DA calls for SIU probe into Arts Council’s dodgy administration of Covid funding

The DA will write to President Cyril Ramaphosa to request an urgent Special Investigating Unit (SIU) probe into alleged Covid-19 corruption at the National Arts Council (NAC) regarding the distribution of aid for individuals and companies during the pandemic.

There have been numerous complaints and allegations regarding the NAC’s conduct during the past year, which has nearly decimated the arts and culture sector in South Africa. The most recent maleficence regarding the maladministration of the R300 million the Presidential Economic Stimulus Programme (PESP) relief funding and the NAC’s efforts to break contracts with more than 600 artists, has resulted in multiple sit-ins at various artistic and cultural institutions across the country, with the initial sit-in at the NAC’s Braamfontein offices continuing to this day.

The DA has also written to the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, to request an independent forensic investigation regarding the distribution of the PESP funds, and challenges the Minister to give direct feedback to the artists at the NAC on 7 April 2021 when the parliamentary portfolio committee for sports, arts and culture conducts its oversight at the Council.

The DA has obtained a list of approved NAC beneficiaries compiled by the South African United Cultural and Creative Industries Federation (SAUCCIF), one of the organizations that helps the Council in assisting beneficiaries. This list seems to confirm recent reports that individuals and companies linked to producer Arthur Mafokate have unduly benefited from Covid-19 aid to the tune of R10 million with news breaking earlier this week of musician Chomee’s company, Divatainment, receiving R2 179 000 for an online broadcasting development program that never saw the light of day.

Artists and individuals from the arts and culture sector have continually raised their numerous concerns regarding the NAC and the implementation of relief aid since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown. Only a Minister completely out of touch with an industry whose interests he’s supposed to represent would be blind and deaf to the unfolding tragedy.

Despite Minister Mthethwa’s recent assurances that senior officials implicated in the mismanagement of NAC funds would be disciplined, he has consistently shown his disinterest in saving the industry and protecting its artists. President Ramaphosa must step in urgently before there is no industry left to rise from ashes of the NAC’s ineptitude.

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