Robben Island Museum releases report clearing officials of mismanagement

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The Robben Island Museum.
The Robben Island Museum.
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  • The Robben Island Museum released the executive summary of an investigation into the museums state of governance.
  • The MacRobert Attorneys report made no findings of overspending on employee remuneration or irregular expenditure in salary costs.
  • The museum council's chair Khensani Maluleke also announced the appointment of new officials to the museum.

The Robben Island Museum (RIM) released the executive summary of an investigation into the museums state of governance made by members of the Ex-political Prisoners Association which cleared officials at the entity of mismanagement.

The investigation by MacRobert Attorneys was made available to interested parties on Monday for scrutiny, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act and an executive summary of the report was released publicly.

Among other things, the report clears CEO Mava Dada and CFO Blayne Crocker of mismanagement at the museum, which used to be the prison where former president Nelson Mandela served 17 years of his 27-year sentence handed down by the apartheid regime.

Allegations that prompted probes by MacRobert Attorneys and Morar Incorporated into claims including nepotism, irregular salary increases, irregular expenditure and poor management of the museum's operations in spite of announced cost containment measures.

The museum said it would discontinue disciplinary proceedings against the two officials and withdraw charges against them, prompting Members of Parliament to apply pressure on the RIM to explain the decision, despite the Morar Incorporated probe finding in 2019 raising concerns of irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditures.

In a statement the museum said following an investigation and a written report of legal advice furnished to its council that cleared them of wrongdoing, the council decided to discontinue the disciplinary process and withdraw of the charges.

"There is no evidence available to indicate that RIM or any RIM officials were involved in the expenditure of funds received from the National Lotteries Board.

"It appears that RIM merely received value for work that was being done to improve the Island and to memorialise certain sections of the Island in circumstances. RIM did not pay the service providers, or coordinate such payments, for attending to the work," the summary said.

The report said an anonymous complaint concerning a host of subject matters was reviewed which included the abnormal hiring of staff, nepotism poor ferry operation management and the unilateral retraction of employment contracts.

The report said there were no findings of overspending on employee remuneration or irregular expenditure in relation to salary costs.

"Furthermore, issues relating to job grading disparities had been remedied by contracting with and relying on professional advice from Deloitte to conduct job gradings for all RIM positions," the report said.

The report said there were no findings of overspending or irregular expenditure in salaries. It said job grading disparities had been remedied through professional advice from Deloitte to conduct job gradings for all RIM positions.

RIM council chairperson Khensani Maluleke said in a statement that the museum had put this matter behind it and remained committed to support any form of whistle blowing, substantiated with evidence to support the allegations.

"Going forward, we are focused on building a strong executive team that will lead RIM through and beyond the challenges of resuscitating and returning our core business to a sounder footing, including growing domestic tourism," said Maluleke.

He said the museum’s energy could now be channelled into business development and guiding the RIM in its recovery from the blows dealt to it by the Covid-19 pandemic and the national lockdown.

Maluleke also announced that the museum had concluded a recruitment process to appoint a new chief infrastructure officer, chief heritage officer and chief executive officer. 

"We are extremely delighted with the appointment of our new CEO, Abigail Thulare, who was formerly the COO at National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications. Ms Thulare is a highly accomplished strategist and visionary, and we have no doubt that she will lead RIM into the next era of excellence," Maluleke said. 

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