The order by the South Gauteng High Court yesterday for the National Arts Council (NAC) to pay the National Arts Festival (NAF) R3.4 million within 72 hours is an important win for the arts and culture sector in South Africa.
This court action by NAF is surely only the start of the NAC’s legal woes, with ASSITEJ SA, Afrika Burns Creative Projects and Unima South Africa reportedly also seeking legal action, after the Council unceremoniously declared that it would not honour its legal contracts with more than 600 artists, organizations and companies.
The Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, must get his act together, clean house and make haste to retrieve any and all corruptly dispersed funds, and ensure that the original and legally binding contracts with the artists are honoured and paid in full. Future legal action against the NAC would surely cost much more than the competent management of the PESP fund would.
It has also come to light that certain individuals and companies seem to have unduly benefitted from Covid-19 relief aid to the arts and culture sector. The DA has called for SIU and independent forensic investigations into numerous allegations of malfeasance at the NAC, and for the guilty to suffer the full consequences of their corruption.
The Minister and the NAC have proven themselves incapable of caring for the people that make their livelihoods in the arts and culture sectors. It is time President Cyril Ramaphosa rid the country of this dead wood and appoints a Minister with the necessary skill, interest and compassion.
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