During a media briefing on Monday, Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa confirmed that an indipendent forensic report was presented to him by the National Art Council (NAC) which highlighted the mismanagement of funds, violation of the PFMA, maladministration and over-committing of funds.
The funds are related to the Presidential Economic Stimulus Programme (PESP). The R300 million was meant for artists who were negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.
Under Lockdown Alert Level 5, the Arts and Culture sector was completely shut down. During Level 4, production houses were only allowed to produce content for streaming and no live audiences were allowed to attend. The financial impacts of this were dire, with some artists losing all sources of income.
In October 2020, a ray of hope was offered to the artists as the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture entered into an agreement with the NAC to deliver these funds to relevant parties.
Around R285 million was set aside for project funding with R85 million being allocated for job retention and R200 million being allocated for job creation.
The report presented to the Minister found that three former members and two current members of the NAC were found guilty of mismanaging the funds. The report found that there was no fraud in the distribution of the funds. It was however determined that these members of the NAC adjudicated on the applications from the artists. This was above their mandate of just exercising oversight.
Mthethwa said “They violated their own council meeting, where they resolved that they would remain an oversight structure, but they didn’t do that. They went and became adjudicators and got paid for that,”
The National Arts Council chairperson, Princess Celenhle Dlamini added the 55% of applicants that were approved for funding had not received any money. She says that the NAC had approved more beneficiaries than there was funding allocated. She confirmed that the 761 applicants that did not receive funding must receive a PESP grant.
Minister Mthethwa has promised that everyone found guilty will be held accountable. He says the NAC will be giving him bi-weekly updates on the progress of the investigation. The investigation will look to determine if any corruption took place.