The Castle Management Act Repeal Bill aimed to hand over the running of the Castle from the Department of Defence to the Department of Arts and Culture. Organisations that have an interest in the Castle presented their submissions to the Portfolio Committee.
The Reserve Force Council said that the military presence at the Castle added interest to visitors and at the same time increased security at the Castle. They suggested that perhaps the solution would be a Public Private Partnership. All agreed that the quality of management needed to be improved.
The former board chairperson of the Castle Control Board said that the Department of Arts and Culture did not have the capacity to manage the Castle. In his opinion the Castle had been managed adequately, although the corporate governance needed attention.
The Concerned Citizens Group said that the Kessel-Feinstein report had suggested a careful commercialisation of the Castle with a military presence. The public private partnership should include the Castle Control Board, the military and the Reserve Force Council. They pointed outhat the Castle was not a European building. It was built by a variety of people including slaves from many countries. Very different groups had fought side by side at the Castle. It was not just one group. The Castle was therefore unique and its history belonged to everybody. The system in place worked well at the moment even though it could be better. It was also unique in that it was a functional utility as well as a tourism draw-card
The Committee heard three submissions:
Reserve Force Council of the SANDF
Dr John Job, Chair of the Reserve Force Council (RFC), addressed the Committee as in the submission attached. He explained that the RFC was a statutory body and was linked to the Minister's office. Its role and function was spelt out in the Constitution and also in the Act. The RFC is a body which was elected by the members of the regiments. It is a consultative and advocacy body that should be consulted on matters regarding the Department of Defence (DoD).
Dr Job pointed out that five of the constituent members occupied offices at the Castle. They had occupied these offices for more that 100 years. These offices were working headquarters for these regiments. The RFC was concerned that should the Act be repealed, these regiments might have to move. He went on to explain that all the assets belonged to the regiments and not to the state. These assets would then be moved to other places should these regiments have to move. The RFC also conducted ceremonial activities at the Castle. The Castle housed a safe office for the President and Premier should there be any threat. The speaker emphasised that the Castle was not just a cultural institution but also a military one. They wanted the RFC therefore to stay there. The military presence at the Castle also added interest to visitors and at the same time would increase the security of the Castle.
Regarding the management of the Castle, Dr Job said that they had no specific mandate, but the management had to be enhanced. The RFC felt that the DoD could do it but that the questions around structure and skills had to be attended to. He cited the example of the Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, and said that it was being managed successfully by the British Army. He suggested that perhaps the solution would be a Public Private Partnership (PPP). The RFC wanted to be represented on the management structure.
Mr S Ntuli (ANC) asked what the implications would be for the RFC if the Act was repealed. The Auditor General had also picked up certain problems at the Castle. He wanted to know if the different role players, including the RFC, had seen the Auditor General's report. He asked how the role players would be jeopardised if the RFC was transferred. He also pointed out that the DoD had not said that the different role players would be moved.
Dr Job replied that the RFC had not seen the Auditor General's report. He added that the regiments had very little say over the use of funds. It generally used its own private funds. He pointed out that the proposal by the DoD did not say the regiments would be moved but it also did not say that it would stay. He felt that in order to address the issues in the Auditor General's report, the right people with the right skills had to be deployed in the right place.
Brig Gen J Del Monte, Vice Chair of the RFC, added that the RFC had placed certain models before the DoD regarding the Castle. These proposals had included the suggestion of a PPP. It had seemed however that the there was a lack of interest by the DoD.
Dr G Koornhof (ANC) said that there was room for improvement at the Castle. He said that the same issues had been reported in the annual reports over the last three years. The Auditor General had also raised the same issues such as asset management and the non-compliance with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). He encouraged the RFC to look at the annual reports. He wanted to know whether the RFC would have the capacity to manage the Castle.
Dr Job replied that the RFC had the basic skills to look after the Castle. It would also have to outsource some of the activities. It would be the weakest on seeing to the cultural aspects of the Castle.
Dr Koornof (ANC) asked if the RFC would be comfortable in nominating members to manage the Castle jointly.
Dr Job said that the RFC had the advantage that it did not bring dogma and inflexibility to the structure. It could help to create the structure that was needed to manage the Castle.
Mr R Shah (DA) asked whether it would help to safeguard the RFC's presence in the Castle by entrenching this through legislation. He asked what the perceptions of the RFC were regarding the transfer of the Castle to the DAC. He asked whether the RFC saw the transfer as a transfer of the administration only or if the property would be transferred as well. He pointed out that the DAC seemed to think that the property would also be transferred. He agreed that the RFC should have been part of the consultations. He asked if anybody had been in contact with the RFC.
Dr Job said that putting the RFC or regiments into legislation was tricky. Names could change over time which could then cause extra legislative problems. What they wanted, was a general military presence involving particular reserves. He pointed out that there were two Acts which placed the Castle under the DoD. He was not sure if both acts would be changed. Regarding the transfer of property, he said that he hope it would be handled in an appropriate manner should it take place. The RFC however understood that it was only the administrative function that would be transferred. He could not understand why the legislation had to be changed since, in their opinion, it was the management that was the problem. He felt that the Castle should be run as a state institution regardless of which department it was under. He indicated that there had been interaction with the DoD.
Brig Del Monte added that there had been a meeting between the RFC and the legal drafters in the DoD.
Ms P Daniels (ANC) commented that it seemed to her that the reservists were only a few people who had retired. She asked if the RFC felt that the DoD had overlooked the security concerns about the President.
Dr Job replied that the RFC were not commandos. They fell under the Chief Council of Reservists. They had an influence on citizen soldiery in the new South Africa. They had no command authority but did have a legislative mandate. They were the voice of the reservists. He added that it was not only the army reservists that were represented but all reservists.
Brig Del Monte added that the safety aspect was not their mandate. They were not suggesting that the DoD had overlooked the security aspect. They were just expressing concern about this aspect as one did not know what could happen in the country.
Dr M Schoeman (ANC) commented that there needed to be an improvement in the management of the Castle. He added that they were not sure what the motivation was behind the change. They had not received satisfactory answers from the DoD. He asked whether the RFC felt that the Castle was under utilised especially when one considered how the Edinburgh Castle was run.
Dr Job agreed that the quality of management needed to be improved. They were also not sure what the motivation was. They were not sure what DoD was thinking about it. He added that the Edinburgh Castle was a good model. It was possible that the RFC could conduct a study of this model. He felt that the Castle could be a more friendly place.
Mr Shah (DA) asked whether the presentation that the RFC had done eight years ago to the DoD, had been given to the Portfolio Committee as well at the time.
Brig Del Monte said that it was an in-house presentation to the Army Command Council. It was not submitted to the Defence Council. These plans could be resurrected and the plan could be made available. It suggested a PPP involving the Army, the RFC and the City of Cape Town.
Dr Koornof (ANC) added that management and preservation had to go together and that a PPP might be needed.
The Chair asked whether the RFC had had any contact with the DAC.
Brig Del Monte said that there had been interaction but not very often.
Mr R M Hudson-Bennett
Mr Roeland Hudson-Bennett, Vice Chairperson of the Castle Control Board (CCB), addressed the Committee as in the submission attached. He pointed out that his presentation was being done in his private capacity. He did not consult either with the Cape Town Chamber Commerce regarding the submission although he represented them on the Board. He had resigned as the chair of the board as he had felt that the Board was not functioning in line with corporate governance principles. He added however that the Auditor General's report had not been qualified but had contained a number of matters of emphasis. He felt that the DAC did not have the capacity to manage the Castle. In his opinion the Castle had been managed adequately, the corporate governance however needed attention.
Mr L Diale (ANC) asked why the Board members were not elected.
Mr Hudson-Bennett said that a circular had gone out to all stakeholders to send representatives. He admitted that he had not made any attempt to get all stakeholders to send their representatives. At present the Chamber of Commerce, Iziko Museums, Department of Public Works and the DoD were regularly represented on the Board.
Mr Ntuli (ANC) wanted to know what mechanisms were used to get people to serve on the Board.
Mr Koornof (ANC) pointed out that even though the Auditor General's report had not been qualified, the matters of emphasis were still serious. One of the main issues was the non-compliance with the PFMA. He asked what the assets investment value of the Castle Control Board was. He also wanted to know the role and function of the legislative division with respect to the CCB.
Mr Hudson-Bennett said that the assets investment for 2006/07 would in the order of R6 million. For the year 2007/08 it would be in the order of R7 million.
Mr Willem Steenkamp, of the Concerned Citizens Group, added that the CCB had a representative from the DoD. The legislative division was done by the facilities management of the DoD.
Mr Shah (DA) asked what the working relationship was between the different stakeholders on the Board. He added that he differed on the opinion that the Castle was managed well. He felt that the management needed to be placed under one body.
Mr Hudson-Bennett said that the relationship with the Department of Public Works was excellent. The Board also had a good relationship with Iziko Museums. The relationship with the City of Cape Town and Cape Town Tourism however was not good.
Mr Schoeman (ANC) remarked that maintenance over the three years had been R76 million. He asked if this was accurate.
Mr Hudson-Bennett said that the R76 million was not accurate and was a thumb suck.
Mr Ntuli (ANC) commented that since the Castle was a military museum, it should therefore represent all military forces and reflect the history of South Africa properly. He wanted to know where, in the Castle, the liberation forces were, who had fought in the struggle. Transformation should take place at the Castle.
Mr Hudson-Bennett said that the struggle was current history. The Castle displayed an older history. He pointed out that there had recently been an exhibition which focused on the border wars. There was also a display two years ago on Mr Mandela which had lasted for six months.
Mr Schoeman (ANC) said that if the Castle was to be preserved, everyone had to take ownership of it and the full history had to be shown.
Mr Koornhof (ANC) pointed out that there was a surplus of R7,8 million in the Board's accounts and asked for what this was earmarked. He added that the Castle had a challenge to show an integrated history in the future. This would help everyone to share in it. He also emphasised that Robben Island and the Castle were linked, yet they were being dealt with separately.
Mr Diale (ANC) added that transformation needed to take place at the Castle also in the area of gender.
Mr Hudson-Bennett said that the surplus was meant for the appointment of a CEO and a CFO. Initially the Military had employed 40 staff members at the Castle. This had declined over the years. The CCB now employed six people out of a staff of twenty two. The CCB did not receive a grant from any government department. The income from the gate and from other functions, such as film shoots, corporate functions, raised approximately R500 000 per year. Regarding transformation, he said that there had been some resignations from the board. He admitted there were very few blacks on the Board. It was difficult to tell organisations to send blacks as representatives. He admitted that perhaps not enough effort had been made. He added that since board members were not paid, it was difficult to get people to serve on it.
Mr Steenkamp said that he was involved in the restructuring of the reserve forces at the time when Mr Modise was the Minister of Defence. Mr Modise had pushed that the reserve forces should also include black forces. The DoD had however not taken it further. He thought that perhaps the transformation process in the Department had been the focus.
Mr P Groenewald (FFP) said that when one was dealing with history, one had to be sensitive and cautious. The Castle had to be seen within a certain context at a specific time. This had to be kept in mind.
Mr Schoeman (acting chair) said that the debate would have to wait for another time.
Mr Fihla (ANC) said that the military displays in the Castle showed the weapons that were used by whites against blacks. The weapons which blacks used in resistance were not shown.
The Chair said that there were activities in the Castle during World War 1. He therefore asked how far one had to go to show the history. He added that the DoD must answer for the challenges that the CCB was facing. The issue at stake was to find where the DoD had failed.
Concerned Citizens Group
Mr Vosloo, a representative of the Concerned Citizens Group, introduced the submission and said that they were concerned about the Castle. Their aim was to have a holistic view of the Castle and would like it to benefit South Africa. He added that the history reflected in the Castle was not a full one. He felt that the Castle was not run efficiently since there was a disconnection between the various role players. He also suggested that a PPP could be the way to save the Castle.
Mr W Steenkamp, representing the Concerned Citizens Group, addressed the Committee as in the submission attached. He added that the Castle pre-dated colonialism and was a difficult one to handle. He said that the Castle represented the start of globalisation since it helped trade tremendously at the time. It helped to change history and was therefore important. It was also an architectural gem. He emphasised that it was not a European building. It was built by a variety of people including slaves from a variety of countries. He also pointed out that there were very different groups who fought side by side in the Castle and that it was not just one group. The Castle was therefore unique and its history therefore belonged to everybody. The system in place worked well at the moment even though it could be better. It was also unique in that it was a functional utility as well as a tourism draw-card. The guidelines for the management of the Castle had been around for the last 14 years. It had however somehow disappeared. He pointed out that the Kessel-Feinstein report had suggested a careful commercialisation of the Castle with a military presence. The public private partnership should include the CCB, the military and the RFC. The RFC would provide a force which would be much cheaper to maintain. The RFC also had civilian skills which could be accessed. He felt that the Castle could support itself. If the income from the gate was doubled, the Castle would be self sustaining. The collection of fees however needed to be co-ordinated better.
Mr Koornof (ANC) said that the Committee needed more detail on the PPP proposed so that they could make a judgment. He added that the Castle was a prime site in Cape Town and was therefore valuable. He pointed out that when the Committee had visited the Castle recently, the ceremonies they had witnessed had been done very shoddily. He wanted to know what role government departments would play in the PPP.
The Chair referred to the Kessel-Feinstein report and asked if the Committee could have this report.
Mr Steenkamp said that they could give the Committee the recommendations made in the report.
Mr Vosloo added that they were aware that the Castle was a jewel. He added that the PPP would have a board of directors and that the Castle would then be run like a business. The profits made should be given back to help develop the Castle. The Board could be under the DoD but its role must be spelt out in the Act. The Board could also have representatives from the DAC.
Mr Steenkamp said that the guards doing the ceremonies were shoddy because the ceremonial unit had been stopped. At present the ceremonies were being done on a rotational basis with soldiers who were available. He pointed out that when the reserve force had done it, they had done a good job.
Mr Shah (DA) said that the DoD saw the Castle as an albatross around its neck. It did not have the budget to use on it. He said that there was no evidence that the DoD would not do the same thing again.
Mr Ntuli (ANC) asked what the best route was.
Mr Vosloo said that the Concerned Citizens Group had been in existence for the last eight years. It had experience that could be used. The DoD had lost interest in the Castle as it was not a military installation. A body needed to be formed, that had teeth, and was run as a public enterprise. It should not be dependent on money from any government department.
Mr Steenkamp added that it should be run on the basis of volunteers and that the profits should be plowed back into the development of the Castle.
Mr Sideko, a member of the Concerned Citizens Group, said that the Castle could be used as a symbol of unification as its history covered all the different communities in South Africa. He emphasised that this opportunity should not be missed.
The Chair agreed and said this was a good point on which to end the meeting.
Mr Schoeman added that the inputs in the submissions were all of high quality and that their sentiments echoed that of the Committee. The Castle was of significance and showed the common heritage that the people of South Africa had. The submissions had helped the Committee to focus. He assured the presenters that the decision that the Committee would make would be a considered one.
The meeting was adjourned.
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