Mthethwa: R300m artist relief fund ‘not missing, just mismanaged’

Mthethwa: R300m artist relief fund ‘not missing, just mismanaged’

Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa has denied the looting of millions in relief funds by the department. 

Nathi Mthethwa on R300 million 'looted'

This comes after claims that the R300 million earmarked for artists during the Covid-19 pandemic had disappeared. 

The funds were allocated to the National Arts Council (NAC) as part of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Package programme. 

Mthethwa told journalists at a media briefing on Monday that the money hadn’t grown legs.

Instead, he claimed it had been mismanaged.  

“The council was not receiving assistance from the NAC management. They then took a decision to suspend the CEO and the CFO on the 1st of March 2021. Subsequently they discovered that budget that was allocated was mismanaged by the NAC, mainly by way of over-commitment of the available funds that were allocated to creative sector organisations by more than double the amount in their possession.”

Mthethwa added that he’s ordered an investigation into how a total of R4.8 million was erroneously overpaid to some artists. 

“I want to clarify this point because we’ve heard in the media that there’s R300 million that is missing. Money is not missing. People over-committed the funds that were given to them. The R300 million is still there – part of it is still there, part of it has been disbursed already and part of it is being disbursed. There’s no money that disappeared,” Mthethwa reiterated.  

“We are promising, in an uncompromising way, that we are going to pursue this to the bitter end to ensure that at the end of the day the creatives who are suffering today and are protesting all over the country, who have been done injustice by this action – those who did that have to face the full wrath of the system and the law so that a lesson is learnt,” he vowed. 

There have been growing calls from the sector for Mthethwa to resign but he doesn’t believe there’s cause for the calls. 

“We are in a democratic country, people have their democratic rights to call for anybody to resign or do whatever but what is important is that people must base their calls on very definite and specific things. So far there’s been more of confusion. 

“The major thing is that the artists are under severe strain as we speak and that’s the major thing and that’s what worries us all the time, that’s what we think of and any other thing we are not going to be distracted. 

“We understand that anger from people and that anger will do anything and say anything including for minister to resign but the problem of Covid-19 is the problem which is facing us as a country, facing the world,” he added. 

More than 1200 applications were received by the NAC – almost half of which has been successfully paid.  

More than 300 more beneficiaries are expected to get a pay-out this week. 

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