The Committee was briefed by the Department of Defence on the transfer of the Castle of Good Hope to the Department of Arts and Culture. The Castle Management Act Repeal Bill set out the steps for the transfer of the Castle Control Board (CCB) and the transfer of the Castle of Good Hope management to the DAC. Transitional arrangements and management issues were covered. The CCB was in the process of addressing outstanding management issues in the Auditor-General’s report before the handover. He added that the plan of action was going according to schedule and that the DoD would continue to chair the CCB. Members raised questions around the registration of assets , the lack of consultation with relevant stakeholders, particularly the Reserve Force Council, and reasons as to why only the Castle and not other Military Heritage sites were being transferred.
The Department of Arts and Culture then briefed the Committee on the same matter. The committee questioned the fact that their presentation was so similar to the DoD presentation. Further questions related to the competence of the Department to run the Castle of Good Hope considering the crisis at Robben Island, the posting of advertisements calling for council members before the Bill had even been passed, whether there was sufficient budget, whether this Department was happy to take over the management, how other cultural institutions were run, how it would deal with staff still at the Castle and other issues. Members felt that they had not been briefed fully on all the reasons for the transfer. There would need to be further engagement before the public hearings.
Castle of the Cape of Good Hope (the Castle): Transfer from Department of Defence (DOD) to Department of Arts and Culture (DAC)
The Chairperson welcomed the Department of Defence (DoD) and the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC), who were both to make a presentation on the transfer of the Castle of the Cape of Good Hope (the Castle).
Maj-Gen Bailey S Mmono, Chief of Military Legal Services, South African National Defence Force (SANDF) apologised for the document being late.
Mr S Ntuli (ANC) replied that the Committee needed to see the documents well in advance.
Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) asked whether the DoD wished to engage with the Committee or just tell them what to do.
Mr R Shah (DA) added that this was not the first time that it had happened.
Maj-Gen Mmono reiterated his apologies.
The Chairperson replied that the Committee took very strong exception to this. He added that the Committee members were performing oversight and were not simply there to play games or to rubber-stamp issues. The Committee needed to be able to prepare themselves in advance, and if any documents needed to be signed off by the Minister then the presenters needed to make sure they did this in good time. He added that a report on this would be made.
Department of Defence Presentation on the Castle Management Act Repeal Bill
Brig-Gen Ernest Navratil, Director: Facilities Management, DOD, noted that the Castle Management Act Repeal Bill set out the steps for the transfer of the Castle Control Board (CCB) and the transfer of the Castle of Good Hope itself to the DAC. Transitional arrangements and management issues were covered. The CCB was in the process of addressing outstanding management issues in the Auditor-General’s report before the handover. He added that the plan of action was going according to schedule and that the DoD would continue to chair the CCB.
Mr Shah stated that during the last briefing on 19 March, the DoD delegation gave timeframes for certain issues being met, notably the completion of a stock-take of assets by the end of March. It appeared from this presentation this was not complete. He added that the DoD gave some firm commitments that he had questioned as unreasonable at the time. Mr Shah requested reasons for these delays and a progress update on the completion of the various processes undertaken. He added that the DoD was supposed to submit a copy of their supply chain management progress.
Brig-Gen Navratil replied that all items were recorded in the register, but that they were yet to be valued. The human resources and supply chain management policy had been drafted and was being finalised.
Mr S Ntuli (ANC) asked whether there were any other institutions of a similar nature to the Castle in the DoD.
Brig-Gen Navratil responded that other similar heritage institutions under the DoD were not registered as museums and that the Department did not envisage the Castle situation impacting on them.
Dr G Koornhof (ANC) asked what the implications for other DoD heritage sites would be, considering that the Minister of Arts and Culture could annex them. He requested information on the progress, discussions and outcome of the DoD and DAC task team. He asked whether the DoD was doing an asset register of all assets in the Castle or solely those DoD assets, to the exclusion of the Iziko and private collections. Dr Koornhof asked for an estimate cost for the repair and maintenance of the site. He added that in the submissions there were concerns that not enough consultation had been done with key stakeholders.
Brig-Gen Navratil replied that from a facilities perspective all other heritage facilities were utilised for accommodation. These were the Naval Base at Simon’s Town and the Army base, and these sites’ future ownership would not be affected .He added that the task team had been appointed, but that no further progress had been made due to the need for further consultation. Brig-Gen Navratil added that the CCB had the responsibility for certain assets, but not the Iziko assets. If the private assets were donated then they would be included under the Military Heritage Assets stock count. The DoD had held talks with the Department of Public Works (DPW) to establish an estimate for repairs and maintenance, but had not received an answer yet. Brig-Gen Navratil stated that he was aware of the number of stakeholders and added that he had consulted with the Reserve Force Council (RFC).
Maj-Gen Mmono added that the DoD did not need to consult the RFC on every matter. If the process of finding alternative accommodation was unsuccessful, then they would be consulted.
Mr Siviwe Njikela, Director: Legal Support, DoD, added that the consultation was really between the DoD and DAC, the issue of the RFC once again centred around interpretations of the Defence Act. His interpretation was that the RFC only needed to be consulted on matters that directly affected them. In this instance they were only indirectly affected. He acknowledged that maybe the Department should, notwithstanding this view, hold consultations again.
Dr M Schoemann (ANC) stated that this was a transitional arrangement and asked how long it would be until DAC was fully in control. In terms of maintenance he noted that there was a R1.6 million surplus, and he asked whether this was a dedicated income or if it reverted back to the DoD. If it was to be transferred to the DAC he questioned whether this income would be used for maintenance.
Brig-Gen Navratil responded that he could not give a timeframe as this needed to be decided on a political level, but that the DoD were committed to doing so expediently. He added that the R1.6 million figure was being used, but that State resources should also be used as the Castle was a State facility. He added that reprioritisation of funds could be done, but that the State had a responsibility to look after its facilities.
Mr Njikela replied that the Castle remained the property of the State and that the State was the actual owner, not any department. Ownership management was the key. He added that the Defence Act empowered the Minister of Defence to act in respect of all military heritage sites, but that in his view it was wrong to mandate the Castle solely as a military heritage site due to its historical value.
Mr Ndlovu asked whether if there were different components in the Castle, such as the Reserve Force, over whom the DoD had charge, and whether they should be informed of all these issues or if there was no need to do so. If the latter was the case then the DoD needed to tell these parties that they did not have a say in the matter.
Brig-Gen Navratil replied that in terms of Command Control, the Reserves answered to the Chief Command, and that at all times DoD had consulted with both the Chiefs of the Army and Reserves, but admitted the mistake of not fully consulting the RFC itself.
Mr Shah begged to differ with Mr Njikela and stated the Castle was a defence structure and that it could be called a museum. He added that if the Castle was being transferred because it was not in the DoD’s core business then the retention of other Military Museums was in direct contradiction with this policy. Mr Shah asked what would happen to current staff.
Brig-Gen Navratil replied that these concerns were valid and that DoD had consulted members. During the transition period it was made clear to staff members that their posts were not fixed and if terminated they would be transferred back to the DoD. He added that the DAC was consulted about the transitional management in order to facilitate a smooth transfer.
Mr Ntuli asked how other military history Institutions differed from the Castle and why they did not need to be transferred.
Brig-Gen Navratil replied that other military museums carried artefacts relevant to a particular service or division and that in the Castle only a small part was dedicated to the display of relevant artefacts. He added that the Castle had actual heritage status and was more of a tourist attraction.
Dr S Pheko (PAC) asked for clarity on the respective authority of both the DoD and DAC. If this was still debatable, there was a need for a conclusive, authoritative final understanding.
Ms P Daniels (ANC) stated that employees from both departments should have been dealing with the issue and questioned why it had taken from 1994 until now to arrive at this decision. She added that she got the impression that the Committee was not being given the real reasons for the transfer, and asked for the exact criteria.
Maj-Gen Mmono replied that he could not respond to that question.
Mr J Schippers (ANC) asked whether the DAC was the only option for management, and if other options were not considered, especially when comparing to similar institutions in other countries.
Brig-Gen Navratil replied that this had not been done and he was not in a position to comment on this.
Dr Schoemann asked whether a study was undertaken before this decision was taken, as it would have seemed to be the sensible thing to do. He expressed concern over the maintenance of the Castle during this transitional period. Dr Schoemann added that with regard to the RFC, this was the first time he had been faced with the issue of retrospective consultation.
Maj-Gen Mmono replied that in the Defence Staff Council the Chief Reserve Officer was present who represented the concerns of the Reserves. He conceded that perhaps there had been a mistake in not consulting the RFC.
Dr Koornhof asked if they had considered a private/public partnership to run the Castle.
Mr M Moatshe (ANC) asked if the Castle was a financial burden or a manpower issue.
Mr Shah stated that the Joint Task Team was determining the number of people being transferred as the idea was to transfer management, not property. However, the second last line of the bill stated that people would be transferred with the Castle. He questioned this as it was not the Castle being transferred.
The Chairperson stated that he wanted members to reflect on this issue, as it was only the start of the process. He noted that the Committee did have to do its work properly and critically.
Dr Schoemann added that the line of questions by the Committee arose from concern over whether this transfer was warranted, and he expressed the need for caution against rushing into something, without anticipating the full consequences. He added that the Committee needed to know what informed this decision.
Mr Shah asked whether the DoD was satisfied that the Joint Task Team had applied its mind efficiently. In his opinion they had not done so.
Mr J Phungula (ANC) added that he was not satisfied with the reasons given and suggested that there might be other interests behind the scenes.
Ms Daniels stated that if this transfer went wrong it would come back to haunt the departments.
Mr Ndlovu asked whether he would incorrect in surmising that the DoD no longer wanted the Castle and was asking DAC to take it over.
Mr Shah asked the DoD to simply admit if the Castle was a financial burden.
The Chairperson stated that the matter needed further and more detailed engagement, as it was clear that there were shortcomings. He added that if military history was non-core to the DoD, then it must be decided where the responsibility lay. He believed that at present the Castle was residing in the correct department.
Castle Management Act Repeal Bill: DAC Briefing
Mr Vusithemba Ndima, Chief Director: Heritage – DAC, apologised for the late submission of the documentation. He reiterated that the Castle Management Act of 1993 had effectively imposed on the Minister of Defence powers and functions that belonged to the Minister of Arts and Culture. For this reason the DoD had requested that the Castle be transferred to DAC, and Cabinet had approved that transfer in September 2007. He stated that to confine the Castle only to military history would deprive this cultural heritage resource of much else that was important. He said that there had been transitional arrangements agreed upon and he stressed that the major strategic and operational decisions would be left to the Council (which would replace the Castle Control Board), guided by the provisions of the Cultural Institutions Act. He stated that the DAC was ready to take administrative and management responsibility and had budgeted R3.5 million in 2008/9, R4 million in 2009/10, and R4.5 million in 2010/11. A due diligence exercise had been conducted into the Castle.
Mr Ndima noted that the Castle was currently self-sufficient but most staff were paid from the DoD budget. DAC would have to make provision for payment of the full complement of staff after the transfer. The due diligence had identified issues to be dealt with under human resources, establishment of staff, supply chain management, upgrading and maintenance and policy establishment.
Mr Ndima said that the benefits of the transfer would include inter-museum relationships, a more dedicated heritage focus, a designated budget and a strong emphasis on maintenance of the Castle. He suggested that the future vision for the Castle, although finally to be determined by the Council, would probably include maintenance, expansion and enhancement of the cultural and military history, a focus on domestic and international tourists, widening of the scope and range of historical activities, integration into the City cultural heritage precinct, and into the City Integrated Development Plan. He set out what the further functions of the Council would be. Finally he described the DAC institutional management capacity. .
The Chairperson stated that the DAC had started this whole issue.
Mr N Fihla (ANC) stated that in the United Kingdom he saw a castle from the 16th century that was both well preserved and maintained. He added that South Africa had a very important heritage. He had challenged Ahmed Kathrada on the preservation of the real history of Robben Island, including the pre-apartheid history, as well as issues that did not relate solely to Nelson Mandela. He expressed his dismay at seeing one section of the island, which had a very important historical value, closed off. This did not make him confident in the DAC’s capabilities.
Mr Ndima agreed with Mr Fihla on certain issues, but added that some tour guides did use their own discretion as to what to talk about or omit. He acknowledged a tendency to bring Nelson Mandela to the foreground, as he was an international icon. This, he conceded was a challenge that needed to be overcome.
The Chairperson added that Members knew what they were talking about. He himself gave the example of the State House in Brazil, as one of his guides was able to give him the full history of the slave lodge underneath it. Despite that not being given prominence, at least it was acknowledged.
Mr Schippers stated that on slide 14 the DAC gave assurances that the military history of the Castle would not be neglected. However, media reports indicate that the Castle would go the same way as Robben Island. Three factors informed this – visitor’s opinions, ex-prisoner’s opinions and a very bad audit report on the DAC.
Mr Ndima replied that the DAC acknowledged the problems at Robben Island, but stressed the danger in regarding the media’s opinion as fact, as there were strategies in place.
Mr Irwin Langeveld, Director: Heritage Institutional Development, DAC, stated that DAC acknowledged the problems around visitor experiences at Robben Island and reiterated that systems were in place to address them. However a UNESCO representative had said that out of the eight World Heritage sites in South Africa, Robben Island was the only one that was not a ticking time bomb. This emphasised the danger of taking media statements as solid fact instead of having regard to the UNESCO evaluation.
Mr Moatshe asked whether the Castle would form part of the core business of DAC. He asked if the DAC envisaged the Voortrekker Monument or the Holocaust Museum in Kwazulu Natal becoming a cultural institution. Mr Moatshe added that the DAC had already advertised for applications for posts at the Castle, indicating that the transference had already occurred, when in fact it had not. He asked about the status of those currently employed.
Mr Ndima replied that the Castle would indeed be part of the DAC’s core business. He added that a decision had been taken to set up the Voortrekker Monument as a Section 22 company after 1993, similar to the Holocaust Museums in both Kwazulu Natal and Cape Town.
Mr Ndima acknowledged that the placing of the advertisement was a big mistake, although it was in fact not advertising posts, but calling for nominations for CCB council members. This resulted from anxieties around ensuring an effective handover process.
Dr Schoemann stated that the advertisement for posts was in blatant defiance of the Committee and demanded an explanation.
Mr Shah asked how and who constituted the Joint Task Team. He wanted to know who represented them at this meeting. Mr Shah stated that the presentation indicated that R76 million would be needed to repair and maintain the Castle, and asked if DAC had budgeted for this.
Mr Langeveld replied that the Joint Task Team met shortly after it was convened and that it was comprised of the DoD, DAC, Department of Public Works (DPW) and South African Heritage Resource Agency (SAHRA). The task team considered its brief, and developed a point by point timeframe for possible future use of the space at the Castle. Two subcommittees were created, one dealing with future use and one dealing with operational issues. A meeting had been scheduled to evaluate and consolidate what had been done.
Mr Ndima said that the figure given was an estimate for the work needed, and he added that the figure needed to be broken down over five years. Mr Ndima added that DAC had a sizable amount in their budget for maintenance, and that there was also scope for financial reprioritisation.
Ms Daniels asked when the Minister of Arts and Culture realised that he should be running the Castle. She asked what would happen if the Committee did not repeal the principal Act.
Mr Ndima responded that there had been numerous discussions around the Castle since 1992, and that studies were done to envisage how the Castle could be operated. These had incorporated the case studies from other similar overseas institutions. He replied that if the Committee did not agree to the repeal of the Act then all processes would cease.
Mr Ndlovu asked whether the Castle was self-sufficient and what self-sufficiency meant in this case.
Mr Ndima replied that he meant that it was self-sufficient in terms of operational expenses.
Dr Koornhof stated that from the Committee’s visit to the Castle and subsequent briefing by the DoD, it appeared that the DAC presentation was a “cut and paste job” from the DoD presentation, reflecting very little input from the DAC itself. He noted the three-year budget, but asked where the R76 million and the other figures came from.
Mr Ndima responded that the DAC had worked hard on this document and that any similarities indicated that the DoD and DAC were on the same footing and understanding.
Mr Phungula asked if the DAC had received enough information on how the Castle worked and its problems before they happily accepted it.
Mr Ndima replied that DAC had looked at the historical background and current challenges.
Dr Schoemann asked if the transfer entailed the transfer of the Noon Gun and the Tamboerskloof Magazine as well.
Mr Ndima replied that it would, as they were components of the Castle.
Mr Shah asked what would happen to the five reserve force units at the Castle.
Mr Ndima replied that it was not in the nature of the DAC, as a government department, to be insensitive to the needs of the DoD, and that DAC had no intention of turning out the Reserve Force units housed there. He added that these matters could be negotiated.
The Chairperson added that there were no guarantees.
Mr Ndima replied that they could be worked out at any time.
Mr Ndlovu asked what the DAC meant by “discuss later” and hoped that it was not a question of supporting the DoD now but not in future.
Mr Ndima replied that the details were outlined, but not fully formulated yet.
Mr Anil Singh, Director: Legal Services, DAC, stated that there appeared to be a conflict between the Bill and the Cabinet Memorandum. He clarified that if DAC took transfer of the Castle in terms of the Cultural Institutions Act, then they envisaged complete transfer and the creation of a council.
The Chairperson asked why it was then necessary to have any amendment of the legislation if certain things would just be repeated.
Mr Singh replied that the Act needed to be repealed in order to dissolve the CCB, to prevent there being two bodies that had authority.
Mr Shah added that if such important work was supposed to be done by the Joint Task Team it would be a problem if it was not functioning. He felt that having only one meeting was completely insufficient.
Mt Koornhof reiterated his question on the PPP possibility.
Mr Ndima replied that DAC had never done a PPP in any of their institutions, and that it was a very serious matter. He argued the problems of privatisation applied here.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee needed to meet for further engagement on these issues before the upcoming public hearings. He thanked the DAC for coming and noted that they did seem positively interested in the Castle. He cautioned against lambasting the media. He stressed the need for departments to support each other in learning new skills, not just sticking to core business rigidly.
The meeting was adjourned.
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