonel Jacobs undertook to bring as many of his staff as possible.
Mr Gololo agreed that it was important to modify the building to accommodate persons who were physically challenged. He thought that the Committee should visit the Museum.
Mr G Lekgetho (ANC) asked if the Museum’s inaccessibility to persons of disability was the only challenge that it faced.
Col Jacobs said the inaccessibility of the Museum to persons who were disabled was a big physical challenge. The Museum should attempt to rectify the problem of inaccessibility by itself to the extent that it was possible and already it was planning a few ramps. The architect had given an estimate of at least R5 million, which was more than one year’s state subsidy. However, Colonel Jacobs still thought that the Department of Public Works should be the main role player.
Col Jacobs said that the non-accessibility to disabled was by no means the Museum’s only challenge. A further challenge was to bridge the gaps between the population groups. It was therefore necessary to find the common ground. That war, in which all South Africans suffered, was potentially common ground. Another challenge was to create a new audience. Obviously there was more than one interpretation of war. History was written with a perspective; whether one was Christian, Muslim or communist, one had a platform from which to interpret. Dr Kessler was an American retired Presbyterian minister. His widow was now impoverished. He had been jailed in the United States for being part of the Black consciousness movement.
It was now 105 years since the end of the war. It was true that the figures were not complete, but one could not say therefore that the research was incomplete. It was most unlikely that the figures would ever be complete, because there were no more documents to be researched. Dr Kessler had researched everything available and extracted all the relevant information.
The Museum was targeting the community that had not known about the war. The museum had put travelling exhibitions in the libraries in the three major townships outside Bloemfontein. It was unfortunate that the Museum was not in the position to service even one province completely. It was a financial matter, but the point was well taken.
Mr Sonto noted that Colonel Jacobs had said that the Museum used to be regarded as a White domain. The Anglo-Boer War had been a colonial war that had excluded Blacks. The Museum was still far from projecting the reality of a colonial war. He asked if Colonel Jacobs would agree to that. There was a danger of giving visitors to the Museum a biased history. Freedom Park was presenting the same perception: history was history for those who were fighting for liberation, not for those who were fighting against liberation. He challenged Colonel Jacobs to answer the question of how he would react to a suggestion of including, at Freedom Park, alongside the names of heroes (patriots) the names of those who had died fighting against the cause of freedom and liberation – those who had died for the cause of making South Africa the land that it was now. Those names should be included at Freedom Park, but listed as those who had been fighting against the heroes and patriots who had been fighting for liberation and democracy.
Colonel Jacobs with much that Mr Sonto had said, but he disagreed However, Colonel Jacobs disagreed with the comment on names. Colonel Jacobs said that a failure to list the names of one’s enemies did not mean that they would not be honoured. History was written from the perspective of the writer. He agreed that if one wrote history from only a certain perspective, there was the risk of indoctrinating one’s visitors with the same viewpoint. He invited Mr Sonto to visit the Museum and to see for himself that the Museum tried to avoid bias. There was one wall at the Museum that ‘said it all’. Artefacts of the war were displayed at the front. The backdrop of each display window, however, was full of photographs, which could not lie, and which told the story. These photographs showed Coloureds and Boers, Zulus and Free Staters, all standing next to one another, some with rifles over their shoulders. They were participating in the same war. There had been no cameras at Blood River, so it was easy to perpetuate different stories.
Ms N Mbombo (ANC) asked if the Museum had any relations with the neighbouring museum for women. This question was important because women were also present in the war and had suffered in it.
Colonel Jacobs said that the Women’s Memorial was adjacent to the Museum. The Memorial had been erected in 1913 and dedicated, without reference to race, to the women who had suffered in that war. It was a major landmark.
Mr Michael Maas, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Artscape, introduced his delegation, which included Mr Sticks Mdidimba, Artscape’s Manager for Indigenous Arts, and Mr Pieter Lourens, Chief Financial Officer.
Mr Maas noted that Artscape had been a Section 21 company, but had been a declared cultural institution since 2003 under the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). It was intended to be a vehicle for transformation in the performing arts, with a mission to promote the arts to advance nation building. Artscape was involved in skills transfer as part of its value-added model, and was a funding conduit for many organisations that lacked sufficient of the infrastructure that Artscape possessed by way of being a performing arts institution. Artscape set professional norms and assisted with marketing. Artscape received funding to maintain its building, pay its staff, and make its premises available to organisations that wanted to present their productions and showcase their art. These included international, national and community based organisations. The activities included emerging companies, youth development, educational theatre, a training academy that Artscape administered, contemporary dance, music in all forms, jazz, ballet, manufacturing, an orchestra, indigenous instruments, song, and drama. This would explain the catalyst role of Artscape between its facility and the organisations with whom it was associated. Part of Artscape’s mission was to help develop those art forms that had been marginalised.
Artscape sought to transfer skills in terms of the White Paper. There had been 791 performances in the theatre over the past year. In terms of community outreach, Artscape extended itself to the whole Western Cape. This included assistance to a group in Darling to present its annual passion play. Artscape was keen to involve young people in the performing arts and sensitise them to job opportunities. Hip Hop was included in the category of indigenous art. Artscape promoted language development in isiXhosa, Afrikaans and English; children were brought in by bus from all over the Western Cape to see the written word presented on the stage. According to feedback from the Department of Education, with whom Artscape collaborated on these productions, the examination results in isiXhosa were much higher when Artscape mounted productions of the isiXhosa set works than when such set works were not produced. The Artscape New Writing programme had been designed specifically to create opportunities for new South African writers to enable them to tell their untold stories. Artscape was again involved in the isiXhosa festival in Langa with help from the provincial government. It conducted a drama festival in conjunction with high schools. This resulted in a high number of Artscape drama productions written by high school learners. Artscape undertook to train young people in the skills needed to succeed in the performing arts, skills that were not readily acquired in tertiary educational institutions.
Mr Pieter Lourens gave a financial overview. Artscape had had a steady increase in its Department of Arts and Culture grant. Its 40 year old building had been renovated in 2005. A small proportion of its income was from interest. Artscape was managing its fund to meet short term liabilities. Whilst Artscape had increased its income, it had ploughed back its surplus into its programmes. 2006-2007 was the second year in which Artscape had received an unqualified audit report; and there were no matters of emphasis. The funding from the Department accounted for 66% of the entire organisation’s income. Artscape’s self-generated income rose from 26% to 30%. It had 65 employees. Artscape worked closely with the embassies and consulates in the Western Cape, and received funding from British, Austrian, and German consulates.
Mr Michael Maas made mention of the major interventions to accelerate entry into the indigenous arts. The transformational staff plan would create positions in which individuals would be given professional training to help the company grow and fulfil its objective for a representative staff profile by 2010. A difficulty was that Artscape did not get funding for specific programmes, and definitely not from the National Arts Council. Artscape had applied for and been granted some funding, but it had not been transferred within a year. The national lottery had provided some funding. More needed to be done to maintain the building. If there were no investments in the souls of people, it would not be possible to take the performing arts to the extent that was possible nor fulfil the ambitions of the community.
The Chairperson thanked Artscape for its brilliant presentation.
Mr Lekgetho asked about the organisation’s interactions with comparable organisations in other provinces.
Mr Lekgetho asked about the gender profile of the staff complement. He asked that women be represented in Artscape’s next delegation to the Committee.
Mr Maas noted that Ms Marlene de Roux, Director of Audience Development and Education, had been unable to attend.
Mr Gololo commented that there was no mention in the staff profile of persons with disabilities.
Mr Sonto advised Artscape to be wary of being changed into a museum. He asked about the two kinds of surplus, ‘operating surplus’ and ‘surplus’ in the financial statements. He asked how these occurred. He asked how Artscape knew that it would be utilising R0.5 million in future.
Ms P Tshwete (ANC) asked about Artscape’s youth-oriented programmes to curb drug abuse. She also asked about HIV related programmes, and how much money was received from donors.
Mr Mdidimba noted that Artscape worked with two organisations in programmes to control drug abuse.
Mr Opperman said that he was very happy about Artscape’s rural initiative and asked about the organisation’s plans for the next year. He asked to what extent Artscape was participating in the Klein Karoo festival. Also he appreciated Artscape’s involvement in indigenous art. He noted the sharp drop in the value of the fixed assets between 2006 and 2007, and asked if it was because of depreciation.
Mr Opperman He asked how people in the rural areas could contact Artscape.
Mr Maas noted that the next visits to rural areas would be to Bredasdorp at the end of February and the beginning of March. All art forms would be represented, and training programmes would take place in the schools. Beaufort West was also in the programme. isiXhosa set works had been staged in George, Beaufort West and Mossel Bay.
Mr J Maake (ANC) asked what other fixed assets were owned by Artscape other than its building, and if a breakdown could be provided.
Mr Michael Maas said that the building, erected in 1967, belonged to the province of the Western Cape. Artscape was responsible for its maintenance. Artscape belonged to a group of entities, that was funded by the Department of Arts and Culture, and had regular meetings with them. Artscape had a close working relationship with the government of the province of the Western Cape. It also had a relationship with the Eastern Cape, which had formed part of the original Cape Province.
Mr Maake asked about the nature of Artscape’s manufacturers, and how much income the organisation derived from them.
Mr Maas noted that Artscape’s manufacturing comprised décor sets as well as costumes that were required for stage production. These manufacturers were marketed as widely as possible, while Artscape recognised that it could not fulfil the demands of the film industry.
Mr Maake suggested an orchestra of indigenous instruments only.
Mr Maas said that there was an orchestra of indigenous instruments in Ghana, and Artscape would strive to develop something of that nature for South Africa.
Mr H Maluleka (ANC) asked if Artscape was achieving its goals with regard to the indigenous arts.
Mr Mdidimba commented that there was a training centre at Artscape for youth to learn project and events management, and fundraising. Community youth groups would first develop a product, and then look for resources to stage it. It was essential to book Artscape’s facilities well in advance. Artscape was not a funding institution. He added to the comments regarding development of an indigenous orchestra, noting that community mini festivals were planned from April to August, with workshops, before coming to Artscape. As to indigenous knowledge, it would be necessary to conduct research in the province to identify the indigenous people of the province.
Ms Mbombo asked about involvement with community arts centres.
Mr Mdidimba said that Artscape had met in Bloemfontein with the Director-General of Arts and Culture to discuss the development of community arts centres. The meeting had examined resources, the content of the training, and institutional management.
Mr Pieter Lourens said that most of the answers to the financial questions could be found in the Annual Report. Surplus funds would be used towards the cost of projects such as the upgrading of Artscape’s closed circuit television cameras to improve the building’ security, especially since the Deputy-President and Minister of Arts and Culture were visitors. Unfortunately, manufacturing was not a core business. The Baxter Theatre was a customer, but the film industry found Artscape’s costumes and props too old fashioned. Depreciation had indeed reduced asset values. The names of donors were given on page 33 of the Annual Report. Disabled persons were employed by Artscape, but this had not been mentioned in the figures. This would be rectified the next financial year.
Robben Island Museum and Heritage Site presentation
Mr Paul Langa, Chief Executive Officer, Robben Island Museum and Heritage Site, introduced his delegation. He said that Robben Island symbolised the triumph of the human spirit over hardship and injustice. It was aimed that visitors should connect spiritually with the island. Robben Island and World Heritage Site sought to manage the island’s heritage resources through an integrated conservation management plan (ICMP) and to provide local communities with opportunities for economic development both now and in the future. Robben Island held strong symbolic associations for humanity; the site represented hope, solidarity and transformation, and was a place of spiritual reflection and pilgrimage. It offered hope to a world afflicted with injustice and intolerance, and an example of the indomitable nature of the human spirit.
As an institution, Robben Island had developed after the World Heritage Committee, and was intended to be a place of life-long learning. Special emphasis was placed on providing good facilities for visitors and safe transport to and from the island. In that regard, the management was experiencing great difficulties with its fleet of aged boats which were expensive to maintain.
The A, B, and C sections had recently been painted. Work was beginning on D section and on the hospital. A new ferry would be launched on the 17 November 2007. Jetty One, the original jetty for transit of prisoners, had been opened as an exhibition centre. Additional space had been provided at the Clock Tower. It would be noted in the report that bad weather had prevented visitors from travelling to the island for as many as 45 days. Robben Island Museum had been realigned in recent years, as the museum had been inherited from the Department of Correctional Services.
A great deal of capital needed to be invested in the Robben Island Museum, which was now ten years old. There were challenges as to cash flow projections, since income was governed by the number of visitors. The projected new experience for visitors aimed to give visitors more time in each place and more choice as to their movements around the site. A new ferry would enable more visitors to be brought to the island.
It was aimed fully to document the history of the prisoners, and that of their families, as well as that of the warders. It was aimed to realise a museum of which every South African could be proud.
The Chairperson recollected a visit to Robben Island when the visitors were, on account of bad weather, unable to return on the same day. She asked how a large number of stranded visitors would be accommodated.
Mr H P Maluleka asked for comments by the Chief Financial Officer on the financial statements.
Mr Lesetja Masekwameng, Chief Financial Officer, Robben Island Museum, said that Robben Island was a public entity under the Department of Arts and Culture. It received its funding mainly from government through an annual allocation. The second major stream of income was from the tourists who visited the island by means of the ferry, and from the curio shops. Other funding came from donors. The year under review was a mixed one.
The projections in the Robben Island Museum’s budget for 2006-2007 were based on the assumption that the ferry business could be operated on an uninterrupted basis. Unfortunately, the ferry service had been heavily disrupted by bad weather. The contract with the service provider came to an end in August 2006. According to the initial plan, the Robben Island Museum was going to have its own ferry. It was to have entered service on 01 September 2006. Without the ferry the numbers of visitors had to be curtailed, because the Robben Island Museum’s old boats were very slow. This loss of capacity occurred just before the beginning of the Robben Island Museum’s peak season. Moreover, the maintenance cost of the boats escalated. The Robben Island Museum had recorded a deficit of R25 million. Some very important projects had to be suspended. The reduced cash flow had made it difficult to pay creditors. He regretted that, unlike the previous year, it would not be possible to report a financial surplus.
Mr Masekwameng said that significant progress had been made with projects, as alluded to by the Chief Executive Officer, in particular the integrated conservation management plan. The reality was that at the present time no funds were available to implement that plan. However, the Department of Arts and Culture was assisting. The Auditor-General had queried the management of donor funds and the lack of an effective internal audit function. The Audit Committee had found the audit company ineffective and had dismissed it. After much delay, a new company had now been contracted. The Auditor-General had objected to the lack of a Council, but thanks to the help of the Department of Arts and Culture, a new Council had been appointed.
Mr Maluleka asked if the new ferry had been delivered.
Ms Tshwete asked if there were still people who came to visit the graves on Robben Island. She asked also about the constitution of the Council.
Mr Langa said that the Council was in place. It would meet on the 20 November 2007.
Mr Gololo asked about preparation for 2010 visitors who could be expected in large numbers.
Mr Gololo noted that on the Committee’s last oversight visit to Robben Island, the Committee had been told of a major problem with feral cats. He asked if the cats had been culled.
Mr Langa noted that the feral cats had been a source of meat to those in prison. Robben Island Museum had managed to comply; trapping had failed, so almost all the cats had been shot instead. The few remaining cats had been sterilised. However, it was now difficult to achieve a balance between the cats and the rabbits.
Mr Gololo asked about the progress in the recognition by the United Nations of Robben Island as a world heritage site.
Mr Langa noted that the status as a world heritage site was almost finalised.
The Chairperson asked about safety of women on Robben Island.
Mr Langa noted that security had been increased, with a system of closed circuit television cameras that detected movement, and the engagement of a national security company. The one-nautical mile periphery of Robben Island still needed attention to security.
Mr Lekgetho asked about outsourcing of services. In particular, he asked about the future of the boat employees if the ferry services were outsourced.
Mr Langa noted briefly that the Council had recommended outsourcing the management of the ferry service, which it recognised as a major source of income
Mr Lekgetho asked if Robben Island Museum had involved the union in the matter.
Mr Langa said that the union was involved in discussions.
Mr Lekgetho asked how Robben Island Museum accommodated visitors who were trapped there by bad weather.
Mr Maluleka referred to page 71 of the financial statements and asked for an explanation of the deficit.
The Chairperson asked Mr Langa and his colleagues to respond to remaining questions in writing.
The meeting was adjourned. .
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