Standing committee on cultural affairs and sport chairperson Reagen Allen has called on Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa to make public the report on mismanagement at the Robben Island Museum. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency
Standing committee on cultural affairs and sport chairperson Reagen Allen has called on Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa to make public the report on mismanagement at the Robben Island Museum. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency

Western Cape legislature calls for Robben Island report to be made public

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Apr 21, 2021

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Cape Town - Standing committee on cultural affairs and sport chairperson Reagen Allen (DA) has called on Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa to make public the report on mismanagement at the Robben Island Museum (RIM).

Allen was responding to a statement from the museum’s management which said that RIM has been 100% transparent about the investigation but cannot speculate on the outcome while disciplinary processes are under way.

“We note with deep concern the reports of mismanagement of funds and resources at RIM.

“This has led to alleged neglect of the island and reports of senior management receiving salary increases of over 250%.

“We also note that RIM has tried to attribute the island’s deterioration solely to the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown, despite long standing reports of mismanagement spanning at least 11 years when fraud allegations were first put forward.”

Allen said he would be visiting the Island this week for a first-hand view of conditions and to determine the next step to be taken in holding the RIM management and the national ministry to account.

Last week RIM senior marketing and tourism manager Siphuxolo Mazwi said the prolonged economic onslaught of Covid-19 had pushed the organisation into crisis mode financially.

“The RIM management is now considering various business rationalisation options, with effect from June this year until such time that there is a resumption of normal business at the museum.

“This includes cutting staff salaries by 50% with equally reduced working hours across the board and/or invoke section 189 of the labour relations act for operational reasons.”

Regarding the report Mazwi said that once the disciplinary and/or related legal processes are concluded, the outcome as well as an executive summary of the report would be made available to the public.

He said the narrative that the buildings on the island are in ruins, was untrue and that there was a maintenance plan in place guiding built heritage conservation projects on the island and ensuring compliance with all regulatory bodies and legislation.

In March RIM council chairperson Khensani Maluleke said the long awaited report had revealed evidence which sustains a strong case for disciplinary steps in relation to one of the allegations.

On Wednesday morning Maluleke said: “The report is one of confidential legal advice and findings prepared by attorneys. It is the subject of attorney-client privilege which the RIM Council has been advised that it should not waive at this stage.

“Waiving that privilege and disclosing the contents of the legal advice would jeopardise the disciplinary process, the rights of intended witnesses and the rights of the employees’ concerned.”

Committee member Ayanda Bans (ANC) said: “I am in the process of following up the matter with the national department.

“Robben Island remains as an important national heritage site not just to Cape Town but to the country as a whole with the rich history it carries, I therefore believe its well-being is of interest to all.”

The minister’s spokesperson was contacted for comment on Allen’s request, but had not responded by the time of going to print.

Cape Argus

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