Residents were extorted to pay R200 monthly subscription to use the public Kagiso Memorial gym facility

Community facilities are meant to benefit its residents and there is no rule which says that the residents must pay a certain fee to access such facilities. However, this is not the case for Kagiso township residents as they continue to be forced to pay R200 monthly subscription fee to access Kagiso Memorial and Recreation Centre’s gym facility.

The residents have been paying a monthly subscription fee of R200 and an R150 joining fee since 2017 to utilise the gym equipment that belongs to the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR).

This money is paid to the Good Example Fitness Solution, which is operated by Mokhomotsi Phasha and Christina Maeto, who are utilising this community facility.

This information was revealed by the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR) MEC, Morakana Mosupyoe, in a written reply to the DA’s question tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).

The DA tabled this question following numerous complaints from the concerned residents of Kagiso and following the DA’s oversight inspection at the Kagiso Memorial and Recreation Centre.

According to MEC Mosupyoe, there is no lease agreement and no contract in place between the department and Good Example Fitness Solution. However, the department had an agreement with them to utilise the venue to protect it from being vandalised. They are not paying rent to the department and the department is aware of the monies they are charging the community to access the facility.

This is unacceptable because they are utilising the department’s equipment and venue, yet they charge community members access to the facility.

This is a clear opportunistic move by the Good Example Fitness Solution to rip off poor members of the community who must be benefiting from this facility free of charge.

This is a government facility, the youth, and residents of Kagiso should not be paying to access it. There are security guards hired to safeguard this facility from being vandalised and the presence of the Good Example Fitness Solution is a way for them to enrich themselves at the expense of the residents.

The DA demands that MEC Mosupyoe must speed up the process of ensuring that this facility is fully operational and that residents access it free of charge. She must also review the agreement between the department and the Good Example Fitness Solution.

Furthermore, the DA will be writing to the Gauteng Premier, Panyaza Lesufi, to seek his urgent intervention to ensure that residents are allowed access to the Kagiso Memorial and Recreation Centre’s gym without paying these unnecessary fees.

R10 million is needed to fix the abandoned OR Tambo Cultural Precinct, Gauteng residents still not benefitting

The historic OR Tambo Cultural Precinct worth R54 million is still not operational and does not benefit the Gauteng residents as the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR) will require R10 million to repair the structural defects.

This neglected historical precinct, which was named after the renowned liberation stalwart, Oliver Reginald Tambo, has been abandoned by the previous ANC-led Ekurhuleni government and SACR since 2018.

This cultural precinct has not been included in the approved organogram which means that there is no human resources capacity allocated to run the facility by the City of Ekurhuleni.

This shocking information was provided by the Gauteng MEC for SACR, Morakane Mosupyoe, in a written reply to the DA’s questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).

This is unacceptable because this department has failed to fix the structural defects at this facility.

Delays in fixing this facility will result in further deterioration of the structure and incur more costs.

The DA demands that MEC Mosupyoe, must engage with the City of Ekurhuleni and prioritize the revival of this monument for the benefit of Gauteng residents.

We will also engage directly with the MEC to review the current organigram so that it includes this cultural precinct and create jobs for the people of Gauteng.

New Gauteng Film Commission CEO must prioritise local film productions instead of spending half of its budget on salaries

Many artists in the film industry continue to suffer due to a lack of financial and training support from the Gauteng Film Commission (GFC). This entity constantly spends almost 50 percent of its budget on salaries and less money on the development programmes for the film and television industry in the province.

The financial woes of Gauteng artists in the film and television industry have been neglected for far too long by the GFC, and the newly appointed CEO, Keitumetse Lebaka, is facing a crucial task. has big shoes to fill. She must ensure that the local film industry is empowered with much-needed skills to provide world-class films that can compete with other internationally-produced local films.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the continued suffering faced by the artists in the film and television industry. CEO Lebaka must review the GFC budget allocations and prioritize support for local film and television artists in Gauteng.

In the 2018/19 annual report for the GFC, they spent 54.9% of the budget on salaries while they had four vacancies, and in the 2020/21 annual report, they spent 47% of the budget on salaries while they had seven vacancies.

This shows that this entity continues to spend almost half of the budget on salaries which is unacceptable and indicates poor financial and management planning.

The DA will be monitoring how the new CEO is going to turn around this entity to ensure that its budget is spent accordingly to benefit local film and television producers.

The only solution is to prioritise a budget that is focused on skills development through funding initiatives that aim at producing highly skilled filmmakers and providing training, workshops, and mentorship to emerging filmmakers.

MEC Hlophe neglects the skateboarding community

There are very few skateboarding facilities around the province where skateboarders can foster and hone their skills. Most of the places that exist are built and maintained by the skateboarding community themselves with no assistance from the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation.

The Gauteng Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture (SRAC) convened a meeting at the Johannesburg Stadium recently, along with Roller Sport South Africa and the Gauteng Sports Confederation to outline the department’s interest in developing and growing skateboarding in the province.

Those in attendance, representing skateboarding communities from every part of the province, were told that MEC Mbali Hlophe, was eager to grow and develop skateboarding in Gauteng as it is now an Olympic sport.

However, a written reply by the MEC in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature completely contradicts what was told to skateboarders in this meeting.

In her reply, the MEC states that skateboarding is not one of the recognised sporting codes supported by the department.

Individuals who participate in sporting competitions outside of the 16 recognised codes may apply for financial assistance, however, the department does not actively promote skateboarding.

The MEC further indicates that the department does not know how many public skateboarding facilities there are in the province – bizarrely stating that this is the responsibility of municipalities.

She also indicates that the department will not assist in building any public skateparks in Gauteng.

To give participants of this already maligned sport false hope is worse than giving no hope at all.

The DA will press the MEC to provide tangible plans and timeframes on what the department intends to do to grow skateboarding in the province. The skateboarding community is being led by the nose by a less than honest Gauteng government and does not deserve to be fed more empty promises.

MEC Hlophe spends R7 million on a three-hour celebratory event while Gauteng athletes and artist’s struggle

Many Gauteng artists and athletes have lost their livelihoods and have been forced into unemployment because of the Covid-19 lockdown, yet the Gauteng MEC for Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR), Mbali Hlophe spent R7 million on a three-hour Gauteng Sports Awards event.

The DA has been reliably informed that the department has spent R7 million on the 2021 Gauteng Sports Awards despite the DA cautioning the department on excessive spending on this annual event. There was nothing spectacular about this event as guests were served a three-course meal with a soft drink or juice and only three renowned artists performed at the event.

The money spent on the Gauteng Sports Awards could have been used to provide the Covid-19 relief grant to 1166 athletes and artists at a rate of R6000 each.

For far too long, the DA has been calling on the department to reprioritize its budget to ensure that the money is allocated to render services to our people instead of wasting money on celebratory events.

In the 2019/2020 financial year, the department spent R9,494,000,00 on the Gauteng Sports Awards and, since the 2012/2013 financial year to the 2020/2021 financial year, it has spent over R61 million on this annual event. This ridiculous excessive spending by the department is unacceptable because we still have libraries across the province that do not have access to reliable internet. This money could have been used for service delivery and not for a one-day event.

While the DA supports the honouring of our athletes as it motivates them and inspires our youth to take part in sports, we do not agree with excessive spending on this annual event considering the suffering of residents during this time due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This event can be held at any one of the many government venues or community stadiums available instead of paying for expensive venues and wasting money on food and beverages. The department can also hire local artists to perform to showcase their talents instead of hiring renowned artists.

The DA will not hesitate to hold MEC Hlophe to account for the department funds to be allocated according to priorities and for the benefit of all our residents, not a few individuals who have access to the department tenders. We also demand a breakdown of how R7 million was spent on this event considering that it was an in-door event and there is a limitation in terms of the number of people who can attend such events due to Covid-19 regulations.

Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR) spends a quarter of a million on external people to administer Covid-19 relief fund

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is disappointed to learn that the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR) has spent R249 800,00 in five days on external people hired to administer the payment of the Covid-19 relief fund.

This was revealed by the Gauteng SACR MEC, Mbali Hlophe in a written reply to the DA’s questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).

According to the MEC, the Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation adjudication committee members who administered the rolling out of the Covid-19 relief fund were compensated on an hourly basis.

The chairperson rate per hour is R581, working 8 hours per day which equates to R4648 per day and the deputy chairperson rate per hour is R493 which equates to R3944 per day. The rate per hour for an ordinary committee member is R459 which is R3672 per day.

The MEC states that the Gauteng Arts and Culture Committee which adjudicated the arts and culture applications for five days from 24 to 28 August 2020 consisted of a chairperson, deputy chairperson and six ordinary committee members who were paid R153 120,00 in total.

The Gauteng Sports and Recreation Committee which adjudicated the sports and recreation applications consisted of the following: a chairperson and four ordinary committee members who were paid a total of R96 680,00.

It is deeply disappointing that the department outsourced the service that could have been done internally by its own staff in order to save costs.

The department budgeted R28 million for the Covid-19 relief fund which was not enough to help all our artists and athletes, yet they hired external people to administer the payments.

Furthermore, the Gauteng Department of Economic Development did not hire any external people to administer the Covid-19 relief fund, the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller’s (GEP) internal staff administered the funds which the department of SACR could have replicated in order to minimize costs.

The DA will continue to monitor the expenditure of the Covid-19 funds by this department to ensure that our artists and athletes receive the financial assistance they deserve, and that the money is spent on fulfilling the core mandate of this department.

DA welcomes suspension of three senior officials at the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR)

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng has learnt that three senior officials from the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR) have been suspended for irregular expenditure namely the Chief Financial Officer, Priya Lutchman; Director for Supply Chain Management, Koketso Lekalakala and Acting Director for Facilities, John Mofokeng.

This was revealed to me by the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR) MEC, Mbali Hlophe in a written reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).

According to MEC Hlophe, these senior officials are on suspension because allegations of irregular expenditure were substantiated and as such will be subjected to disciplinary action.

These senior officials were implicated in tender and appointment irregularities amounting to R43 889 200.32.

There were irregular appointments, tenders, and Performance Management Development System (PMDS) payments that have been ongoing for years however this was only revealed after the DA asked questions on this issue.

We will await the outcomes of the disciplinary hearings. We will also be checking if cases of fraud and racketeering will be opened with the South African Police Service.

The DA will also table follow-up questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature to ascertain what next steps will be taken following the disciplinary hearings against these three senior officials.

Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation incapable of delivering libraries to the people of Gauteng

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng notes with great concern that the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR) continues to underspend the library and archival services budget and consistently fails to complete library infrastructure projects.

This was revealed in the department’s fourth quarterly report for the 2019/2020 financial year.

According to the fourth quarterly report, the department has underspent by R37.8 million on Programme Three: Library and Archival Services which is the highest underspend in the department for the fourth quarter of the 2019/2020 financial year.

The underspend was attributed to the vacant posts for the Community Library Services Grant which have not yet been filled, infrastructure projects and not executing the planning of the three new libraries.

The under-expenditure in Library and Archival Services has become a norm for this department; in the department’s third quarterly report for the 2019/20 financial year, it underspent by R28.660 million.

This clearly indicates that this department is incapable of delivering on its core mandate to provide access to library, archival services and facilities to our people.

Furthermore, the department did not meet all its target for the construction of three new libraries and delivering 14 workstations for visually impaired individuals in libraries.

The department failed to achieve its target of renewing library subscriptions and implementing a library holiday programme. The department also failed to achieve its target of upgrading one existing facility for public library purposes.

The Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation MEC, Mbali Hlophe and the Head of the Department must be held accountable.

The DA calls on Gauteng Premier David Makhura to hold the MEC to account to ensure that her department delivers Library and Archival Services in this province.

DA calls on MEC Hlophe to outline the details of the relief fund to help Gauteng arts crafters

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is calling on the Gauteng MEC for Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR), Mbali Hlophe to provide a detailed outline of the relief fund package which will help Gauteng arts crafters affected by the pandemic lockdown.

Amongst the many that are suffering greatly during this national lockdown are the arts crafters whose business is mostly dependent on both local and international tourism.

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the arts crafters as the tourism sector has shut down and operations have stopped completely.

Many Gauteng local crafters are desperately in need of help and a directive on how they can tap into the business relief initiatives.

Furthermore, many of these local crafters who are situated in Gauteng rural communities do not have access to the internet in order to complete online applications hence it is important that the MEC should announce the various ways they can access relief funds as well as how they can access and submit their application forms.

The MEC should provide a plan of action for reaching out to arts crafters who are in rural communities and townships.

The DA will continue to put pressure on MEC Hlophe to ensure that the Gauteng SACR relief fund includes the arts crafters. We also call on the MEC to urgently outline details of the relief package to help ease the impact of the Covid-19 economic crisis on the livelihood of those in sports, arts, culture and recreation in this province.

Gauteng Department of SACR to spend R41,154 million on celebration of public holidays in 2019

Note to Editors: This is an updated version of the statement released earlier.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is disappointed to learn that the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR) has allocated an amount of R41,154 million for the celebration of public holidays in 2019.

This was revealed by Gauteng SACR MEC Mbali Hlophe in a written reply to my question in the Gauteng Legislature.

This is a massive waste of public funds as the money could be better spent in maintaining our deteriorating sporting stadiums and equipping our townships with adequate sporting facilities.

The table below shows the money that has been budgeted and spent so far for each public holiday in 2019:

Public Holidays Budget allocation Money spent
Human Rights Day R8,2 million R8 25 million
Freedom Day R6,012 million R7,8 million
Youth Day R4,342 million R4,342 million
Women’s Day R6,1 million R5,450 million (awaiting final recon)
Heritage Day: Gauteng Carnival R16,5 million Still to happen
Total R41,154 million

The department has overspent by R1,79 million on Freedom Day celebrations.

A large portion of each public holiday’s budget is spent on catering, security and transport.

This department must find ways to curb this wasteful expenditure on public holidays.

One way to cut costs is to ensure that public holidays’ programme of events are short so as to cut the inexplicably excessive catering costs.

The department must consider using government facilities rather than outside venues to cut costs on ablution facilities, accommodation, venue rental and security.

In addition, the department must also consider collaborating with civil society, trade unions and private companies as this will help to drastically cut expenditure and save money as they will also contribute towards the event.

While we understand the importance of celebrating public holidays, the Gauteng Provincial Government should not go overboard. They must consider their core mandate of providing adequate services to the people of Gauteng instead of wasting money on public holidays.

In the past these public holidays celebrations have been little more than thinly-disguised ANC rallies and further used as a tool to extend a hand of patronage to the service providers which are closely linked to their organization.