ATC150817: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Arts And Culture on the visit to the Nelson Mandela Museum, Performing Arts Centre of the Free State and Windybrow Theatre, 24-26 November 2014, dated 05 August 2015
REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON ARTS AND CULTURE ON THE VISIT TO THE NELSON MANDELA MUSEUM, PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE OF THE FREE STATE AND WINDYBROW THEATRE, 24-26 NOVEMBER 2014, DATED 05 AUGUST 2015
The Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture (the Committee) having conducted an oversight visit to the Nelson Mandela Museum (Mthatha, Eastern Cape), Performing Arts Centre of the Free State (Bloemfontein, Free State) and Windybrow Theatre (Johannesburg, Gauteng), reports as follows:
The Nelson Mandela Museum, Performing Arts Centre of the Free State and the Windybrow Theatre are Declared Cultural Institutions in terms of the Cultural Institutions Act (No. 119 of 1998). These are managed by respective Councils which are appointed by the Minister of Arts and Culture for a term of three years. The Minister may extend the term of Council or reappoint current members of Council. The Council acts as an Accounting Authority and is responsible for the appointment of staff of the institution. The Nelson Mandela Museum is a cultural museum while the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State (PACOFS) and the Windybrow Theatre are performing arts institutions. While the PACOFS has a history that predates the democratic dispensation, the Nelson Mandela Museum and Windybrow Theatre are relatively new institutions within the family of the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC).
During its strategic planning session, the Committee undertook to focus on institutions whose performance is below the expected standards and the following institutions were identified as a priority:
- Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB);
- Freedom Park;
- Windybrow Theatre;
- Nelson Mandela Museum; and
The Committee adopted an approach that during these oversight visits it would meet with different levels of staff in order to ascertain the nature of the problems and how these could be resolved. The Committee holds a view that in order for these institutions to improve their performance, every member of staff should strive towards a solution.
This report outlines a summary of issues that emerged during the oversight visit and it further provides recommendations by the Committee.
- COMPOSITION OF THE DELEGATION
- Members of the Portfolio Committee
The delegation consisted of the following members:
Hon Ms. NK Bilankulu (ANC); Hon Mr. JL Mahlangu (ANC); Hon Mr. T Makondo (ANC); Hon Ms. P Mogotsi (ANC); Hon Ms. SP Tsoleli (ANC); Hon Ms. XS Tom (Chairperson and leader of delegation); and Hon Dr. A Grootboom (DA).
- Parliamentary support staff
Ms. A Mtiya (Committee Secretary); Ms. V Magadana (Executive Secretary); Mr. M Dlamuka (Content Advisor); Ms. F Clayton (Researcher); and Mr. M Molepo (Communications Officer).
- Department of Arts and Culture
Ms. M Kganedi (Deputy Director General); Mr. M Rennie (Director); Mr. R Mudau (Deputy Minister’s Parliamentary Liaison Officer); Mr. S Nkanunu (Minister’s Parliamentary Liaison Officer); Ms. L Moeng (Deputy Director: Institutional Governance); and Mr. P Phaahla (Deputy Director: Institutional Governance).
- Nelson Mandela Museum
The Nelson Mandela Museum (NMM) was established as part of the first legacy projects that were approved by Cabinet in 1998. The Museum’s main goal is to collect all memorabilia that relates to Nelson Mandela’s legacy. The main Museum was conceptualised to be based at the Mthatha, at the Bhunga Building, with satellites at Qunu and Mvezo. The Museum was officially opened by former President of the Republic of South Africa, Dr Nelson Mandela in 2000. During the previous presentation to the Committee it was reported that while the NMM was conceptualised to consist of three sites, there were other developments with regards to the operations and management at the Mvezo site. The Committee will deal with this matter a later stage of its programme.
Since its establishment the Nelson Mandela Museum has been characterised by leadership stability and acceptable level of financial compliance until the recent years. The Museum has regressed on its audit findings while Council placed the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) on special leave. The Committee’s oversight envisaged to unpack challenges within the Museum that prevent the inculcation of a culture of financial compliance and assist the Museum Council to improve its accounting authority. The Committee found the following:
- Institutional Leadership and Communication
The Committee observed that the institution has serious leadership crisis since the CEO was suspended. Furthermore, it emerged that the institution was engulfed by the silo mentality and lack of communication between management levels and staff. It also emerged that the organisation did not take staff opinions seriously with regards to the delivery of core functions. The Committee also observed that the Museum’s management did not host regular meetings with staff. The Committee further observed that the institution’s ineffective communication caused rumour mongering and perpetuated factionalism as those staff who were not privy to certain information felt side-lined by management.
- Lack of Policy and Remuneration Reviews
The Committee observed that the institution did not update its policies that were adopted when it was established in 2000. This resulted to displeasure among staff as this negatively affected their livelihood at the Museum.
The Committee also observed that since its establishment, the Museum had not conducted a job grading exercise. The Committee further noted that due to the changing operational requirements at the Museum there were staff members who were shifted from their original positions and given additional roles from time to time. However, in the midst of this fluidity, job descriptions were neither updated nor reviewed. The Committee also observed that certain staff members did not have job descriptions at all.
The Committee further observed that staff had not signed performance agreements and this hindered their professional development as their performance could not be assessed. This had implications on their eligibility for performance bonuses as these could not be processed without a performance agreement.
- The Suspension/Special Leave of the Chief Executive Officer
The Committee observed that the Museum’s CEO had been suspended. However, due to a court order which overturned his suspension on technical grounds, Council decided to place the CEO on special leave pending the investigation. The Committee observed that the process of instituting disciplinary proceedings had been delayed and it had taken Council more than sixty days to finalise the matter, as required by the law.
- Improvement of the Museum’s storyline
The Committee observed that current museum exhibitions at the Qunu site required to be updated to ensure that they are in line with Nelson Mandela’s historical narrative.
- Refurbishment of the Bhunga Building
The Committee undertook a tour of the Bhunga Building in Mthatha. The Committee observed that the Bhunga Building had been under renovations for the past three years. Although the capital project should have been finalised, it was continuously characterised by endless delays.
- Performing Arts Centre of the Free State
The Performing Arts Centre of the Free State is a Theatre with high level recording studios. The Theatre is at the centre of Bloemfontein and is responsible for the development of the performing arts, mainly in the Free State Province. For the past years PACOFS regressed and a turn-around strategy was developed and implemented by Council. The organisation has recently appointed a new CEO and Chief Financial Officer. The Committee’s intention was to check the extent to which the turn-around strategy has made improvements to the organisation. The Committee found the following:
- Appointment of the Chief Executive Officer of the PACOFS
The Committee observed that the process that was followed to appoint the current CEO was compromised since there is no record of a Council resolution that justified the appointment. Furthermore, the Committee could not find supporting documents which contain deliberations by the sub-committee that was responsible for the recruitment of the CEO.
- Non appointment of the Accounting Authority of the PACOFS
The Committee observed that the Minister of Arts and Culture had not appointed a Council for PACOFS. Since the term of the previous Council expired the organisation did not have anyone vested with the accounting authority. This had detrimental consequences as processes that required the approval by the accounting authority had to be omitted.
- Strategic Direction and Long-Term Vision of the Organisation
The Committee observed that the organisation had no Skills Development and Equity Plans. Furthermore, the Committee observed that 90% of managers did not have higher education qualifications and there was an overrepresentation of males in the management echelon.
- Non-Compliance with Financial Regulations, Labour Laws and Good Governance
The Committee observed that the organisation did not comply with Supply Chain Management regulations as required by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1966 and National Treasury Regulations. The Committee also observed that the organisation contracted consultants for services that were available within its staff establishment.
The Committee further observed that there were allegations that the organisation did not adhere to labour legislations. Furthermore, the Committee was informed that the management of PACOFS did not provide protective clothing to staff who were employed in areas that exposed their lives to hazardous conditions.
- Artist Operations and Cooperative Governance
The Committee observed that while the organisation had the responsibility to develop local artists in the Free State Province, there was very little it had done to ensure that this function was adequately fulfilled. The organisation had been unable to develop local artists to a level where they could showcase themselves at the theatre. Instead, the organisation relied mainly on theatre shows that were developed somewhere else in the country.
The Committee observed that the organisation was unable to host theatre shows that would enable it to generate revenue. Furthermore, the Committee observed that the organisation’s cottages that were meant to accommodate resident artists were utilised by managers as their accommodation and paid rentals that were below the market value.
The Committee perceives theatres as institutions that are meant to provide services to communities where they are located. Thus, theatres are expected to work closely with the provincial and local spheres of government. This would enable PACOFS to tap into resources that are at all government spheres. The Committee, however, observed that PACOFS’s management had deliberately refused to work with the provincial and local government structures in the Free State. This had alienated these structures and had subsequently resulted in acrimonious relations between them and PACOFS.
- Organisation Outlook and Performance
The Committee observed that the organisation did not have a clearly defined organogram. The Committee further observed that the organisation’s employment practises were in disarray and as a result some staff were employed in positions that were already occupied by others. The organisation was also riddled by allegations of nepotism as staff had a belief that employment practices were orchestrated to favour certain individuals that had favourable relations with management.
- THE Windybrow Theatre
Windybrow Theatre is located in Hillbrow, Johannesburg. It focuses mainly on the ‘black theatre’ and highly involved in community outreach programmes and development. Part of Windybrow Theatre is a building that is a declared Provincial Heritage Site and is over hundred years old. A few years ago Windybrow Theatre was ‘renovated’ as the building was dilapidated. These renovations resulted into further damages to the structure of the building. Subsequently, the theatre ceased to exist as its executive management was fired due to mismanagement of the renovation project. Currently, Windybrow Theatre is managed by the Council of the Market Theatre and staff had also relocated to the Market Theatre.
During the oversight visit the Committee visited the Market Theatre since it acts as the administrator of the Windybrow Theatre. The Chairperson and the CEO of the Market Theatre provided an overview of the Market Theatre as well as a brief tour of all theatres within the building. The Committee was impressed by the manner in which the Market Theatre is governed and congratulated both Council and staff for a sterling work.
In addition to the presentation by the Chairperson and CEO of the Market Theatre, the Committee visited the site of the Windybrow Theatre for inspection. The Committee observed the following:
- Allegations of Fraud and Corruption
The Committee observed that the process of the renovation of the Windybrow Theatre resulted in the complete destruction of the structural edifice of the building. The Committee also noted that some of these renovations did not comply with the refurbishment permit as issued by the Gauteng Provincial Heritage Authority. The Committee observed that while an amount of R65 million was spent on renovations, there was no output that justified such expenditure. The Committee observed that there was not a single refurbishment process that was finalised accurately even though all the money was spent.
- Theatre Operations and Current Management
The Committee observed that the Windybrow Theatre is closed while the possibility of finalising refurbishment was spearheaded by the Market Theatre. The Committee further noted that the operations of the Windybrow Theatre were taking place at the Market Theatre and staff of the Windybrow Theatre had been relocated to the Market Theatre.
- Property Management
The Committee observed that there is no updated documentation with regards to the title deed or ownership transfer that took place when the Windybrow Theatre assumed use of the building. The location of the ownership documentation of the Windybrow Theatre Complex is to be resolved with the City of Johannesburg.
The Committee recommends the following:
- Nelson Mandela Museum
- Management to host regular staff meetings;
- Council to ensure that all museum policies are updated before the end of the 2014/15 financial year;
- Council to finalise the issue of the disciplinary process of the CEO before the end of the 2014/15 financial year;
- Council to ensure that its exhibitions are revamped in order to be in line with the historical narrative of Nelson Mandela; and
- Delays in the finalisation of the renovations of the Bhunga Building to be settled and the building to be opened to the public by not later than 30 June 2015.
- Performing Arts Centre of the Free State
- The Minister of Arts and Culture to expedite the appointment of Council at PACOFS;
- Council to investigate the validity of the appointment of the current CEO;
- Council to put a moratorium on the appointment of unsuitably qualified staff members at PACOFS. In addition, Council to ensure that it establishes a vibrant skills development programme within the organisation;
- Council to ensure that PACOFS complies with the Constitution, legislations and regulations that govern South Africa. Given the Committee’s findings the institutions to focus on supply chain management and labour laws;
- Council to establish harmonious relations with all spheres of government with particular emphasis on forging cordial relations with the Free State provincial government and Mangaung Municipality; and
- Council to ensure that PACOFS develops a clear artistic development strategy that focuses on the empowerment of local artists in the Free State.
- Windybrow Theatre
- The process of refurbishing Windybrow Theatre to be spearheaded;
- The Theatre’s operations to continue to be under the leadership of the Market Theatre; and
The possibility of merging Windybrow and the Market Theatre to be investigated while the Department is in the process of revising the 1996 Arts, Culture Heritage White Paper.
- Transversal recommendations
The Committee notes that in some instances institutions were without a Council. This created a vacuum as accounting officers are not accountable to any direct authority. Furthermore, it also emerged that in many instances there was no mechanism to ensure that proper handover between the outgoing Council and a newly appointed Council takes place.
The Committee recommends the following to the Minister of Arts and Culture:
- The Minister of Arts and Culture to ensure that all Cultural Institutions have a Council as required by the Cultural Institutions Act, (No.119 of 1998). In addition the Minister to ensure that there is sufficient time for the previous council to hand over to the new council.
The Committee therefore recommends the following to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA):
- The Department of Arts and Culture should account on the role it played during the renovation project;
- Former Council members who were involved should also account on the role they played; and
- Former managers of Windybrow Theatre should likewise account on their role in the renovation project.
Report to be considered.
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