Minister Mthethwa missing in action as distrust between NAC and artists deepen 

Despite numerous attempts by the DA and various artist and organizations, the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, failed to utilize a perfect opportunity yesterday to meet with artists staging a sit-in at the National Arts Council (NAC) offices in Johannesburg. The DA yesterday met with artists at the NAC offices as part of oversight visits that the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Sports, Arts and Culture are doing countrywide.

Very early into the extended Covid-19 lockdown it became clear that unless the arts and culture sector received extensive support, the regulations and economic restrictions would decimate the industry. Yet, despite numerous calls from industry stakeholders, letters from the DA to the Minister, the NAC board and the chairperson of committee, Beauty Dlulane, and our calls for an independent forensic investigation and a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation, large parts of the sector have been thoroughly let down by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture and the bodies it used to implement relief funding.

The DA will write to the Auditor-General of South Africa (AG), Tsakani Maluleke, to request an investigation into the alleged malfeasance by the NAC regarding the R300 million Presidential Economic Stimulus Programme (PESP) relief funding, as well as the Portfolio Committee Chairperson to request that relief funding administered by the NAC be put at the top of the agenda when Parliament resumes.

Minister Mthethwa should be encouraging the NAC to be transparent regarding the administration of relief funding and acting as a mediator between the Council and the arts and culture sector to resolve the miscommunication between them. Instead, he adds to the clamor. It should be no surprise then that his and the NAC’s actions have led to the sector to mistrust them.

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