The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on the Minister of Sports, Arts, and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, to reopen the application process for the R150 million Sport, Arts and Culture Relief Fund.
As on 30 May 2020, the Minister confirmed that around 2 000 athletes and artists had been successful in applying for relief funding and that funds had either already been disbursed or were in the process thereof. If only around 2 000 applicants had been successful, at a cap of R20 000 per recipient, only R40 million would have been allocated by now. It would also mean that the fund still had additional funds of up to R110 million available.
It is for this reason that the DA is of the belief that the application process should be reopened in order to provide those who were unsuccessful or missed the deadline in the previous round a new and fair opportunity to access this much-needed funding.
Should these funds be depleted, the Minister should make a public statement on how the funds had been disbursed supplemented by a comprehensive breakdown.
The DA also continues to receive complaints from troubled athletes and artists who still have not received a cent of the Covid-19 relief funds, as promised to them by the Minister. This fund was introduced by the Department to offer distressed artists and athletes whose livelihoods have been severely affected by Covid- 19 a safety net during this period.
The delays in payment to beneficiaries are concerning given the fact that the number of successful applicants were so low. It is incomprehensible that the Department is still struggling to get the basics right, months after their shambolic handling of the application period.
The Covid-19 relief fund was supposed to be a boost to athletes, artists, and people whose income is generated through the sports and arts sector, however, the process appears to be riddled by confusion and has become an endless nightmare for these men and women.
The Minister and his department toying with the livelihood of thousands of athletes and artists.
Minister Mthethwa still has an opportunity to fix this. But he must act now.
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