Confusion over placement, withdrawal of Robben Island Museum job posts resolved, Newsline

Cape Town – Robben Island Museum board chairperson Khensani Maluleke has resolved the confusion over the status of Robben Island’s chief heritage officer, Pascall Taruvinga, and the executive manager for infrastructure and facilities, Gershon Manana.

After adverts for their posts were posted on social media but withdrawn 48 hours later, the Ex-Political Prisoners Association (Eppa) said the uncertainty was not good for the institution.

Museum staff had sent emails and WhatsApp messages to Eppa members, some appearing to celebrate the departure of the two after the adverts first appeared. The two holders of the posts have been the target of a number of attacks over them from the Eppa over the past year.

Eppa secretary Mpho Masemola said: “We will appreciate their departure, they won’t be missed by any political prisoners. During our recent meeting with Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, the Eppa urged him to consider the appointment of qualified political prisoners to run the museum, after all many of them have PhDs in politics and can do heritage work.”

Immediately the adverts were retracted, one member of staff, who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of victimisation, forwarded an email headed “erratum” in which acting human resources manager Bonginkosi Mcanyana said: “The aforementioned adverts are temporarily withdrawn until further notice. Any inconvenience caused is thus regretted.”

Asked for comment, company secretary Dominique McLachlan said: “No resignation letters were received. As far as we know, their employment contracts are coming to an end. The positions being advertised is in line with the museums recruitment and selection policy.”

Asked for clarity, Maluleke said: “I understand the confusion and uncertainty the action of placing and then removing the adverts caused, but there is nothing untoward.”

“The two posts are fixed contract positions and it is normal human resources practice to advertise the jobs, as both contracts end in February next year. However it does not mean that the two individuals have lost their jobs and they are free to reapply once we re-advertise,” said Maluleke.

“The reason the adverts were removed from the social media pages is because of inconsistency in the manner the jobs were to be advertised. They were meant to be advertised both on our social media pages and on job portals at a particular time and that did not happen.”

The speculation over the two jobs follows developments last month when a disagreement with Mthethwa over the pace of a forensic investigation report into the management of the Robben Island Museum led to the resignation of former Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha as the chair of the troubled public entity.

The long-awaited forensic investigation report has yet to be released in public and by the time Masutha left, there were two ongoing investigations into the affairs of the museum: the forensic investigation by MacRobert Attorneys and one by the Auditor-General relating to irregular expenditure around the acquisition of a ferry, the Krotoa, purchased by Robben Island Museum in 2019.

Cape Argus